The power of 140 characters
For graduating cum laude as a master of Business Studies at the University of Amsterdam Sanne Stricker (@ssann on Twitter) did a little experiment in which she explored how negative product-related electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) messages on Twitter influence consumer behaviour. Each participant was exposed to a negative Tweet about CoffeeCompany and was manipulated in terms of message involvement, message quality and tie strength.
The results showed significant differences between the effect of strong and weak tie sources. Consumers conform to online consumer reviews via Twitter and attitudes become unfavourable as the tie strength increases. The involvement level of the reader did not have a significant impact on the persuasiveness of the message. Also the quality of the message, i.e. whether it had arguments, was not leading in determining the impact of a negative Tweet. The findings that only tie strength was of significant importance led to the conclusion that in its core eWOM builds on the theories of offline WOM. Also, reading negative product-related content on Twitter only affects the shortterm consumer behaviour. The power of 140 characters has a significant impact depending on strong ties and affects short-term consumer behaviour more than long-term brand attitudes.