Tempting Fate: Social Media Posts, Unfollowing, and Long-Term Sales

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Abstract

In this study, we examine how a firm’s decision to post on social media affects the propensity of its followers to (1) purchase its products and (2) unfollow the firm. Using a unique dataset from a large fashion retailer which frequently sends mass non-customized information-only posts on social media (i.e., non-coupons), findings indicate that such posts increase short-term purchases by 6%. However, these posts also increase followers’ propensity to unfollow the firm by 280%, significantly reducing long-term sales. Strikingly, this punitive effect of social media posting appears to manifest under very specific circumstances. Results indicate that these changes in unfollowing and long-term sales are larger if posts are sent in more crowded cities or during commuting hours (suggesting that the stress formed by personal crowding and the follower’s environment may play a key role in followers’ reactions to social media postings). These results underscore the potential downsides of sending blanket, non-customized, messages to followers, notably during times of intense psychological stress, as well as avenues to avoid such pitfalls.

Posted online August 23, 2020

Additional Details

Author Shuting (Ada) Wang, Brad N. Greenwood, and Paul A. Pavlou
Year 2020
Volume 44
Issue 4
Keywords Social media, fan pages, social media posting, unfollow, purchases, long-term sales, crowdedness, population density, peak traffic hours
Page Numbers 1521-1571; DOI: 10.25300/MISQ/2020/15510