Attributes of Social Network Services: A Classification and Comparison Jeong Woong Sohn and Jin Ki Kim Department of Business Administration, Korea Aerospace University 100 Hanggongdae gil, Hwanjeon-Dong, Deogyang-gu, Goyang City, Gyeongg- Do 412-791, Korea Tel: +82-2-300-0353 E-mail: email@example.com Department of Business Administration, Korea Aerospace University 100 Hanggongdae gil, Hwanjeon-Dong, Deogyang-gu, Goyang City, Gyeongg- Do 412-791, Korea Tel: +82-2-300-0353 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgAbstractSince Social Network Services (SNSes) are considered as an effective means to communicate andinteract with customers, companies are trying to utilize SNSes effectively. However, there arefew studies on the features of SNSes which address how companies can better use SNSes forspecific purposes. This study aims to investigate the attributes and functions of SNSes to classifySNS sites. Based on these attributes, this study tries to evaluate three major SNS sites todifferentiate them. This study finds the following: First, a factor analysis reveals seven attributesthat can be used to classify SNSes – these are Interaction, Communication, Entertainment,Information, Share, Intimacy and Connection; and second, through an analysis of variance withmultiple comparisons, three attributes, Interaction, Communication and Connection, are foundto play differentiated roles depending on the SNS site. The result of this study will aid inunderstanding the attributes that companies should take into consideration in order to operateand manage SNS sites in the future by defining the SNS attributes and allowing the differences inthe attributes among SNS sites to be checked. From an academic perspective, this study providesa foundation for the development of further research and has demonstrated the potential todevelop a general theory that can throw ideas into shape.Keywords: Social Network Service (SNS), Media attributes, Social Network Theory, Factor analysis, Analysis of variance, Multiple comparison
SNS Attributes – 21. Introduction In the past Web 2.0, the users of the internet used and shared information passively, butsince social network services began, the technology that ensures convenience and real-timeservice has made it easy for users to share and spread their opinions and activities(Java, Song,Finin, & Tseng, 2009). At present, the social network internet is deeply rooted in our social lives.Therefore, social network services are endlessly working to bring about a lot of changes in oursociety. The roles of enterprises, which acted as the main producers of internet information in thepast, have been reduced, while individuals as internet users have become information producersand have expanded their roles. Now, individuals can mutually communicate and share theirexperiences, thoughts, information, and various responses in virtual space. Since Web 2.0 has become a social issue, the system of internet-based services hasdeveloped rapidly. User created content (UCC) and social networking services (SNSes) are thetwo service platforms which have attracted the most attention. The services that form networks on the internet on the basis of contents produced onlineby people have been conceptualized as social network services, and the sites which provide suchservices have been conceptualized as social network service sites. As a network of relationships between people, SNSes can be said to be the services thatare formed as communities with the same purposes or services form into groups in accordancewith their personal friendships or interests. Including Facebook and Twitter, SNSes are nowplaying an important role for individuals, enterprises and societies (Beak, 2010). Being different from traditional media such as TV or radio, SNSes constitute an internet-based technology which makes it possible to interactively communicate between one and N, or
SNS Attributes – 3between N and N. Providing a variety of services, SNSes take up a large share of web services.Some of them are very large and have a great ripple effect. Through SNSes, users pursue a lot ofpurposes by sharing their personal information, expanding their social capital and retrievingvaluable information. SNSes are growing rapidly, and many people are spending an increasing amount of theirtime using these services (Hargittai, 2007). The raw numbers of active SNS users is impressive;there were about 700 million users of Facebook (as of November 2011) and 150 million ofTwitter (as of May 2011). SNSes are well-known as web-based services that help users to build a public or semi-public profile over the internet. Users can share human connections with other users whileexchanging their lists of connections with each other within the same system (Boyd & Ellison,2007). However, the properties of such connections can be different to some degree, dependingon which SNS site users belong to. The reasoning behind the growing popularity of SNSes among the public is centered onthe ability of SNSes to extend and maintain a member’s offline social relationships to the virtualrealm, which is not bound by space or time (Lamp, Ellison, & Steinfield, 2005). Like in offlinecommunities, people in SNSes gratify their social and emotional needs that realize connectionsin a person-to-person manner that is more direct and interpersonal (Rothaermel & Sugiyama,2001). Rau, Gao and Ding (2008) argue that while SNSes are based on Computer MediatedCommunication (CMC), SNSes differentiate themselves from CMC in such a way that whileCMC centers on the online communities and blogs mainly for information sharing and exchange,SNSes focus more on social emotional needs.
SNS Attributes – 4 In the past, existing internet services were used to simply gather information and showwhere individuals were allowed to access and share information. Since the development of theSNS concept, the number of users of SNSes such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter andso on has been increasing (Ko, Hwang, & Ji, 2010). Users are given similar means by differentSNS sites so that they may interact with each other over the internet, such as through e-mail,instant messaging and even no-charge calls, and users are also allowed to share ideas, activities,events and interests within the boundary of each site. Table 1 shows the functions of major SNSsites.Table1. Functions of major SNS sites SNS Sites Functions Editing profiles (interests, workplaces, schools, etc.), instant messaging, receiving real- time updates (news feeds / mini-feeds), checking friend statuses (recent statuses), Facebook sharing content (videos, images, etc.), searching, commenting, managing contacts (member group management), adding Facebook applications, cross linking with other sites, receiving recommendations and comments from friends Editing profiles (interests, workplaces, schools, etc.), receiving RSS feeds, managing follow/follower/retweet/reply functions, direct messaging, cross linking with other Twitter sites, receiving recommendations for finding people/friends listed/friends, searching interests field, using hash tags, writing (140 characters or less) Editing profiles, sharing content (videos, images, etc.), searching, commenting, Cyworld recommendations for finding people/friends listed/friends, direct messaging, listening to music, clipping Sharing/uploading/recommending videos, commenting on video bulletin boards, YouTube categorizing videos, customizing video views, translating video captions, video RSS, managing favorites, cross linking with other sites Uploading, sharing and modifying videos and pictures, commenting for videos and Flickr pictures on bulletin boards, tag searching for videos and pictures, cross linking with other sites Recently, researchers have begun to use SNSes to investigate how companies interactwith one another, building many casual connections between executives, organizations andindividual employees working for different companies. Companies can even gather informationabout other companies and devise strategies to gain a better position in the market or reformulatepricing tactics through these kinds of networks.
SNS Attributes – 5 With the worldwide emergence of smartphones, marketing strategies with respect toSNSes will continue to spread. Companies are striving to create new revenue streams, includingadvertisement sales, using the popularity and unique attributes of SNSes. SNSes are not onlyattractive for their economic value as a means of advertising media, but also for the potentialimpact they will have on social interactions. With SNSes, companies expect to gain benefits interms of increasing their brand image by connecting more directly with consumers, and also interms of using SNSes to achieve low-cost high-efficiency marketing. Compared to the attentionpaid to the value of SNSes, there is a distinct lack of theory relating to the attributes and users ofSNSes. Enterprises use SNSes for their product public relations and marketing, but many ofthem do not have differentiated strategies in using SNSes. Therefore, their effect is very small –certainly smaller than their expectations. In some cases, they feel skeptical about whether or notthey are really using SNS-related strategies properly. In the cases where they cannot producetangible results, SNSes increasingly having a negative influence on enterprises. Even though SNSes are beginning to attract the attention of academic researchers,discussions on SNSes have focused only on the ripple effect and expansion of SNSes, includingmotives of use. Two noteworthy models are the diffusion of innovation model and thetechnology acceptance model. Most studies conducted to date have focused on a single SNS site.Few studies have compared attitudes and behaviors across sites (Facebook, Myspace, etc.).Without considering the attribute as a medium which SNS sites have, many of these studiesregard SNS sites as relationship-oriented social network service media that facilitate informationexpansion.
