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• We examined the effect of CEO image strategy on follower loyalty in microblogs.
• Four types of CEO image strategies were identified.
• Followers are fondest of CEOs classified as experts rather than as friends.
• Usage orientation moderates the effect of CEO image on follower loyalty.
• Goal orientation positively influences CEOs with a highly professional image.
Microblogging platforms are gaining popularity among corporations and their top management in recent years. Although microblogging services like Twitter and Sina Weibo are now prevalently used for managing CEOs’ images and public relations, few studies have examined the effects of these practices on the loyalty of target audiences. This study examined the effect of CEO image strategy on follower loyalty in the microblogging context. Based on the self-presentation theory, four types of CEO image strategies were identified, namely the Expert, Friend, Textbook, and Daybook strategies. These categories were identified based on the levels of interactivity and professionalism of the CEOs on their microblogs. An online survey was used to collect data from microblog users, that is, the CEOs’ followers. The results showed that CEO image strategy influences follower loyalty in the microblogging context and that Chinese microblog users are fondest of CEOs who present themselves as experts rather than as friends (H1). The results also showed that usage orientation moderates the effect of CEO image on follower loyalty (H2) and that goal orientation positively influences CEOs with a highly professional image.
Journal: Computers in Human Behavior - Volume 41, December 2014, Pages 184–189