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Conversational human voice works! : the effect of webcare in social networks

Schneider, Y. (2015) Conversational human voice works! : the effect of webcare in social networks.

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Abstract:Social networking sites provide customers and companies the opportunity to engage in a dialogue. Platforms such as Facebook facilitate that dialogue. The chance to address experiences with products or services of a positive or negative nature is used by many customers. For companies, this means, for instance, reacting to such feedback as the dialogical character of a chosen channel. Therefore, concepts of Webcare have been developed that help companies meet their customers’ demand for online conversation. From the companies’ standpoint, while constantly facing the challenge of ensuring that their brands are perceived as intended, the growing use of social networking sites as feedback platforms is a source of concern. They fear that the amount of negative feedback that is addressed could erode brand perceptions, due to inconsistencies in traditional corporate product and service presentations and a perception created by consumers’ negative displays in social networks. So far, studies have not yet examined whether these concerns are justified in the context of social networking sites. This research gap provided a starting point for us to shed light on these concerns. It has also allowed us to formulate our research aim of investigating whether the degree of conversational human voice in communicating as a company in social networks affects customer-based reputation (CBR). This is in lieu of considering possible moderator effects of the credibility of a negative post and general skepticism toward corporate communication. We derived our conceptual framework based on a combination of theoretical findings regarding Webcare and brand perceptions. We then conducted a quantitative online survey, which yielded 300 usable responses. Given the experimental design of our study and the consideration of multiple dependent variables, multivariate and univariate analysis of variance functioned as suitable statistical techniques to test our four hypotheses. The results of our study suggest that the condition of employment of ‘conversational human voice’ (CHV) results in a positive impact on CBR evaluation. We did not find evidence for the moderating effects of the interplay between levels of credibility of a negative post and the level of employed CHV in the answer. In addition to this, consumer skepticism towards corporate communication mediated CBR evaluation, but nonetheless did skeptical consumers evaluate more positive on CBR when being confronted with CHV.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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