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01-09-2012 | Original Article | Issue 3/2012

Information Systems and e-Business Management 3/2012

Information or attention? An empirical study of user contribution on Twitter

Journal:
Information Systems and e-Business Management > Issue 3/2012
Authors:
Huaxia Rui, Andrew Whinston

Abstract

Social broadcasting services, such as Twitter and YouTube, are revolutionizing the way we access information and publish our own content. What is the key innovation of such services? We argue that the key innovation of social broadcasting services is recognizing and connecting people’s need for information and attention. While the value of information is widely studied, the importance of attention is less well understood. We use a collection of nearly 3 million Twitter user profiles to study the cross-sectional characteristics of user behavior; we also monitor 521 active Twitter users over a period of 282 days to carry out time-series analyses and a panel data analysis of user behavior. The empirical results consistently suggest that people’s search for attention is an important motivation for them to contribute content on Twitter. This finding supports our conceptual view of social broadcasting services as innovative platforms connecting people’s need for information and attention. It also has important implications for practitioners in this booming field.

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