A study of the impact of social media on consumers

Nick Hajli

Birkbeck, University of London

Introduction

The advancements in the internet in recent years have made new systems available to business: social media such as online communities being a good example (Lu et al. 2010). The general availability of the internet has given individuals the opportunity to use social media, from email to Twitter and Facebook, and to interact without the need for physical meetings (Gruzd et al. 2011). This has been facilitated by Web 2.0 applications. Web 2.0 is a new advancement, which has transferred the internet to a social environment by introducing social media, where individuals can interact and generate content online (Lai & Turban 2008). Web 2.0 has emerged to give users easier interconnectivity and participation on the web (Mueller et al. 2011). With the rise of social media and online communities, individuals can easily share and access information (Chen et al. 2011a). Online communities and social networking sites (SNSs) are an effective web technology for social interactions and sharing information (Lu & Hsiao 2010). SNSs take centre-stage in e-commerce in the current environment (Fue et al. 2009), where consumers make social connections and participate in cyberspace (Mueller et al. 2011). Today’s consumers have access to many different sources of information and experiences, which have been facilitated by other customers’ information and recommendations (Senecal & Nantel 2004). This is an important point as customer involvement through social media is a key factor in marketing (Do-Hyung et al. 2007).