Factors explaining user loyalty in a social media-based brand community

10 May 2018

BACKGROUND : Marketers are interested in taking advantage of the capabilities of social mediabased brand communities to develop long-term relationships with their customers. This research investigated the usage of a South African Facebook page to understand user attitudes and attendant pressures on users related to social norms and user loyalty. OBJECTIVES : The research investigated the extent to which perceived value, service quality and social factors influenced the customer’s intention to continue using a global motor vehicle firm’s social media-based online brand community (OBC). METHOD : We used an online voluntary survey to collect data from social media-based brand community members. In total, 303 responses were collected over a period of 4 weeks from a population of 3100 members. We analysed the relationship between trust, perceived responsiveness, perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, social norms and the members’ intention to continue using the firm’s OBC. 293 usable observations were subjected to descriptive, correlation and regression analysis. RESULTS : The age of the respondents varied from 18 to 58 years with a mean age of 32 years. Of these, 60% were men and 40% women. About 86.7% of the respondents reported having at least some form of tertiary education. The results of the multiple regression analysis indicate that service quality factors such as trust (25.5%) and social influence factors such as social norms (12.5%) explain a greater part of the variance in OBC continuance intention compared with utility factors such as perceived usefulness (18.2%). The effects for responsiveness and ease of use were not statistically significant. CONCLUSION : Social media-based brand communities are playing an important role in enhancing the overall trust relationship, value offering, sociality, knowledge and information sharing between customers and firms. Practitioners should note that the loyalty of customers using a firm’s social media-based brand community is still associated with customers’ historical trust in the branded goods or services, and real-world relationships with the firm and brand community members.