Reason and reaction: The dual route of decision making process on social media usage: The case of hospitality brand fan pages
A new phenomenon on Facebook, resulting from social media revolution, is the emergence of numerous Facebook fan pages. This form of online brand community is an effective tool for building relationships with consumers. Many hospitality firms (i.e. restaurants) have captured the strength of a fan page because it can enhance brand attractiveness and draw consumer attention.
Little is known about the experiences and possible outcomes of consumers' intentions and willingness on Facebook fan pages. Previous studies on social networking sites have focused on the benefits or needs that members fulfill through participation. This research employed two theories from social psychology: the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) and the Prototype Willingness Model to understand the underlying dual processing of behavior on restaurant Facebook fan pages. To the author's knowledge, the two theories have never been combined together to comprehensively investigate consumers' behavior in hospitality industry. The aim of this research was to systematically understand the dual-route when people use restaurant Facebook fan pages with the theoretical support of the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) and the Prototype Willingness Model.
The present study investigated the conceptual model in the context of the restaurant Facebook fan pages. Data were collected from online surveys completed by 1131 students. This research performed the two-step structural equation modeling (SEM) approach. The first step involved confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), which was employed to validate the scales for the measurement of specific constructs proposed in the research model and SEM was used to test the conceptual model.
The results indicate that: 1) Fans decision-making is a dual route process, an intentional as well as an unintentional decision-making path. Therefore, both paths operate simultaneously. 2) This research reveals that the cognitive and affective components influence consumer attitude towards participation in restaurant Facebook fan pages. In particular, social interaction ties affect the most attitudes toward fan pages, followed by information source, design characteristics, and entertainment. 3) Attitude is a strong predictor of behavioral intention and behavioral willingness on Facebook Fan pages. 4) Subjective norms are significant and meaningful for consumers' intention and behavioral willingness towards these online communities. 5) The prototype image in the social reaction path is an important determinant of behavioral willingness toward restaurant fan pages. 6) Behavioral willingness and intentions towards fan pages create a positive change in the product purchase behavior of consumers indicating that members modify their consumption behaviors toward the brand because of their membership in the restaurant Facebook fan page.
The research is significant in both theory and practice. From the theoretical perspective, the study contributes substantially to the understanding of consumers' decision-making process on Facebook fan pages. From the practical perspective, the description of fans' cognitive and affective believes assist restaurant marketers and Facebook fan page designers in developing more effective fan pages.