SNS Attributes – 6 SNSes are not services that have been created recently. Existing media, communities,websites and blogs have been developed and a variety of services and functions have been addedto create SNSes with their own unique values as online network services in which many peoplecan participate and make exchanges with each other. Therefore, this study will review thefunctions and existing theories on SNS sites and investigate the attributes of SNSes. Up until now, there has been no thesis that provides a framework which distinguishesdifferences in the aspects and attributes of SNSes and differentiates their strategies. By isolatingthe attributes of SNSes and the characteristics of SNS sites, we can understand the paradigm ofcommunication between people and save a lot of effort in forming and maintaining relationships.Therefore, enterprises that use SNSes need strategic approaches on this basis and should findimproved solutions so that they can communicate with customers and meet their needssatisfactorily. This study aims at investigating attributes and functions of SNSes to classify SNS sites.Based on these attributes, this study tries to evaluate three major SNS sites to differentiate them.2. Social Network Service Sites2.1 SNS History & Major SNS sites The first social network site opened in 1997. With SixDegrees.com, users were able tocreate their own profiles and build different groups of friends. In 1998, users were given achance to view other users’ lists of friends. In fact, some of the features that SixDegrees has atpresent, such as profiling, existed on other sites like chatting or dating sites and community sites(Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Table 2 shows the launching years of major SNS sites.
SNS Attributes – 7Table 2. Launch dates of major SNS sites 1997 1999 ~ 2002 2003 ~ 2004 2005 ~ 2006 Couchsurfing, Linkedin, Livejournal, Yahoo!360, Youtube, Cyworld Myspace, Tribe.net, Open AsianAvenue, (China), Ning, AsianAvenue, BC/Xing, Last.FM, Hi5, Orkur, Blackplanet, Lunarstorm, BlackPlanet (relaunch), WindowsSixDegrees Dogster, Flickr, Piczo, Mixi, Migente, Cyworld, Live Spaces, Cyworld (U.S.), Facebook (Harvard-only), Ryzem, Fotolog, Twitter, MyChurch, Facebook Multiply, Asmallworld, Friendster, Skyblog (open access) Dodgeball, Catster, HyvesSource: Boyd & Ellison (2007).• Facebook Facebook launched in February, 2004. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, aformer Harvard student. It has over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups,events and community pages). Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate moreefficiently with their friends, family and coworkers (Turban & Volinino, 2010). Photos, groups, events, marketplaces, posted items and notes are the basic applicationsalready installed on Facebook. Apart from these basic applications, users can develop their ownapplications or add any of the millions of Facebook available applications that have beendeveloped by other users. In May 2012, Facebook was listed on the NASDAQ and closed at $38.23. After eightyears since its foundation, Facebook is now worth $1.046 billion in market capitalization. A primary reason that Facebook expands is the network effect: that is, more users meansmore value. The more users involved in the social space, the more they can connect to otherpeople. Facebook realized that by only focusing on college and university users, they could keepthem for only four years. Facebook is encouraging organizations to open pages where they can postadvertisements and promotions. Also, the site is open to developers who create applications bothfor entertainment and business. By 2011, Facebook had reached more than 750 million active
SNS Attributes – 8users with the average user having 130 friends. Also in 2011, there were more than 250 millionactive users accessing Facebook through their mobile devices (Facebook, 2011).• Twitter Twitter is an SNS company providing a social network and personal blog service whereusers can interact with other users, especially through messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based messages, and users can write up to 140 characters per message, and the messages aredisplayed on their profile pages. Tweets were originally designed to be open to the public, butsenders can put restrictions on message delivery. Users can subscribe to other users tweets. Thisprocess is known as following, and subscribers are known as followers in this case. On August 31, 2010, OAuth became Twitter’s authentication method through whichusers could access applications more conveniently without entering their passwords when usingthe applications. Twitter expected that its change to OAuth would bring about increased securityand a better experience. In April 2010, Twitter had 105 million registered users. New users were signing up atthe rate of 300,000 per day. Twitter users were, in total, tweeting an average of 55 million tweetsa day (Huffington Post, 2010).•YouTube Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim were the founders of YouTube, and inNovember 2005, the site was first launched as a video sharing platform. All three memberspreviously worked for PayPal. According to YouTube’s statistics, approximately more than one trillion hits weretabulated in 2011. To put this number in perspective, it is equivalent to every person on Earthwatching one video 140 times. One video is uploaded every second, and there are more than 800
SNS Attributes – 9million net users visiting every month. YouTube has more than 30,000 partners in 27 countriesaround the world. Partner revenue has increased by a factor of two in the last four consecutiveyears. Non-subscribers can only watch video clips, while regular subscribers are allowed toupload as many video clips as they want. In May 2010, YouTube was providing over two billionvideo clips per day, which is almost twice as many as a combination of the three major televisionnetworks in the United States. In October 2010, Google published a report about its financialperformance for the third quarter of the year. According to the report, YouTube was providingover two billion video clips a week, which included advertising. Back in October 2006, GoogleInc. announced that it had made an acquisition deal with YouTube for $1.65 billion, and theycompleted the deal on November 13, 2006 (Thrusocial, 2011).• Cyworld Cyworld was founded in 1999 in South Korea. The original purpose of Cyworld was toimprove online dating and chatting services, making them similar to that of a matchmaking site,and to provide users with an open public meeting place so that they could connect with eachother over the internet. Cyworld has two meanings: Cyber World and a world of relationships,which have been the core concepts for SNSes thus far. Through the Cyworld service, users’human relations are embodied by an ‘Ilchon’ link, which infers that there is a relationship asclose as that between family members (Kim&Yun, 2007; Skcoms, 2007). One of the prominent features Cyworld possesses is that each user is allowed to create avirtual homepage. In this way, social celebrities and politicians can use this platform to be muchcloser to their fans and audience. The number of users started to increase rapidly from the end of2003, eventually reaching the present level of approximately 23 million. In 2005, Cyworld was
SNS Attributes – 10the most successful messenger service company in Korea, thanks in part to its M&A withNateOn, which enabled Cyworld to vault itself into the number one ranking (Skcoms, 2008). By2010, Cyworld had pulled out of three markets, namely Germany, Japan and America. However,overseas efforts continued in China and Vietnam. In 2009, the former had seven millionsubscribers while the latter had 450,000 subscribers (Skcoms, 2008).3. Theoretical Background The concept of social and interpersonal relationships in a social network has been shiftedto the online SNSes where not only social infrastructures such as the networking andmanagement of human networks are supported, but also information is recommended and sharedas a one-man media function for interactive communication between members.3.1 Social Network Theory A social network is defined as a network of personal or business contacts, especiallypromoted by social networking over the internet, where users interact with each other in sharingtheir ideas, interests and activities (Barnes & Leinhardt, 1997; Kempe, Kleinberg, & Tardos,2003; Kwon & Wen, 2010). By comparing a close-knit network with a loose-knit network at thequalitative level, Bott (1977) develop an analytic concept. A close-knit network means a socialnetwork in which not only are the members of a community connected around a central ego, butthey also closely interact with one another. Cheung, Chiu and Lee (2010) argue that the growthand public popularity of social networks are creating a new world for communication andcooperation, and that many people all around the world are using online social networks to shareinformation and knowledge. Rice, Grant, Schmitz and Torobin (1990) argue that SNSes are the online services thatshift the concept of offline social relations into a virtual community which emphasizes the
