Tempting Fate: Social Media Posts, Unfollowing, and Long-Term Sales

70 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2017 Last revised: 27 Jul 2020

See all articles by Shuting Ada Wang

Shuting Ada Wang

Baruch College, City University of New York

Brad N. Greenwood

George Mason University - School of Business

Paul A. Pavlou

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business

Date Written: July 10, 2017

Abstract

In this study, we examine how a firm’s decision to post on social media affects the propensity of its followers to: (a) purchase its products and (b) unfollow the firm. Using a unique dataset from a large fashion retailer which frequently sends mass non-customized information-only posts on social media (i.e. non-coupons), findings indicate that such posts increase short-term purchases by 6%. However, these posts also increase followers’ propensity to unfollow the firm by 280%; significantly reducing long-term sales. Strikingly, this punitive effect of social media posting appears to manifest under very specific circumstances. Results indicate that these changes in unfollowing and long-term sales are larger if posts are sent in more crowded cities or during commuting hours (suggesting that the stress formed by personal crowding and the follower’s environment may play a key role in followers’ reaction to social media posting). These results underscore the potential downsides of sending blanket, non-customized, messages to followers, notably during times of intense psychological stress, as well as avenues to avoid such pitfalls.

Keywords: social media, fan pages, social media posting, purchase, unfollow, crowd, population density, peak traffic hours

Suggested Citation

Wang, Shuting Ada and Greenwood, Brad and Pavlou, Paul A., Tempting Fate: Social Media Posts, Unfollowing, and Long-Term Sales (July 10, 2017). Fox School of Business Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2999804 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2999804

Shuting Ada Wang

Baruch College, City University of New York ( email )

One Bernard Baruch Way
New York, NY 10010
United States

Brad Greenwood (Contact Author)

George Mason University - School of Business ( email )

VA 22030
United States

Paul A. Pavlou

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business

Houston, TX 77204-6021
United States

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