A Study On Social Media Habits of Internet Users


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A Study On Social Media Habits of Internet Users

  1. 1. A STUDY ON SOCIAL MEDIA HABITS OF INTERNET USERS HÜSEYİN KIRAN Boğaziçi University Project Advisor: Prof. Dr. Gülden Asugman JUNE ’10
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS 1) INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………. 3 2) OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY…………………………………... 5 3) BACKGROUND…………………………………………………… 6 4) METHODOLOGY………………………………………………… 8 5) FINDINGS…………………………………………………………. 10 6) MODELS…………………………………………………………… 14 7) CONCLUSION…………………………………………………….. 15 8) REFERENCES…………………………………………………….. 16 2
  3. 3. 1) INTRODUCTION Word-of-mouth (WOM) communication is defined as “people-to-people oral, written, or electronic communications that relate to the merits or experiences of purchasing or using products or services”. (Kotler and Keller, 512) In another definition by Nyilasy (2006), WOM is defined to be “oral, person-to-person communication between a receiver and a communicator whom the receiver perceives as non-commercial, concerning a brand, a product or a service.” In his definition, Nyilasy tells about non-commercial perception of the receiver which differentiates WOM from traditional marketing techniques. Rosen reports that some marketers studied WOM marketing based on two particular forms namely, buzz and viral marketing. Buzz marketing creating publicity and generating excitement, passes along new brand-related information via unexpected means (qtd. in Kotler and Keller, 586). On the other hand, viral marketing motivates consumers to convey company-developed information to others online according to Silverman and Rosen. (qtd.in Kotler and Keller, 586) Thus, buzz marketing is different from viral marketing in the source of information that is communicated. WOM communications can be decomposed into three important parts. Firstly, WOM is an interpersonal communication where the message is conveyed from a communicator to a receiver. Second, WOM utilizes commercial information to be communicated. The message is about commercial products or services. Third, the motivation of receiver is not 3
  4. 4. commercial, thus message is not perceived as a commercial one by the receiver. (Nyilasy, 2006) With the improvements in the internet technology, new online services were launched and consumers got the opportunity to participate actively on these media rather than being passive readers on the internet. Sawhney and Kotler, in 2001, argued that the Internet enabled consumers to come together in online communities making them share opinions which lead to an “information democracy” in which the information is not manipulated by the marketers. (qtd. in, Sussan, Gould, and Spolter, 2006) Since then, consumers are able to express their own feelings and opinions about products and services online. This new consumer group which is publishing and messaging about commercial goods brings a different version of WOM which is called electronic word-ofmouth (eWOM). Moreover, user demand for entertainment - focused content via cell phones is increasing with the continuing development and adoption of mobile connectivity technologies. This makes handsets a possible connected marketing channel. (Kirby, 2006) User-generated contents (UGC) like blog posts, status updates, comments, tweets, shared videos and user-generated texts on the internet are the major tools for consumers to express their feeling and share their opinions online. Video sharing sites, online social networks, blogs, and microblogs can be counted among the most commonly-used media for publishing UGC. 4
  5. 5. 2) OBJECTIVE THE STUDY Online social media can be considered as an important channel for marketing communications since it enables consumers to convey their opinions about products and services. This study explores characteristics of communications affecting consumers’ usage pattern (impulsively or pre-planned) of and intention to purchase from online social media. Trying to reply this question, we especially focused on their preferences with respect to product/service, source characteristics and previous product experience, in order to investigate whether those aspects have an impact on consumers’ choice to follow a certain media. What are meant by product/service characteristics are types of those products/services that are being the subjects of contents on any online social media. Products and services are studied separately to determine the effect of characteristics on each one. Source characteristics relate to the publisher of any content on the online social media. Especially, effects of contents due to their source types such that anonymous posts, posts from friends or brands, and etc. are discussed deeply in this study. Consumer’s characteristics are demographic influencers like age, education, marital status, sex, and etc. on customers’ choice to follow a certain online social media. Content characteristics relate to how those contents reached to the consumers like direct messages, indirect group messages, public broadcast and etc. Customers’ intention to buy is another aspect that was studied in this research with respect to source and product/service characteristics. 5
