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Social Media Buzz: It’s All about Who You Know


hen it comes to social media marketing, it’s not just how many people you “friend” on your network, it is how much influence you have with those friends and how connected they are, concludes a new study by Assistant Professor Hema Yoganarasimhan analyzing “buzz” marketing on YouTube. Her research takes an important first step in looking at video viewership online, and how managers can use online campaigns to boost their return on investment. It differs from other similar studies in that it looks at whether influential social media users actually lead, or cause, their followers to use and purchase products they recommend. “While video-sharing websites have become increasingly popular, managers have limited information on using this new medium as a marketing tool,” said Yoganarasimhan. The research, “Impact of Social Network Structure on Content Propagation: A Study Using YouTube Data,” was published in Quantitative Marketing Economics (March 2012). Yoganarasimhan points to a Ford Motor Co. buzz marketing campaign for its subcompact Fiesta car in 2009. Sidestepping traditional marketing, Ford steered Fiestas to 100 influential video bloggers, in return for them blogging, tweeting and recording their experiences. The result: Ford garnered 6.2 million YouTube views, 750,000 Flickr views and about 4 million Twitter impressions in less than a

Social and Organizational Innovation Converge Facu lt y H os t 12 t h Dav i s Co n fere n ce o n Q ua l i tat i v e R esearch

B y A l ex R usse l l

Professor Kimberley Elsbach

Associate Professor Beth Bechky


op qualitative researchers from around the world converged at Gallagher Hall on March 24 for the 12th annual Davis Conference on Qualitative Research. 12 S U M M E R 2012 I N N OVATO R

year, leading to 6,000 car orders and 100,000 “hand-raisers” who expressed interest. The key, Yoganarasimhan says, is handpicking influencers who can spread information efficiently, factors not based on only the size of the author’s network, as prior studies assume, but also the structure and the author’s place in it. “Authors with many friends are also likely to have more engaging personalities, greater expertise and experience, and an overall better reputation for dispensing good information­—all of which also contribute to their effectiveness,” she said.

Ford Fiesta Buzz Marketing Result



750,000 Flickr Views



million Twit ter impressions

car orders

Organized by Professor Kimberley Elsbach and Associate Professor Beth Bechky, the innovative forum has improved qualitative research and its methodologies and built a community of pioneering researchers. “We were the first qualitative conference in management studies in the world, and are widely viewed as the pre-eminent conference to attend as a member of the qualitative research community in management and organizations research,” said Elsbach, who holds the Steven G. Newberry Chair in Leadership. This year’s conference Best Presentation Awards recognized Assistant Professor Melissa Mazmanian of UC Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science and Assistant Professor Emily Heaphy of Boston University’s School of Management. “It was a very valuable opportunity,” said Mazmanian. “The conference has an incredibly

Assistant Professor Hem a Yoganarasimhan

I t’s Fash i o n ab l e to be C loake d

Yoganarasimhan also has been exploring fashion industry advertising strategies. “The common view is that more information is always better,” said Yoganarasimhan, whose paper, “Cloak or Flaunt? The Fashion Dilemma,” was published in Marketing Science (January/February 2012). “For conspicuously consumed products, giving more information to customers is not always good,” Yoganarasimhan says. “Having more customers is not always good either.” In the high-end clothing industry, she explained, often the most fashionable items are kept under the radar intentionally. Yoganarasimhan’s research suggests that “cool” people buy hot products to show off their taste and fashion knowledge to their friends. If a fashion designer were to advertise these products broadly, those who wouldn’t have known about the products without advertising—the “uncool” people—might buy them, which would lead the cool people to leave. “You can’t keep them both,” she said. >>

good reputation as being a supportive and generative space with premier scholars.” Mazmanian presented her research on how group members can help take care of each other, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the entire group. The presentations covered four main topics: Institutions, Practices and Social Problems; Group Processes: Change and Creativity; Scientific Research Practices; and Boundary Spanning: Roles and Objects. Other presenters included Associate Professor Michael Sauder, University of Iowa; Assistant Professor Victor Seidel, University of Oxford’s Said School of Business; and Senior Lecturer Tammar Zilber, Hebrew University’s Jerusalem Business School. Information Age Publishing has published two volumes of Qualitative Organizational Research, a compendium of Best Presentation papers from the conferences edited by Elsbach and Bechky. The third volume will be released next year.

Profile for UC Davis Graduate School of Management

Summer 2012 innovator  

Summer 2012 innovator