Building and maintaining brand trust has long been a major concern for marketers. One of the latest marketing concepts is social media based marketing. With the widespread use of social media, a group of marketers decided to make a linkage between social media and brand communities. In order to take advantage of both brand communities and social media, many firms are utilizing social media to develop brand communities. While offline brand communities had been sufficiently studied, few researches have been done about online brand communities, particularly the new phenomenon of “social media based brand community”. As brand communities are growing in popularity, both marketers and researchers must gain more insight on this phenomenon. This paper aims to determine the impact of social media based brand community on brand trust in tourism industry. For this purpose, we investigated Setareh Almas Hali Tour and Travel Agency as our case study. This is an applied research using descriptive-correlational survey method and structural equation modeling. From among the statistical population consisting of 100,000 people, 384 people were selected using Morgan table. Since some of the questionnaires were likely to be not completed, the total sample was 410. To perform the opinion poll, the questionnaire was placed in various social media within a specified time period. As the research model was supposed to be examined in social media, the data were collected through an online opinion poll in social media. Data collection tool was a multiple-choice questionnaire which enabled to assess the research variables. In general, the required data were collected using library and questionnaire methods. The validity and reliability of the questionnaire were established by Cronbach’s alpha coefficient method. According to the results, total validity for 27 items of the questionnaire was 90%. After collecting the questionnaires, we analyzed the data using LISREL. The results indicated that membership in Instagram based brand community of Setareh Almas Hali Tour and Travel Agency boosted customer-product, customer-brand, customer-firm and customer-customer relations through three characteristics shared by communities: shared consciousness, shared rituals and traditions, and moral responsibility to society. This enhanced relation in turn developed customer trust to brand.
Keywords: social media based brand community, shared consciousness, shared rituals and traditions, moral responsibility to society, brand trust
JEL Classification: L83, M31.
Cite as: Khanlari, A., Hajiheydari N. & Farhang, M. (2016). The impact of social media based brand communities on brand trust in tourism industry. Marketing and Management of Innovations, 2, 94-107. https://doi.org/10.21272/mmi.2016.2-09