SNS Attributes – 11gratification of motivations which are social network oriented rather than content oriented. Thesocial interaction in the context of SNSes may therefore be considered as the social impacts thatreflect communication established through networking and the maintenance of networks aroundhuman interactions. The social impacts were defined as the influences by and between memberbehaviors in social relations. However, a social relation cannot be maintained just by connectingto others in an SNS site. Rather, a social relation requires various interactions between membersto form within an SNS site. The emergence of SNSes has not only created a new form ofrelations, but also changed the lifestyles of modern people. SNSes transcend the mere concept ofan internet-based tool; they are building a new life paradigm through interactions between e-services and their users. Although SNSes exist in the cyber world, they mirror real humanrelations (Kwon & Wen, 2010). Those more strongly tied between communicating pairs use more media to communicatethan those with weak ties. Media use within groups conforms to a uni-dimensional scale, whichshows a configuration of different tiers of media use supporting social networks of different tiestrengths (Haythornthwaite, 2005). A sense of mutual engagement and openness among members are important factors thatform an online community (Bays & Mowbray, 2001; Rheingold, 1993), and SNS usage interactswith measures of psychological well-being, suggesting that it might provide greater benefits forusers experiencing low self-esteem and low life satisfaction (Bateman, Gray, & Butler, 2006). Scholars in many fields have begun investigating how such sites may play into issues ofidentity, privacy, social capital, youth culture and education. In particular, Facebook isincreasingly becoming the object of scholarly research (Amichai-Hamburger & Vinitzky, 2010;
SNS Attributes – 12Bateman, et al., 2006; Boyd & Ellison, 2007; Butler, 2001; Green-Hamann, Eichhorn, & Sherblom,2011; Hargittai, 2007; Haythornthwaite, 2005). Amichai-Hamburger and Vinitzky (2010) investigate the relationship between userpersonalities and their behaviors on Facebook. In this research, five personalities were used forevaluation: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness toexperience. They argue that these personalities are strongly corelated with their behaviours onFacebook. Steinfield, Ellison and Lampe (2008) investigate the relationship between the intensityof Facebook use, psychological well-being and bridging social capital. They found that theintensity of Facebook use in the first year strongly predicted bridging social capital in the secondyear, even after controlling for measures of self-esteem and satisfaction with life. The latterpsychological variables are definitely associated with social capital outcomes. Self-esteem playsa role in moderating the relationship between Facebook usage intensity and bridging socialcapital. That is, people with lower self-esteem gain more from their use of Facebook than otherswith higher self-esteem in terms of bridging social capital. Facebook helps people improve theirself-esteem while building large and heterogeneous human networks that can be sources ofbridging social capital in the future (Steinfield, Ellison, & Lampe, 2008). In most SNSes, users are allowed to join or create groups in order to interact with otherusers with similar interests. In addition, the fact that people are joining and using SNSes may berelated to social capital. Social capital is an elastic construct used to describe the benefits onereceives from ones relationships with other people (Bateman, et al., 2006). For instance, self-esteem has been regarded as a moderator of the relationship between social network site use andsocial capital (Steinfield, et al., 2008).
SNS Attributes – 13 Alexander and Michael (2008) and Ko, et al. (2010) define the functions of SNSes byanalyzing several SNS sites. The common functions are defined in Table 3.Table 3. Functions of SNSesAlexander & Michael Ko, et al. (2010) Functions of SNS (2008) Function that enables you to search for those who have Expert finding Expert search expertise or things of interest, etc. Function that enables you to express your status, mood Network awareness Identity or feeling, etc. Function that enables you to share your messages or Exchange Communication conversations with others Function that enables you to establish, communicate Contact management Connection and manage a relationship with others Alexander and Michael (2008) suggest the functions of SNSes could be categorized asidentity management (access rights can be direct or role based) and context awareness (theawareness of a common context with other people). Ko, et al., (2010) put forward that SNSesalso provide the function of content sharing (the function that enables the sharing anddistribution of personal audio and video content).3.2 Media attributes Among the five major forms of media – print, video, audio, graphics and data – the lastfour forms have been combined to constitute what is called multimedia. In other words,multimedia is an integration of video, audio, graphics and data, mostly through a single computerworkstation. It was first intended to be differentiated from the existing media in terms of themode of delivery and presentation for teaching and training (Patrick, 2004). Newspapers are one of the oldest forms of mass media, and this form holds a number ofadvantages over other forms. They give more detailed story information, can be read and re-readand can be circulated and stored for repeated readership, optimizing the information delivery (Jin,2008). Mobility, which is an exclusive characteristic of newspapers, is keeping newspapers aliveand strong despite the emergence of more evolved forms of mass media such as TV and internet.
SNS Attributes – 14 Regarding the effects of mass media by functional similarities, radio is very similar tonewspapers in that not only does it share the technical aspects with TV, which offers informativeand entertaining content, it also provides a massive amount of information (Katz, Gurevitch, &Hass, 1973). Differences in motivation lead to different communication choices (Armstrong &Rubin, 1989). Audiences listen to the radio to seek companionship and to overcome socialisolation, and this is why talk radio still serves as an alternative to other forms of mass media(Avery, Ellis, & Glover, 1978). In terms of motivation for use based on the characteristics of TV and internet, themotivation to watch TV is thought to be connected to the concept of TV being conceived of as alife companion, offering relaxation from stress, habituation, entertainment, enjoyment and theobtainment of information and knowledge (Bantz, 1982; Conway & Rubin, 1991; Greenberg,1974; Rubin, 1981). The motivation for internet use, which is characterized as interactions wherea sender of information can also be a receiver and vice versa, is centered on asynchronicityunbound by time, multi dimensional communication, democracy in information generation anddistribution by the many and unspecified. Rafaeli and John (1995) identified motivations forinternet use as information acquisition, pleasure, socialization, social avoidance and jobexchange based on the democratic characteristic (Eighmey, 1997; Korgaonkar & Wolin, 1999;Rafaeli, 1986). Differences in motivation between TV and internet also reflect thecomplementary relationship between these two. The study on the microscopic aspects of users regarding the appearance and use of newmedia depends on the acceptability of people who use such media. The ‘Use and Gratification’theory has been developed together with communication technology, explaining the motives ofusers of traditional media. Whenever a new media technology enters into the communication
