'Who knows what' vs. 'who knows who': Strategic content seeking in social media
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The ubiquity of social media has enhanced consumers' ability to stay in touch as well as save and access information about others at will. This easy access to information on social media has the potential to change the way consumers seek and remember information. This dissertation sheds light on how information accessibility on social media shapes users' cognitions. Using a professional social network context, we examine two types of information that consumers pay attention to - content (i.e., 'who knows what') and connections (i.e., 'who knows who') and how different types of social media influencers (content generators vs. content diffusors) strategically seek information under specific contingencies - when they are vs. are not connected to others (i.e., when information accessibility is high vs. low). We also suggest that individual differences in executive attention moderate this type of content seeking. Results across five studies reveal that content generators tend to focus on others' content when they are not linked (vs. linked) but content diffusors tend to demonstrate the opposite, i.e., increased focus on content when they are linked (vs. not linked). Alternatively, when it comes to information about connections, content diffusors tend to focus on it when they are not linked (vs. linked) while content generators demonstrate no such active information seeking behavior. Interestingly, selective content seeking manifests only in users who rank high in working memory capacity - a factor that determines strategic attention control. Overall, this research shows that strategic content seeking happens on account of attention control processes and its outcome depends upon users' social media roles. This thesis contributes to the emerging social media literature in marketing by outlining a new phenomenon, strategic content seeking, explicating its underlying cognitive mechanism and delineating relevant social and cognitive moderators.