Online social gaming may provide key to understanding influence of online friends

Now more than ever we are all spending a significant portion of our lives online, from remote working to our entertainment options to interacting with others and spending time with friends and family. And while, as we discussed in our previous episode the continued distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine signals a hopeful end to our current situation of social distancing, there is little doubt that we will continue to be a global society that remains connected virtually, particularly in online social platforms. 

But how much thought do we give to those we interact with? In particular, how much influence our virtual friends have on our own online behavior and decisions?

Joining me for this episode is Xi Chen, an associate professor of marketing with the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University. His study, “Efficient Estimation of Network Games of Incomplete Information: Application to Large Online Social Networks,”. selected for publication in the INFORMS journal Management Science, gains new insight into the impact of our online social interactions by studying online social games.

What we find is you should look at not only the network position but the behaviors that you want to promote. You have to combine these two pieces of information to decide who to target. Another thing we find is the timing that you reach out to people, to the influential people, is also very important.

Interviewed this episode:

Xi Chen

Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University

Dr. Xi Chen’s research focuses on quantitative marketing and digital marketing, with particular interests in the impact of digital tools and platforms on consumer behaviors and the implications for company strategies and public policies.  Dr. Xi Chen received his PhD in Marketing from School of Business and Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.