PurposeSocial media encourage interactions between customers and brands. Concerning the cues utilized during social media interactions, verbal cues (i.e. the language used) gain importance, since non-verbal and paraverbal cues are hard to convey via social media. Looking at interpersonal interactions, interlocutors adopt each other’s language styles or maintain their own language style during interactions to build trust. Transferring these insights to social media, the purpose of this paper is to test the effects of a brand’s language style accommodation in brand-customer interactions on brand trust and on its antecedents.Design/methodology/approachTwo quantitative pre-studies (n1 (questionnaire)=32, n2 (laboratory experiment)=199), and one quantitative main study (n3 (laboratory experiment)=427) were conducted to determine the effects of a brand’s language style accommodation on brand trust.FindingsIn line with communication accommodation theory, this paper reveals that the impact of a brand’s accommodation strategy on brand trust is mediated by perceived relationship investments, such as perceived interaction effort, benevolence, and quality of interaction. This paper also underscores language style’s roles and its fit, and sheds light on situational factors such as purchase decision involvement and the valence of the content.Originality/valueThis paper is the first to transfer cross-disciplinary theories on interpersonal interactions to brand-customer interactions in social media. Thus, the authors derive the effects of language style accommodation on brand trust as well as further mediating effects.
Journal of Service Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 19, 2017