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Previous research on personal influence has focused on the sender, such as influencers or opinion leaders. This paper focuses on the context of personal influence i.e., social relationship between senders and receivers, and attempts to identify the optimal relational context for information cascade. The results of empirical analysis using both offline survey data and online blogo sphere data provide evidence of optimal heterophily between the two, i.e., the receiver wants to receive information from someone slightly more knowledgeable, not from a distant expert. The context of personal influence is also examined in terms of the stage of hierarchical consumer behavior and sentiment. Finally, the patterns of influence are presented to depict the diffusion process. This analysis of relational context and the patterns of influence suggest that many grassroots influentials, rather than a few super influentials, play a central role in information cascade.
Date of Conference: 9-11 Oct. 2011