SNS Attributes – 15academy, researchers study the uses of gratification of the users of the new media (Elliott &Rosenberg, 1987).3.3 Internet Attributes With the advent of computers in the second half of the twentieth century, networksystems were developed to link computers to one another. Subsequently, when human beingsdesired to make information truly global, networks to connect countries together were needed.This need gave way to the development and expansion of the internet. With the exponential growth of information and communication, internet technologymade it possible for a lot of individual users to meet and talk in cyber space in a way that was notpossible in the real world in the past. Interactive exchanges can now be made between users,each of whom has access to a variety of technical functions to enhance the experience. Functionssuch as electronic bulletin boards, teleconferencing, chatting, Usenet and e-mail lists makeinteractive communication possible and allow users to actively form virtual communities andinvolve themselves in participation and association. There are five motives for using the internet; interpersonal utility, passing the time,seeking information, convenience and entertainment. As these five motives indicate, the internethas a great influence on our daily lives (Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000). Research has shown that the motives for using the internet are related to use andsatisfaction. This research also notes that there are several specific motives such asdiversion/entertainment, a sense of identity, human relationships, social interaction andmonitoring/information (Parker & Plank, 2000). One study on the users of internet blogs relatedto the news argued that the motives of using the internet are entertainment, hobbies, socialrelationships, the acquisition of information and escapism (Yang, 2007). Another study put
SNS Attributes – 16forward that there are seven internet attributes; interaction, internationalization, communication,connections, expense, fun and passing time(Jang, 1998). Teo, Lim and Lie (1999) decided that the motives of using the internet are perceivedenjoyment (internal motive), perceived usefulness (external motive) and perceived ease of use.They also argued that the use of internet would be on the increase if users thought that the use ofthe internet was both easy to use and very helpful in carrying out business. They maintained thatalong with business use and ease of use, the motives of using computers were connected to theexperience of enjoyment (Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw, 1992), perceived usefulness andperceived fun (Igbaria, Schiffman, & Wieckowski, 1994). The main characteristics of mobile internet services are that these services maintainattributes such as openness and interaction while users are on the move. Mobile internet servicesemphasize mobility, portability and personalization (Durlacher Research, 1998). With further developments in the study of motives for using the internet, studies on themotives of using the information performance of online policies are being carried out in additionto the studies on the internet itself (Kaye & Johnson, 2002).3.4 Blog Attributes The term ‘blog’ is a shortened form of ‘weblog’, which itself is a closed compoundformed by ‘web’ and ‘log’. It is the online equivalent of keeping a daily log (Blood, 2002). Theword ‘weblog’ was first used by John Barger in 1997 in the U.S. when he introduced a blog siteas a form of daily log in which a newly uploaded text was placed at the top line of the page. PeterMerholz used the word ‘blog’ as ‘wee-blog’ on his site, but ‘wee’ was later removed, and thesimple form ‘blog’ was widely used after that. As blogs become a common means of deliveringthoughts on social events, bloggers are now playing an important role as ‘news guerillas’
SNS Attributes – 17(Wellman, et al., 2003). A blog is not only a user’s own space but also a place of mutualexchanges, and is substituting the concept of existing online communities. As more and more internet users are operating personal sites, or blogs, studies on themotives of using blogs are also being carried out. Blogs contain records of personal life, reviewsand opinions, expressions of emotions, expressions of personal thoughts and community forums(Nardi, Schiano, Gumbrecht, & Swartz, 2004). Blogs are similar to existing homepages or online communities, but there are differencesbetween them. While existing homepages are unilateral, blogs and online communities arerelatively interactive. In terms of the distribution of communication, the communicationdistribution of online communities is concentrated within the communities. In general, theunilateral communication of existing homepages occurs within the relevant homepages. Theattributes of blogs include the trust of information, interaction, entertainment, intimacy and easyaccessibility (Lee, 2009). One study showed that there are six main motives of American bloggers to use blogs.These motives were information seeking and media checking, convenience, personal fulfillment,political surveillance, social surveillance and expression and affiliation (Kaye, 2005).3.5 Homepage Attributes Homepages are web pages which appear when web users run a web browser such asNetscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. Many internet users use internet web sites as a means of acquisition of reliableinformation, electronic commerce and exchanges, pursuits of entertainment/enjoyment and fun.A study on the behavior of 1993 internet users with respect to reliability showed that the users,who believed through their previous experiences that the information obtained from the internet
SNS Attributes – 18was reliable, took a positive view of the acquisition of information through the internet in thefuture. In another study, users who used online news a lot regarded the internet as a source ofinformation (Flanagin & Metzger, 2000). The study also said that institutional guarantees,reputation and the benefits of use which customers perceive from web sites are the factors thatenhance reliability for web sites. It stressed that such factors make consumers want to buyproducts through web sites (Xu, Kim, & Padmal, 2004). In a typical study on personal homepages, Papacharissi (2002) asserted that among theseven motives of opening and using homepages, namely entertainment, information, socialinteraction, self expression, passing time, professional advancement and new trends, the highestmotives are entertainment and information, followed by self expression and communication withfriends and family. Personal homepages are alternative media by which homepage openers can expressthemselves in a different form of communication, saying that there is a correlation between thecharacteristics of homepage openers and homepages. One study found that entertainment andinformation proposed by Chen and Wells (1999) are the characteristics of internet media.3.6 Communication Attributes Communication is a social interaction through messages (Fiske, 1990). People not onlyexchange information and communicate with each other through that means of communication,but also make society a communal society by persuading each other. Communication, whichcontrols all the fields of a modern society in this way, is an important medium that helps peopleto share their individual thoughts, influence each other and live together. An older study asserted that people exchange and share information and opinions oninteresting subjects through communication, thus getting to know each other better and feeling a
SNS Attributes – 19sense of closeness (Bruckman & Resnick, 1993). A more recent study asserted that the perceivedinteraction has a positive effect on satisfaction and continuous use even in the mobile serviceenvironment (Lee, Ahn, & Jang, 2006). Therefore, it can be said that continued communicationhas an effect on a sense of belonging. Another study found that existing customers can speak positively or negatively aboutcompanies and products produced by a lot of people or organizations through the internetpotentially and practically. It said that due to the development of technologies with new internetcommunication tools, online word of mouth now has a much stronger effect than the traditionaloffline word of mouth(Henning-Thurau, Kevin, Gianfranco, & Dwawne, 2004). If you are absorbed in a community, community sentiment is formed and a sense ofcloseness for community members increases. As a result, you will feel a sense of belonging(Bell& Newby, 1992). SNSes have the characteristics of virtual communities which are defined as a group ofpeople who interact with each other with common interests and experiences (Rheingold, 1993).According to the social identity theory, social identity is created when people interact with eachother, and people try to square their target with the community’s target (Turner, Hogg, Oakes,Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987). Mobile media are not only a means of people’s daily communication but also a toolwhich reflects life styles. They play a variety of roles as a personal computer and are used as ameans of important communication with the development of technologies (Oksman & Turtianen,2004).
