Seeking the Support of the Silent Majority: Are Lurking Users Valuable to the UGC Platform?
63 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2017 Last revised: 19 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 16, 2018
In user-generated content (UGC) platforms, content generators (i.e., posters) account for only a minority of users. The majority of users lurk, participating in information diffusion only (i.e., diffusers) and making no direct contributions to the platforms. In this paper, we study diffusers’ reposting behavior in a UGC platform and compare it with that of posters. We find that diffusers generally behave similarly to posters in reposting. Both groups repost more when seeing more posts and encountering popular posts. Interestingly, their reposting behavior diverges under information redundancy, i.e., when more popular posts are seen in a dense network. Under this condition, diffusers show a much higher propensity to repost, which is (partially) driven by their less need for uniqueness (NFU). Overall, this study suggests an exquisite way for platforms to activate their lurking users and it sheds light on their value in generating word-of-mouth and in facilitating information diffusion. It also provides useful guidelines for firms to approach the right type of lurking users (i.e., diffusers in a dense network) by using the right method of stimulation (i.e., offering popular albeit redundant information) during product diffusion online.
Keywords: Information diffusion, network density, clustering coefficient, UGC platform
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