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Title: Assessing consumer behaviour within the context of social media marketing
Author: Salem, Emad Abdulwhab
ISNI:       0000 0004 7968 3261
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2019
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Data and information about products and services are now easily accessed via all types of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Blogs, Twitter and others. There is a mass of evidence that, in many countries including Saudi Arabia, SNSs are now important tools for making and managing key relationships among individuals and diverse societies. As the core of marketing theory is about making trusted and robust connections with customers for use in product and service development, SNSs in marketing have been seen to give a strategic and competitive edge, creating a new domain or industry known as Social Media Marketing (SMM). However, marketing managers still face the challenge of how to use such platforms in SMM campaigns to secure more profitable outcomes by influencing customers' behaviour and purchase intentions, and this is very much the case for Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs). Saudi marketers in particular have not yet mastered the efficient use of these sites for marketing purposes. This study aims to develop an Integrated Social Media Marketing Model (ISMMM) to assess the impact of SMM practices on consumer behaviours and purchase intention within the context of Saudi Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). This development is to enable those types of businesses within the Saudi marketplace to obtain improved outcomes from their marketing initiatives using the SNSs. The study adopts an exploratory research design, quantitative data collection and analysis, and literature analysis research methodologies and deductive approach with a survey tool as the research strategy for data collection; thus, a data collection instrument was developed. The ISMMM Model was developed based on integration of different theories, of which the most significant were: Social Impact Theory (SIT); Consumer Culture Theory (CCT); and Social Capital Theory (SCT). Key constructs involved: Social Capital (Bonding and Bridging); Electronic Word-of-Mouth (EWOM); Friendof-a-Friend (FOAF); Online Advertisement; Brand Knowledge (Image, Trust, Loyalty and Awareness); Purchase Intension; Customer Behaviour; and Actual Purchase. The study revealed a high Goodness-of-Fit for the ISMMM Model and that ISMMM can identify the key factors to be considered by Saudi marketers for use of SNSs for marketing purposes. The findings showed Saudi users to have a positive perception of SNSs with regard to Social Capital Bonding and Bridging, EWOM and the FOAF, while perceptions of Online Advertisement were slightly positive. Saudis were also shown to have positive perceptions of Brand Image, Loyalty, Trust and Awareness, as well as Brand Knowledge, and Purchase Intention, Customer Behaviour and Actual Purchase. Other key conclusions were: that Social Capital Bonding and Bridging can explain the Social Capital construct; that Social Capital explained the EWOM and FOAF constructs; and that SMM practices explained Brand Knowledge. In addition, the SMM practices and Brand Knowledge can jointly explain the Purchase Intention; the Brand Knowledge and Purchase Intention can explain the Customer Behaviour; and Customer Behaviour can explain the Actual Purchase. The study's findings provided a number of key recommendations for marketers and marketing managers as well as for Saudi users of SNSs. The study recommends that marketing managers should treat marketing initiatives by SNSs as a real and strategic opportunity and as a transition paradigm for providing quality marketing services and reaching goals successfully. The study also recommends that they should identify the best and most appropriate SNSs for their businesses to use, that they should invest in SMM campaigns to enable highly effective and low-cost channels for quality customer service, and that they should focus on creating a Social Capital environment through bonding and connecting with Saudi users using SNSs. The study also recommended that marketers conduct frequent and quality reviews of the marketing channels, that they continue to use traditional marketing channels in parallel to the SMM, that they enhance their online advertisement channels, and that they strengthen relationships and ties with Saudi users of SNSs to understand their behaviours and intentions about making purchasing decisions, but with very high care as this may create vulnerabilities. The study recommends that Saudi users treat the SNS platforms in a friendly manner, showing respect for content posted by Saudi SMEs and other users on SNSs, that they use only the appropriate channels to purchase products online, and that they improve their awareness and knowledge about SNSs and SMM. The study also recommends that Saudi users communicate with SMEs for more feedback on SMM practices over SNSs, that they are aware of cyber risks and dangers threatening users, and that they inform the responsible parties about any risks. Many of the available marketing theories were developed and applied prior to the era of SNSs and SMM. Therefore, this work contributes by transforming the use of those older theories into the recent circumstances of technology adoption. The integration performed using different theories with validation in this work brings important theoretical and technological innovation and insights into the modern online marketing domain. This innovation can deal in a suitable way with the needs of the web 2.0 and cyberspace. The ISMMM Model developed and validated in this work extends the use of theories from different domains into technology oriented marketing domain to identify new factors with impact in the context of SMM and SNSs. Despite all theories used in this work for the development of ISMMM Model has been used individually in other studies, this work combines the factors defined by all theories to explain the extent to which those variables are significant in the area of SMM over SNSs, and to show the dynamic relationship among those variables to achieve marketing goals for the SMEs.
Supervisor: Eldabi, T. ; De Cesare, S. Sponsor: Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia ; Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau in London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social networking sites ; Bonding and bridging social capital ; Electronic word of mouth ; Friend of a friend ; Brand knowledge