Pump it Out! The Effect of Transmitter Activity on Content Propagation in Social Media

48 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2017 Last revised: 7 Jul 2018

See all articles by Andrew T. Stephen

Andrew T. Stephen

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Yaniv Dover

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Jerusalem School of Business Administration

Lev Muchnik

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Jerusalem School of Business Administration

Jacob Goldenberg

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah

Date Written: January 1, 2017

Abstract

People share billions of pieces of content such as news, videos, and photos through social media every day. Marketers are interested in the extent to which such content propagates and, importantly, which factors make widespread propagation more likely. Extant research considers various factors, such as content attributes (e.g., newness), source traits (e.g., expertise), and network structure (e.g., connectivity). This research builds on prior work by introducing a novel behavior-focused transmitter characteristic that is positively associated with content propagation in social media: activity, or how frequently a person transmits content. Evidence for this effect comes from five studies and different paradigms. First, two studies using data from large social media platforms (Twitter and LiveJournal) show that content posted by higher-activity transmitters—whom we refer to as “social pumps”—propagates more than content posted by lower-activity transmitters. Second, three experiments explore the behavioral mechanism underpinning this effect, showing that social media users receiving content from a social pump are more likely to retransmit it (a necessary behavior for achieving aggregate-level propagation) because they infer that content from a social pump is more likely to be current, and therefore more attractive as something to pass along through retransmission.  

Suggested Citation

Stephen, Andrew T. and Dover, Yaniv and Muchnik, Lev and Goldenberg, Jacob, Pump it Out! The Effect of Transmitter Activity on Content Propagation in Social Media (January 1, 2017). Saïd Business School WP 2017-01, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2897582 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2897582

Andrew T. Stephen (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Yaniv Dover

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Jerusalem School of Business Administration ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel

Lev Muchnik

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Jerusalem School of Business Administration ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel

Jacob Goldenberg

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah ( email )

P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150
Israel

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