Electronic Markets

, 21:161

Business engagement on Twitter: a path analysis

Special Theme

DOI: 10.1007/s12525-011-0065-z

Cite this article as:
Zhang, M., Jansen, B.J. & Chowdhury, A. Electron Markets (2011) 21: 161. doi:10.1007/s12525-011-0065-z


Social media services, such as Twitter, enable commercial businesses to participate actively in online word-of-mouth communication. In this project, we examined the potential influences of business engagement in online word-of-mouth communication on the level of consumers’ engagement and investigated the trajectories of a business’ online word-of-mouth message diffusion in the Twitter community. We used path analysis to examine 164,478 tweets from 96,725 individual Twitter users with regards to nine brands during a 5-week study period. We operationalized business engagement as the amount of online word-of-mouth messages from brand and the number of consumers the brand follows. We operationalized consumers’ engagement as the number of online word-of-mouth messages from consumers both connecting to the brand and having no connection with the brand as well as the number of consumers following the brand. We concluded that the business engagement on Twitter relates directly to consumers’ engagement with online word-of-mouth communication. In addition, retweeting, as an explicit way to show consumers’ response to business engagement, indicates that the influence only reaches consumers with a second-degree relationship to the brand and that the life cycle of a tweet is generally 1.5 to 4 hours at most. Our research has critical implications in terms of advancing the understanding of the business’s role in the online word-of-mouth communication and bringing insight to the analytics of social networks and online word-of-mouth message diffusion patterns.


TwitterSocial networkElectronic word-of-mouthAdvertisingInformation diffusion


M3—Business administration and business economicsMarketingAccounting—Marketing and advertising

Copyright information

© Institute of Information Management, University of St. Gallen 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mimi Zhang
    • 1
  • Bernard J. Jansen
    • 1
  • Abdur Chowdhury
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Information Sciences and TechnologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.TwitterSan FranciscoUSA