SNS Attributes – 20 In order to draw attributes of SNSes from the precedent documentary research, thefunctions and attributes of SNSes, media, the internet, blogs, communication and homepages aresummarized in Table 4 below.Table 4. Functions and attributes of SNSes, media, the internet, blogs, communication andhomepages Functions & Attributes Reference Identity management, expert search, context awareness, (Alexander & Michael, SNS network awareness, exchange, contact management 2008) Functions Expert search, communication, connection, content (Ko, et al., 2010) sharing, identity (Deuze, 2001; Walther, Interaction, hypertext, multimedia Gay, & Hancock, 2005) Interaction, asynchronism, one-to-many communication, (Rafaeli & John, 1995) many-to-many multi-dimensional democracy Interaction, demassification, asynchronism, connection, (Morris & Ogan, 1996) digital Media Message speed/pass time, activity, privacy of media, Attributes (Hoffman & Novak, 1996) interaction Personal communication, interaction of media, message stream, message speed/time, knowledge of informer, (Reardon & Rogers, 1988) intimacy, feedback possibility, control, synchronism, easy accessibility of media Interaction, hypermedia (Bolter & Grusin, 1999) Internet Interaction, internationalization, communication, (Jang, 1998) Attributes connection, expense, fun, passing time Blog Trust of information, interaction, entertainment, intimacy, (Lee, 2009) Attributes ease of accessibilityCommunicati (Preece, 2010; Wu & Interaction, information, convenience of use, ease of useon Attributes Chang, 2005) Ease of use, product information, entertainment, trust, (Elliott & Speck, 2005) customer support, currency Homepage Entertainment, information, homepage construction (Chen & Wells, 1999) Attributes Convenience, interaction, private preferences (Ghosh, 1998) Information, entertainment, interaction (Kim, 2005)4. SNS Attributes Model As a result of looking into existing studies, it was found that those studies contrastedblog attributes from the attributes of homepages and web sites. They centered on the
SNS Attributes – 21characteristics and functions of blogs when analyzing the attributes of the most advanced blogsas a means of media. As the results of academic studies on the attributes of SNSes up until now wereinsignificant, this study investigated the seven attribute of SNSes on the basis of the attributetheories of media and communication as well as the attribute theories of online web service-based media internet, blogs, and homepages when checking the functions and characteristics ofSNS sites, in the same manner that existing blog attributes were investigated. Figure 1 showsthese SNS attributes. As a result, we propose a list of basic SNS attributes:
SNS Attributes – 22Figure 1. SNS Attributes Research Model Previous research has analyzed SNSes to identify their common functions as well as theattributes of media, the internet, blogs, communication and homepages. Findings from theseanalyses are the common components extracted and mapped to the tasks identified by theory.
SNS Attributes – 23Table 5. Mapped SNS Attributes Attributes Attributes SNS Functions Media Internet Blog Communication Homepage Exchange Interaction Interaction (Rafaeli & John, Interaction Interaction Interaction Interaction (Alexander & (Preece, 2010; Wu 1995) (Jang, 1998) (Lee, 2009) (Ghosh, 1998) Michael, 2008) & Chang, 2005) Personal communication (Reardon & Rogers, 1988); Communication (Ko,Communication Many to many multi- - - - - et al., 2010) dimensional democracy (Rafaeli & John, 1995) Entertainment Network awareness Multimedia (Deuze, 2001; Fun (Jang, Entertainmen (Chen &Entertainment (Alexander & - Walther, et al., 2005) 1998) t (Lee, 2009) Wells, 1999; Michael, 2008) Kim, 2005) Message speed/pass time Information Communication, Information (Hoffman & Novak, 1996) , (Preece, 2010; Information content sharing (Ko, - - (Chen & Knowledge of informer Wu & Chang, et al., 2010) Wells, 1999) (Reardon & Rogers, 1988) 2005) Content sharing (Ko, Massage speed/pass time Sharing - - - - et al., 2010) (Hoffman & Novak, 1996) Network awareness (Alexander & Intimacy (Reardon & Intimacy Intimacy Michael, 2008); - - - Rogers, 1988) (Lee, 2009) Identity (Ko, et al., 2010) User convenience Easy Ease of use Connection Connection (Morris & Connection (Preece, 2010; Connection Accessibility (Elliott& (Ko, et al., 2010) Ogan, 1996) (Jang, 1998) Wu & Chang, (Lee, 2009) Speck, 2005) 2005)
SNS Attributes – 24• Interaction Attempts have been made since the 1950s to identify interactive features that cancomplement the limit of the conventional unilateral mass media. Discussions on interactionbegan as early as the 1980s when it drew attention from scholars as a new concept for new mediacommunication. Rafaeli and John (1995) define interaction as something that enables a sender (producer)to become a receiver (consumer) simultaneously. They further define that interaction enables adegree of control in mutual disclosure and role exchange between the participants in the courseof communication. Rafaeli (1988) and Rafaeli and Sudweeks (1997) assert that the old conceptof interaction was an attribute that could be formed during communication between users, but itis defined now as the inter-connectivity between a series of messages that are exchanged duringall forms and types of communication such as mass communication and internet. Deighton andBlattberg (1991) define interaction as direct communication between individuals or groups ofpeople without limits of time and space. Jang (1998) defines it as bilateral communication in virtual communities, while Lee(2009) defines interaction for blogs as a quick response between users and a quick response byadministrators. With the SNS function of exchange, and attributes of media (interaction), theinternet (interaction), blogs (interaction), communication (interaction) and homepages(interaction), the SNS attribute of interaction has been identified. In SNSes, interaction enables a sender (producer) to become a receiver (consumer) at thesame time, and an individual or a group can modify the contents in SNSes or participate in topicsreal-time without limitations in terms of time and space. Interaction is also defined as something
SNS Attributes – 25that can facilitate immediate actions between the users through user participation and real-timefeedback.• Communication In the cyber world, ‘word of mouth’ is often playfully dubbed ‘word of mouse’ (WOM).In comparison with the conventional word of mouth, Gelb and Soundaram (2002) prefer the termword of mouse, referring to the modern phenomenon of potential buyers collecting and sharinginformation in chat rooms, news groups and bulletin boards (known collectively as internetinformation sources), rather than from colleagues or peers. Traditional research placed anemphasis on the characteristics of the communicator, on the premise that there exists a directcontact between a communicator and receiver. For WOM in an online community, on the otherhand, communicators are unidentifiable, the relation between a communicator and its receiver ismade on an ad hoc basis and communication is anonymous. Borgida and Nisbett (1977) defineword of mouth as the face-to-face communication founded on individual experiences, and Bone(1995) defines WOM as the interpersonal communications in which none of the participants aremarketing sources. Hoffman and Novak (1996) argue that the marketing communication model via theinternet is interruption-free many-to-many communication, and that companies can providecontent to media, and so can consumers for the web-like hyper media computer mediatedenvironment (CME). Hangel and Armstrong (1997) define virtual communities as the computer-mediated spaces where there is the potential for an integration of content and communicationwith an emphasis on member-generated content. Fernbak and Thompson (1995) define onlinecommunities as a social relationship forged in cyberspace through repeated contacts within aspecified boundary or place that is symbolically delineated by topic of interest. In SNSes, ideas
SNS Attributes – 26of an individual can be transmitted freely and swiftly to others. The delivery of messages andresponses is made quickly in SNSes as communities can be formed by linking the homepages ofothers, or through WOM. From the precedent documentary research and the communication and media attributes(level of point-to-point and point-to-many communications, and inter-personal communication)the functions of SNS communication has been identified as one of the attributes of SNSes.Communication in SNSes is defined as having a multi-dimensional communication attributewhere point-to-point, point-to-many and many-to-many communications are enabled in acontinuous manner. It is further expressed as speed, range and mapping through communicationtools (such as bulletin boards, notes, chatting and other tools) in SNSes. In addition, text, pictureand video files can be transferred and be shared by people. Accordingly, the meaning ofinformation can be transferred easily to people.• Entertainment Entertainment involves all web site elements that promote enjoyment while using a site.These include sensory and hedonic stimuli, like color, music, action and interactivity. Kim (2005), Lee (2001) and Papacharissi and Rubin (2000) assert that the entertainmentattribute of homepages promotes enjoyment and pleasure to users. Lee (2009) claims that a blogprovides various events and interests. Jung and Park (2000) assert that the ability to provideservices that are fun or informative, as well as entertainment that can continuously attract usersand keep them connected on a homepage, is of help to build a continuous relation. Papacharissiand Rubin (2000) find that archiving and entertainment are the major motivations for internet useamong alternative uses, archiving, passing time, convenience and entertainment.
