Seeking the support of the silent majority: are lurking users valuable to UGC platforms?

Xingyu Chen, Xing Li, Dai Yao, Zhimin Zhou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In user-generated content (UGC) platforms, content generators (i.e., posters) account for only a minority of users. The majority of users lurk, participating in information diffusion only and making no direct contributions to the platforms (i.e., diffusers). In this paper, we study diffusers’ reposting behavior in a UGC platform and compare it with that of posters. We find that diffusers generally behave similarly to posters in reposting. Both groups repost more when seeing more posts and encountering popular posts. Interestingly, their reposting behavior diverges under information redundancy, i.e., when more popular posts are seen in a dense network. Under this condition, diffusers show a much higher propensity to repost, which is (partially) driven by their lesser need for uniqueness (NFU). Overall, this study suggests an exquisite way for platforms to activate their lurking users and it sheds light on their value in generating word-of-mouth and in facilitating information diffusion. It also provides useful guidelines for firms to approach the right type of lurking users (i.e., diffusers in a dense network) by using the right method of stimulation (i.e., offering popular albeit redundant information) during product diffusion online.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986-1004
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Clustering coefficient
  • Information diffusion
  • Network density
  • UGC platform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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