Social Dollars in Online Communities: The Effect of Product, User, and Network Characteristics
AbstractOnline communities have experienced burgeoning popularity over the last decade and have become a key platform for users to share information and interests, and to engage in social interactions. Drawing on the social contagion literature, the authors examine the effect of online social connections on users’ product purchases in an online community. They assess how product, user, and network characteristics influence the social contagion effect in users’ spending behavior. The authors use a unique large-scale data set from a popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game community—consisting of users’ detailed gaming activities, their social connections, and their in-game purchases of functional and hedonic products—to examine the impact of gamers’ social networks on their purchase behavior. The analysis, based on a double-hurdle model that captures gamers’ decisions of playing and spending levels, reveals evidence of “social dollars,” whereby social interaction between gamers in the communi...
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