Background and study purpose
Numerous social media platforms are available for people to use nowadays. Such platforms have revolutionized the way people interact and subsequently led to an increase in social media users (Li 2012; Lu, Zhang & Fan 2015). The popularity and increase in the number of social media users can be attributed to the increased number of phones and other internet-connecting devices such as PC, laptops, Tablets, among others (Skoric 2016).
The introduction of Smartphones has changed the means and mode of communication of many people all over the world (Lien & Cao 2014). The concept of social media and its role in enhancing communication is an interesting subject to researchers and scholars nowadays. WeChat has become so popular among internet users in China (Lin & Lu 2011; Wang & Sun 2009). This comes amidst the blockage of other social media platforms in China, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Social media trends show that more social media users are using WeChat. This study provides an in-depth analysis of the concept of social media, general trend analysis of the Chinese social media industry, and the current state of the Chinese social media market. Specifically, a lot of focus is on understanding the factors that influence WeChat’s increased motivation, loyalty and high level of satisfaction among its users.
This study uses the quantitative research approach to collect the necessary data and information on WeChat users’ motivation, loyalty, and satisfaction. A survey is conducted targeting university students to get insights on their motivation, satisfaction, and loyalty as far as the use of WeChat is concerned. The collected data was analyzed using various methods such as correlation and regression analysis to ascertain the relationship between the study variables. According to Mitchell and Jolly (2010), regression and correlation methods of analysis are suitable methods for establishing the relationship between variables in any given study.
The study finds out that entertainment has a positive and significant relationship with satisfaction, and has a correlation value of 0.356 and a significant p-value of 0.000. Sociality has a positive and meaningful relationship with the study variables and has a correlation value of 0.288 and a significance value of 0.000. Additionally, the study found that the search for information has a positive and significant relationship with satisfaction, and has a correlation value of 0.232 and a significance value of 0.003.
Moreover, the study found out that loyalty has a positive and significant relationship with satisfaction, and has a correlation value of 0.478 and significance value of 0.000. The implication is that the motivation, loyalty, and satisfaction of WeChat users are influenced by the users’ search for information, sociality and entertainment, and hence the fulfilment of the study’s objectives. Such findings are significant in the social media industry of China and academia. As far as the industry is concerned, the study acts as a source of information on WeChat users’ loyalty, motivation, and satisfaction, while in academia, the study acts as a learning experience.
Summary of the study
The availability of smartphones in the market has allowed individuals to install different social media applications that allow communication among users regardless of the distance. For example, Instant Messaging (IM) is one of the latest social media applications that have caught the attention of many mobile users. The instant messaging system is a communication platform that allows users to communicate with one another on the go (Yang, Sato, Yamawaki & Miyata 2013).
Social media has become a key player as far as the communication and interaction of different people in the world are concerned. Different individuals in China use social media for their businesses, research, entertainment, news, education, and for advertising purposes (Wong & Mok 2000). Some of the primary reasons for carrying out this study included investigating WeChat users’ motivation, satisfaction, and loyalty, as well as exploring the relationship between motivation, satisfaction, and loyalty, and analyzing the trends in the use of WeChat.
Based on the scope of the data required, the study used a quantitative research approach only to collect the data for the study. Through in-depth analysis and a review of past literature, the study was able to gain the necessary insight into the concept of the social media industry, particularly in China. As such, several studies were conducted that covered the concept of China’s social media industry. More specifically, the study focused on the examination of the WeChat social media platform, which is one of the largest and commonly used social media in China.
The choice of carrying out this study was instigated by the increased number of WeChat users, even though several social media platforms (Twitter and Facebook) are blocked in China under the censorship law. As such, there was a need to examine the reasons for increased popularly in the use of WeChat social media platform in China.
The quantitative research approach used a survey method to collect the required data on the concept of WeChat users’ motivation, loyalty, and satisfaction among 286 study participants. The study used both simple random and purposive sampling techniques; the simple random sampling technique was used to determine the sample size, while the purposive sampling technique was very effective in determining the individuals to be interviewed.
