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Conceptualising consumers' dynamic relationship engagement: the development of online community relationships

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With the growing importance of online communities in consumers' relationships with businesses, there is an increasing need to understand how these relationships come into being and how they are strengthened. The paper presents a dynamic model of the process of consumers' relationship engagement in online communities. The model comprises five relationship statuses as well as a number of forces that either strengthen, weaken, or maintain consumers' relationship engagement. An empirical study based on a netnographic approach was conducted at an online community of interest with the goal to solicit narratives concerning respondents' relationship with the online community. Empirical data illustrate the fact that the relationship development is not linear. The study offers companies and academics a conceptual framework for recognising key elements in consumers' experience with and engagement in online communities, thus providing a tool for understanding and supporting online community users as well as suggesting avenues for further research.
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