Network Size and Content Generation on Social Media Platforms
64 Pages Posted: 31 May 2016 Last revised: 14 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 2019
Social media has been increasingly integrated into firm operations. Past literature documented the operational value of the content generated by social media users. We focus on individuals’ incentives to generate and share content in social media in the first place, which is largely underexplored in the literature. Specifically, we distinguish the role of the followee network (the group of people being followed by the user) from the role of the follower network on a user’s incentives to generate content. When a user follows more people, she may spend more time consuming content than generating content (the substitution effect). She may also gain more information from her followees to facilitate her content generation (the information sharing effect). We find, through different identification strategies using multiple datasets from two influential social media platforms, that the substitution effect dominates the information sharing effect. The effects of the followees and followers are asymmetrical both in signs and in magnitudes. Our findings have important implications for companies leveraging social media in their operations and for online digital platforms that rely on user contributions.
Keywords: Social Media, User-Generated Content, Peer Effects, Network Analytics
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