Published on January 16, 2014
The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society Edited by Peng Hwa Ang (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) Robin Mansell (London School of Economics and Political Science) Chapter: Social Media and Relationships Brian S. Butler University of Maryland firstname.lastname@example.org Sabine Matook University of Queensland email@example.com
Social Media - embedded in our day-to-day relationships Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 2
Definition of Social Media • Social media are a collection of technologies and applications that allow individuals to communicate, exchange information, and share digital artifacts (e.g., photos and videos) with one another, often in the context of larger groups, communities, or networks. • Examples: wikis, micro and normal blogs, online social networks (OSN) for personal and professional use, virtual worlds, community and crowdsourcing platforms. • Characteristics: – stand-alone or incorporated into larger multipurpose platforms – can operate entirely within a single organization – can support interaction and sharing across organizations and outside any organizational context Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 3
Importance of Relationships in Social Media Systems • All social media systems affect and are affected by the relationships of their users • Social media systems support: 1. explicit interactions based on the exchange of discrete messages 2. indirect interaction through the construction and discussion of shared artifacts • Interactions are within different relationships: friendships, family/kin relationships, work relationships, acquaintance relationships, collaborations Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 4
Online and Offline Relationships and Social Media • Social media enabled online relationships: relationships in which individuals interact entirely through computer-mediated communications • Offline relationships: relationships in which interactions between individuals occur through traditional media (e.g., telephone or face-to-face conversation) Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 5
Relation between online and offline relationships (1) social media systems enable new relationships by overcoming the limitations of offline relationships (2) social media systems enable online relationships that substitute for offline relationships (3) social media systems enable online relationships that complement offline relationships Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 6
(1) Online Relationships as New Opportunities • Social media systems enable relationships that otherwise would be impossible • Social media systems bridge geographic, political, and social boundaries • People can ―meet‖, befriend, and work with others across time zones and continents Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 7
Examples for New Opportunities through Online Relationships 1. Political activities in the Middle East during the Arab Spring in 2012 2. Individuals with rare medical conditions can receive health-related information and support from one another 3. Individuals living in geographically isolated communities (e.g., Australian outback) can learn and collaborate remotely 4. Employees in multi-national firms can develop relationships they need to find and use expertise within the larger organization Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 8
(2) Online Relationships as Substitutes • Negative impacts of online relationships for offline relationships • Social media systems increase the homogeneity of relationships • Difference in quality between online – offline relationships • Social media systems introduce conflict and misunderstandings in long-distance relationships and collaborations • Online relationships can be insufficient if physical touch or intensive persuasion is necessary Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 9
(3) Online Relationships as Complements • Social media systems complement online and offline relationships • Social media systems facilitate larger and more diverse social networks • Greater use of social networking sites and larger online social networks more social ties and higher levels of social interaction offline • Social media systems support the ―rich-get-richer‖ phenomenon Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 10
Question the distinction between online and offline relationships • Distinction between online and offline relationships has become problematic for theory and practice WHY? • Number and diversity of relationships supported and affected by social media systems has grown • Media convergence, emergence of mobile technologies, availability of social media systems have reduced the barriers between online and offline relationships • Smooth transitions between online and offline media (phone, tweets, texts, pokes, shares, likes, chats, and emails) to setup meetings, arrange dates, continue conversations • Simultaneous offline and online interactions using social media systems with people who are physically co-present Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 11
Social Media and Types of Relationships • Social media systems support communication, information exchange, sharing of digital artifacts in different relationships • Affordances of social media systems appropriate the technology: – to create profiles, – exchange information, – make associations, – see the ties that others have created and maintain. Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 12
Social Media and Types of Relationships • Use and impact of social media system‘s capabilities on relationships depends on the (1) objectives, (2) expectations, and (3) nature of each type of relationship • Social media systems redefine relationship: – Facebook allows users to be identify as ―friends‖ – LinkedIn identifies others as ―classmates‖ or ―colleagues‖ – Twitter users become and acquire ―followers‖ • Development of alternative relationship types with their own expectations, norms, and structures (i.e. real friends vs. ―Facebook friends‖) Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 13
