Sharing as “frands”: Personified branding strategies on social network sites in China

  • Hua Wang University at Buffalo, SUNY
  • Jingbo Meng University of Southern California
  • Fan Dong University of Southern California
Keywords: social network sites, brands, organizations, affordances, communities

Abstract

Prior research on social network sites (SNSs) has focused on interpersonal communication on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Much less is known about the use of SNSs beyond the individual level and outside of the American context. This study fills in the gaps by offering insight into the personified use of interactive features on SNSs by organizations in China for branding purposes. Based on the notion of the social affordances of technologies, we conducted a content analysis of the presence and activities of 98 organizations on a popular Chinese SNS and identified 15 interactive features, including profile related features (e.g., status updates, discussion board, message forwarding) and social game related features (e.g., game players, raffles, virtual goods). The results of our statistical analysis indicated that the more interactive features that an organization used, the more page visits and fans it attracted and the more electronic word of mouth (eWOM) behavior occurred. All of these interactive features helped personify the organizations as friends to their fans, followers, service users, and potential customers, which created a new form of organization–public communication: sharing as “frands.”

Author Biographies

Hua Wang, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Hua Wang (Ph.D, University of Southern California) is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.
Jingbo Meng, University of Southern California
Jingbo Meng (M.A., Ohio State University; M.A. University of Southern California) is a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California.
Fan Dong, University of Southern California
Fan Dong (Dual M.A., London School of Economics and University of Southern California) is a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California.
Published
2012-04-17
How to Cite
Wang, H., Meng, J., & Dong, F. (2012). Sharing as “frands”: Personified branding strategies on social network sites in China. First Monday, 17(5). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v17i5.3718
Section
Articles