The achievement of the aims and objectives of the study depended highly on the information collected from the survey as well as the findings from the literature review. Thus, the researcher focused on getting information participants using WeChat, such as the length of time the participants spent on WeChat and the number of friends on WeChat. It was evident that the majority of the study participants (25.52%) used WeChat for 1 to 2 hours daily, while only a small percentage (11.19%) of the study’s participants use WeChat for less than 30 minutes daily. The study found that most of the study’s participants (45.1%) had used WeChat for more than two years. Also, the study discovered that a high number of participants have more than 50 friends on WeChat.
The data collected from the survey was analyzed using various methods such as regression and correlation analysis, T-test, and F-Tests to ascertain whether or not there was any significant relationship between the variables under investigation. The primary area of concern for the study was to examine whether or not the motivations, loyalty, and satisfaction of WeChat users in China were directly influenced by users’ search for information, entertainment, and sociality.
Summary of the findings
According to the objectives and aims of the study, it was necessary to collect data on the personal opinion of several WeChat users to understand their motivations and the level of satisfaction they get from WeChat, as well as their loyalty regarding the use of WeChat. A regression analysis was carried out to ascertain whether or not there was any significant relationship between the coefficient of significance and users’ satisfaction. Additionally, the study aimed to find out the extent of the significance of the study variables as far as the motivation, loyalty, and satisfaction of the users are concerned. Such an objective was achieved by examining whether or not the probability p-value of the regression coefficient was less than the significant level ɑ (0.05), for a chance to determine whether or not the relationship was linear.
First, it was evident that the variable of entertainment had a probability p-value of the regression coefficient significance t-test of 0.043, which is less than the significant level ɑ (0.05), indicating that the linear relationship with this explanatory variable was significant. On the other hand, the regression coefficient for entertainment was 0.134, which implied that as the significance of entertainment increased by 1 point, people’s satisfaction for WeChat would improve by a significant factor of 0.134. Correlation between WeChat users’ level of satisfaction and entertainment had a positive and strong significance. The implication from such study results is that almost WeChat users are satisfied by the entertainment they receive from WeChat.
Secondly, on the variable of sociality and its significance in influencing WeChat’s increased popularity, it was evident that the probability p-value of the regression coefficient significance t-test was 0.033, which was less than the significant level ɑ (0.05). The implication for such a small p-value is that there is a significant linear relationship between sociality and the degree of satisfaction that users of WeChat had concerning the sociality factor.
Also, examining the regression coefficient, the study found it to be 0.218, indicating that as the variable, referent network size increased by 1 point, people’s satisfaction for WeChat would improve by a significant value of 0.218. On the other hand, the variable of referent network size had a probability p-value of the regression coefficient significance t-test of 0.429, which was high than the significant level ɑ (0.05). The implication, in this case, is that there was no significant linear relationship, and that referent network size did not influence participants’ use of WeChat.
The next variable that was considered as the search for information among users. The probability p-value of the regression coefficient significance t-test, in this case, was 0.027, which was less than the significant level ɑ (0.05). As such, the results indicated that the linear relationship with this explanatory variable was significant. Also, the study found out that the regression coefficient was 0.236, which indicated that as the need for information increased by 1 point, people’s satisfaction for WeChat would improve by 0.236. Such findings implied that WeChat users are motivated to use this type of social media platform by its ability to provide various types of information. For the variable of perceived complementarity, the study found out that the probability p-value of the regression coefficient significance t-test was 0.078, which was more than the significant level ɑ (0.05); an indication that the linear relationship with this explanatory variable is not significant.
