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Oct 15, 2019 2019-10 Business Administration Faculty

Ivanov examining impact of social media on businesses

When it comes to quantifying the impact social media can have on businesses, few understand it better than Anton Ivanov. The new assistant professor in the Department of Business Administration uses statistical analysis and machine learning techniques to analyze how user-generated content, such as online reviews, tweets, posts on Reddit, or “likes” on Facebook and Instagram, can affect business-related outcomes.

Anton Ivanov 06“Nowadays on the Internet, you’re not simply consuming information; you’re also giving something back and always leaving a digital trace,” said Ivanov. “You can pass by a café and see a sign that says ‘Like us on Facebook.’ Why in the world do businesses need that? Does it bring anything tangible? In reality, feedback generated by online users on the Internet can translate into real dollar signs for companies.”

Ivanov illustrates the effect of social media in his recent paper, “The impact of user-generated Internet content on hospital reputational dynamics.” He and his co-author examined the relationships between signals of quality, awareness, and content variance on one hand and hospital quality and prominence on the other. They also explored the impact of reputation on financial performance.

“All of our online activities – our ratings and reviews, expressions of emotion, or even watching a video – are related to reputation-building and online reputation management,” he said. “There are multiple dimensions of reputation: perceived quality, prominence, and favorability. In this paper, we set out to find which instances of user-generated content affected which dimensions of reputation.”

Corporate reputation has always been a strong interest for Ivanov, who spent two years as the chief reputation officer for Yota, a Russian 4G mobile broadband services provider. He served in that role while earning his candidate of science degree in economics from the International Banking Institute in his native St. Petersburg, Russia. He went on to earn his PhD in management information systems from the University at Buffalo, the largest campus in the State University of New York system.

This fall, Ivanov is teaching business intelligence, a data mining course, for undergraduate students. He is also teaching social media strategy for graduate students. It is a case-based class where students learn from real-world scenarios about how businesses have enjoyed tangible and intangible benefits from social media.

“The challenge for businesses today isn’t promoting themselves on social media,” said Ivanov, who spent the last year at Gies as a research associate. “Instead, the real challenge comes with listening and responding to users. Social media today isn’t about marketing; it’s about communication. It’s about engaging users, not passively pushing information.”

Personally, Ivanov is thrilled to land at Gies College of Business. His top goal on the job market was to work at a Research I university like the University of Illinois. Academically, it was a perfect fit as he has an opportunity to collaborate with other faculty at Gies and across campus.

“I worked hard to get the position at Gies and my perseverance has paid off. And I’ve fallen in love with this place,” he said. “I truly enjoy my interactions with the students. Their willingness to work and their inquisitive minds have greatly impressed me. And my colleagues here are phenomenal.”