Track 9: Social Influence
Aner Sela (University of Florida)

9B. Social Media

Saturday, March 5
11:15am – 12:45pm EST
Discussant: Keith Wilcox (Texas A&M University)
MC: Francisco Villarroel Ordenes (LUISS Guido Carli University)
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Student Coordinator: Arnaud Monnier (Cornell University) (

Competitive Papers

Indulgent Consumption Signals Interpersonal Warmth
Authors: Qing Tang (Nanyang Technological University), Kuangjie Zhang (Nanyang Technological University), Irene Huang (Nanyang Technological University)
Presenting Author: Qing Tang (Nanyang Technological University)
Engaging in indulgent consumption is often viewed as a manifestation of poor self-control. However, the current research suggests that choosing indulgent consumption has a positive effect: signaling interpersonal warmth. Specifically, a blogger sharing contents about indulgent (vs. healthy) consumption on social media is perceived as warmer, and people intentionally choose an indulgent (vs. healthy) option to signal warmth (vs. competence) to others. This is because indulgent consumption is perceived as what people genuinely want and boosts one’s perceived authenticity of enjoyment. This effect is eliminated when the post is sponsored, because sponsorship decreases the authenticity of enjoyment in the post. Field evidence further shows a downstream consequence of this effect on promoting consumer engagement.
When an Old Dog Learns New Tricks: Engaging in Social Media Dilutes Heritage Brands
Authors: G. Ceren (Gerry) Aksu (Boston College), Alokparna (Sonia) Monga (Rutgers University), Carlos J. Torelli (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Presenting Author: G. Ceren (Gerry) Aksu (Boston College)
Although social media use as a marketing tool has been highly prevalent among brands, we surprisingly do not know much about whether brand types play a role in consumer responses to brands’ social media use. In two pilot studies, two field datasets, and four experimental studies, we demonstrate that social media, as a communication medium, embodies meanings associated with openness to change values, as a result, brands associated with tradition, namely heritage brands, can suffer brand dilution when they engage in social media. Furthermore, we demonstrate that perceived inconsistency drives the effect, while identifying two ways to reduce brand dilution.
The Upside and Downside of Gatekeeping
Authors: Evan Weingarten (Arizona State University), Rachel Gershon (University of California San Diego), Amit Bhattacharjee (INSEAD)
Presenting Author: Evan Weingarten (Arizona State University)
How do people perceive gatekeepers (i.e., those who deny others’ access to an identity or social group)? Six preregistered studies (N=3,010) and ratings of field stimuli demonstrate that gatekeepers are perceived to be less likeable but more committed to the group’s values than those who are inclusive to outsiders. While gatekeeping increases perceived commitment only when the excluded applicant is a bad (vs. good) fit for the group’s values, it reduces likeability regardless of applicant fit. However, individuals who consider group values to be sacred favor gatekeeping more, and reward group leaders who oppose inclusivity with greater actual donation behavior.
Does It Help to Be Creative on Social Media? The Value of Originality for User-Generated Content on Social Media
Authors: Melanie Clegg (University of Lucerne), Marc Bravin (University of Lucerne), Reto Hofstetter (University of Lucerne), Marc Pouly (Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts), Jonah Berger (University of Pennsylvania)
Presenting Author: Melanie Clegg (University of Lucerne)
Originality is seen as a panacea for success on social media. However, we find, based on an analysis of more than 290,000 TikTok videos and experimental studies, that originality actually reduces the success of user-generated content. Using machine learning, we assess a video’s degree of originality and find that more original videos receive fewer likes, an effect attenuated by greater video popularity. Two experimental studies prove the causality of this effect and explain that higher originality reduces liking of content because it increases cognitive dissonance among viewers. These results are relevant for predicting consumer approval of social media content.

Flash Talks

PAWS-itive Influence: Examining how and when Pets Exhibit Greater Persuasion as Influencers
Authors: Laura Lavertu (University of Edinburgh), Katina Kulow (University of Louisville), Kirsten Cowan (University of Edinburgh), Ben Marder (University of Edinburgh)
Presenting Author: Laura Lavertu (University of Edinburgh)
Pets are increasingly gaining prominence as social media influencers (SMIs). Though, are they (i.e. petfluencers) more effective than human SMIs? And if so, why? The present research suggests that petfluencers can be more persuasive than human SMIs as they exhibit greater sincerity and warmth. Drawing on construal level theory, we provide three experiments as empirical support for the persuasiveness of petfluencers and the behavioral process underpinning it, as well as broadening and testing a newer form of psychological distance: emotional distance.
Exploring Social Selling Perceptions: Are Consumers Receptive to Salesperson Social Media Content?
Authors: Jen Riley (Kansas State University)
Presenting Author: Jen Riley (Kansas State University)
Social media has greatly impacted the company/consumer relationship over the last decade. Company stakeholders, like salespeople, are now present within social media and engaging existing, potential, or past customers to build relationships, discuss products or services, and engage within content communities. The objective of this exploratory research is to understand customer perceptions of salesperson social media content. Specifically, this research explores consumer engagement determination processes and awareness of social media content author intentions. By using the Q-sort method and laddering interviews, this research gathers an understanding of how respondents differentiate the author of social media posts and determine their engagement intentions.


When (Are) Online Relationships Real and Influential – An Evaluative Context Model
Authors: Nirajana Mishra (Boston University), Carey Morewedge (Boston University), Adam Alter (New York University)
Presenting Author: Nirajana Mishra (Boston University)
Are relationships in online social networks weaker and less influential than comparable offline relationships? Do consumers automatically compare their online relations with their offline relations? Using an evaluative context model (i.e., whether other social networks are salient or not), we find when relationships in online social networks (e.g., those mediated by Facebook and Instagram) are evaluated in joint evaluation, they are perceived to be more socially distant than comparable offline relationships. Consumers are less likely to adhere to social norms of fairness and reciprocity in online relations than offline relations. By contrast, when online relationships are evaluated in separate evaluation, without any explicit comparisons to offline social networks, consumers perceive online relationships to be as strong as offline relationships, and their behavior is similarly adherent to social norms of fairness and reciprocity in both networks.
Downstream Consequences of Brands Posting Memes on Social Media: The Critical Role of Perceived Humor
Authors: Sphurti Sewak (Florida International University), Jaehoon Lee (Florida International University)
Presenting Author: Sphurti Sewak (Florida International University)
When brands communicate through memes on social media, consumers perceive these memes as humorous. Such perceived humor triggered by memes results in favorable downstream consequences for the brand: consumers’ interest in products offered by the brands, which in turn leads consumers to increase their intentions to like and share memes, enhancing engagement with brands on social media.
Love the Influencer, Leave the Brand: How Parasocial Influencer Relationships and Perceived Responsibility Affect Brand Attitudes
Authors: Francis Lawall (Tulane University), Ted Matherly (Tulane University)
Presenting Author: Francis Lawall (Tulane University)
We investigate how the positive effect of parasocial influencer relationships on brand attitudes is moderated by perceived responsibility in scandals. In two studies, we find that this relationship becomes negative when brands are perceived as responsible for transgressions, leading to lower attitudes and unfollowing the brand. However, when the influencer is perceived as responsible, parasocial relationships have a positive effect on brand attitudes.
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