Brand community or electronic word-of-mouth: what’s the goal of company presence in social media?

Abstract The growing usage of social media has been changing the relationship between companies and customers. Social media opens a two-way communication channel between companies and customers, as well as enables interaction among customers. According to the literature, companies pursue two objectives on social media: to increase brand trust and loyalty through building brand communities and to influence the purchase decision of an empowered customer through engendering positive word-of-mouth for their products. This article studies the approach used by two companies (from the pharmaceutical and fashion industries) on their Facebook fan pages. Evidence of shared consciousness and practice of traditions gathered from a netnographic study reveals a brand community on the pharmaceutical company’s page. Analysis of electronic word-of-mouth metrics reveals that motivating this form of communication is what the fashion firm seeks through its fan page. The study also discusses mechanisms to stimulate word-of-mouth on fan pages and the presence of weak ties as a factor of consumer engagement in word-of-mouth on social media. Managerial implications, limitations, and future research suggestions are presented.