Received in: 06/09/2013
Accepted in: 10/20/2014
(figures are available in Pdf version)
Introduction: Information sources of customers have a significant influence on their attitude and behavioral intentions. Social media is now one of the most important information sources of customers. The purpose of current study is to investigate the impact of social media on customers' attitude towards brand and their intention to purchase. This study was done based on the theory of planned behavior. The target population for this research included the customers of IranKhodro Company in the area of Tehran. Using a self-administrated questionnaire and employing convenience-sampling method, 210 respondents were asked to fill out the survey questionnaire. The results of structural equation modeling indicated that traditional advertising and social media would change customers' attitude towards the company’s brand name. However, the impact of traditional advertising was less than social media. Further, brand attitude can lead to intention to purchase of firm products.
Statement of Problem: Mass media has confronted considerable changes during recent decades. Like social networks, traditional media have replaced social media increasingly. It seems that customers' verbal advertisement is focused on such new chances of endless marketing. The fact that customers have changed to advocates of social media, through using accessible sources of information, has resulted in formation of the following hypothesis that: in addition to being traditional instrument of marketing relationships, social media highly affect how a brand becomes a success. We consider social media to be social phenomena as they now get a wide range of Iranian population to be involved in what is happening in social media. Social media, as opposed to traditional media, have a high potential to transfer a great bulk of information to Iranian people like any other society. This is while rapid development of social media in recent years has posed the question as to whether such growth has resulted in reduction of marketers’ control on brand management. This is especially true when one observes that social media provide the conditions for consumers from all over the world to communicate to one another. This means, the companies are not the only sources of information that provide communication materials on goods and brands. Moreover, consumers are turning away from traditional media such as television, radio and journals and are increasingly using social media in search of information. Therefore, marketers can expect that brand communications, which are provided only by companies, will cease to exist in near future, whereas brand communications, which are developed by customers and social media, continue to grow increasingly. It is then fair to claim that the relationships between companies and users/consumers has taken a historical turn and formed two types of communication in social media that needs to be addressed here. It is worth mentioning that the company and the brand manager control the communications created by companies in social media. This is while communication formed by users in social media, are out of control of the company.
Application of Theory of Planned Behavior in Analyzing Impacts of Social Media: Ajzen and Fishbein developed the theory of planned behavior (or reasoned action) in 1987. This theoretical model predicts how a special behavior that a person intent to do can be understood. According to this model, the intention for showing a behavior is predicted by three factors: 1- attitude toward behavior, 2- mental norms; and, 3- conceptualized behavioral control. Attitude toward behavior is defined to be a positive or negative evaluation of a special behavior, which is composed of two subcategories namely behavioral beliefs, and evaluation of behavior consequences. This then results in obtaining attitude toward the behavior. In the same token, mental norms are referred to as social pressures conceptualized by the individual for showing or not showing target behavior. Conceptualized behavior control is a person's degree of feeling to what extent doing or not doing a behavior is in his intentional control. Behavioral intention refers to the intention’s intensity and the personal intention to do the target behavior. Behavior is always shown after behavioral intention and is followed by it. We used the theory of planned behavior in order to study the impacts of social media on consumers' behavior. We also considered the two factors of attitude and behavioral intention to be the most important factors and we took them to be influenced by social media, and turn, influencing the customers' decisions. Results obtained from studies indicate that social media and traditional media have a considerable impact on users' attitudes toward a company's brand. Attitude toward brand is referred to general evaluation of a company's brand. According to the theory of logical act, synthetic attitude is obtained from communications about advantages and a characteristic of a brand, which assumes that attitude toward brand, is influenced by being aware of the brand and imagination of the brand. Negative and positive communications formed by users through social media and companies' traditional advertisements influence consumers' attitudes toward the brand. Moreover, some previous research on this issue indicates that consumers' attitudes toward a brand highly influence their purchase attention, because attitude toward a brand is considered as a good component for behavior intention. Behavioral intention for buying is a psychological variable, which acts as an intervening variable between attitude and real behaviors.
According to review of related literature and developed theoretical principles, the main hypotheses of the present paper are as follows (Fig.1):
1-Main hypothesis: social media have no impact on customers' decision to buy a brand's products.
2- Traditional advertisements of the company have significant and positive impact on customers' attitudes toward buying a company's product.
3- Communications formed by other customers in social media has positive and significant impact on customer's attitudes toward company's brand.
4- Customers' attitude toward brand has significant and positive impact on buying a company's products.
Results analysis and reports:: Cronbach’s coefficients of all variables were calculated and indicated to be more than 0.69, indicating that research instruments had high scale validity. All factor loads were higher than acceptable level (0.5), indicating a high reliability.
Considering the results obtained from Pearson correlation test on all relations among research variables were significant and positive, indicates that there is a direct relationship among dependent and independent variables. Coefficient correlations of variables were relatively high. This also indicates that there is a direct relationship among social media, traditional advertisement, attitude toward brand and buying intention.
We used structural equation method to build a general model that can depict consumers’ attitudes and behaviors. In this study chi-square was twice more than 137.196 with 51 degree of freedom whose ratio (2.69) is in appropriate range. Fit indexes (AGFI=0.899, TLI=0.907, CFI=0.901, NFI=0.912, GFI=0.934) had acceptable values, being significant at level of 5%. RMSEA value was 0.076, which is less than proposed desired level (less than 0.08). In fact, results obtained from SEM indicate that there is a complete fitness of the suggested research model (Table 1 and figure 2 and 3).
Table 1- A brief data analysis results using maximal probabilities
attitude toward company's brand
attitude toward company's brand
attitude toward company's name
buying intention from company
Note: **level of significance=P