Friendships • Exists among people of all ages, cultures, and social contexts • Voluntary, bidirectional, and reciprocal relationships in which partners respond to each other personally to show communal caring • Vary in intensity and closeness (measure of relationship strength) • Types: acquaintances, casual friends, and close friends • Provide attachment, companionship, help, and emotional support • Friendships provide a variety of benefits: – – – – – ego support, self-affirmation, security, utility, and stimulation. Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 14
Friendships and Social Media • Social media systems‘ affordances enable creation and maintenance of friendship relationships: – – – – Creation of rich personal profiles Identification of relationship partners Interactions with one another Traverse relational links in a variety of ways • Social media systems support reciprocity: – Facebook: recognition of a relationship through explicit acknowledgement by both relationship partners – Twitter: mutual acknowledgement not required • Sharing of messages, images, information leads to reciprocal action • Repeated reciprocity results in friendships to be maintained and become closer over time Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 15
Friendships and Social Media • Friendships in social media systems are equal in power and status • Friends of same status cannot impose demands • Out-of-balance friendships lead to changes in behavior (e.g., decreased levels of self-disclosure, dissolution of the friendship) • Hybrid form of friendships more common compared to pure online and offline relationships • Portfolio of friendships to satisfy different social needs Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 16
Kinship Relationships • Kinship relationships: relationships of individuals with members of their family by virtue of birth, marriage, or adoption • Kinship relationships are often not voluntary or reciprocal • Kinship relationships are subject to status differences, social norms, and expectations on each other • Kinship relationships are enacted through exchanges and interactions • Kinship relationships vary in closeness, strength, and importance Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 17
Romantic Kinship Relationships and Social Media • Social media systems have distinct effects on kinship and family relationships • In cases of marriage, dating, and other romantic relationships social media systems play an increasingly significant role • Individuals discover, evaluate, and interact with potential partners (boy/ girlfriend; husband/wife) formally through social media services and informally through their social contacts • Social media systems‘ affordances enable: 1) Formation of long-term kinship relationships 2) Impression management on online dating sites 3) Opportunities for deceptive self-presentation Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 18
Benefits for Kinship Relationships from Social Media • Family members use photo sharing platforms, and group communications technologies to remain connected with one another across distance, time, and national borders • Parents can monitor children‘s behavior and activities – spying on Facebook Half of Facebook parents joined to spy on kids? Link: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57569806-71/half-of-facebookparents-joined-to-spy-on-kids/ (February 17, 2013 ) • Older family members can continue to interact with other family members even after their ability to travel becomes impaired • Use of social media systems to find ‗lost‘ family members (online genealogical communities) Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 19
Professional Relationships • Professional relationships are critical for people and organizations for their work and collaboration: 1. Job seekers find employment opportunities 2. Entrepreneurs discover and receive venture capital 3. Managers monitor and influence activities in their organization 4. Team members coordinate their collaborative efforts • Professional relationships vary with respect to their strength, frequency, and diversity of interaction • Professional relationships lack the emotional components of friendships Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 20
Professional Relationships – Strong and Weak Ties • People have a few strong but many more weak professional ties/ relationships • Based on sociologist Granovetter (The Strength of Weak Ties, 1973) • Strong ties/ relationships: – frequent interactions – conversations cover a wide range of topics – evoke trust and interdependence – critical for resolving problems during crises and internal conflicts • Weak ties/ relationships: infrequent interaction, minimal dependence, and limited personal conversations • Weak ties are critical to individuals‘ ability to succeed in work settings by sharing general information across groups (networks) • Weak ties are valuable sources of exploratory information Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 21
Professional Relationships - LinkedIn LinkedIn: platform for individuals to track and leverage their relationships – Officially launched on 5th May 2003. At the end of the 1st month in operation, LinkedIn had a total of 4,500 members. – Operates the world‘s largest professional Internet network with more than 259 million members in over 200 countries and territories. – Sign-up rate: more than two new members per second. – 66% of LinkedIn members are located outside of the USA – Over 30 million students and recent university graduates on LinkedIn representing its fastest-growing demographic. (http://press.linkedin.com/about) Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 22
