The potential of social media in helping businesses generate commercial values has attracted significant attention from researchers and practitioners alike in recent years. An important characteristic differentiating social media from traditional media is the central role of user interaction and participation in generating content that makes the platform sustainable and potentially profitable. It has been noted that social media may be particularly apt in promoting the sales of niche products, due to the tendency of consumers to generate reviews and discuss about such products that raise awareness about them. In this study, we build on and extend the extant literature to investigate how patterns of social interaction among the consumers in discussing about a niche product influence the overall level of participation, which in turn enhances consumption intention of the product. Through analyzing data from a social media site that allows consumers to comment on and discuss about books of philosophical genre (a niche product type), we show that the level of user participation can indeed have a significant positive effect on consumption intention. Furthermore, inclusiveness and betweenness centralization structures may enhance the participation level, but out-degree centralization has a detrimental effect. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Ding, Yi; Wei Phang, Chee; and Zhang, Chenghong, "The Influence Of User Interaction And Participation In Social Media On The Consumption Intention Of Niche Products" (2012). PACIS 2012 Proceedings. 158.