Inderscience Publishers

Treat your customers as equals! Fostering customer collaboration through social media

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Courtesy of Inderscience Publishers

The purpose of this paper is to explore, firstly, how companies and customers interact using social media, and secondly, how social-media-mediated interactions support customer collaboration. We identify two modes of interaction: the relationship-oriented mode and the instrumental mode. The former reflects relationship marketing in that it emphasises reciprocal and bilateral communication, while the latter reflects transaction marketing with its one-way and company-controlled communication. On the basis of the analysis of four cases, it is suggested that relationship-oriented social-media interactions support customer collaboration. In particular, it seems that ongoing customer-to-customer interactions supported by relationship-oriented company participation provide a fertile ground for diverse forms of virtual customer collaboration. We also found that the social-media applications used did not define the interaction mode. The responsibility for defining the objectives, choosing the applications and setting the mode lies within the hosting company.

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