Professional Relationships - Blurring of Boundaries • Context collapse = Blurring of boundaries • Blurring of boundaries between social contexts most unanticipated consequences of social media systems for professional relationships • Family and friends versus colleagues individuals from different spheres – normally do not know and do not interact with each other • Social media systems bridge these spheres • Relationships previously independent become interdependent • Information and behavior previously semi-private becomes semipublic • Composition of a persons‘ Facebook contacts: – – – – 27% 24% 24% 18% … acquaintances … co-workers and teammates … close contacts such as best friends, romantic partners made up … contacts come from the user‘s past (e.g. high school friends) Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 23
Consumer Relationships • Social media systems affect relationships in retail marketing and commerce • Retail commerce: economic transactions that take place between consumers who provide financial resources in exchange for products or services • Transactional, economic relationship are embedded in a social context • Consumers develop relationships with producers: – Loyalty and trust of producers – Interact with producers regularly – Declare themselves as being affiliated with producers • Benefit of producers are the implicit endorsement and visibility – Consumer adds a company as a Facebook friend or signs up for a company‘s online community / Facebook‘s Like button Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 24
Consumer Relationships - Word-of-Mouth • Word-of-Mouth (WOM): Consumers rely on their relationships with others to learn about products, services, and providers • Word-of-mouth marketing employs professional marketing techniques to actively shape how individual consumers use their relationships to share and acquire information about products and services prior to making a purchasing decision • Important sources of trustworthy information: close friends on Facebook, other Facebook contacts, third-party blogs, and independent review sites • Less trusted sources: salespeople, retailers/producers, and celebrities because of assumed self-interest to promote the product and highlight its benefits Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 25
Consumer Relationships of Starbucks Starbucks has three customer dialog management strategies: 1. Megaphone: Starbucks shares information directly with its customers via Twitter (3.5 million followers), YouTube (Starbucks has his own YouTube channel), or Facebook to strengthen their brand name and spread time-critical information. 2. Magnet: uses social media systems and relies on the existing consumer-producer relationships, (operates in the opposite direction - form of inbound communication) to have customers share information with Starbucks to capture customer feedback and identify potential innovations. 3. Monitor: involves using social media systems to observe consumer-consumer interactions of interest for Starbucks (e.g., customer reviews at Yelp) which give Starbucks a knowledge advantage that increases the chances that their marketing messages will be shared by WOM. Gallaugher, J., & Ransbotham, S. (2010). Social media and customer dialog management at Starbucks. MIS Quarterly Executive, 9(4), 197-212. Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 26
Consumer Relationships • Social network analysis (SNA) used to identify the most influential individuals in large networks • People that bridge otherwise dispersed network = structural holes based on Burt (1992) • Difference between linked structures of social networks and actual interactions/ meaningful relationships among people • Consumers as co-producers: relationships between companies and individuals in which consumers coproduce innovations, value, and meaning • Crowdsourcing and open innovation: companies create knowledge-intensive relationships focused on formal exchange of ideas for money and recognition Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 27
Social Media and Relationship Dynamics • A social relationship exists when two partners have interactions with and expectations for each other over a substantial length of time. • Relationships are not static but dynamic • Relationships vary in intensity, visibility, and importance • Relationships can be considered in phases: 1) Formation Phases 2) Maintenance and Development Phase 3) Dissolution Phase • Social media systems are used differently by relationship partners and have differing impacts on relationship characteristics depending on the phase a relationship is at Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 28
Relationship Formation - Proximity • Formation depends on: (1) proximity, (2) first impressions, (3) similarity (homophily), and complementarity • Social media systems support faster and broader relationship formation • Physical proximity is less important than media proximity • Unlikely that a relationship forms between people who use different social media systems • Barriers to relationship formation due to media proximity: 1) corporate structure, 2) technology features, and 3) national policies. • Need for integration of social media systems to overcome media proximity Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 29
Relationship Formation - First Impression • First impressions are based on physical appearance • First impressions decide about the extent to which people want to form a relationship with one another • Social media systems have limited cues about potential relationship partners people need more time to reduce the uncertainty about the partner • Strategies to reduce uncertainty: – Add personal details to their profiles, attach photos, and videos – Use of personal profiles to be informed and then decide about forming relationships • Social media systems provide people with control of what they wish to reveal about themselves Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 30
