Status and Expertise in the Structuring of Reciprocal Exchanges on Twitter: Replies, Retweets, and Mentions During National Diabetes Awareness Month

Seungyoon Lee, Jae Eun Chung, Namkee Park, Jessica R. Welch


Social media play an important role in health campaigns. Extending social exchange theory to online contexts, this study examines the structure of communicative exchanges among health organizations and a broader set of Twitter users, with a particular focus on how users’ status and expertise explain the likelihood of reciprocal communication in dyads. Results based on network analysis of users engaged in replies, retweets, and mentions during National Diabetes Awareness Month reveal (1) a tendency for homophily in which communication among users of differing status and expertise levels is unlikely to exist, and (2) a concentration of reciprocal exchanges in communication among high-status users and non–topic expert users. Implications of the patterns of hierarchy are discussed in relation to social exchange theory and health campaign practices.


social exchange theory, reciprocity, health campaign, Twitter, exponential random graph modeling

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