What’s in an Image? Understanding Visual Modality of Engagement In Digital Service Ecosystems

Blasco-Arcas, L., Azer, J. and Alexander, M. (2023) What’s in an Image? Understanding Visual Modality of Engagement In Digital Service Ecosystems. 8th Naples Forum on Service, Ravello, Italy, 6-9 June 2023.

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Purpose: Customers proactively engage with firms’ offerings through behavioral manifestations using visual modality, thus influencing other customers in digital service ecosystems and, consequently, affecting the firm’s value. We contend that visual modality engagement (VME) offers rich displays of contextual information, presenting crucial cues for customers seeking information. On the other hand, those cues are critical for service marketers who have long struggled to unlock secrets of highly subjective, personal, and intangible experiences. This study builds on existing literature on customer engagement, image acts, and visual content communication to understand behavioral manifestations of VME, their effect on social interaction and propagation, and whether the magnitude of these effects differs on services, products, or brands and other customers within digital service ecosystems. Methodology: A combination of qualitative (field study – Netnography; Facebook & Instagram – 4 industries: Retail services, Airlines services, Technology brand, Sports brand) and quantitative (experiment) studies were designed to explore the different forms of VME and their effects in terms of consumer responses. Findings: This paper conceptualizes VME and offers a typology of its four distinct forms; two positive (evidential, experiential) and two negative (mocking, and dissuasive) forms, their definitions, and their different magnitude of impacts on firms (i.e., purchase intent and brand evaluation) and on other customers in the online network (i.e., willingness to imitate and reshare intentions). Implications: This paper contributes to the engagement literature, which has focused exclusively on textual modality, by introducing the concept of VME, the first attempt to capture behavioral manifestations of engagement through visual modality, its typology, and the impact of different forms. Research Limitations: This paper focuses on pictorial posts created by customers. Future research may complement our findings compared to textual modality, specifically concerning brand response to imagery vs. textual posts. Originality/Value: This paper offers the first conceptualization of VME. It provides the first framework of its forms and their impacts on firms and other customers in digital service ecosystems. This paper provides empirical evidence of how different VMEs induce interaction, propagation, and, thereby, different outcomes.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Keywords:Customer Engagement, visual modality of engagement, digital service ecosystems, visual content, image act theory
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Azer, Dr Jaylan
Authors: Blasco-Arcas, L., Azer, J., and Alexander, M.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Research Group:Marketing

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