Cultural values reflected in corporate pages on popular social network sites in China and the United States

Wan Hsiu Tsai, Linjuan Rita Men

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Purpose: Social network sites (SNSs) have been recognized as an important marketing communication tool for marketers to connect with today's internet-savvy consumers. At the same time, the popularity of SNSs has become a worldwide phenomenon with the rise of many local SNSs. The purpose of this paper is to examine cultural differences in the use of communication appeals on corporate pages of leading SNSs in two culturally distinct countries, China and the USA. Design/methodology/approach: The study employs a content analysis to identify cultural orientations observed in communication appeals of the corporate pages on leading SNSs in China (Renren) and the USA (Facebook). Findings: Appeals to interdependence, popularity, high social status, luxury, emotions, and symbolic association are more frequently used in societies with a more collectivistic, greater power distance, and high-context culture such as in China; whereas appeals to individuality and hedonism are more frequently used in an individualistic society like the USA. Overall, findings indicate that communication appeals on SNSs reflect the dominant cultural values in each country. Originality/value: Despite the numerous hypes and speculations regarding the effectiveness of SNSs as a marketing tool, few studies have explored how marketers use SNSs to interact with consumers. Findings based on this study advance our understanding of marketing communications on social media from a cross-cultural perspective. The paper provides new evidence indicating that global marketers should adapt their communication strategies and styles when communicating with consumers in different societies on SNSs. The authors also provide guidelines for the localization attempts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-58
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Research in Interactive Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


  • China
  • Cross-cultural comparison
  • Cultural differences
  • Marketing communications
  • Social networking sites
  • United States of America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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