SNS Attributes – 27 Ducoffe (1996) asserts that consumers use the internet efficiently for entertainment andthe utilization of information, and Eighmey (1997), after an analysis of the degree of satisfactionof website users, asserts that users are satisfied when their entertainment related motivation isgratified. From the precedent documentary research, the network awareness function of SNSes,and the attributes of media (multi-media characteristics), the internet (fun), blogs (fun) andhomepages (fun), entertainment has been identified as one of the attributes of SNSes. In SNSes, entertainment is defined as the attribute that provides enjoyment, interest anduseful information on key issues and concerns. Users can find fun factors in the use of SNSes,and furthermore, they can form close relations with others. A relation formed through the funfactor can last. It is also defined as a frequent connection without specific purpose.• Information The informativeness construct of the uses and gratifications theory can be defined as theextent to which the web provides users with resourceful and helpful information (Chen & Wells,1999; Ducoffe, 1995). Kim and Kim (2000) assert that information has meaningful influencesover user perceptions, behavior and intentions of behavior, and that it is reasonable to considerinformation as important in the evaluation of the contents in a homepage. Lee (2009) categorizesinformation on blogs according to that information’s specialty, availability and reliability.Through recommendation and sharing functions, SNSes enable an easy and quick distribution ofinformation. The U.S. based Pew Research Center found that “75% of online news consumersobtain news through email or SNS links, and 52% of them distribute the same in the same ways.”SNSes like Twitter filter and redistribute news upon evaluation, and promote active participationof the public in social phenomena (Pew Research, 2010).
SNS Attributes – 28 From the precedent documentary research, the communication and content sharingfunctions of SNSes, and attributes of media (message speed/pass time, information about thecommunicator), communication (information) and homepages (information), information hasbeen identified as one of the attributes of SNSes. Extensive information can be collected on theinternet. Information in SNSes is defined as the attribute where information is recommended byother users, and real-time validation of desirous, variable and reliable information is easilyenabled.• Sharing Smith (2007) identifies sharing as an attribute of SNSes to share things that aremeaningful to the participants (like photos or videos) and asserts that exposure derived fromsharing or distribution in SNSes could generate a revenue stream at a different level than websearching. Kim (2009) asserts that the chief dimensions that differentiate SNSes from earlierforms of media are the ‘sharing’ of personal experiences with others, and that they are volatileand spreadable. SNS users can easily search information that is customized to their needs from the sea ofinformation on the internet, and they can share information with others through replies or storecontent by scrapping. Through instant networking, the sharing and distribution of information isextremely fast. For media seeking information, an extensive range of information available onthe internet can be shared and distributed via SNSes, meeting the demand of information seekers.Visitors can leave messages on others’ homepages, and through the link function, variousinformation can be shared.
SNS Attributes – 29 From the precedent documentary research, the content sharing function of SNSes, andattributes of media (message speed/ pass time), sharing has been identified as one of theattributes of SNSes. Sharing in SNSes is defined as the attribute that enables the easy and quickposting of one’s thoughts and the sharing or distribution of personal content like music andvideos via web or mobile devices.• Intimacy Intimacy may be defined as the level of closeness felt by the members of a specificcommunity site. One may expect a high level of participation to a community when there exists ahigh level of intimacy between the members within the community. Intimacy plays an importantrole in user engrossment and community formation. Armstrong, Arthur and Hagel (1996) assertthat online communities can build and maintain close relations between members, share opinionson products and services and affect the daily life of the individuals in terms of their purchasingand consumption behaviors. Members of a virtual community obtain emotional satisfaction suchas closeness in their exchanges with other members of the community. Lee (2009) defines intimacy for blogs as relation forming (such as ‘Ilchon’, ‘neighbor’,‘friend’) between a blog and its visitors, or relation forming (such as ‘Ilchon’, ‘neighbor’,‘friend’) between a brand blog and its visitors. SNSes facilitate expressions of one’s recent status,moods and feelings and provides intimacy to a grouped community of the same hobbies,companies or schools. From the precedent documentary research, the network awareness functions of SNSes,and attributes of media (friendliness) and blogs (intimacy), intimacy has been identified as one ofthe attributes of SNSes.
SNS Attributes – 30 In SNSes, intimacy facilitates relation building with other users online, enhances currentrelations through an in-depth involvement in others’ daily lives and expands the depth ofrelationship through exchanges of various news stories. Intimacy is defined as something that hasthe potential to improve a relationship that already exists.• Connection Conventionally, connection has been viewed as something physical. With the emergenceof the internet, connection has evolved to facilitate the entering into a relationship betweenindividuals in virtual space through information. Lee (2011) asserts that shareability between internet users, which is realized throughconnection, can play a role as a sophisticated marketing tool by collectivizing the pattern ofinternet media usage. Hook (1998) defines accessibility as the effective searching function andefficient interface structure of the website user interface. Lee (2009) asserts that connection forblogs refers to easy access without any joining procedures. The open platforms in SNSes offer various application programs, simplify connectionand facilitate the easy manipulation of the content therein. Most SNSes can be connected througha combination of various forms of media or links, and content can be shared with or distributedto other SNSes. Various forms of connections, which have become available through evolutionson the web, as well as through the increasing supply of smartphones, are becoming moresignificant in societies and the economy in general, and they are demanding changes in consumerrelations, advertisement marketing strategies and organizational culture. From the precedent documentary research, the connection function of SNSes, andattributes of media (connection), the internet (connection), blogs (accessibility) and homepages(ease of use), connection has been identified as one of the attributes of SNSes.
