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12-01-2019 | Original Empirical Research | Issue 6/2019

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 6/2019

Seeking the support of the silent majority: are lurking users valuable to UGC platforms?

Journal:
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science > Issue 6/2019
Authors:
Xingyu Chen, Xing Li, Dai Yao, Zhimin Zhou
Important notes
Shrihari Sridhar and Eric Fang served as special issue guest editors for this article.

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Abstract

In user-generated content (UGC) platforms, content generators (i.e., posters) account for only a minority of users. The majority of users lurk, participating in information diffusion only and making no direct contributions to the platforms (i.e., diffusers). In this paper, we study diffusers’ reposting behavior in a UGC platform and compare it with that of posters. We find that diffusers generally behave similarly to posters in reposting. Both groups repost more when seeing more posts and encountering popular posts. Interestingly, their reposting behavior diverges under information redundancy, i.e., when more popular posts are seen in a dense network. Under this condition, diffusers show a much higher propensity to repost, which is (partially) driven by their lesser need for uniqueness (NFU). Overall, this study suggests an exquisite way for platforms to activate their lurking users and it sheds light on their value in generating word-of-mouth and in facilitating information diffusion. It also provides useful guidelines for firms to approach the right type of lurking users (i.e., diffusers in a dense network) by using the right method of stimulation (i.e., offering popular albeit redundant information) during product diffusion online.

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