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Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2013 Feb;16(2):100-7. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0283. Epub 2012 Dec 31.

Do online gossipers promote brands?

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  • 1Department of Finance and Marketing Research, College of Economics and Business Administration, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


Online gossip has been recognized as small talk on social networking sites (SNSs) that influences consumer behavior, but little attention has been paid to its role. This study makes three theoretical predictions: (a) propensity to gossip online leads to greater information value, entertainment value, and friendship value; (b) upon exposure to a high-involvement product, online gossipers are more willing to spread such information through electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) in search of prestige or fame as a knowledge expert; and (c) this tendency will be more pronounced when they are connected with strong ties (rather than weak ties) and belong to a large network (rather than a small network). An experimental survey was conducted with a scenario method. In total, 818 general consumers participated in the survey. A multivariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) provides empirical support for prediction (1). With regard to predictions (2) and (3), a series of three-way and two-way between-subjective ANOVAs were performed. When a high-involvement product is promoted, gossipers, rather than nongossipers, are more willing to participate in eWOM on an SNS. Furthermore, a significant interaction effect indicates that online gossipers' willingness to particiapte in eWOM would be more pronounced if they belonged to a large network rather than a small network. However, when a low-involvement product is promoted, no interaction effect is found between online gossip and network size. In closing, theoretical and managerial implications are discussed, while important limitations are recognized.

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