Exploring the role of online consumer empowerment in reputation building: Research questions and hypotheses
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The aim of this article was to identify the main factors that affect online brand reputation as reinforced by the empowerment of consumers. The article draws together the relevant literature from different but related disciplines, in order to identify the relationships between the critical factors of online consumer empowerment, the social processes of reputation building and e-reputation. Using assessments of this kind, research questions and hypotheses about potential indicators of online empowerment are presented. It is argued that empowered consumers can play the role of mediation in reputation building when they operate within particular ‘social Webs’, such as reputation-based systems and/or opinion platforms, blogs and so on. The study is somewhat limited by the use of a literature-based approach, in that the article can constitute only a starting point in the study of this relatively unexplored area. Subsequent research will be necessary to investigate the importance of individual indicators in determining a company's e-reputation, as summarised in the research agenda presented herein. From a theoretical point of view, we attempt to increase our knowledge of e-marketing and suggest that the management of brand reputation may be an interpretative key to a new e-marketing concept. In practical terms, the identification of the decisive factors that underpin a firm's e-reputation can indicate how the firm could take advantage of online consumer empowerment, without being overwhelmed by it.
Keywordsonline brand reputation online consumer empowerment reputation building social Web Web 2.0
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