MESSAGE FACTORS THAT FAVOURABLY DRIVE CONSUMER’S ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOURAL INTENTIONS TOWARDS SOCIAL NETWORK AND MEDIA PLATFORMS
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As consumers are increasingly utilising social network and media platforms for pre-purchase information, managers are confronted with producing effective social network and media platform (SNMP) messages that can favourably influence buyers’ attitudes and behavioural intentions towards brands and products. To ensure a thorough investigation of this research realm, and to develop awareness of the factors influencing the effectiveness of social media marketing, this study adopted a mixed methods approach involving a combination of both qualitative and quantitative research. An exploratory sequential research design was followed, starting with an in-depth, elite interview investigation with social media marketing experts. Adopting a thematic analysis approach, this study contributes to knowledge by identifying three overriding themes of interactivity, credibility, and infotainment as the key determinants of how social media marketing can enhance brand performance. Attitude theory and the hierarchy-of-effects theory is utilised to support understanding and explain the decision making of social media users in this context. This thesis also contributes to social media marketing knowledge by providing a comprehensive study of the key factors that create effective SNMP messages. This was achieved through analysis of data collected using a questionnaire that was completed by a sample of SNMP users. Analysis was undertaken using Structured Equation Modelling which tests the hypotheses and confirms the importance of the key identified themes on the users’ attitudes, word of mouth and purchase intentions. Uses and Gratification theory is used to comprehend and explain user needs for using SNMPs. Overall, this study provides managers with a thorough explanation of the effects of the identified core themes on SNMP user attitudes, behaviours and intentions. Implications for social media marketing theory and practice are presented based upon the depth and breadth of knowledge attained from the analysis of the expert interviews and the SNMP user survey data.
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