Journal Article

Online Influence? Social Media Use, Opinion Leadership, and Political Persuasion

Brian E. Weeks, Alberto Ardèvol-Abreu and Homero Gil de Zúñiga

in International Journal of Public Opinion Research

Published on behalf of World Association for Public Opinion Research

Volume 29, issue 2, pages 214-239
Published in print June 2017 | ISSN: 0954-2892
Published online December 2015 | e-ISSN: 1471-6909 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edv050
Online Influence? Social Media Use, Opinion Leadership, and Political Persuasion

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  • Communication Studies
  • Marketing
  • Media and Communication
  • Political Behaviour
  • Social Research and Statistics

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Abstract

Opinion leaders can be influential in persuading their peers about news and politics, yet their potential influence has been questioned in the social media era. This study tests a theoretical model of attempts at political persuasion within social media in which highly active users (“prosumers”) consider themselves opinion leaders, which subsequently increases efforts to try and change others’ political attitudes and behaviors. Using two-wave U.S. panel survey data (W1 = 1,816; W2 = 1,024), we find prosumers believe they are highly influential in their social networks and are both directly and indirectly more likely to try to persuade others. Our results highlight one theoretical mechanism through which engaged social media users attempt to persuade others and suggest personal influence remains viable within social media.

Journal Article.  10196 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Communication Studies ; Marketing ; Media and Communication ; Political Behaviour ; Social Research and Statistics

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