The Impact of Relational Characteristics on Consumer Responses to Word of Mouth on Social Networking Sites

Freya De Keyzer, Nathalie Dens, and Patrick De Pelsmacker
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 23, Number 2, 2019, pp. 212-244.


Previous research has consistently found an effect of the valence (positive vs. negative) of electronic word of mouth in general and of word of mouth on a social networking site (sWOM) specifically on consumer responses. The current study investigates how interpersonal and person-to-site relational characteristics (homophily, tie strength, and source credibility) moderate this effect on consumer responses to sWOM (behavioral and positive word-of-mouth intention). The results show that interpersonal homophily and source credibility both significantly reinforce the effect of sWOM valence on behavioral intention and positive word-of-mouth intention. Only considering person-to-site relational characteristics as antecedents, (person-to-site) homophily and source credibility reinforce the effect of sWOM valence on behavioral intention and on positive word-of-mouth intention. However, including both the interpersonal and the person-to-site relational characteristics as antecedents results in all person-to-site relational characteristics becoming nonsignificant as moderators. This study advances the sWOM literature by concurrently examining how both interpersonal and person-to site relational characteristics moderate the effect of message valence on sWOM responses. The findings imply that marketers should try to stimulate sWOM from credible sources that are homophilous to the target audience, as these relationships reinforce the positive impact of sWOM valence on behavioral intentions.

Key Words and Phrases: Electronic word of mouth, eWoM, Facebook, homophily, relational characteristics, social networking sites, source credibility, tie strength.