Journal article Open Access

Don't be so emotional! How tone of voice and service type affect the relationship between message valence and consumer responses to WOM in social media

De Keyzer, Freya; Dens, Nathalie; De Pelsmacker, Patrick

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the boundary conditions of the effect of the valence of word-of-mouth on social networking sites (sWOM) on consumer responses (attitude toward the service provider, purchase intention and positive word-of-mouth intention). Specifically, the authors examine two moderators: the tone of voice (factual vs emotional) of the sWOM and service type (utilitarian vs hedonic) of the service that the sWOM is about.,A 2 (message valence: positive vs negative) × 2 (tone of voice: factual vs emotional) × 2 (service type: utilitarian vs hedonic) full-factorial between-subjects online experiment with 400 respondents was conducted and the data were analyzed using Hayes' PROCESS macro.,The results show that message valence exerts a greater impact on consumer responses with factual sWOM messages compared to emotional ones. Furthermore, the impact of message valence is stronger for hedonic services compared to utilitarian services. In contrast to the authors' expectations, there is no significant impact of matching the tone of voice to the service type.,First, for sWOM senders, factual messages are found to be more influential: backing an sWOM up with arguments and specific details increases the chance of it affecting consumers' responses. As a result, marketers, especially of predominantly hedonic services, should encourage their followers and customers to spread positive factual sWOM about their service.,The study tests two previously unstudied moderating variables that affect the relationship between message valence and consumer responses to sWOM messages. Moreover, this study provides interesting insights for marketers and bloggers or reviewers.
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