One picture is worth 253 characters – Using photo mining to understand the role of a camera in online word of mouth
By Dr. LI Xi
Department of Marketing
City University of Hong Kong
The last few years have witnessed an explosive growth in the number of photos attached to reviews in online communities. In this paper, using two datasets from TripAdvisor and Yelp, we empirically investigate the effects of photos on review helpfulness. We find that, first, the more photos attached, the more helpful a review. More precisely, a photo is equivalent to a 253-character text. Second, photos may affect review helpfulness through other components of a review, such as review text. Last and most importantly, photo content matters. The helpfulness of a photo depends on the quality and content of the photo. For example, showing meat is more helpful than showing drinks in a restaurant review. Together, these results underscore the importance of incorporating photos in online reviews. Our findings also have implications for strategic recommendations in online review platforms.
Li Xi is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at CityU. He received his PhD in Management from University of Toronto. Currently, he is working on user-generated content, marketing-finance interface, and marketing strategy.
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