Cultural implications of developing brand relationships on social media

By our News Team | 2023

Study highlights new opportunities for businesses to tailor their social media marketing strategies to align with cultural characteristics.


The effect of different cultural characteristics can affect the relationships consumers using social media have with different brands. This is according to research published in the International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing.


Researchers from the American University of the Middle East in Kuwait, and Cape Breton University in Canada, examined the role social media plays in the differences in the relationships between consumers and brands.

Social Media

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels

The team used Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory to help them understand social media data gathered from users in the European nations of Albania and Turkey through online surveys. They used statistical analysis to dig deep into the data and compare the characteristics of communication on social media between these two regions.


They found a positive correlation between social media communications and the strength of consumer-brand relationships. Indeed, the more a user is engaged in social media activity, the stronger is their relationship with a given brand. 


Less pronounced in the culture with the stronger collectivist tendency


However, the findings are more nuanced than that. The researchers found that the effect was less pronounced in the culture with the stronger collectivist tendency. This, they suggest, challenges the conventional wisdom with regard to cultural influences on social media behaviour.


It is worth noting that other variables such as gender and age, perhaps paradoxically, had little impact on brand relationship quality. This suggests that these relationships transcend demographic boundaries, emphasising what we might consider their universality.


The findings offer new insights for marketing. In recognising cultural similarities and differences in how consumers respond to social media communications, the work highlights possible new opportunities for businesses to tailor their social media marketing strategies to align with particular cultural characteristics, preferences, and behaviour patterns – rather than applying general principles in a region where the impact may be intrinsically weaker.


This research points to a need for companies to craft more effective and culturally sensitive strategies to connect with consumers worldwide, depending on local culture. 


Future work will, however, need to extend the findings from these two areas to a wider base to help support the hypothesis and allow more general conclusions to be drawn about brand relationships, and how social media across different cultures influences them.


You can find out more about the study, titled ‘Developing brand relationships through social media communication: a cross-cultural comparison’, here.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.