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The effects of social media use and consumer engagement on physician online return: evidence from Weibo

Yabin Yang (School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, P.R. China)
Xitong Guo (School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, P.R. China) (School of Business, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, P.R. China)
Tianshi Wu (School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, P.R. China)
Doug Vogel (School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, P.R. China)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 18 April 2023

Issue publication date: 19 March 2024

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Abstract

Purpose

Social media facilitates the communication and the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients. However, limited research has examined the role of social media in a physicians' online return. This study, therefore, investigates physicians' online economic and social capital return in relation to physicians' use of social media and consumer engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

Using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression with fixed effects (FE) and panel data collected from Sina Weibo and Sina Health, this study analyzes the impact of physicians' social media use and consumer engagement on physicians' online return and the moderation effect of professional seniority.

Findings

The results reveal that physicians' use of social media and consumer sharing behavior positively affect physicians' online economic return. In contrast, consumer engagement positively impacts physicians' online social capital return. While professional seniority enhances the effect of physicians' social media use on online economic return, professional seniority only enhances the relationship between consumers' sharing behavior to the posts and physicians' online social capital return when professional seniority comes to consumer engagement.

Originality/value

This study reveals the different roles of social media use and consumer engagement in physicians' online return. The results also extend and examine the social media affordances theory in online healthcare communities and social media platforms.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was partially funded by the National Natural Science of China (72125001, 72293584, 72071054, 72121001) and Guangzhou major Science and Technology program of Medicine and Health (2022A031001).

Citation

Yang, Y., Guo, X., Wu, T. and Vogel, D. (2024), "The effects of social media use and consumer engagement on physician online return: evidence from Weibo", Internet Research, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 371-397. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-10-2021-0773

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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