Peer Influence and Information Diffusion in Online Social Networks: An Empirical Analysis

Posted: 20 Apr 2011 Last revised: 16 Sep 2012

Rajiv Garg

University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business

Rahul Telang

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Michael D. Smith

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Date Written: May 6, 2009

Abstract

While peer influence in social networks has been studied for over four decades, opportunities for research have exploded with the Internet. Still, research into online social networks faces many of the same challenges discussed in the extant literature: homophily, selection problems, reflection problems, identifying the source of influence, and accounting for pre-existing knowledge. In this essay we present an approach for dissecting an archival dataset to address these challenges in the context of information diffusion in online social networks. We apply our approach to archival data collected from an online community for music and estimate the extent of information diffusion of songs or bands by peers in the network. We find that peers significantly aid diffusion: online users are six times more likely to discover new songs and three times more likely to discover new bands from peers in the network than they would have been without those peers.

Keywords: information diffusion, peer influence, new content discovery, online music community, social influence

JEL Classification: M31

Suggested Citation

Garg, Rajiv and Telang, Rahul and Smith, Michael D., Peer Influence and Information Diffusion in Online Social Networks: An Empirical Analysis (May 6, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1433645

Rajiv Garg (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business ( email )

CBA 5.202
Austin, TX 78712
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.RajivGarg.org

Rahul Telang

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

4800 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-1155 (Phone)

Michael D. Smith

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.heinz.cmu.edu/~mds

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
799