Network Overlap and Content Sharing on Social Media Platforms

Kartik Hosanagar, Operations, Information, and Decisions Department, The Wharton School; Jing Peng, Operations, Information, and Decisions Department, The Wharton School; Ashish Agarwal, McCombs School of Business; and Raghuram Iyengar, Associate Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract: We study the impact of network overlap — the overlap in network connections between two users — on content sharing in directed social media platforms. We propose a hazards model that flexibly captures the impact of three different measures of network overlap (i.e., common followees, common followers and common mutual followers) on content sharing. Our results indicate a receiver is more likely to share content from a sender with whom they share more common followees, common followers or common mutual followers after accounting for other measures. Additionally, the effect of common followers and common mutual followers is positive when the content is novel but decreases, and may even become negative, when many others in the network have already adopted it. Using three datasets from two social media platforms (Twitter and Digg), we find that our findings apply to the sharing of content generated by both firms and users. Our findings are managerially relevant for targeting customers for content propagation in social networks.

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