Competing for Influencers in a Social Network
This paper studies the competition between firms for influencers in a network. Firms spend effort to convince influencers to recommend their products. The analysis identifies the offensive and defensive roles of spending on influencers. The value of an influencer only depends on the in-degree distribution of the influence network. Influencers who exclusively cover a high number of consumers are more valuable to firms than those who mostly cover consumers also covered by other influencers. Firm profits are highest when there are many consumers with a very low or with very high in-degree. Consumers with an intermediate level of in-degree contribute negatively to profits and high in-degree consumers increase profits when market competition is not intense. Prices are generally lower when consumers are covered by many influencers, however, firms are not always worse off with lower prices. The nature of consumer response to recommendations makes an important difference. When first impressions dominate, firm profits for dense networks are higher, but when recommendations have a cumulative influence profits are reduced as the network becomes dense.
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