SNS Attributes – 31 In SNSes, connection enables the creation of personal homepages to which personalarticles, photos and video files are posted without the need of joining a specific SNS, makes iteasier to build and manage personal homepages than the conventional methods and does notrequire special skills, but enables the configuration of a variety of content instantly and easily.Furthermore, the definition of connection includes the potential for assisting in informationsearches without the worry of getting lost on the web.5. Research methodology5.1 Data collection An online-survey was conducted to collect data. The sample was selected from amongindividuals who are using social network services in Korea. Initially, a pre-test, pilot test and main test were conducted. The pre-test was used torefine a measurement instrument made by reviewing the previously available literature. Based onthe results of the pre-test, this study further developed an instrument to measure the majorconstructs and then conducted a pilot test. In terms of methodology, this study carried out afactor analysis three times (pre-test, pilot test and main test), surveyed data and then finalized theconstructs regarding measurement reliability and validity to verify a causal relationship model. This study selected 239 (six survey responses removed) usable survey responses out of245 for 10 days (from May 22 to 31, 2011) through an online survey which was conducted byEmbrain (www.embrain.com).The sample consisted of 50.2% male and 49.8% female participants ranging from 15 to 55 yearsold, the majority of which were in their twenties and thirties (49.7% and 27.6%, respectively).Respondents mainly used Cyworld (46%), Facebook (24.7%) and Twitter (21.7%). Most of the respondents have used SNSes heavily: 55% of the respondents use at least
SNS Attributes – 32one of the services for more than one hour per day. Hence, the respondents seem to be qualifiedto analyze attributes of SNSes. The demographics of the respondents are shown in Table 6. Items to measure constructs in the model were mainly adopted from prior research.Some minor wording changes were made for the SNS context. New constructs in the model,however, had to be constructed. All items were measured on a five-point Likert scale, where 1 is disagree strongly and 5is agree strongly. SPSS18 was used as a statistical package for testing. All items are shown inAppendix A.Table 6. Attributes of respondents (n= 239) Items Number Percentage (%) Male 120 50.21 Gender Female 119 49.79 Under 20 37 15.48 21-30 119 49.7 Age 31-40 66 27.6 41-50 13 5.4 Over51 4 1.6 High school or below 49 20.5 College 38 15.8 Education Undergraduate 114 47.6 Graduate 38 15.8 Student 108 45.1 Manager 68 28.5 Specialized job 27 11.2 Occupation Service industry 8 3.3 Technical post 9 3.8 Housewife 8 3.3 Etc. 11 4.6 Twitter 52 21.7 Facebook 59 24.7 Cyworld 110 46 SNS Site Flickr 4 1.6 YouTube 6 2.5 QQ 3 1.3 Etc 5 2.1 Less than 1 hour 106 44.4 Less than 2 hours 80 33.4 SNS use time (1 day) Less than 3 hours 35 14.7 Less than 4 hours 12 5 Over 4 hours 6 2.5
SNS Attributes – 336. Results6.1 SNS attributes Before running an exploratory factor analysis and reliability check, we checked wherethe data satisfied the assumptions for factor analysis. The following three checks were performed:the correlation coefficient among question items, Bartlett’s test of sphericity and the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy (MSA). Validity is the extent to which a measure diverges from other similar measures. Testingfor validity involves checking whether the items measure the construct in question or otherconstructs. With the exception of a strong correlation between some constructs (e.g., interaction,information, connection, sharing, entertainment, intimacy and communication), correlations weremoderate, weak or nonexistent (Table 7). Reliability is the most common index of the validity of measures. It is used to checkwhether the scale items measure the construct in question or other (related) constructs; a valueof .70 or above is deemed acceptable (Fornell & Larcker, 1981). Cronbach’s coefficient alphawas used to test the inter-item reliability of the scales used in this study. Cronbach’s alphaassesses how well the items in a set are positively correlated with one another. In general,reliability of less than .60 is considered poor, reliability in the .70 range is considered acceptable,and reliability greater than .80 is considered good (Sekaran, 2003). As shown in Table 7, all ofthe alpha values were greater than the recommended level and showed good reliability withCronbach’s alpha (>.70) in each construct. Factor analysis was done using the data collected from the first version of the survey.The cut-off criteria had a factor loading of 0.60. The analysis was done using a stepwiseapproach. The question item which had the lowest maximum factor loading was removed. If the
SNS Attributes – 34lowest maximum factor loading was less than 0.60, the factor analysis was repeated until thelowest maximum factor loading was greater than 0.60. Three items were finally omitted. Valuesof 0.50 and above are recommended for factor analysis (Fornell & Larcker, 1981). In addition,factor analysis was used to examine construct validity. The Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin test andBartlett’s test of sphericity were first used to assess the appropriateness of the correlationmatrices for the factor analysis (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, & Lack, 1998). Thus we can conclude that the data satisfies the assumption for the factor analysis. Theresult of Bartletts test of sphericity in this study shows that Sig (P) = 0.000 < α(=0.05) (χ2=4066.056, df = 351). The result implies that there is no evidence that the correlation matrix isan identity matrix. All seven factors showed a number of strong loadings, and all variablesloaded substantially on only one factor. The results of this analysis provided evidence ofconstruct validity (Table 7).
SNS Attributes – 35Table 7. Principal component analysis with varimax rotation and reliability check Cronbach’s Component 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 alpha Interaction_2 .820 .075 .175 .117 .086 .114 .147 Interaction_3 .817 .028 .172 .102 .114 .159 .180 .872 Interaction_1 .770 .082 .008 .149 .042 .171 .233 Interaction_4 .748 .087 .112 .130 .195 -.022 .064 Information_2 .030 .843 .124 .117 .202 .218 .069 Information_3 .116 .841 .200 .104 .179 .129 .070 .906 Information_4 .081 .827 .090 .106 .109 .152 .083 Information_1 .057 .750 .186 .214 .158 .187 .216 Connection_3 .242 .248 .711 .086 .222 .164 .151 Connection_1 .310 .086 .707 .104 -.084 .165 .154 Connection_2 .348 .041 .695 .191 .088 .125 -.022 .838 Connection_5 -.062 .191 .690 .135 .260 .089 .135 Connection_6 -.125 .228 .673 .117 .376 .093 .164 Sharing_2 .053 .231 .050 .812 .116 .078 .137 Sharing_1 .215 .198 .199 .795 .069 .001 .077 .847 Sharing_4 .110 .067 .045 .768 .245 .169 .087 Sharing_3 .233 .009 .401 .666 .077 .132 .099 Entertainment_3 .137 .233 .145 .251 .777 .119 .075 Entertainment_4 .231 .279 .197 .180 .746 .182 .116 .859 Entertainment_2 .191 .177 .271 .106 .704 .235 .126 Intimacy_4 .218 .162 .186 .132 .176 .791 .064 Intimacy_3 .091 .294 .123 .104 .057 .756 .119 .809 Intimacy_5 .097 .208 .181 .094 .251 .743 .174 Communication_4 .165 .141 .068 .211 .123 .244 .792 Communication_2 .265 .236 .189 .032 .084 .064 .723 .767 Communication_5 .392 .021 .273 .195 .118 .070 .605 Number of items 4 4 5 4 3 3 3 Eigen-value 9.74 2.60 1.72 1.62 1.21 1.14 1.01 % of variance 37.46 10.03 6.62 6.23 4.67 4.40 3.91 KMO .897Note. Numbers in bold show loading coefficients for items in each construct6.2 SNS sites comparison in terms of attributes The mean values of the independent variables were obtained based on 239 questionnaireresponses. The mean values of the independent variables refer to that of the score of items thatare grouped by attribute. The results of the mean values of the seven attributes of SNSes areshown in Table 9. In order to see if there are variances in mean values between the chosen SNSsites, it was further verified using ANOVA and a multiple comparison.
SNS Attributes – 36 Upon examination of variances in attributes between the SNS sites with varianceanalysis, there was a significant variance for interaction, connection and communication at thesignificance level of 0.05. In other words, interaction, connection and communication attributesfrom the seven attributes of SNSes showed a significant variance by SNS site. From the evidence,it can be inferred that the attributes play differentiated roles in various SNS sites.Table 8. ANOVA test result of SNS attributesSNS Attributes IN IF CO SH EN IT CM F. 5.71*** .34 10.67*** 1.20 .96 1.91 4.25**IN: Interaction; IF: Information; CO: Connection; SH: Sharing; EN: Entertainment; IT: Intimacy; and CM:CommunicationNote(a) : *p < 0.1 , ** p <0.5 , *** p < 0.01 Further examinations are necessary to find to which extent variances in SNS attributesexist by SNS site. One of the most common tools to verify such variances is multiplecomparisons. There are a number of methods in multiple comparisons, but for this research, thatof Scheffe was used to verify variances in the most commonly used SNS sites (Twitter,Facebook, and Cyworld). Flickr (4), YouTube (6) and QQ (3) were excluded in the analysis asthe number of users of these sites is considerably low. From the results shown in Table 9 thefollowing was obtained:Table 9. Attribute scores of SNS sites and multiple comparisons SNS Sites SNS Attributes Twitter Facebook Cyworld Factors AVG (n=52) (n=59) (n=110) a b Interaction 3.87 4.20 3.79 a 3.95 Information 3.33 3.25 3.22 3.27 Connection 4.10 a 3.99 a 3.69 b 3.92 Sharing 3.51 3.71 3.55 3.59 Entertainment 3.68 3.84 3.67 3.73 Intimacy 3.63 3.68 3.44 3.58 Communication 3.79 a 3.93 a 3.57 b 3.771. Note: a and b indicate the group in which significant difference are identified by Sheffe’s multiplecomparison. Otherwise, there are no significant differences among SNS sites.2. Bold: highest scored site of each attribute.
