Title: Examining the effects of online social relations on product ratings and adoption: evidence from an online social networking and rating site

Authors: Xiaoyun He; Amir Karami; Chaoqun Deng

Addresses: Department of Information Systems, Auburn University at Montgomery, USA ' College of Information and Communications, University of South Carolina, USA ' Lally School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA

Abstract: Social relationships have long been recognised for their role in shaping consumers' opinions and decisions in the traditional offline world. While the number of people participating in online activities and purchases is continuously growing, there is a lack of understanding on whether and how explicitly established social connections might affect product evaluation and adoption in an online environment. Yet, online social relations are notably distinct from their offline counterparts. In this study, using a dataset collected from an online social networking and rating site, we conduct a comparative event analysis around the establishment of online social connections. Our findings provide supporting evidence that explicit online social relations positively influence users' product ratings and play a significant role in expanding a user's product adoption into new product categories over time, which offers important implications for product marketing strategies and design of online recommendation systems.

Keywords: online social relations; social influence; product adoption; product ratings; online community.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2017.086591

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2017 Vol.13 No.3, pp.344 - 363

Received: 04 Apr 2016
Accepted: 21 Nov 2016

Published online: 04 Sep 2017 *

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