Impact of Social Network Structure on Content Propagation: A Study Using YouTube Data
Quantitative Marketing and Economics, 2012

In this study, Assistant Professor Hema Yoganarasimhan examines how the size and structure of the local network around a node affects the aggregate diffusion of products seeded by it in the context of YouTube, the popular video-sharing site.

Yoganarasimhan addresses the endogeneity problems common to this setting by using a rich dataset and a careful estimation methodology, empirically demonstrating that the size and structure of an author’s local network is a significant driver of the popularity of videos seeded by her, even after controlling for observed and unobserved video characteristics, unobserved author characteristics, and endogenous network formation.

These findings are distinct from those in the peer effects literature, which examines neighborhood effects on individual behavior, since the study documents the causal relationship between a node’s local network position and the global diffusion of products seeded by it. The results provide guidelines for identifying seeds that provide the best return on investment, thereby aiding managers conducting buzz marketing campaigns on social media forums. Further, the study sheds light on the other substantive factors that affect video consumption on YouTube.

Prof. Yoganarasimhan has presented this research at conferences that include the Marketing Dynamics Conference, Marketing Science Conference and UT Dallas Frontiers of Research in Marketing Conference in 2010, and in 2009 at the North American Society for Marketing Education in India (NASMEI).