Implications of Online Social Activities for E-Tailers’ Business Performance

European Journal of Marketing, Forthcoming

36 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2012

See all articles by Zhe Qu

Zhe Qu

Fudan University

Youwei Wang

Fudan University - School of Management

Shan Wang

School of Business

Yanhui Zhang

East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST)

Date Written: February, 17 2012

Abstract

The popularity of social networking websites has spurred wide applications of socializing functions in online marketplaces, making them social commerce platforms. In the effort of promoting business and building brand, a large number of small-sized online retailers (e-tailers) increasingly rely on online socializing initiatives to stay in touch with peers, exchange social information with past and potential buyers, and seek and contribute knowledge in online communities. However, whether and how online socializing efforts enhance e-tailers’ business performances have yet to be systematically examined. Grounded in social capital and social network theories, a typology of e-tailers’ online social activities is proposed. The typology takes into consideration two distinguishing features of e-tailers’ online social activities: the decoupling of friend-making activities and knowledge exchanging activities in online marketplaces and the traceability of the directionality of the activities.

Using data collected from a large electronic commerce platform in China, we show that: (1) e-tailers’ friend-making activities improve their business performance, regardless of the directional attribute of the activities; (2) sharing knowledge increases e-tailers’ business performance; seeking knowledge without properly sharing decreases e-tailers’ business performance. Theoretical and practical implications of e-tailers’ online social activities are discussed.

Keywords: E-tailer, online retailer, social network, social commerce, friendship tie, advice tie, social capital

JEL Classification: M31, M37, L15, L86

Suggested Citation

Qu, Zhe and Wang, Youwei and Wang, Shan and Zhang, Yanhui, Implications of Online Social Activities for E-Tailers’ Business Performance (February, 17 2012). European Journal of Marketing, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2007108

Zhe Qu

Fudan University ( email )

No. 670, Guoshun Road
No.670 Guoshun Road
Shanghai, 200433
China

Youwei Wang (Contact Author)

Fudan University - School of Management ( email )

No. 670, Guoshun Road
No.670 Guoshun Road
Shanghai, 200433
China

Shan Wang

School of Business ( email )

Yanhui Zhang

East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) ( email )

Shanghai
China

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