Rishika Rishika
Rishika Rishika

Ramkumar Janakiraman
Ramkumar Janakiraman

More fans on a company’s Facebook page can help generate more income, indicates a research study conducted by four professors, including two from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

The study shows social media participation helps strengthen the bond between the customer and the firm, generating 5.6 percent more revenue and about 5 percent more in-person visits than among non-participating customers.

The researchers were Rishika Rishika and Ramkumar Janakiraman, both marketing professors at Mays; Ashish Kumar from Aalto University; and Ram Bezawada from the University at Buffalo, N.Y.

This study has been published in a special issue of the journal Information Systems Research titled “Social Media and Business Transformation.”

Companies have long questioned the return on investment of resources needed to operate social media sites. Previously, there was no individual-level data connecting customers’ participation in a firm-hosted social media site and their actual purchase behaviors. This study gives business managers a better understanding of the return on their investment in social media. In particular, the study uses novel behavioral data and helps understand the link between social media participation and the number of customer purchases.

Building online communities, personalizing messages and encouraging contributions from online members enhances the customer experience. It also increases the frequency of customer shopping visits and promotes sales overall, the research indicated. The keys to success include maintaining a user-friendly site, sending regular updates about events, personalizing key messages to customers, and encouraging customer-firm interaction through these messages.

“Anyone can open a Facebook page and post, but good firms do something with that interaction – they capitalize on that engagement,” explains Janakiraman. Jason’s Deli, for instance, follows up on customer complaints posted on its social media sites, and large firms boast about the number of fans they have. “We argue social media is good for the business because it helps the customers. They have easy access to information, it pops up on their screens. And reviews come in from other fans in the community.”

By fostering an online relationship between the customer and the firm, customers can be segmented based on purchase history and their prior interactions with the firm. Market segmentation is essential, since not all customers respond to social media equally.

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.