  6. 6. The findings of this study will guide to firms and future academic studies as it discusses the implications for content makers and points out the most convenient categories of products/services and source for which online social media should be employed. Especially, firms can benefit from these findings, integrating the results of this study to their online social media strategies. For marketers, understanding how influence of contents of online social media on consumers’ intention of purchase and to follow a certain media varies with product/service category and source type is particularly important for planning marketing communications. 3) BACKGROUND Since the internet has gone through an important transition in terms of how users produce and share content interactively, communication channels evolve from traditional networking platforms into completely new types of networking media. For example, textbased communication has been replaced by more enhanced media like 3D worlds. (Tikkanen, Hietanen, Henttonen and Rokka, 2008). As the internet technologies improved, interactive web sites and online services were launched. Blogs, microblogs, online social networks, and video sharing sites are examples of online social media that enable users to contribute in content creation and web publishing. Blog (short for weblog) is a personal or collaborative web site - which is frequently updated -in the form of a diarized journal composed of opinions, information and weblinks that indicates personality and interests of the author. (Corcoran, Marsden, Zorbach, 6
  7. 7. Röthlingshöfer, 2006) Blogs are influential media that are usually considered as the official web site of an opinion leader for a specific topic. Blog marketing has already proved itself to be skilled tool, even though it is considered to be a relatively new concept to the marketing literature. (Corcoran, Marsden, Zorbach, Röthlingshöfer, 2006) Micro-blogging is defined as “a new form of communication through which users can describe things of interest and express attitudes that they are willing to share in short posts.” (Jansen, Zhang, Sobel, and Chowdury, 2009) Online social network is web site that hosts an online community.(e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace) In 1983, Rheingold stated that online community is defined to be ”formed when enough number of people carry on computer-mediated nonprivate discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to develop what are considered “social relationships” with other online participants.” (Brown, Broderick, and Lee, 2007) Video sharing sites are collaborative online services through which users can upload their own videos and watch the ones posted by other users. (e.g. Youtube, Dailymotion) Since new online services started to include people in their content generation processes, consumers got the chance to express their opinions and ideas about anything, easier and faster than it was before with traditional media. Those comments, posts, videos, tweets and 7
  8. 8. other user generated contents about products and services initiated electronic WOM (eWOM) between consumers. Nyilasy states that brand image has a moderating effect on the influence of word-of-mouth. It is more difficult to influence people who have a prior impression about a brand. (2006) Nevertheless, eWOM is found to be a joint function of receivers’ involvement in the communication and the communicator’s credibility regarding the influence of word-ofmouth information on decision making and attitude formation. (Brown, Broderick, and Lee, 2007) Bone argued that WOM affects product judgments, attitude formation, and decisions making more than formal marketing communications do. (qtd. in Brown, Broderick, and Lee, 2007) In 1966, Dichter stated four motivational categories of positive WOM which are product involvement, self involvement, other involvement and message involvement and defined product involvement as the situation when a customer has very strong feelings about a product that builds up a pressure on him to do something about it. Thus, he recommends the product to others to reduce the tension caused by the consumption experience. (qtd. in Thurau, Gwinner, Walsh, and Gremler, 2004) Product involvement can be considered as a factor that motivates consumers to respond differently to the same message, give more counter-arguments and use different message cues for evaluation. (Zaichowsky, 1986). Thus, affecting consumers’ response, product involvement has an influence on eWOM in terms of acceptance of the message. Demographic variables are also important while studying the effects of online content on customers’ intention to buy a specific product which is the subject of this content. 8
