Seeking the support of the silent majority: are lurking users valuable to UGC platforms?
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In user-generated content (UGC) platforms, content generators (i.e., posters) account for only a minority of users. The majority of users lurk, participating in information diffusion only and making no direct contributions to the platforms (i.e., diffusers). In this paper, we study diffusers’ reposting behavior in a UGC platform and compare it with that of posters. We find that diffusers generally behave similarly to posters in reposting. Both groups repost more when seeing more posts and encountering popular posts. Interestingly, their reposting behavior diverges under information redundancy, i.e., when more popular posts are seen in a dense network. Under this condition, diffusers show a much higher propensity to repost, which is (partially) driven by their lesser need for uniqueness (NFU). Overall, this study suggests an exquisite way for platforms to activate their lurking users and it sheds light on their value in generating word-of-mouth and in facilitating information diffusion. It also provides useful guidelines for firms to approach the right type of lurking users (i.e., diffusers in a dense network) by using the right method of stimulation (i.e., offering popular albeit redundant information) during product diffusion online.
KeywordsInformation diffusion Network density Clustering coefficient UGC platform
We greatly appreciate the comments and suggestions of seminar participants at 2017 JAMS “Thought Leader Conference on Marketing Strategy in Digital, Data-Rich, and Developing Environments” conference at UIBE, Beijing, China, and thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for the constructive and developmental review process. We are in debt to the company in China which shares the data and provides extensive discussions. Haiwen Dai and Junwen Huang provided excellent research assistance. Chen and Zhou are grateful for financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Numbers 71502111, 71872115, 71772126 and 71832015). The authors contribute to the paper equally and are listed alphabetically. The usual disclaimers apply.
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