Can Friends Seed More Buzz and Adoption?

31 Pages Posted: 29 May 2019

See all articles by Vineet Kumar

Vineet Kumar

Yale School of Management

K. Sudhir

Yale School of Management; Yale University-Department of Economics; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: May 28, 2019

Abstract

A critical element of word of mouth (WOM) or buzz marketing is to identify seeds, often central actors with high degree in the social network. Seed identification typically requires data on the full network structure, which is often unavailable. We therefore examine the impact of WOM seeding strategies motivated by the friendship paradox to obtain more central nodes without knowing network structure. But higher-degree nodes may communicate less with neighbors; therefore whether friendship paradox motivated seeding strategies increase or reduce WOM and adoption remains an empirical question. We develop and estimate a model of WOM and adoption using data on microfinance adoption across 43 villages in India for which we have data on social networks. Counterfactuals show that the proposed seeding strategies are about 15-20% more effective than random seeding in increasing adoption. Remarkably, they are also about 5-11% more effective than opinion leader seeding, and are relative more effective when we have fewer seeds.

Keywords: Word of mouth, Networks, seeding, Friendship paradox, Product adoption, diffusion

JEL Classification: D85, D13, G21, L14, O12, O16, Z13

Suggested Citation

Kumar, Vineet and Sudhir, K., Can Friends Seed More Buzz and Adoption? (May 28, 2019). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 2178 (2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3395044

Vineet Kumar

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
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United States

K. Sudhir (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-3289 (Phone)
203-432-3003 (Fax)

Yale University-Department of Economics ( email )

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Yale University - Cowles Foundation ( email )

Box 208281
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United States

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