Title: The positive outcomes of a sense of virtual community

Authors: Hanna-Kaisa Ellonen; Miia Kosonen; Anssi Tarkiainen; Lisbeth Tonteri

Addresses: Lappeenranta University of Technology, School of Business, P.O. Box 20, 53851 Lappeenranta, Finland ' Lappeenranta University of Technology, School of Business, P.O. Box 20, 53851 Lappeenranta, Finland ' Lappeenranta University of Technology, School of Business, P.O. Box 20, 53851 Lappeenranta, Finland ' Lappeenranta University of Technology, School of Business, P.O. Box 20, 53851 Lappeenranta, Finland

Abstract: This study examines how an experienced sense of virtual community affects relationship-marketing-related outcomes. Based on social identity and relationship marketing theories, a research model is developed and structural equation modelling is used to test the relationships between a sense of virtual community, brand-loyalty intentions, brand-community intentions, and word-of-mouth intentions on a sample of 342 active members of a Finnish business-newspaper brand community. The findings suggest that a sense of virtual community strengthens brand-community, brand-loyalty and brand-related word-of-mouth intentions. Hence, the results imply that a sense of virtual community reflects positively on the brand hosting the online community and results in positive business-related outcomes.

Keywords: web based communities; virtual communities; online communities; brand community; sense of community; word-of-mouth; WOM; behavioural intention; social identity; relationship marketing; structural equation modelling; SEM; brand loyalty; Finland; business newspapers.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2013.057216

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2013 Vol.9 No.4, pp.465 - 482

Available online: 18 Oct 2013 *

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