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Social Ties and User Generated Content: Evidence from an Online Social Network

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Abstract

We use variation in wind speeds at surfing locations in Switzerland as exogenous shifters of users' propensity to post content about their surfing activity onto an online social network. We exploit this variation to test whether users' social ties on the network have a causal effect on their content generation, and whether content generation in turn has a similar causal effect on the users' ability to form social ties. Economically significant causal effects of this kind can produce positive feedback that generate multiplier effects to interventions that subsidize tie formation. We argue these interventions can therefore be the basis of a strategy by the firm to indirectly facilitate content generation on the site. The exogenous variation provided by wind speeds enable us to measure this feedback empirically and to assess the return on investment from such policies. We use a detailed dataset from an online social network that comprises the complete details of social tie formation and content generation on the site. The richness of he data enable us to control for several spurious confounds that have typically plagued empirical analysis of social interactions. Our results show evidence for significant positive feedback in user generated content. We discuss the implications of the estimates for the management of the content and the growth of the network.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 09-28.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision: Nov 2009
Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:0928

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Web page: http://www.NETinst.org/

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Keywords: social networks; user generated content; social interactions; advertising revenue; simultaneity; identification;

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  1. Elie Tamer & Federico Ciliberto, 2004. "Market Structure and Multiple Equilibria in Airline Markets," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 517, Econometric Society.
  2. Lee, Lung-fei, 2007. "Identification and estimation of econometric models with group interactions, contextual factors and fixed effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 333-374, October.
  3. Bramoullé, Yann & Djebbari, Habiba & Fortin, Bernard, 2009. "Identification of peer effects through social networks," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 150(1), pages 41-55, May.
  4. Frank Kleibergen & Richard Paap, 2003. "Generalized Reduced Rank Tests using the Singular Value Decomposition," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-003/4, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. Philip A. Haile & Elie Tamer, 2003. "Inference with an Incomplete Model of English Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 1-51, February.
  6. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 7580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Narayanan, Sridhar & Nair, Harikesh S., 2011. "Estimating Causal Installed-Base Effects: A Bias-Correction Approach," Research Papers 2076, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  8. Charles F. Manski & John V. Pepper, 1998. "Monotone Instrumental Variables: With an Application to the Returns to Schooling," Virginia Economics Online Papers 308, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  9. Michael Braun & André Bonfrer, 2011. "Scalable Inference of Customer Similarities from Interactions Data Using Dirichlet Processes," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 513-531, 05-06.
  10. Nair, Harikesh S. & Manchanda, Puneet & Bhatia, Tulikaa, 2006. "Asymmetric Peer Effects in Physician Prescription Behavior: The Role of Opinion Leaders," Research Papers 1970, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
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  12. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  13. Wesley Hartmann & Puneet Manchanda & Harikesh Nair & Matthew Bothner & Peter Dodds & David Godes & Kartik Hosanagar & Catherine Tucker, 2008. "Modeling social interactions: Identification, empirical methods and policy implications," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 287-304, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Nicholas Economides & V. Brian Viard, 2010. "The Effect of Content on Global Internet Adoption and the Global “Digital Divide”," Working Papers 10-24, NET Institute, revised Sep 2013.
  2. Alexia Gaudeul & Caterina Giannetti, 2012. "The role of reciprocation in social network formation, with an application to blogging," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-031, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  3. Dae-Yong Ahn & Jason A. Duan & Carl F. Mela, 2011. "An Equilibrium Model of User Generated Content," Working Papers 11-13, NET Institute, revised Dec 2011.

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