The collective desire to be part of a community has been increasingly emphasized in the last decade due to the advent of the World Wide Web and the growing number of social software programs that have facilitated the emergence. countless virtual online communities. Thus, the online environment has become a meeting point for people around the world, who can exchange information at a glance on all aspects of life.
Recent studies (Heidemann et al., 2012) have shown that sharing information through online social networks is a conscious act, people deliberately deciding what information to share based on the importance they have on their own image in the context of the entire network. of "friends" or depending on the existence of a target audience that might be interested in this information. From this point of view, the users of the online social networks distribute on these networks, in general, the information that they value or the information that seems valuable for other people in their network. Xu si al. (2013) point out that 65% of users use online feedback in making decisions about purchasing products, while 86% of them say that the opinions of other customers expressed through comments posted on these social networks are extremely important. in making a decision.
Therefore, the company's reputation and image can be an important element that influences buyers' behaviors (Wilkins and Huisman, 2014), which are strongly related to what actually happens in the online environment, where individuals actively participate in conversations. online. In response to such behavior, companies should try to properly adapt their marketing strategies in online environments, so as to provide these networks with the necessary information that allows them to create, protect, maintain or alter an image of a particular audience. .
In this context, this paper aims to continue studies in this field by determining the impact that online social networks have on both consumer behavior and the image of the company. Through the proposed new research methods, mainly through the use of techniques based on the theory of gray systems, will bring an additional knowledge in the field, which can help companies in better substantiation of decisions and increase their performance.
Therefore, the strategic objective considers the evaluation of the impact had by the appearance, development and use of online social networks both on the behavior and decisions of consumers, as well as on the company's image and its performance.
Among the scientific objectives can be mentioned the following:
1. Studying the economic and social context of using online social networks;
2. Development of a new vision for research in the field;
3. Development of research collaboration;
4. Obtaining special research results in the field of analysis of online social networks, consumer behavior and company image;
5. Increasing the degree of capitalization of research results;
6. Integration of research results at the level of society;
7. Carrying out interdisciplinary and intercultural research. The proposed scientific objectives are subordinated to the project areas
"Excellence in scientific, interdisciplinary, doctoral and postdoctoral research, in the Economic, Social and Medical fields" in which this study was conducted, more specific to the area studying interdisciplinary approaches and innovative methods of studying human behavior, by analyzing consumer behavior in the context of online social networks, an analysis that includes elements taken mainly from the theory of gray systems, a theory quite new in the literature, but which has proven to be advantageous in working with large data sets and in situations with a high degree of uncertainty. Also, by studying the impact that social networks can have on the company, more specifically on its image with effect in obtaining financial and non-financial performance, the research approaches the area of managerial approaches in the context of the knowledge society, this analysis can help the decision maker. adopting marketing strategies appropriate to a given situation.