All posts by 412130ev

Leaving the Home Turf: How Brands Can Use Webcare on Consumer-generated Platforms to Increase Positive Consumer Engagement

Most of us can no longer imagine world without social media, but this has brought a number of new responsibilities for companies, for example: webcare. But what is it webcare actually? And what is the best way to use webcare? Let’s find out!

Due to the emergence of social media, more and more platforms have been created where people can share their thoughts and opinions: they can share information and experiences but can provide feedback as well. In this way, social media empowers consumers to influence other consumers’ purchase decisions. One of the ways consumers interaction happens via social media is through brand-generated platforms or consumer-generated platforms. The first is created by the company itself (e.g., brand’s official Facebook page) and the second is created by members of the general public (e.g., Volkswagen car owners club) and includes any form of online content created and consumed by users (Kim and Johnson, 2016). Those interactive Internet platforms have resulted in a loss of control for companies, since consumers are more empowered to voice their ideas and reach a large audience. Hence, this is where webcare becomes important: “the act of engaging in online interactions with (complaining) consumers by actively searching the web to address consumer feedback”.

What is webcare?
To simplify, webcare is the act of responding to questions, feedback and complaints on social media. On the before mentioned platforms everyone can post whatever they want, which can be fun (“Thanks for the PERFECT service!”), but challenging as well (“Already the 10th time my order goes wrong @$^(#@&*@!”). These interactions are commonly referred to as consumer engagement: “consumers non-transactional interactions with a brand or with other consumers in a brand context”. This engagement can be active, when consumers contribute to or create brand-related content, or passive, when brand-related is merely consumed, where active engagement strongly influences the attitudes of those who observe the created content. Besides some downsides, these platforms provide benefits for a company as well. Because, they have enabled them to engage their consumers more, and even better: they have the power to convert these consumers into fans and therefore to passionate and loyal customers.

How to use webcare?
Schamari and Schafers (2015) investigated how brands can use webcare on consumer-generated platforms to increase positive consumer engagement and have come to a number of conclusions. For the study, 188 participants were exposed to an online message in which a consumer expressed his or her satisfaction with a car brand. Half of the people observed a webcare respons from the car brand in which the writer was thanked for the compliment. The other half of the people did not see a webcare reaction. These messages were either shown on a platform managed by the car brand itself (a branded Facebook page) or on a platform managed by consumers themselves (a consumer forum).


The results show an increase in engagement intention when organizations respond to online compliments. People are more willing to share positive information, make recommendations or participate in online conversations when they read a ‘thank you’ message as response to a positive WOM message. These results are particularly visible when the message is shown on a consumer platform. This is explained by the so-called surprise effect. Consumers do not expect to receive a response to a platform that has been set up for and by consumers. So on, the surprise is greater when a brand thanks them kindly for the online compliment. The surprise effect was not present on the platform of the brand itself, because it is more obvious to get a response on a compliment on branded channels. Furthermore, the design of webcare is important, especially humanization. Particularly, personal webcare is more effective than impersonal webcare in driving consumer engagement intentions, which is explained by consumers’ perception of a brand’s conversational communication style. An example of a company (Transavia) that uses all these elements on a consumer-generated platform can be seen below.


One of the strengths of this research is that the authors focused on the effectiveness of webcare as response to positive consumer engagement, which has not been given much attention in the literature. Furthermore, the practical contribution of this research could be valuable for companies, because they could make use of the results to increase positive customer engagement. They could do this by responding to compliments on consumer-generated platforms in a personal way. To make the message as personal as possible, using someone’s real name instead of the brand name is a great start, but it could be valuable to look at the content of the responded message as well, which is not included in this research. Thus, it is clear that responding to positive messages is important, but further research should look at the added value of content in personalized messages and the effect on customer engagement as well.

Angella J. Kim and Kim K.P. Johnson. (2016). Power of consumers using social media. Computers in Human Behavior.

