Fresh Is Best: The Effect of Source Activity on the Decision to Retransmit Content in Social Media
Andrew T. Stephen
University of Pittsburgh
Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Jerusalem School of Business Administration; New York University (NYU) - Department of Information, Operations, and Management Sciences
Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Jerusalem School of Business Administration
January 24, 2014
Everyday, people share billions of pieces of content such as news, videos, and photos in social media. For shared content to propagate through social media, people must deliberately retransmit it (i.e., pass it on). Accordingly, individuals’ retransmission decisions play an essential role in influencing the extent to which information spreads over online social networks. We theorize that social media users prefer to retransmit fresh and current content because they do not want to risk sending information that their audiences are already aware of. However, it is often impossible to know if other people will deem a piece of content to be fresh. Thus, we propose that people infer content freshness from a previously unstudied source characteristic: social activity (posting frequency). Support for this conceptualization is provided by two types of data. First, an analysis of real-world data from Twitter shows that content posted by higher-activity sources propagates more than content posted by lower-activity sources. Second, four experiments demonstrate that social media users are more likely to retransmit content from higher-activity sources because they perceive content from higher-activity sources to be fresher.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: diffusion, social sharing, networks, social media, activity, viral marketing, word of mouth, retransmission, freshness, inferences, content, source activity
JEL Classification: M3, M31working papers series
Date posted: May 17, 2010 ; Last revised: January 25, 2014
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