Social Media Thesis

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Chapter 1

THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING

Background of the study

The online world has become a new kind of social communication. It connects people to different online communities. This practice has already been accelerating during the past decade (Heinonen, 2011). The author believed that these changes in media consumption and online collaboration have boosted the interest of businesses and consumers in employing the social media sphere for their marketing and communication efforts. Kozinets (1999) argued that the influence of information by society greatly affects consumers buying decision processes and product evaluations. He asserted that social media provides a new channel to acquire product information through peer communication.
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Social Media
There has not been a very clear definition of social media as a field of study because its influence and functionality significantly depends on some factors which make it constantly changing and evolving. According to Solis (2007), technology plays an important role in social media dynamics as social media development is dependent on the technology and platforms which enable the interactive web’s content creation, collaboration and exchange by participants.
The author added that social media provide a shift on how people discover, read, and share news and information. He further explained that social media is a synthesis of sociology and technology that transform information flow from monologue to dialogue (Solis, 2007). Brown (2009) also defined social media as "Web 2.0-based sites which bring different people together in an effective proposal and it guarantees a deeper social interaction, stronger community and implementation of cooperation projects. On the other hand, Kahraman (2010) shared that the most commonly used definition for social media is that, it is an online venue that people use to share their ideas, experiences and perspectives to communicate with each
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Although they found substantial effects of others’ evaluations on people’s own judgments, the effects were not always significantly stronger when the social conformity pressures are stronger. As stressed by Berthon et al. (2008), consumers' online behavior is developing at a fast rate. Consumers are taking part in a variety of activities ranging from consuming content, participating in discussions, and sharing knowledge with other consumers to contributing to other consumers' activities. This active consumer behavior is changing the media and marketing landscape as consumers are invading companies' marketing sphere. Evans (2008) presented the classic purchase funnel model as an indicator of how social media has impacted on consumer decision making process in different stages.
Park et al. (2009) found four motives for using social networking sites: socializing, entertainment, self-status seeking, and information. These gratifications are common motives for consumers' activities performed in social media.

Table 3
Social Influence that Affect Buying Behavior in terms of Work-Group Norm Work-Group Norms Mean
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