Relationship Formation – Similarity and Complementarity • Fit between the interests, skills, values, and resources of the potential relationship partner • Similarity (homophily): relationships are formed with similar others • Similarity in surface characteristics: race, gender, or ethnicity • Similarity in deep characteristics: values and beliefs • Complementarity: relationships are formed based on diversity of partners • Relationship partners complement each other based on interests, capabilities, and needs Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 31
Relationship Formation – Similarity and Complementarity • Nature of relationship impacts on combination or dominance of similarity or complementarity • Resource and need complementarity important in the formation of utility-oriented relationships – Example: Professional affiliation or work-related collaboration systems – e.g. LinkedIn – provide recommendations, discussions of job openings, and introductions to otherwise unreachable people • Interest and value similarity important in the formation of none utility-oriented relationships – Example: Social media system – e.g., Facebook – can be used to give Word-of-Mouth recommendations on products and services, help with searches, and provide social support Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 32
Indicators for Relationship Development and Maintenance 1) Reduced social distance • Social Exchange Theory or Social Comparison Theory: Expectations of positive rewards motivate relationship development – Rewards: pleasant communications, the exchange of photos, and the sharing of news • Social media systems provide features for exchange of rewards (e.g., digital gifts, supportive comment, Like it Button) 2) Increased self-disclosure • Generalized reciprocity leads to mutual self-disclosure • Different motivation to disclose personal information: Convenience, the ability to build relationships and received value from them, recognition, enjoyment of interpersonal relationships Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 33
Relationship Maintenance and Development • Social media systems important for the mobile workforce and tele-workers • Physically separated from their family, friends, and co-workers • Challenged to maintain relationships • Negative social outcomes: social isolation, loneliness, depression • Social media systems increase feelings of belonging and social integration • Use of active and passive features of social media systems: – Active features: posting messages, chatting, playing games, sending digital gifts – Passive features: reading, listening, viewing of a contact‘s content (photos, postings, videos), searching for people Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 34
Relationship Dissolution • Triggers for relationship dissolution: deceptions, false or misleading information, purposefully omit certain information, information overload, and creation of false representations in social media system TEDx talk: Jeff Hancock on social media and deception Link: http://www.cornell.edu/video/tedx-talk-jeff-hancock-on-socialmedia-and-deception • Ending a relationship within a social media system: – less confrontational – less emotionally stressful for the relationship partners – requires less effort or personal involvement • Actions to end a relationship: – change features (visibility and privacy) for the relevant person – blocking the person Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 35
Summary - Social Media and Relationships “Social media isn't something that you "do", instead you have to "be" social.” Reference: Peter Thomson: Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies • Diverse collection of technologies and applications • Allow people to communicate, exchange information, and share digital artifacts with one another • Enable new relationships, substitute and complement offline relationships • Multi-facet impact on different relationships: friendships, kinship, professional relationships, consumer relationships, and coproduction relationships • Influence on the formation, maintenance and development, and dissolution of relationships Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 36
Author biographies Brian S. Butler is an Associate Professor in the College of Information Studies and in the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland where is he is the Director of the Master of Information Management (MIM) Program and the Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI). His work, which has appeared in Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, Organization Science, Journal of Biomedical Informatics, and the Journal of Medical Internet Research, combines theories and methods from organizational theory and management to better understand how emerging technologies alter the way teams, communities, and organization function. Recent projects include studies of policy formation and application in Wikipedia, social media use in local food systems, the design of online communities for large-scale education initiatives, and models and metrics for systems of online groups. Sabine Matook, Ph.D., is a senior lecturer in Information Systems at the UQ Business School, University of Queensland. She received her doctoral degree from the Technische Universität (TU) Dresden, Germany. Her research interests are on the IT artifact, social media, and agile IS development. Her work has appeared in the European Journal of Information Systems, Information & Management, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, the International Journal of Operations & Production Management, and Decision Support Systems. Dr Matook has presented research papers at a variety of international conferences, including the International Conference on Information Systems. Her areas of teaching include courses on systems analysis and design, management information systems, and IS research methodologies. Version 1 - January 2014 Butler and Matook (2014): Social Media and Relationships 37
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