The advent and adoption of social media networking sites have radically altered the creation and dissemination of marketing messages within the online marketplace. Consumers are being empowered within these social media platforms and are taking on a more active role as creators, facilitators and editors of online content, as opposed to being merely passive recipients of information. It is now possible for one consumer to create and share content with thousands of other people which have greatly magnified the growth of the user generated content phenomenon. The social Web is changing traditional marketing communications processes. Traditional media and brand communications that were once controlled and administered by brands and marketers alike are gradually being shaped by consumers and the impact of this new reality can have a massive impact on certain marketing outcomes.
The aim of this research is to assess how consumers’ interactions with user generated content and brand generated content affect brand attitude and purchase intention, with a specific focus on the emerging world of visual social media sites; Instagram and Pinterest. Through an extensive examination of the existing literature surrounding this area, the author has identified a number of key theories and conceptual frameworks which provide the foundation for this research. The resulting framework proposed by this author is structured on the three areas addressed in the research question and research objectives; content generation within visual social media sites Instagram and Pinterest, the influence of this content exposure on consumer’s attitude towards brands and finally, the impact this has on creating purchase intention.
To test this model, there were a total of 253 responses to the questionnaire collected and analysed. The findings indicate Instagram and Pinterest as extremely powerful mediums of user generated content and as influencers of brand attitude and purchase intention among users. Other findings
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highlighted issues such as source credibility between types of user-generated content as another major influence of brand attitude and of creating the ultimate intention to purchase.
Finally, this paper offers potential areas for future work in the development of this topic area and also identifies the main implications for managers such as knowing your audience and being active on social media. Author keywords: User generated content, social media, brand attitude, purchase intention