Theme 3.3 Opinion expression and opinion leadership in social media

Social media offer various opportunities to express one’s opinion publicly (e.g., in comments about brands) and to communicate with and persuade a large number of friends or followers. In this environment, some users may be particularly influential and emerge as opinion leaders, for instance, with regard to topics of health or marketing communication. In this theme, it can be investigated a) which characteristics and motivations of users increase the likelihood of becoming an opinion leader in social media or in online health forums, b) how opinion leaders communicate to exert their persuasive influence, and c) which benefits the act of opinion expression may have for the individual user. These questions may be answered with surveys, big data analyses, and/or experiments.

Further readings:

  • Araujo, T., Neijens, P., & Vliegenthart, R. (2016). Getting the word out on Twitter: the role of influentials, information brokers and strong ties in building word-of-mouth for brands. International Journal of Advertising, 1-18.
  • Kim, E., Scheufele, D. A., Han, J., & Shah, D. (2016). Opinion leaders in online cancer support groups: An investigation of their antecedents and consequences. Health Communication, 32, 142-151.
  • Winter, S., & Neubaum, G. (2016). Examining characteristics of opinion leaders in social media. A motivational approach. Social Media + Society, 2, 1-12.