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

Reto Hoffstetter (), Harikesh Nair, Scott Shriver () and Klaus Miller ()
Additional contact information
Reto Hoffstetter: University of Bern
Scott Shriver: Stanford Graduate School of Business

No 09-28, Working Papers from NET Institute

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.

Keywords: social networks; user generated content; social interactions; advertising revenue; simultaneity; identification (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C25 C61 D91 L11 L12 L16 L68 M31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 27 pages
Date: 2009-11, Revised 2009-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ict, nep-net and nep-soc
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (5)

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Related works:
Journal Article: Social Ties and User-Generated Content: Evidence from an Online Social Network (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: Social Ties and User-Generated Content: Evidence from an Online Social Network (2011) Downloads
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