Becoming Friends in Online Brand Communities : Evidence From China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-86
Journal / PublicationJournal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


With the aid of information technology, consumers have increasingly engaged in social interaction in online brand communities. How can these strangers make friends online? Drawing on embeddedness theory and media richness theory, we examine the antecedents and intermediate mechanisms of online friendship. We theorize that online brand community interactivity aided by instant messaging technology is the main driving force of online friendship, whereas social presence and a sense of yuan (a Chinese concept describing predetermined relations) mediate online friendship development. Online friendship in turn enhances consumer online brand community commitment. We test our conceptual model with a sample of consumers from Chinese online sporting goods forums. The results support our hypotheses and inform online brand community research and practice.

Research Area(s)

  • Online Brand Community Commitment, Online Community Interactivity, Online Friendship, Sense of yuan, Social Presence