Vital Clues for Leveraging Word-of-mouth Marketing Through Social Media


For digital marketers to harness the power of social networking, it is vital to understand how to encourage communication about products, brands, and companies. Most studies of so-called “electronic word-of-mouth” (E-WOM) have focused on how it influences recipients of promotional messages. Professor Choi and his team wanted to explore why and how an individual might share promotional messages in the first place.

“We devised our study to test whether sharers consider how soon a purchase might occur,” explains Professor Choi. “We also anticipated that the design of the ads, specifically whether it uses images or text, could influence whether it is shared.” Since social media users can select the message recipient for their sharing behavior, the researchers focused on the effects of the strength of social ties on E-WOM.

The team selected undergraduate students to participate in their research, recognizing that social media use in Korea is highest among people in their 20s. At the start of the experiment, students read a scenario about moving either next week or next year. They were then shown furniture ads, either in pictures or words, and asked whether they were likely to recommend it to their friends and the general public via social media.

The team found that consumers were more likely to share promotional messages with their strong ties. Furthermore, purchase timing, as well as ad format, also influenced whether the user would share the message.

The study’s findings provide valuable insights for marketers in the digital age. As users are more likely to share ads with friends, one strategy is to foster online communities of consumers to develop stronger relationships between them. Marketers should also focus on matching advertising designs with how soon the product might be purchased. As Professor Choi explains, “Product photos should motivate sharing for frequent and imminent purchases, whereas ads for infrequent and delayed purchases are more likely to be shared if they feature abstract text.”

Appearing in the journal Internet Research, the study’s contribution was recently recognized by the publisher, with Professor Choi’s work being Highly Commended in the 2018 Emerald Literati Awards.

This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2014S1A5-A2A0101-5688).



Yung Kyun Choi1, Yuri Seo2, and Sukki Yoon3

Title of original paper:

E-WOM messaging on social media: Social ties, temporal distance, and message concreteness


Internet Research



1 Dongguk University, Republic of Korea

2 University of Auckland, New Zealand

3 Bryant University, USA 

*Corresponding author’s email:

About Dongguk University

Dongguk University, founded in 1906, is located in Seoul, South Korea. It comprises 13 colleges that cover a variety of disciplines and has local campuses in Gyeongju, Goyang, and Los Angeles. The university has 1300 professors who conduct independent research and 18000 students undertaking studies in a variety of disciplines. Interaction between disciplines is one of the strengths on which Dongguk prides itself; the university encourages researchers to work across disciplines in Information Technology, Bio Technology, CT, and Buddhism. 


About the author

Yung Kyun Choi (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA) is a professor in the Department of Advertising and PR at Dongguk University, Seoul, South Korea. His research interests include message congruency effects, consumer behavior in virtual social environments, and cross-cultural advertising effects. He received the Best Reviewer Award from International Journal of Advertising and more recently was Highly Commended in the 2018 Emerald Literati Awards. His work has appeared in leading advertising and marketing journals. He served as President of Korean Scholars of Marketing Science (KSMS) from 2016 to 2018.

SOURCE Dongguk University