When Celebrities Speak: A Nationwide Twitter Experiment Promoting Vaccination in Indonesia

56 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2019

See all articles by Vivi Alatas

Vivi Alatas

World Bank - Jakarta

Arun G. Chandrasekhar

Stanford University - Department of Economics

Markus M. Mobius

Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft Research New England; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Benjamin A. Olken

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Society of Fellows

Cindy Paladines

World Bank

Date Written: February 2019

Abstract

Celebrity endorsements are often sought to influence public opinion. We ask whether celebrity endorsement per se has an effect beyond the fact that their statements are seen by many, and whether on net their statements actually lead people to change their beliefs. To do so, we conducted a nationwide Twitter experiment in Indonesia with 46 high-profile celebrities and organizations, with a total of 7.8 million followers, who agreed to let us randomly tweet or retweet content promoting immunization from their accounts. Our design exploits the structure of what information is passed on along a retweet chain on Twitter to parse reach versus endorsement effects. Endorsements matter: tweets that users can identify as being originated by a celebrity are far more likely to be liked or retweeted by users than similar tweets seen by the same users but without the celebrities' imprimatur. By contrast, explicitly citing sources in the tweets actually reduces diffusion. By randomizing which celebrities tweeted when, we find suggestive evidence that overall exposure to the campaign may influence beliefs about vaccination and knowledge of immunization-seeking behavior by one's network. Taken together, the findings suggest an important role for celebrity endorsement.

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Suggested Citation

Alatas, Vivi and Chandrasekhar, Arun G. and Mobius, Markus M. and Olken, Benjamin A. and Paladines, Cindy, When Celebrities Speak: A Nationwide Twitter Experiment Promoting Vaccination in Indonesia (February 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25589. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3341249

Vivi Alatas (Contact Author)

World Bank - Jakarta ( email )

Jakarta Stock Exchange Bldg. Tower 2, 12th Floor
Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 52-53
Jakarta, 12190
Indonesia

Arun G. Chandrasekhar

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States

Markus M. Mobius

Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft Research New England ( email )

One Memorial Drive, 12th Floor
Office 12062
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.markusmobius.org

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information ( email )

304 West Hall
550 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1092
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.markusmobius.org

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.markusmobius.org

Benjamin A. Olken

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-391
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-6833 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-1407 (Phone)

Harvard University - Society of Fellows

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Cindy Paladines

World Bank

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