The Impact of Social Nudges on User-Generated Content for Social Network Platforms

76 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2020 Last revised: 12 May 2022

See all articles by Zhiyu Zeng

Zhiyu Zeng

Tsinghua University - Department of Industrial Engineering

Hengchen Dai

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Dennis Zhang

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School

Heng Zhang

Supply Chain Management Department - W.P.Carey School of Business

Renyu (Philip) Zhang

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Zhiwei Xu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zuo-Jun Max Shen

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (IEOR)

Date Written: July 8, 2021

Abstract

Content-sharing social network platforms rely heavily on user-generated content to attract users and advertisers, but they have limited authority over content provision. We develop an intervention that leverages social interactions between users to stimulate content production. We study social nudges whereby users connected with a content provider on a platform encourage that provider to supply more content. We conducted a randomized field experiment (N= 993,676) on a video-sharing social network platform, where treatment providers could receive messages from other users encouraging them to produce more but control providers could not. We find that social nudges not only immediately boosted video supply by 13.21% without changing video quality but also increased the number of nudges providers sent to others by 15.57%. Such production-boosting and diffusion effects, though declining over time, lasted beyond the day of receiving nudges and were amplified when nudge senders and recipients had stronger ties. We replicate these results in a second experiment. To estimate the overall production boost over the entire network and guide platforms to utilize social nudges, we combine the experimental data with a social network model that captures the diffusion and over-time effects of social nudges. We showcase the importance of considering the network effects when estimating the impact of social nudges and optimizing platform operations regarding social nudges. Our research highlights the value of leveraging co-user influence for platforms, and provides guidance for future research to incorporate the diffusion of an intervention into the estimation of its impacts within a social network.

Keywords: Content Production, Platform Operations, Social Network, Field Experiment, Information-Based Intervention

Suggested Citation

Zeng, Zhiyu and Dai, Hengchen and Zhang, Dennis and Zhang, Heng and Zhang, Renyu and Xu, Zhiwei and Shen, Zuo-Jun Max, The Impact of Social Nudges on User-Generated Content for Social Network Platforms (July 8, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3611571 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3611571

Zhiyu Zeng (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University - Department of Industrial Engineering ( email )

Beijing
China

Hengchen Dai

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

Dennis Zhang

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Heng Zhang

Supply Chain Management Department - W.P.Carey School of Business ( email )

Tempe, AZ
United States

Renyu Zhang

The Chinese University of Hong Kong ( email )

Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

HOME PAGE: http://rphilipzhang.github.io/rphilipzhang/index.html

Zhiwei Xu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zuo-Jun Max Shen

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (IEOR) ( email )

IEOR Department
4135 Etcheverry Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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