SNS Attributes – 38combination and connection to links than Twitter and Facebook. Sixth, Cyworld was separatedfrom the others in the light of communication. Cyworld is relatively weak in communication as itis limited to the message exchanges by and between ‘Ilchons’ while many-to-many and constantcommunication is enabled with Twitter and Facebook.7. Conclusions7.1 Implications One of the important activities for businesses is to attract public attention to a productor service through advertisements and commercials to the public. Prior to social networks, theconventional means of successfully garnering public attention were time consuming and costly. Recently, companies have expanded their business strategies through the adoption ofSNSes, which they utilize as an effective and indispensable marketing tool, particularly in thepast few years which have seen an explosion of SNSes and SNS use. However, businesses areutilizing SNSes not only to attract more public attention and reduce the time and costs ofadvertising, but also to interact with consumers and understand their reactions in real time. Thefact that there is no entry barrier for an SNS operation makes SNSes an open media with greatpotential for growth, and SNSes are in particular emerging as the chief instruments for formingpublic opinion. This in turn means that SNSes possess great influence over social issues, whichare circulated and discussed through SNS communities. SNSes are growing to become pivots ofmodern life with ever increasing influence. This research endeavored to analyze the attributes and functions of social networkservice sites and investigated the most appropriate attributes and functions that companies shouldhave in order to increase their social marketing effects. In summary the findings of this research are as follows:
SNS Attributes – 40academic perspective, these results provide a foundation for the development of further research,and have demonstrated the potential to develop a general theory that can throw ideas into shape. From the application perspective, this research is timely as SNSes are being establishedas an effective two-way communication tool between companies and consumers. Variances inattributes of SNS sites identified from the research are of significance from the applicationperspective, and provide insight into the successful management of the attributes for current andfuture SNS operators. In other words, an SNS administer would be able to recognize variances inattributes from site to site in the operation of an SNS. Such analyses will help SNS operators to gratify the attributes required by the SNS inquestion in order to attract more members. Furthermore, by examination of user needs andmotivations for SNS use, they will be able to arrange gratifying information and provide data foreffective user management, thereby establishing strategies that can promote optimizedmanagerial performance.7.2 Limitations and future research This research drew attributes of SNSes based on the measurement items introduced inthe documents that were available at the time of research in order to add effectiveness to socialmarketing. This study, however, had several limitations which must be noted. First, the pattern of SNS use in consideration of user personalities, motivation for andlevel of satisfaction from the SNS use were not applied to the research. There is a lack ofspecified research relating to motivation for SNS use and the level of satisfaction by SNS use. Second, in order to classify the types of SNSes, the surveyed respondents were asked toselect an SNS they mainly used. Cyworld (46%) was the one that is most used by therespondents in Korea, which impairs explanation ability for the research findings.
SNS Attributes – 41 Third, validation for the correlation between the seven attributes and their performancein the actual operation of an SNS does not exist. The research sought to provide explanations onthe SNS attributes through multiple comparison of SNSes. It will be meaningful to verifyempirically how these attributes identified from this research can affect the operation ofcommunities in reality. Fourthly, the SNS attributes are limited to seven in this research, but other attributessuch as ‘reliability’, ‘mobility’, ‘continuity’ and so on may also be considered. Further study will be possible in the future based on the limitations of this research. First, research on the relationship model relating to the correlation between an SNS andthe personalities of its users, type of the relationship therein, user satisfaction and intention of re-visit from the marketing perspective and the like may be necessary. The role and importance ofSNSes will be clearly manifested to incorporate success in the additional research findings. Second, in order to provide sound evidence for the SNS attributes, a survey of SNSoperators should be conducted to check if they experience more effectiveness after havingadopted an SNS strategy.Appendix A.The following is a summation of the question items used in the study.All items solicited responses on a five-point Likert scale with 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 =neutral, 4 = agree, and 5 = strongly agree.Interaction (Deuze 2001; Rafaeli & John 1995; Chen & Wells 1999; Ghosh 1998)1. The SNS that I use enables me to participate in the conversation with other users through messageboards, communities and chatting.2. The SNS that I use enables me to perform two-way communication.3. The SNS that I use enables me to communicate with other people smoothly.4. The SNS that I use is highly responsive to users.Information (Ducoffe 2006; Chen & Wells 1999)
SNS Attributes – 421. The SNS that I use offers reliable information that I need.2. The SNS that I use offers in-depth information that I need.3. The SNS that I use offers useful information that I need.4. The SNS that I use offers useful information that I need.Connection (Deuze 2001; Elliott & Speck 2005)1. The SNS that I use is easy to access through mobile devices.2. The SNS that I use is easy to manage in writing comments.3. The SNS that I use allows easy access to information.4. The SNS that I use allows easy distribution of content to general portals, sites or other SNS sites.5. The SNS that I use allows me to work easily without a complicated registration process.6. The SNS that I use allows me to access information easily without a complicated registration process.Sharing (Deuze 2001)1. The SNS that I use enables me to distribute video clips easily.2. The SNS that I use enables me to distribute music easily.3. The SNS that I use enables me to convey content (video, music, other content) links easily.4. The SNS that I use enables me to easily scrap and save content (video, music, other content) on myprivate homepage.Intimacy (Armstrong & Hagel 1996; Lee 2009)1. Through the SNS that I use, I intend to establish close relationships (neighbors, friends) with otherusers.2. The SNS that I use offers information to other SNS users who have similar interests.3. Through the SNS that I use, I intend to participate in e offline meetings or events.4. I am satisfied with the relationships (neighbors, friends) that I have cultivated through the SNS.5. I believe the relationship with my offline friends has become closer because they were connected withme through the SNS that I use.Communication (Deuze 2001)1. The SNS that I use allows easy communication among users.2. The SNS that I use allows me to offer a lot of information because the message board is activated.3. The SNS that I use enables me to write my ideas and opinions positively.4. The SNS that I use is well equipped with communities, message boards, chatting and so on in whichthe users can share opinions.5. The SNS that I use enables me to send and receive my opinions to other people or groups easily.6. The SNS that I use enables me to get feedback on my opinions promptly.Entertainment (Elliott & Speck 2005; Hoffman & Novak 1995; Chen & Wells 1999)1. The SNS that I use includes multi-media functions (photos, videos).2. The SNS that I use is interesting.3. The SNS that I use has a good design and good functions.4. The SNS that I use is enjoyable.5. Through the SNS that I use, I can participate in various events.6. When I visit the SNS that I use, I can read interesting data and writing, and I can view interestingphotos.References
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