Does online word of mouth increase demand? (and how?) evidence from a natural experiment

Stephan Seiler, Song Yao, Wenbo Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


We leverage a temporary block of the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo due to political events to estimate the causal effect of online word-of-mouth content on product demand in the context of TV show viewership. Based on this source of exogenous variation, we estimate an elasticity of TV show ratings (market share in terms of viewership) with respect to the number of relevant comments (commentswere disabled during the block) of 0.016. We find that more postshow microblogging activity increases demand, whereas comments posted prior to the show airing do not affect viewership. These patterns are inconsistent with informative or persuasive effects and suggest complementarity between TV consumption and anticipated postshow microblogging activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)838-861
Number of pages24
JournalMarketing Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017



  • Advertising
  • Microblogging
  • Natural experiment
  • Social media
  • Word of mouth

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