Companies increasingly seek influencers to pitch products on social media. How should companies choose such influencers? In this work, we demonstrate the effectiveness of the strategy of choosing local influencers by showing a positive link between online influence and how geographically close an influencer’s followers are to the influencer.
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Todri, Vilma, Panagiotis Adamopoulos, Michelle Andrews (2021), “Is Distance Really Dead in the Online World? The Moderating Role of Geographical Distance on the Effectiveness of Electronic Word-of-Mouth,” Journal of Marketing.
We investigate how the geographical distance between online users is associated with electronic WOM effectiveness. Our research leverages variation in the visibility of eWOM messages on the social media platform of Twitter to address the issue of correlated user behaviors and preferences. We find the likelihood that followers who are exposed to users’ WOM subsequently make purchases increases with their geographic proximity to them. We propose social identification as a potential mechanism for why geographical distance still matters online in eWOM. Because consumers may form a sense of social identity based on their physical location, information regarding the spatial proximity of users could trigger online social identification with others. The findings are robust to alternative methods and specifications, such as further controlling for latent user homophily by incorporating user characteristics and embeddings based on advanced machine-learning and deep-learning models and a corpus of 140 million messages. We also rule out several alternative explanations. Our findings have important implications for platform design, content curation, and seeding and targeting strategies.
Special thanks to Holly Howe (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University) and Demi Oba (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University), for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program.
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