Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 39 Number 2 2022 pp. 573-601

Post-Story: Influence of Introducing Story Feature on Social Media Posts

Alibakhshi, Reza and Srivastava, Shirish C


Driven by the need to enhance user traffic on social media (SM) platforms for increasing their advertising revenues, SM platforms are experimenting with new content creation features. However, it is unclear if such initiatives are also beneficial for SM profile owners such as influencers, who are the prime content creators on the SM platforms who use SM posts to build their influence within their network of followers. Our study investigates the effect of introducing one such new SM feature: the “story” on the creation and consumption of SM posts. Leveraging social penetration theory, we hypothesize the influence of introducing story feature on (1) the frequency of SM post creation by profile owners and (2) the extent of follower engagement with SM posts. Employing a quasi-experimental design, we find that the introduction of the story feature reduces the frequency of SM post creation, but the enhanced self-disclosure through the story feature increases follower engagement with the SM posts. However, these effects are moderated by the situating culture of the SM communities: while low-power-distance cultures value profile owners’ self-disclosure, high-power-distance cultures exhibit a mixed influence. Advancing literature on social penetration theory and SM user engagement, our study demonstrates that new self-disclosive SM content creation features do not necessarily benefit all the concerned stakeholders and that the effectiveness of such features might vary from one community to another. Hence, the intended impact of introducing new SM features needs to be carefully evaluated by SM platforms in a holistic manner.

Key words and phrases: social media, content creation, user engagement, experiment, social penetration theory, self-disclosure, culture, difference-in-difference, influencer, follower, platforms