  9. 9. In 1999, Donthu and Garcia stated that more educated customers are innovators or early adopters in the usage of the Internet.(qtd in Bhatnagar and Ghose, 2003) Consequently, one would expect that education to have a significant effect on customers adoption online social media. In 1997, Kotler told that gender is one of the most commonly-used demographic variables by marketers for segmentation. Afterwards, Gefen and Straub in 1997, and in 2000 Venkatesh and Morris argues that the Internet, e-mail etc. would be perceived as more useful by men. (qtd in Bhatnagar and Ghose, 2003) Thus, we can expect that the gender would have an influence on consumers’ behavior on online social media. 4) METHODOLOGY In order to evaluate consumers’ intention to purchase from and usage pattern of online social media, a questionnaire was conducted. Descriptive research was chosen so that characteristics of a certain segment of population can described rather than trying to state a causal relationship. Questions were designed to inspect whether consumers’ purchase intention and usage pattern (pre-planned or impulsively) varied according to product/service, source, situational characteristics and previous experience with the product. An online questionnaire was conducted among a convenience sample of 100 consumers who may be either men or women. Within the questionnaire, participants were asked to indicate their basic demographic information as well as questions related to behavioral 9
  10. 10. pattern on online social media. Only responses of those participants who are between 1835 years old were evaluated. Respondents were initially asked to indicate the online social media they are visiting and answer the remaining questions based on those online social media. To measure the effect of product and service characteristics on consumers’ intention of purchase and usage pattern, participants were asked to point out product and service categories that have influence on usage in a pre-planned manner as well as purchase intention. Besides, we focused on 26 different product categories and 24 different service categories. To discuss source characteristics, five different types of contents with different sources are determined such as anonymous contents, contents posted by friends, contents posted by other people, contents posted by companies and contents in online advertisements. According to survey results, consumers’ demographics and preference of products and services that make them intend to purchase and follow the media are discussed. 5) FINDINGS Regarding the demographics of 100 participants, it is observed that 63% was female. 33% of the respondents was between 18-25 years old, whereas 67% was between 26 -35. 71% had undergrad degree while 29% had graduate and upper degrees. Participants also indicated the industry that they are working in. 35% of the group works in telecommunications sector while 34% works in finance. About 8 % of the population is from technology –related areas whereas another 8 % -portion works in health sector and 4% of the respondents are students. 10
  11. 11. 84% of the participants do not have any children. When we look at the monthly income of the respondents, it is seen that 18% earned between 600 – 1.499 TL, 23% between 1.500 2.499 TL, 44% between 2.500 – 3.499 TL, 15% between 4.000 – 6.499 TL and finally 1% earns between 6.500 – 9.999 TL. As mentioned previously, survey participants indicated the online social media that they visit. Facebook is the leading online social media with 93% of usage whereas 67% of the respondents stated that they follow Ekşisözlük – which is an online user generated wiki that facilitates social interactions among users. Other social media indicated were Youtube with 65%, Wikipedia with 60%, blogs with 30% and Twitter with 29%. According to survey results, people visit those online social media between 20:01 and 00:00 most frequently. This is followed by 18:01-20:00 and 14:01-18:00. 73% of the participants indicated that they visit online social media via mobile phones. But, only 17% said that they access those media via mobile frequently. In order to estimate how the source type influences consumers’ intention to purchase, participants were asked to rate contents from different sources like friends, non-friends, anonymous sources, companies and online advertisements. Friends turned out to be the most influential sources in creating intention to purchase. Friends are followed by companies, online advertisements, non-friends and anonymous sources. When situational effects are investigated, it is observed that contents searched and found by the consumer himself/herself are more important in creating purchase intention than contents reaching to the consumer without any search attempt. 11
  12. 12. Another question that this study focuses on is whether the independent variables like product, service, source, consumer and situational characteristics do have an effect on whether the consumer uses online media impulsively or pre-planned. Survey respondents were asked to indicate product types that lead to using a media in a pre-planned manner, which means they are already interested in getting info about those products. The results are as follows: Product Type Music Book & Magazine Clothing Movie TV Series Computer Mobile Phones Cosmetics Digital Music Food e-book Watch Camera Jewelry Following in a Preplanned Manner 9,84% 8,96% 8,61% 8,26% 6,50% 5,27% 4,92% 4,39% 4,39% 4,22% 3,87% 3,16% 2,99% 2,81% Product Type Computer Game Drinks House, Decoration, Garden None TV Small Houseware Automobiles/Motorcycles Sunglasses MP3 Player White Goods Video Camera Furniture Box games Following in a Preplanned Manner 2,64% 2,28% 2,28% 2,28% 2,11% 1,76% 1,76% 1,41% 1,41% 1,23% 1,23% 1,05% 0,35% Music, books and magazines, clothing, and movie are the most influential types of products that lead to pre-planned following. In another questions, participants were asked to indicate service types that lead to using online media in a pre-planned manner. The results are as follows: 12
