ECIS 2020 Research Papers

Abstract

Social media platforms, such as Twitter, offer their users new ways of communication. Companies can use them to build their own online communities to promote themselves. In contrast to this, the dark side of social media platforms is apparent when online communities turn against companies and form an online firestorm. Although the investigation of the persuasiveness of participants in online firestorms is essential to understand their spreading, it was not considered in previous research. Our study investigates the effects of social capital on the persuasiveness of tweets and retweets using a two-step approach. In the first step, we collected and analysed data from recent online firestorms. The results from our regression show significant effects of a user’s social capital on the number of times their tweets got retweeted, while the social capital of the retweeted user had no significant effects. In the second step, we validated these findings by conducting an online experiment with 301 Twitter users where users and tweets from a fictional firestorm were presented. The results from this experiment show a higher level of trusting beliefs towards users with high social capital and a higher intention to retweet their tweets.

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