Consumer engagement and relationship building in social media : the effects of consumer self-determination and social relatedness
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With the continuing growth of consumer participation in brand activities in social media, social media marketers and researchers have sought to tap into consumer engagement and relationship building by creating interpersonal social media environments that can facilitate consumers’ sense of belonging or social relatedness. Although consumer engagement and relationship building have become mainstream research topics in social media, little is known about which marketing efforts brands should undertake in order to engage various consumers who have different motivations to engage with brands. The purpose of this research was to explore the mechanism by which consumer motivations and perceptions of social relatedness influence consumer engagement and relationship building in the context of social media. Three studies were conducted to examine whether the extent to which consumers’ experience of social relatedness in social media moderates the effects of self-determination on consumer engagement (i.e., intrinsic motivation and future intention) and relational outcomes (i.e., satisfaction, affective commitment, control mutuality, competence trust, and benevolence/integrity trust). The findings consistently showed that consumers’ perceptions of the social relatedness they experienced within social media moderated the effect of self-determination on intrinsic motivation and affective commitment. Specifically, the positive influence of social relatedness on consumers’ intrinsic motivation and affective commitment to brand activities was greater for consumers with a low level of self-determination than for those who were motivated by a high level of self-determination. Consumers with low levels of self-determination yielded greater intrinsic motivation and affective commitment when they experienced high perceived social relatedness than when they perceived low perceived relatedness. However, among brand followers in social media, the consumer self-determination × social relatedness interaction effects on the relational outcomes were greater for those who were high in self-determination than for those who were low in self-determination. Overall, this research highlights the importance of fulfilling consumers’ need for social relatedness in the context of social media, especially for those who are motivated to engage in brand activities via external factors. Further, findings of this research yield insights into segmenting consumers based on the level of consumer self-determination and consumer type.