For this reason, it was evident that perceived complementary is not a factor in contributing to increased WeChat’s popularity and increased use. Additionally, to analyze the relationship between satisfaction and loyalty, the regression analysis results indicated the coefficient of determination to be 0.834, which is more than 0.5. The adjusted R square was 0.672, indicating that the independent variable of satisfaction can explain 67.2% of the variance of loyalty.
On the other hand, according to the data collected, the total sum of the variables was 41.195, the sum of squares of regression and the mean square sum were 12.887 and 3.222 respectively, and the remaining sum of squares and mean square were 28.38 and 0.246 respectively. The F-test statistic’s value of observation was 13.089, and the corresponding probability p-value was 0.00. The implication was that the independent variable of satisfaction could be used in predicting the dependent variable of loyalty.
According to the analysis of results, the probability p-value of the regression coefficient significance t-test was 0.043, which was less than the significant level ɑ (0.05), indicating that there was a significant linear relationship between the satisfaction of users and their loyalty.
From the foregoing, it can be seen that the objectives of the study were met; the study analyzed the relationship between WeChat users’ motivation, loyalty, and satisfaction based on variables such as they search for information, sociality, entertainment, and referent for work.
These variables were found out to have various effects on WeChat users’ level of satisfaction, motivation, and loyalty. According to the study results and data findings, it was evident that WeChat is one of the largest social media platforms in China that has a lot of users. User satisfaction is always defined as the physiological feedback regarding a certain user’s expectations before the use of a given product or service, and the practical experience gained after using the given product or service (Anderson & Srinivasan 2010). In the case of WeChat users, Wong and Mok (2000) noted that they are motivated towards the use of WeChat by its capacity to offer a reliable platform to socialize, get entertainment and the information they need.
As noted from the results of the survey, there was a significant relationship between the search for entertainment among the users of WeChat and their increased usage of WeChat. This was depicted by the low probability p-value of the regression coefficient significance t-test after analysis. Additionally, a significant relationship was evident between the variable of sociality and the influence of WeChat users as far as increased popularity was concerned.
It was evident that the probability p-value of the regression coefficient significance t-test was less than the significant level ɑ (0.05). As such, the study indicated that WeChat users were motivated to continue using the service by its ability to connect users with friends and family members. It was also noted that there were concerns about the use of WeChat for referent network, which was found to affect the satisfaction of the users.
Based on the study results, the variable referent for the network had no significant relationship between WeChat users’ level of motivation, satisfaction, and loyalty. Considering the increased popularity of WeChat among many people in China, it can be seen that the numerous features that are present in WeChat attract the users (Yu & Huberman 2015). As pointed out by Tencent (2013), WeChat is suitable for chats and has features that offer users’ entertainment and a chance to get any form of information they require. As such, WeChat takes care of most areas of user motivation, loyalty, and satisfaction (Liu, Fang, Deng & Zhang 2012; Pun 2015).
For this reason, many WeChat users are satisfied with WeChat since it fulfils their desire for information, entertainment, and sociality (Mao 2014). Thus, the study results aligned with literature findings that motivation and satisfaction are significantly related. That sociality, entertainment and information search are the major factors that account for the increased popularity of WeChat among Chinese users.
The study was limited in terms of time needed to carry out the study, and to the suitability of questionnaires to collect the required information. As well, the accuracy and reliability of the findings were limited to respondents’ feedback. Nevertheless, the study’s results and findings were very significant as an addition to the existing school of knowledge on social media users’ motivation, loyalty, and satisfaction. Also, the research provided a learning experience for the researcher.
However, future studies should focus on adding more study variables for a better understanding of the factors that influence WeChat’s increased popularity and use among Chinese social media users. Usually, the use of large sample size in a study is important since it helps in avoiding error classification. For this reason, studies conducted in the future should budget for a large sample size to get variations of responses for comparison purposes. Additionally, studies conducted in the future to examine a similar concept should consider collecting data from wider geographical areas as this ensures that the researcher gets diverse responses from the study participants on their opinions, experiences as well as perspectives on the subject under study.
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