Schamari, Julia & Schaefers, Tobias. (2015). Leaving the Home Turf: How Brands Can Use Webcare on Consumer-generated Platforms to Increase Positive Consumer Engagement. Journal of Interactive Marketing.

Pakkie – the new trustworthy transaction platform

Imagine you found a nice second-hand television online, but the seller lives in Groningen and you live in Rotterdam. Driving back and forth is not easy for everyone, but transferring money in advance and waiting to get your product delivered perhaps does not feel good either. How do you really know if someone does as he or she promised? And whether the product meets the expectations? This is where Pakkie comes in: a safe transaction platform arranging both payment and shipping.

The startup, launched one month ago (January ’18), combines payment via a third-party account ( and sending from one of the 5,500 connected parcel points of PostNL, DHL and DPD. This way, you can safely buy second-hand items via Facebook Marketplace or ‘’, because the money is only transferred from the third-party account once the package has arrived at the recipient. As both payment and shipment are arranged via one party, there is control over every step of the transaction. Hence, Pakkie makes selling and buying online much easier (Pakkie, 2018).

How does it work?
Within a transaction, there are always two parties involved: a seller and a receiver. The transaction works differently for both. When a seller has made a deal online, the other party can pay via Pakkie. At this moment the seller will receive a shipping label. Afterwards, the seller can drop his or her package at PostNL, DHL or DPD and once the package is delivered the seller will receive his or her money. The shipment can be followed via the Pakkie app. On the other hand, Pakkie keeps the receiver informed about the shipping process and after the package is received, the seller gets paid (Pakkie, 2018).

Sending a large package (larger than standard letter post) with Pakkie costs 6,95 euros and you have to pay 4,25 euros for a small-volume order (standard letter post, shipped in an envelope). Sending a Pakkie costs as much as sending a package from a store, without additional service costs (Pakkie, 2018).

Schermafbeelding 2018-02-16 om 11.42.35

Efficiency criteria
Pakkie fulfils several efficiency criteria. Sellers can safely sell their goods online via Pakkie, without having to pay additional costs. Moreover, buyers can buy everything they like online in a safe manner. This way Pakkie removes the distrust of buyers and sellers and encourages people to buy and sell more second-hand instead of new products. In addition, Pakkie makes online trading easier, because it takes less time and effort to sell and buy second-hand products. Parcel deliverers could also benefit from Pakkie. With every distance of more than 30 kilometers, it is cheaper and more sustainable to send the purchase instead of picking it up yourself. On the other hand, users provide value for Pakkie as well by creating a bigger user base. Besides, Pakkie works with a commission business model: they charge a commission from each transaction. For every parcel that is traded via the service, the startup receives a fixed amount from the relevant parcel delivery service. This commission is below 1,00 euro per product sent, hence it is very important for Pakkie that more people will use this service. Furthermore, users are an essential part of Pakkie’s business model because without users the company would not even exist. This is the principle of value co-creation, where value is created in a multi directional way (Saarijärvi et al., 2013). Thus, the joint profitability criteria are met as both company (Pakkie) and users can benefit from the app (Carson et al., 1999).

Pakkie is feasible and takes care of several institutional arrangements. The company is fair, since it stimulates people to treat others the way they want to be treated as well.  In addition, the platform takes care of several concerns regarding security, fraud and scams, which no other marketplace platform has succeeded to do. Finally, the platform is transparent in a way that users can see where their parcel is and have full control in the transaction.

The future
Pakkie offers a solution to many people who want to buy and sell second-hand items online, but are reluctant towards the transaction process. The platform could lead to a more sustainable world with more second-hand trading. However, in a world where globalization is becoming increasingly important, especially within the European market, Pakkie should also start focusing on expanding abroad. Only if Pakkie gains enough users, the platform could expand all over the world.

Carson, S. J., Devinney, T. M., Dowling, G. R., & John, G. (1999). Understanding institutional designs within marketing value systems. Journal of Marketing, 115-130.

Pakkie. (2018). Retrieved from

Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P. K., & Kuusela, H. (2013). Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications. European Business Review, 25(1), 6-19.