Do messages spread widely also diffuse fast? Examining the effects of message characteristics on information diffusion

Xun Zhu, Youllee Kim, Haseon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research examining the information diffusion on social media focused on the size of diffusion but has largely missed the speed by which information spreads over time. To fill this void, this study explores what intrinsic message characteristics drive information not only to reach many people but also to spread fast across social networks. Using a computational social science approach, this study collected all the original tweets from the official Twitter account of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for 12 months (N = 1934). The diffusion of each tweet message was tracked for six days following its publication. The results showed that tweets with severity, efficacy, and call-for-action information achieved greater diffusion sizes and faster speed. Negative emotional words drove the information to spread widely and quickly, while positive emotional words suppressed the diffusion. Tweet messages with less affiliative words were linked to a larger size and faster speed. The study adds new insights into the dynamic processes of information diffusion and provides practical guidance to promote widespread and fast diffusion on social media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume103
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Health informatics
  • Information diffusion
  • Multilevel modeling
  • Social media
  • Speed of diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • General Psychology

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