The widespread adoption of social media is transforming the consumer-brand relationship. Social media is allowing consumers connect with other users, create, consume and control access to content (Hoffman and Novak, 2012). Research suggests that social media increases brand relationship depth and loyalty, and generates incremental purchase behaviour (Laroche et al., 2012; Kim and Ko, 2012; Pooja et al., 2012). It is not surprising therefore that commentators suggest that marketers should target social media users who are more likely to exert an influence on their network in order to facilitate brand recommendations (Iyengar, Han, & Gupta, 2009). But who are these influentials? Goldenberg et al. (2009) suggest that there are only two types of influential that impact information diffusion – innovators and followers.

influence definition


Our study looks at early users or in Goldenberg at al.’s terminology, innovators, of two social networking sites, Twitter and Google+, and the effects of personality and mode of information sharing on social influence scoring. Specifically, we look at:

1. How does (i) extraversion, (ii) openness and (iii) conscientiousness influence:

  • Information sharing behaviour
  • Rumour sharing behavior

2. How does (i) information sharing behaviour and (ii) rumour sharing behaviour impact social network site influence scores?

Early Twitter users were identified through a public list and through the joining date listed on user public profiles. As the study occurred during the Google+ closed field test, all users were deemed early users. Two discrete survey instruments were designed, one for Twitter and one for Google+ to provide for different SNS validation checks. To assess the personality traits of respondents, we tested extraversion, openness and conscientiousness with the scale of Gosling et al. (2003) while information and rumour sharing scale were extracted from Marett and Joshi (2009). The SNS score was the independent variable in our model and this was measured using two commercial SNS influence score providers, PeerIndex and Klout.

Our study hypothesized that that Extraversion and Openness were two personality traits that should positively influence both Information and Rumor sharing behavior (H1 and H2), while Conscientiousness would have a reverse effect on Information (+) and Rumor (-) sharing behavior (H3 and H4). We also hypothesized that both Information and Rumor sharing behavior should positively influence social network influence scoring. A structural equation model using AMOS was used to test these hypotheses.


 The model suggests:

  • Early users of social network sites who are more extrovert or more open or more conscientious are more likely to share information
  • Information sharing and rumor sharing should be treated as two distinct constructs in the discussion of social network influence.
  • All three traits were negatively related to rumor sharing. Only the effects of extroversion and conscientiousness were significant.
  • Both information sharing and rumor sharing impacted positively and significantly on social network site influence scores.

While previous literature has suggested that it is difficult to identify market mavens (Goldsmith et al., 2006), early users of social media can be identified easily and conveniently. This may provide firms with the opportunity to target potential innovators and early adopters much more efficiently and thus accelerate diffusion of marketing messages. Our study suggests filtering these adopters by messaging behaviour may also be of assistance with a greater of emphasis of resources being placed on those social network users who share information rather than rumor. While identifying these potential influencers would seem to be more efficient than identifying mavens, further research is required to understand the most effective way and time to engage with them. Finally, it would seem social network influence scores provide useful signals for identifying social media users likely to share information. Social media users characterised by a combination of high influence scores and propensity for information sharing are powerful assets for firms, particularly if they have relatively large social networks. Engaging with these influencers represents a relatively low cost mechanism for indirectly reaching target markets through word of mouth on social networks.

The research was conducted by Dr Theo Lynn (DCU Business School), Dr Laurent Muzellec (UCD), Dr Barbara Caemerrer (ESSCA), Prof. Darach Turley (DCU Business School) and Bettina Wuerdinger (DCU Business School).

This blog post was originally published on The blog, Follow the Crowd

DCU Business School offers full and part time Postgraduate Courses in Digital Marketing. Fill out the short form below to get Course Information:

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A practicum is an assignment designed to give students supervised practical application of previously studied theory. In DCU Business School, our MSc in Management, MSc in E-Commerce, MSc in Marketing and MSc in Digital Marketing students have the choice of undertaking a individual dissertation, which is largely an academic piece of research, or a group practicum.

The practicums are sourced from a wide range of organisations, both business and not-for-profit. The students make proposals for these projects and start working on them in March. A report of work completed is submitted at the end of July. This will contain a piece of primary research, and some form of applied activity. Later in August, student groups present their projects to their peers, DCUBS Faculty and external guests. Unlike dissertations, students have the opportunity to address a real-world problem with a live client or indeed pursue their own business idea. Some companies this year included Microsoft, Enterprise-Rent-a-Car, and DCU Centre for Family Business.

The DCU Business School Practicum Programme also gives the Business School an opportunity to engage with the wider business community and forms a central part of our civic engagement strategy.

Hear more about the Practicum from the MSc in Management Course Director below:


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Paul Berney is the Co-founder, Managing Partner & CEO EMEA of mCordis with almost 10 years of experience in mobile marketing. Previously as Chief Marketing Officer & Managing Director of the EMEA branch of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), Paul lead the MMA’s global marketing efforts and more specifically the activities involving more than 150 member companies in EMEA. Paul is a guest lecturer on our Digital Marketing Programmes

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t almost every presentation and meeting I have been to in the past 10 years people have asked me what do I think will happen next in mobile. My answer is normally to ask the person asking the question to think back five years or to when they got their first smartphone and ask if they could imagine the change it has brought to them personally? Could you have predicted five years ago just how much mobile has changed your life let alone how the functionality has changed. Think forward another five years from today and the possibilities of mobile seem almost endless.

Mobile or rather mobility is having a profound affect upon all of our lives: it has caused an enabled an irrevocable change in our behaviour. As an always on, always with us companion it has become our primary means of staying connected to the world. In the course of this, mobile has become the remote control of our lives, the connector between the digital and physical worlds and we are all becoming mobile consumers. This change is global. Very shortly there will be more mobile phones than people in the world and once we start the add in all the objects like cars, fridges, fitness trackers and everything else that is becoming connected, we start to see a world where mobility and connectivity are integral to our lives.

Mobile technology is constantly evolving and we are changing our behaviour as a result. I chose the world ‘evolving’ deliberately. Charles Darwin said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” As we evolve into a mobile centric world you need to respond to that change personally and professionally. If you want your career or your business to thrive rather than just survive then your focus should always be on the behaviour not the technology. Think about what mobility means to your target audience? How is it affecting the way they behave? How is mobile changing their expectations? Remembering that those expectations and needs are not just built on their mobile interaction with you but on every mobile interaction they have.

What does this have to do with you? Well it means that it has become imperative for you as a marketer to understand mobility and to learn the skills you need to use it. Regardless of whether you think you are a marketer or whether marketing is in your job title, you need to understand how to connect, engage and influence your customers with and through mobile. These skills will become essential to everyone in business because as I already said, the changes brought about my mobile are irrevocable.

So I cannot tell you exactly how mobile is gong to change the world in the next five years. I can only advise you to look at the direction the world is going (towards greater connectivity and mobility) and the speed at which that is happening (fast!) and ask you in return, can you afford not to make mobile marketing an essential skill in your job?

If you are interested in studying Digital Marketing in DCU Business School, fill out this quick form and we’ll be in touch:

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