This study examined the effects of follower number and comment tone on judgements about potential opinion leaders and their pages on Weibo, a Chinese social media site. Two experiments differentiated different types of negative comments, uncivil, critical, neutral and mixed, to assess the effects of comment tone relative to previous research. The results suggest that these manipulations have minimal effects, and there is little evidence that the overall number of followers is influential. In contrast to prior research, the readers did not seem to rely upon social cues from either the number of followers or the tone of the comments to form judgements about potential opinion leaders and their pages. Mixed evidence indicates that uncivil comments may be distinguished from merely critical comments, but neither format definitively leads to more positive evaluations. The potential implications for opinion leadership in China and worldwide are considered.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Human-Computer Interaction
- General Psychology