Identifying key disseminators in social commerce : a segmentation study from the gatekeeping perspective

Chen, Yizhuo
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In recent years, social commerce sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial have achieved great success in attracting new consumers and increasing store traffic for a growing number of businesses. However, it is still unclear how the information flow to reach new consumers is generated. Understanding this information flow is the key to the question of what lead to the success of these companies. In the online context, the key information disseminators can have both a large-scale network and a decisive influence on the nodes that are connected closely to them, indicating an important pattern of consumer purchase process. Here, we argue that one of the prominent advantages of social commerce is the information dissemination process, during which word of mouth (WOM) is generated to boost consumer traffic. In the present study, we conduct a cluster analysis to segment online shoppers according to their information dissemination contribution. Gatekeeping theory was used for conceptualizing consumers who tend to disseminate more commercial information and WOM in social commerce, providing us the theoretical basis for clustering consumers. Our findings suggest that a sizable proportion of consumers constituted the gatekeeper group (approximately 25%). Gatekeepers tend to be highly active in both finding the outside source of information and connecting it with inside social networks. In addition, different aspects of the potential to become gatekeepers divide the rest of the consumers into two groups. To date, the present research is the first to explore online consumer segmentations using the gatekeeping perspective.