Publication Date: May 2019
Revision Date: October 2021
A critical element of word of mouth (WOM) or buzz marketing is to identify seeds, often central actors with high degree in the social network. Seed identiﬁcation typically requires data on the full network structure, which is often unavailable. We therefore examine the impact of WOM seeding strategies motivated by the friendship paradox to obtain more central nodes without knowing network structure on adoption. Higher-degree nodes may be less eﬀective as seeds if these nodes communicate less with neighbors or are less persuasive when they communicate; therefore whether friendship paradox motivated seeding strategies increase or reduce WOM and adoption remains an empirical question. We develop and estimate a model of WOM and adoption using data on microﬁnance adoption across 43 villages in India for which we have data on social networks. Counterfactuals show that the proposed seeding strategies are about 15-24% more eﬀective in increasing adoption relative to random seeding. These strategies are also about 5-13% more eﬀective than the ﬁrm’s leader seeding strategy, and are relatively more eﬀective when we have fewer seeds.
Keywords: Word of mouth, Networks, Seeding, Friendship paradox, Product adoption, Diffusion
JEL Classification Codes: D85, D13, G21, L14, O12, O16, Z13CFDP 2178