Virtual Community Loyalty: An Interpersonal-Interaction Perspective

Yung Cheng Shen, Chun Yao Huang, Chia Hsien Chu, and Hui Chun Liao
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 15 Number 1, Fall 2010, pp. 49.

Abstract: The virtual community (VC) delivers an intangible service for social interactivity among its members. In many instances, social interaction is a key determinant of members’ continual patronage of the VC, but until now VC loyalty has been studied mostly from a managerial perspective. This paper investigates VC loyalty from the perspective of interpersonal interaction among group members, treating interpersonal attraction and influence as antecedents to loyalty. It finds that the three interpersonal attraction factors (perceived familiarity, perceived similarity, perceived expertise) have a positive effect, direct or indirect, on VC loyalty via the mediation of normative influence. In addition to their implications for the academic study of VC loyalty, the results help explain the success of VCs like Facebook, because the design of these successful social media is consistent with the principles studied in this research. Interpersonal interaction factors also provide insights into the design and branding strategies of social media. VC managers are advised to design and brand the community site by facilitating member interaction because frequent member interaction promotes interpersonal attraction and influence, which in turn enhances member loyalty and ultimately builds the brand.

Key Words and Phrases
: Group interaction, interpersonal attraction, interpersonal influences, loyalty, virtual community.