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Social Media on Consumer Behavior the OnsetResearch Proposal

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¶ … Social Media on Consumer Behavior

The onset of social media and its integration into marketing has revolutionized industries, among them, the Hotel industry. Social media has replaced the word-of -- mouth communication to customers (Hennig-Thurau et al. 2004). Every hotel will work towards influencing consumer behavior with an aim of attracting more customers. Just like other industries, hotels have taken advantage of the social media to influence consumer's preferences. Many consumers today make travel arrangements and hotel bookings out of the trends in the social media concerning their needs. Consumers feel they are making the right decisions when they subscribe to services as stated by the majority in the social media, often termed as the herding behavior (Vassilikopoulou et al., 2009). Hotels have created websites where consumers can access all the information they want about a hotel and its services. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter allow groups and organizations to interact with people as individuals. People can share views and concerns about different services offered by different hotels. Individuals exchange ideas about their preferences.

Hotel industries would want to find out how social media influences their consumers' behavior. They need to know the instances when social media can attract or divert customers. The information would be helpful for hotels to know what information to release to the social media and what not to release (Norazah and Norbayah, 2015)

The following paper is a research proposal on how social media influences consumer behavior in the hotel industry. The paper will contain a literature review section, methodology section, and a conclusion. In the literature review, different platforms of social media applicable and in use in the hotel industry are discussed among other issues. The methodology section discusses the methods and techniques and why they are recommended for use in the research to be conducted.

2. Literature review

a. Word-of-Mouth and the Advent of Social Media in Marketing

The word-of-mouth is a traditional marketing tool that was used by industries including the hotel industries before the advent social media (Zhuling, Yang, & Mu, 2014, p.342). The word-of-mouth is still used to some extent. It can influence the customer's purchasing behavior. Traditionally, almost all information that reached a consumer about a product was from the marketers themselves. When social media came in, the marketers were no longer entirely in control of the consumers purchasing behavior. Social media has enabled the consumers to influence each other. Consumers believe more on their views especially when they desire the same product or service. However much a brand may be advertised, consumers decision to purchase will depend on evidence from other consumers that the product is what its producers claim it is.

b. The Herding Effect

As stated earlier, the herding effect is a phenomenon whereby, consumers will rely on the appeal of the masses in the social media to making purchasing decisions. The service provider cannot control the herding effect; instead, they can only change its effect on the consumers. Consumers cannot prefer a brand that has negative publicity in the social media (Huang, & Chen, 2006). A service provider cannot stop people in the social media from sharing about the disadvantages they have experienced with using a product or subscribing to a service. Therefore, consumers play a significant role in influencing each other's purchasing behavior through the social media. The herding effect will influence the sales volume and the number of negative and positive customer reviews. The research proposed is primarily aimed at determining the extent of the herding effect on consumer behavior (Goldsmith and Horowitz, 2006).

Consumers will follow the opinions of other consumers to make a purchase. Sometimes the consumers make misinformed decisions when they rely on purchases made by other consumers before. Many consumers do not trust their information. They think that other consumers have the valid and reliable information about a product or a service.

c. Hotel Industry

The hotel industry deals with intangible products and services that are sold by their quality. The products and services of the hotel industry have a strong emotional attachment that can easily form trending discussions in the social media. The opinions of other consumers play an important role in influencing other consumers' purchasing behaviors. People will always want to talk about a special treatment they received in a hotel or the uniqueness of services that they found in a particular hotel (Kwok, and Yu, 2013, p.85). The aim is to get their friends and any other person to have a better place to stay when they went to visit or travel. Hotels have websites where they provide a detailed description of their services and products. Such information provided on websites form the basis of what consumers say about the hotel in various social media platforms (Kleinrichert, 2012). Consumers can visit various websites and compare the services and products. They then share the information they get with their friends on social media. The websites have online platforms where guests can interact with service providers. Consumers can make recommendations and influence the decisions of the hotel management as well (O'Connor, 2007, p.184). Many hotels have adapted to internet marketing as it has proven to be more appealing to consumers and less costly.

d. Theory of Social Impact

The theory of social impact speculates that people have a tendency of disregarding their personal opinions and appealing to the masses (Latane, 1981). Such behaviors are not considered as weaknesses but a form of logic. It is stereotyped that the majority is always correct. Therefore, people find it hard to trust their point-of-views when everyone else thinks otherwise. Consumers are the most affected and moved by the masses. A person will prefer a product or a service that is being used by the majority. Consumers minimize the risk of making misinformed decisions when they choose what many people choose. Sometimes, consumers are caught up in random purchases where they do not have the time to gather information and make informed decisions. Therefore, they eventually make a purchase about what many people have been purchasing. Bibb Latane in 1981 came up the social impact theory arguing that when people influence an individual, the impact spreads to more people (Latane, 1981).

e. Social Media Platforms

Various social media platforms dictate consumers' purchasing behaviors. Facebook and Twitter are the two major worldwide social media platforms where consumers exchange ideas. Various hotels will have interaction platforms such as "Facebook Pages" and "Twitter Handles" where consumers of their products get to share information about the products offered by the hotel services. The consumers also share their views and recommendations about particular services offered. Such interactions are crucial in influencing consumer preferences (O'Connor, 2007, p.185). Consumers will tend to purchase what their fellow consumers on Facebook and Twitter think is best. Websites are another social media platform where the consumers can check the services and products offered by a particular hotel. The products and services are compared with those of other hotels. Consumers guide and influence one another based on their experiences and the information they obtain from the hotel websites (Noone, McGuire, & Rohlfs, 2011).

3. Aims and Objectives

The research to be conducted is aimed finding out several concepts regarding the impact of social media on consumers in the hotel industry. One of the aims is finding out the current marketing trends in the hotel industry that make use of social media. It is important that the research first embark on finding out the how social media is integrated with the hotel advertising by the marketing management. After finding out how the social media is integrated into the hotel marketing industry, the research will embark on measuring the scope of social media dominance in influencing customer behavior. The questions that will guide the researchers in the determining the scope include what percentage of hotel service subscribers access social media among others. In the research, it will also be important to know how frequent people make decisions regarding hotel bookings out of the information they have obtained from the social media. Most importantly, the research will embark on finding out the consumers' behaviors and the way the social media shapes it. Researchers will have to relate information on the bestselling hotels and the role of social media in their success.

4. Research Methods

Qualitative and quantitative strategies will be appropriate for the collection of valid and reliable data. Applying qualitative and quantitative measures is important for obtaining of data in all angles (Yin, 2003). The research will take interviews, conduct services, and engage individuals in filling questionnaires. The research will also make use of scholarly journals, and other secondary sources that have detailed and reliable data regarding social media and consumer behavior in the hotel industry.

a. Interviews

Interviews are one of the primary methods of obtaining qualitative data. The data obtained from conducting interviews is in control of the hands of the interviewer (Yin, 2003). The interviewer can seek clarity of ideas and information as presented by the respondents. The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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