  13. 13. Service Type E-Shopping Vacation Airline e-ticket service Private shopping Restaurant Online music services Banking GSM operator services Online food order service Online video sharing service E-mail service Accomodation Health Following in a Pre-planned Manner 8,07% 7,62% 7,17% 6,73% 6,28% 5,98% 5,68% 5,68% 5,53% 5,23% 4,63% 4,48% 4,04% Service Type Beauty Café Online Event Ticket Service Bus e-ticket service Credit Card None Cargo Service Automobile maintenance Online suction service Insurance Online dating service Pension contracts Following in a Preplanned Manner 3,74% 3,59% 3,59% 3,44% 3,14% 1,35% 1,20% 0,90% 0,75% 0,60% 0,45% 0,15% E-shopping, vacation and airline e-ticket service, private shopping, restaurant and online music services are the most influential types of services that lead to pre-planned usage. Source type, is another factor that affects the usage pattern of online social media. Friends are found to be the most important source that leads to usage in a pre-planned manner. Other sources with respect to their importance according to the consumers are companies, non-friends and anonymous sources. Previous product experience like using the same product/service or another product/service of the same company or similar product/services of a different company is another factor that affects the intention to purchase. It is found that previous experience with the same product/service reinforces the intention to purchase. This is followed by previous experience with another product/service of the same company and the experience with a similar product/service of a different company. In contrary, we did not observed any relation between previous product experience and pre-planned following. 13
  14. 14. 6) MODELS Being ensured with the results of survey, we come up with two models about the factors affecting consumers’ intention to purchase and their pattern of following online social media. Model depicting the factors affecting whether a media is followed in a pre-planned manner: Source and situational characteristics have an effect on whether the media is followed in a pre-planned manner. Model 1 14
  15. 15. Model depicting the factors affecting consumers’ intention to purchase: In addition to previous model, previous experience with the product also has an effect on the intention to purchase as well as source and situational characteristics. Model 2 7) CONCLUSION We conducted this study to investigate the factors effecting consumers’ intention to purchase from online social media as well as usage pattern in those media. To collect data for our research, an online questionnaire was done among 100 respondents. Based on the survey results, we came up with two models which are depicted to illustrate the factors lying behind the purchase intention and usage pattern. Future researches can extend the study by applying the questionnaire to a larger set of people and collect more data. To investigate the effect of demographics, one would need a more detailed statistical analysis. 15
  16. 16. 8) REFERENCES Brown , Jo, Amanda J. Broderick, and Nick Lee, “Word-of-Mouth Communication within Online Communities: Conceptualizing the Online Social Network.” Journal of Interactive Marketing 21.3 (2007): 2-20 Corcoran, Andrew, Paul Marsden, Thomas Zorbach, and Bernd Röthlingshöfer, "Blog Marketing," in Kirby & Marsden, op. cit. (2006): 148-158 Hennig - Thurau, Thorsten, Kevin P. Gwinner, Gianfranco Walsh, and Dwayne D. Gremler "Electronic Word-of-Mouth via Consumer-Opinion Platforms: What Motivates Consumers to Articulate Themselves on the Internet?" Journal of Interactive Marketing 18.1 (2004): 38-52 Jansen, Bernard J., Mimi Zhang, Kate Sobel, Abdur Chowdury: “Micro-blogging as Online Word of Mouth Branding”. CHI Extended Abstracts 2009: 3859-3864 Kirby, Justin, “Conclusion: The Future of Connected Marketing.” in Kirby & Marsden, op. cit. (2006): 267-274 Kotler, Philip, Kevin L. Keller. Marketing Management. 13th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2009. 16
  17. 17. Nyilasy, Greg, “Word-of-Mouth: What We Really Know – and What We Don’t.” in Kirby & Marsden, op. cit. (2006): 161-184 Sussan, Fiona, Stephen Gould, and Suri Weisfeld-Spolter, “Location, Location, Location: The Relative Roles of Virtual Location, Online Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) and Advertising in the New-Product Adoption Process.” Advances in Consumer Research 33.1 (2006): 649-650 Tikkanen, Henrikki, Joel Hietanen, Tuomas Henttonen, and Joonas Rokka, “Exploring Virtual Worlds: Success Factors in Virtual World Marketing.” Management Decision 47.8 (2008) : 1357-1381. Zaichowsky, Judith L., “Conceptualizing Involvement.” Journal of Advertising 15.2 (1986): 4-34. Bhatnagar, Amit and Sanjoy Ghose, “Online Information Search Termination Patterns Across Product Categories and Consumer Demographics.” Journal of Retailing 80.3 (2004): 221-228 17