Marketing writers' assertion that online communities are the
future for organisations may be misguided, although
peer-to-peer networks are certainly the future for consumers.
Brands have experienced ‘consumer revulsion’ at their
poorly-planned attempts to enter online communities to interact
The Internet has facilitated a revolution amongst consumers,
providing a medium for online communities to thrive. Source
credibility is paramount and Internet users are being selective
with exactly whose message they are willing to accept, absorb
and ultimately, allow to influence their buying decisions.
The primary objective of this research is to undertake an
exploratory investigation into the dynamics of online
communities and how membership influences the buying
decision for consumers of genre novels.
Through the process of online focus groups and the completion
of online questionnaires, data on the dynamics of online
relationships between consumers and authors, the buying habits
of consumers and the acceptance of online word-of-mouth
(WOM) were extracted and analysed.
This research demonstrates that the dynamics of online
communities are highly complex and in no way inferior or less
fulfilling than real-life relationships and that the influence of
online relationships on our buying decisions have no less impact
than real-life encounters.