Social networking sites (SNSs) have assumed an increasingly central role in the passage of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) among cosmetics users. However, the mechanism by which Customer to Customer (C2C) eWOM in SNSs influences consumer purchase intention has yet to be fully understood. This study develops a comprehensive research framework that focuses on the influence of C2C eWOM using information persuasion in reference to purchase decision making. This study collected data from a sample of 314 Taiwanese respondents, using paper-based questionnaires. The programs SPSS and Smart PLS were used to analyze the collected data. The results show that perceived persuasiveness, perceived informativeness, and source expertise are adequate predictors of the usefulness of eWOM. Additionally, perceived persuasiveness, source expertise, and source trustworthiness significantly predict the believability of eWOM with regard to SNSs. It was found that perceived usefulness and credibility together increase the likelihood of the adoption of an eWOM message, and eWOM adoption has a strong mediating role in the influence of eWOM credibility and usefulness on consumer purchase intention toward products recommended on SNSs. Since few previous studies have explored the mediating role of eWOM adoption on the influence of antecedents on consumer purchase intention, this study confirms the key mediating role exerted by eWOM adoption on the relationship between the usefulness and credibility of eWOM and purchase intention. This empirical study can enable managers to better understand the effects of C2C eWOM from SNSs on consumer purchase behavior. Our results should also encourage marketers to work with SNSs to develop viral marketing campaigns, encouraging customers to spread useful and credible C2C eWOM to improve purchase intentions.
Social media is a global phenomenon. As of December 2016, Facebook was the largest social network in the world, with a total of 1.86 billion monthly active users. Other social networking sites (SNSs) also serve large populations: Wechat has 846 million monthly active users, Twitter has 319 million, Instagram has 600 million, and Line1 has 217 million. The growth of SNSs has caused a paradigm shift in electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) toward social word-of-mouth (sWOM), which enables consumers to exchange product-related opinions and experiences with their acquaintances, other consumers with the same interests, and even brandmanagers, almost without limitation (Hajli, 2018). Indeed, with social media, a growing number of brands are seizing new opportunities to leverage consumer exposure and generate greater sales. Consumers can obtain eWOM on both B2C- and C2C-sponsored SNS pages. Many companies are investing heavily in SNS use and are working to increase the amount of eWOM activities on their fan pages (B2C), such as by attracting user comments to their brand posts, setting up corners for eWOM exchange for consumers to join, or forwarding the brand-related posts of recommenders. In spite of the best efforts of companies, it has been found that postings on C2C-sponsored SNS platforms are of higher credibility and are thus more influential than those on B2C ones, as is also seen with firmsponsored and third-party websites (Weisfeld-Spolter, Sussan, & Gould, 2014). C2C interactions via social media have also been shown to substantially shape consumer purchase intentions (Wang, Yu, & Wei, 2012). However, the mechanism by which eWOM transfers from customer to customer over SNSs, influencing consumption behavior, remains unclear. This study thus examines eWOM in C2C-sponsored SNSs (C2C eWOM), as derived from a set of activities, including reading posts and conducting peer communication with recommenders, with many studies only focusing on one of these issues (Chen, Tang, Wu, & Jheng, 2014; Wang et al., 2012). Although C2C eWOM within social media remains outside the control of the firm, a more nuanced view of such customer-driven content will provide firms with valuable data to better analyze customer demand (Larson & Watson, 2011). Direct eWOM from customer to customer can change customer preferences and actual purchase behavior; thus, further investigation of related market outcomes is needed (Libai et al., 2010). Moreover, as networks of “friends” on SNSs may include both strong and weak ties, the effects of C2C eWOM in SNSs might differ from those seen on other eWOM platforms (Chu & Kim, 2011). In practice, studies on the links between eWOM on SNSs and purchase intentions remain in their infancy, and the number of existing research papers is extremely limited, relative to the potential effects that eWOM may have in C2C interactions on such platforms (See-To & Ho, 2014; Zhu, Chang, & Luo, 2016). Furthermore, in individual-level studies, the lack of agreement among existing papers with regard to the effects of eWOM significantly limits the reporting of conclusive findings (Cheung & Thadani, 2012). More robust research models are thus needed to consolidate our understanding of the influence of eWOM in SNSs on consumer purchase behaviors.