User-generated content: The medium impacts the message

From Yelp reviews about the corner pub’s burger of the month to comments about how much laundry can be stuffed into a high-efficiency washing machine, user-generated content is ubiquitous. Retailers and aggregator sites have made it easier than ever for customers to post their thoughts on everything from the quality of the service to the cleanliness of the bathrooms. In this avalanche of content, is there a difference in tone depending on what device is used to transmit the review?

Person on a bench in a café looking at smartphone seated next to an open laptop.

In her latest research, Wharton marketing professor Shiri Melumad finds that consumers who write out their thoughts on smartphones tend to be more emotional than those who wait until they get home to type on their personal computers. Her findings have implications for both marketers and consumers who rely on user-generated content to inform their decisions.

“There’s been an explosion of user-generated content in recent years—things like Facebook posts, Yelp reviews and so on,” explains Melamud. “One of the reasons this matters is that customers are increasingly relying on this content as a critical source of information in the marketplace.”

Read more at Knowledge@Wharton.