Engaging social media users: understanding online interactions in a retail context

Mahoney, Jamie (2019) Engaging social media users: understanding online interactions in a retail context. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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As existing social media platforms are further developed, and new platforms are introduced, their use by both organisations and individuals continues to grow. The adoption of such platforms as a means for commercial (e.g., retail) organisations to interact with clients and customers is now ubiquitous. There remains an ongoing need however to understand how and why organisations and individuals continue to interact through social media in the ways that they do. Prior literature has highlighted the need to understand not only what social media behaviours should be implemented by organisations, but how user engagement behaviours persist, develop, and differ across multiple social media platforms. Based on these identified gaps in the literature, the primary over-arching aim of the research described in this dissertation is to develop a greater understanding of social media users’ engagement behaviours and the effect that this engagement may have on maintaining and growing online social media audiences.

This thesis presents a sequence of four studies that utilise both qualitative and quantitative approaches to understand social media users’ engagement behaviours in real world contexts. All studies took an empirical approach to social media data collection and analysis, taking into account the rapidly changing ethical and privacy landscape that has developed during the course of the work. The first of these studies offers an outline of how retail organisations make use of social media, the types of content that they share, and the resulting levels of engagement they receive. This knowledge is then further developed in later studies, demonstrating and evaluating a means by which user engagement with different types of content can be modelled. Further to this, a longitudinal study demonstrates how networks of account followers develop over time, and how this growth may be modelled and predicted, including levels of engagement as one such potential predictor. Though primarily focused on these academic contributions, the dissertation also provides a number of practical implications for organisations. These include insights into approaches to develop a greater understanding of their online audiences, and the ability to tailor their online content strategies by understanding how groups of followers engage with different types of content. The thesis concludes with implications for future work, highlighting how recent literature and the findings of these studies can be used to motivate continued research in this field.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Twitter, user behaviour, Facebook, social network analysis
Subjects: G500 Information Systems
N100 Business studies
P900 Others in Mass Communications and Documentation
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Computer and Information Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 26 May 2021 08:33
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 16:33
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/46282

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