Measuring the effect of immediacy on consumer engagement behaviours in social media settings
Perez Vega, Rodrigo
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This thesis presents evidence of how immediacy affects consumer engagement behaviour in a social media setting. It answers the research question: Does immediacy influence consumer engagement behaviours with brands on Facebook? This research context is important and timely because of the rapidly increasing usage of social media by consumers and the resultant unexplored marketing challenges faced by brand managers. This thesis is informed by Social Impact Theory (SIT) (Latané, 1981), which proposes that immediacy is a determinant of influence in off-line environments. This study focuses upon three forms of immediacy, physical, social and temporal, that are identified within prior literature. This thesis measures the effect and develops SIT to account for immediacy as a social influence determinant of social media behaviour. The thesis follows a mixed method approach using focus groups and experimental design to measure the impact of each form of immediacy on four types of engagement behaviour: page liking, content liking, content sharing and content commenting. A series of three focus groups and three experimental studies were conducted with a total of 312 student participants who were presented with Facebook pages (created specifically for this study). Each Facebook page treatment was modified so that it contained either a high, low or neutral levels of each of the three types of immediacy identified in the literature and the subsequent change in participant engagement behaviour was measured. The results show that social immediacy significantly affects brand engagement intentions in terms of page liking, content liking and content sharing, whereas physical immediacy significantly affected page liking and content liking intentions. Temporal immediacy did not show any effects on the engagement intentions being measured in this thesis. This thesis presents three original contributions to knowledge. First, it makes a theoretical contribution by measuring the effects of three types of immediacy as social impact factors on engagement behaviours in social media. Second, it makes a contextual contribution by exploring how immediacy is perceived in the context of Fan pages, and by identifying other factors that can moderate the social impact of immediacy on consumer behaviour. Finally, this thesis measures the effects of product involvement, Facebook intensity usage and gender as moderators of social impact in social media settings.