Firms are increasingly focusing on understanding and managing their social media strategies in order to create discussions and optimize the spread of news in their communities. Most prior studies on information dissemination have mainly focused on the roles of influentials but ignored the essential for noninfluentials. To fill this gap, this paper takes a holistic view of the information dissemination process and investigates how the participation of both influentials and noninfluentials plays a role in affecting the volume and sentiment of microblogs, which are precursors to raise awareness and attraction for brands. To test our hypotheses, we build a novel econometric model and apply it to a dataset collected from the popular microblogging site Twitter. We have the following main results: (1) back-and-forth-type discussions and retweets are effective in generating awareness and positive attractiveness; (2) influentials or mavens (who have many followers but seldom follow others) help generate initial sparks toward microblogging, but during the cascading periods, the noninfluentials play an important role in driving the conversations; and (3) new users who gradually join the discussions also help increase awareness, although they may not generate a positive sentiment. Our results provide important implications for mediating consumer interactions and firms’ marketing strategies.
Information Technology and Management – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 28, 2017