Do Online Social Network Friends Make You Write More and Better Reviews?

Dr. De Liu, Associate Professor of Information and Decision Sciences, 3M Fellow in Business Analytics at Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
Chaired by
Dr JIANG Zhenhui, Jack, Professor, School of Computing

  06 Jul 2018 Friday, 03:00 PM to 04:30 PM

 Executive Classroom, COM2-04-02


User-generated online reviews are crucial for consumer decision making but voluntary contributions of online reviews are scarce. This research investigates how friend influence, in the form of exposing users to reviews written by their online friends, can be a new way of motivating users to write more and higher-quality reviews. Drawing from theories of public goods, we develop theoretical arguments for positive effects of friend influence on review quantity and quality. Using data from Yelp, we find support for such positive effects. Users are three times more likely to provide a review after a friend has written one on the same store, and this effect cannot be solely explained by homophily. Furthermore, the reviews written after a friend's review tend to be of higher quality as measured by votes received, review length, and evaluations by Amazon Mechanical Turk respondents. We also demonstrate that the types of friends a user responds to depend on her tenure and status on the platform. Our findings hold important implications for research on online reviews, social influence, and social production of user-generated content.


Dr. De Liu is an Associate Professor of Information and Decision Sciences and 3M Fellow in Business Analytics at Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. He is the academic director of the Master of Science in Business Analytics. He received his PhD degree from University of Texas at Austin, and his Master and Bachelor's degrees from Tsinghua University. His research interests include digital auctions, gamification, and crowdfunding. His research has appeared in leading journal such as MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Market Research, and Production and Operations Management. He currently serves as an associate editor for Information Systems Research and Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce. He teaches Big Data Analytics to MSBA students and is a two-time winner of MSBA Teacher of the Year award.