University of Twente Student Theses


Leaders’ characteristics in Online Social Networks: a descriptive study of online leadership in the SunSmart campaign

Beck, J. (2018) Leaders’ characteristics in Online Social Networks: a descriptive study of online leadership in the SunSmart campaign.

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Abstract:Today, communication networks have become very popular and important, especially through the use of social media platforms like Twitter. These networks enable users to exert influence and shape other network actors’ opinions due to the fast, easy and global communication. This exerted influence can be of special importance with regards to online health campaigns, like the SunSmart campaign. The SunSmart campaign is a health campaign which tries to raise skin cancer awareness and promotes its preventive measures. Our study makes use of three concepts from network theory, namely out-degree, betweenness centrality and PageRank, to appoint influential actors which are conceptualized as online opinion leaders. Thereby, three opinion leader groups are investigated based on a communication network, which is constructed from tweets containing the hashtag #SunSmart. These leader groups display different forms of leadership. First, active leaders, second, information controlling leaders and last, authoritative leaders. After having identified the actors employing this form of leadership we will characterize the identified leaders. Focus will be laid on six characteristics, namely: professional identity of entities, ascribed authority, audience size, sharing of knowledge, geographic location and central topics. In the end of this paper, we offer a typology of the function these leader groups play within the communication network. We label them respectively mobilizers, facilitators and administrators. This characterization offers a basis for understanding online opinion leadership in a health-related context.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:International Business Administration BSc (50952)
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