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Buzzing with disclosure of social shopping rewards

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Purpose

– The purpose of this paper is to examine the dilemma that is based on a decision to disclose or not to disclose social shopping rewards (SSRs), in an effort to enhance the effectiveness of social shopping. To protect consumers and guide marketers, emergent forms of online commerce on social media platforms warrant closer examination. One such form is social shopping, which combines social media and online shopping. To motivate word of mouth (WOM) through social signs of approval or endorsement of brands, marketers have typically relied on social shopping rewards (SSRs). It is not typical, however, for the reason behind the social endorsement to be disclosed, leaving the branded message open to multiple interpretations.

Design/methodology/approach

– The dilemma of SSR disclosures is presented in a marketing and public policy analysis, drawing from findings from the WOM literature on disclosure, incentives, source credibility and on social media Disclosure Guidelines by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Based on this analysis and on an extension of the Dual Credibility Model, a conceptual model is proposed that shows how disclosure works through source credibility to produce positive social shopping outcomes.

Findings

– In addition to the conceptual model, recommendations are made for marketing research, practice and public policy. Of significance are proposed SSR Disclosure Guidelines that extend FTC and WOMMA guidelines for best practices in disclosures in social media.

Originality/value

– This paper represents pioneering research on the disclosure of SSRs.
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Keywords: Marketing communications; Marketing ethics; Online consumer behavior; Retailing online; Social media marketing; Word-of-mouth marketing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Business, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois, United States. 2: Department of Marketing, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, United States.

Publication date: August 10, 2015

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