Retailer use of a professional social media network: Insights from franchising
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The adoption and use of a professional social media network by franchise chains is the focus of this paper. We draw on resource-based theory, institutional economic theories of incentives and externalities and multidisciplinary literatures on franchising, innovation adoption and interorganizational communication to link (i) franchisor characteristics and partnering strategies to the adoption and use of a professional social media network and (ii) the extent of use of this network by a franchisor to the number of followers of its network page. Hypotheses are empirically assessed using data on 500 US franchise chains from Entrepreneur’s Annual Franchise 500 for 2011, content analysis of LinkedIn pages for 317 franchise chains in 2011 and number of followers in 2015. One key finding is that franchisor adoption of LinkedIn is positively influenced by franchise chain size, franchising fees and franchisor marketing communications and negatively affected by franchise concept complexity. A second important finding is that, among franchisors who adopt LinkedIn, the extent of use of LinkedIn is positively impacted by franchise chain size, franchising fees and negatively affected by franchise chain age. A third notable finding is that the number of followers of a franchisor’s LinkedIn page in the short term is positively impacted by the extent of information about franchise chain and recruitment. A fourth key finding is that the number of followers in the longer term (2015) is positively impacted by whether the franchisor had a presence on LinkedIn in 2011 and, for these franchisors, by the number of followers in 2011.
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