Measuring Competition for Attention in Social Media: NWSL Players on Twitter

Posted: 24 Jul 2018 Last revised: 18 Mar 2021

See all articles by Federico Rossi

Federico Rossi

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management

Gaia Rubera

Bocconi University

Date Written: July 2, 2018


Despite the increasing use of social media among personalities such as politicians, athletes, and entertainment celebrities, little is known about the intensity of competition that these popular users engage in to draw the attention of other users, and how their competition affects the users' engagement with social networks. In this research we propose a model where social media users supply content in return for user attention. Using Twitter data on soccer players from the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), we estimate a demand model where users decide how to allocate their attention among players, based on their content posted on social media and their performance on the soccer field. We consider the amount of tweets mentioning a player's account as a measure for the level of attention captured by the player. On the supply side, players decide the amount of social media content posted on the platform. We show that the attention substitution between players depends on their posting activity and soccer performance, but also on personal characteristics, such as physical attractiveness and team affiliation. Our analysis suggests that the competitive pressure to capture user attention is responsible for about one out of three tweets posted by players. This additional content benefits the social network, increasing by 7% the users' activity on the platform. We also quantify the effect on user activity of a revenue-sharing model in which the platform rewards players for posting tweets.

Keywords: Social Media, Competition for Attention, Structural Estimation, Twitter, Discrete Choice Models

Suggested Citation

Rossi, Federico and Rubera, Gaia, Measuring Competition for Attention in Social Media: NWSL Players on Twitter (July 2, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Federico Rossi (Contact Author)

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management ( email )

403 W. State Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2056
United States

Gaia Rubera

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136

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