Being "Friends" in the Facebook  Age: Examining Social Medias        Role in the Relationship           Maintenance Proces...
Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
Research Questions             (1)    How do the affordances of social network                   sites affect the relation...
Social Network Site Adoption, 2005-2012                                      (Source: Pew Internet)                   100%...
Relationship Maintenance Pre-Internet             Defining maintenance: To keep a relationship             (1) in existenc...
Relationship Maintenance Pre-Internet             Problems with existing research applying             these strategies:  ...
Characteristics of modern relationships                  Multi-modal                  Large networks of                 ...
Features vs. Affordances                                                                               See Treem & Leonard...
SNS Affordances        4 Affordances    1        of SNSs:    4    1) Persistence         2) Association2         3) Visibi...
Method           3000 non-faculty MSU staff invited to participate in online           survey about Facebook use  415 res...
FB Relationship Maintenance Scales          Exploratory Factor Analysis, 55 items, PCA, Promax rotation              Suppo...
Predicting FB’s Impact on Relationships        Two DVs of Interest:             Facebook’s Impact on Relational Closeness ...
Interaction Effect: Closeness by                                                          Maintenance Strategy on FB Relat...
Interaction Effect: Closeness by                                                          Maintenance Strategy on FB Relat...
Geographic Distance           Regression revealed significant           positive relationship between           distance t...
Traditional                FacebookCommunication              Communication                                               ...
FB as Primary Communication           So how does this subgroup’s use of                                            Face-t...
Takeaways             Importance of framing when we study             relationship maintenance in online settings         ...
Takeaways             Must consider role SNSs’ affordances play in             altering the relationship maintenance proce...
Takeaways             Must consider other ways in which these sites             differ from more traditional forms of inte...
Next steps             Moving beyond tie strength to other ways of             classifying relationships.             Surv...
Next steps           Differences emerge when we compare engagement in           relationship maintenance strategies across...
Next stepsTo what extent   do actual behaviors inFacebook maponto perceived   relationaloutcomes (e.g.,  closeness, satisf...
Next Steps           Graph search: Maintenance tool?Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jess...
Thanks!                                                     Questions?                                       Jessica Vitak...
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Being "Friends" in the Facebook Age: Examining Social Media's Role in the Relationship Maintenance Process

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Arguably, the technical features of social network sites simplify the process of maintaining and interacting with hundreds of social connections. At the same time, however, these sites’ affordances—namely the visibility and persistence of content and the articulation of those connections—raise new questions about how individuals engage in relationship maintenance with various types of ties. In this talk, I will highlight some key findings from a recent study of adult Facebook users (N=407), including the development of a new measure of relationship maintenance strategies and a series of analyses that tease out the types of relationships most likely to benefit from engaging in relationship maintenance behaviors through the site. Findings indicate that while these behaviors are generally beneficial for all types of relationships, specific groups—namely weaker ties, those at a greater geographic distance, and those who rely on the site as the primary communication channel—see more benefits from engaging in the four identified relationship maintenance behaviors. Implications of using these newer communication technologies as part of the relationship formation and maintenance process will also be discussed.

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  • Notes on the graphs (slides 15 & 16): In these graphs, the x-axis measures the extent to which individuals say they are engaging in specific relationship maintenance strategies with the Facebook friend they're evaluating. The y-axis measures the extent to which they perceive Facebook increases how close they feel to that person (slide 15) and the extent to which they perceive Facebook helps keep their relationship stable (slide 16). Each of these items is measured on 1=Strongly Disagree to 5=Strongly Agree scales. The solid black line is for friends the participant has identified as a weak tie, while the dotted line is for friends the participant has identified as a strong tie. The pattern of findings across these graphs suggests there is a significant difference in the positive association between engagement in relationship maintenance strategies and the perception that Facebook benefits the relationship, with weaker relationships perceiving a much stronger relationship between the variables.
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  • The data presented in this presentation come from my dissertation, which can be accessed (for free), on my website at: https://vitak.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/vitak-dissertation-2012.pdf
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  • Persistence/Archivability:Communication is persistent if it remains accessible in the same form as the original display after the actor has finished his or her presentation Association: established connections between individuals, between individuals and content, or between an actor and a presentation Visibility: make their behaviors, knowledge, preferences, and communication network connections that were once invisible (or at least very hard to see) visible to others; associated with amount of effort needed to find informationEditability/Asynchronicity: individuals can spend a good deal of time and effort crafting and recrafting a communicative act before it is viewed by others Also important to note the features of these sites that are similar to other forms of CMC. Many ways to interact that include public and private channels, synchronous and asynchronous communication. In general, communicating through FB lowers the transaction costs of communicating. This is probably why it is considered less meaningful than other forms of communication. But for many weaker ties, or for people who are geographically distant, FB may be serving as the primary—or only—form of interaction, and may help connections keep from fading away and, in some cases, even strengthen relationships. So the question becomes not so much if FB can benefit relationships, but what types of relationships benefit most from using FB?
  • Being "Friends" in the Facebook Age: Examining Social Media's Role in the Relationship Maintenance Process

    1. 1. Being "Friends" in the Facebook Age: Examining Social Medias Role in the Relationship Maintenance Process Jessica Vitak College of Information Studies jvitak@umd.edu | @jvitak jessicavitak.com April 23, 2013
    2. 2. Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    3. 3. Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    4. 4. Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    5. 5. Research Questions (1) How do the affordances of social network sites affect the relationship process? and (2) How do these effects vary across types of relationships?Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    6. 6. Social Network Site Adoption, 2005-2012 (Source: Pew Internet) 100% 18-29 30-49 90% 50-64 80% 65+ 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Sept. 2005 May 2008 Nov 2008 Apr 2009 Dec 2009 May 2010 May 2011 Feb 2012Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    7. 7. Relationship Maintenance Pre-Internet Defining maintenance: To keep a relationship (1) in existence; (2) in specified state; (3) in satisfactory state; (4) in repair (Dindia & Canary, 1993) Maintenance strategies (see Stafford & Canary, 1991)  Positivity  Openness  Assurances  Shared Tasks  NetworksJessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    8. 8. Relationship Maintenance Pre-Internet Problems with existing research applying these strategies: 1) Focus on strong-tie relationships 2) Assumed relationship between proximity and closeness (and measures requiring proximity)Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    9. 9. Characteristics of modern relationships  Multi-modal  Large networks of weak tiesJessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    10. 10. Features vs. Affordances See Treem & Leonardi (2012)Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    11. 11. SNS Affordances 4 Affordances 1 of SNSs: 4 1) Persistence 2) Association2 3) Visibility 4) Editability3
    12. 12. Method 3000 non-faculty MSU staff invited to participate in online survey about Facebook use  415 responses  Respondents: female (76.2%), Mage = 44, White (88.9%), well-educated (72.2% had college degree) Participants logged into Facebook and selected first Friend from “Friend Box” in profile Responded to items about:  General Relational Outcomes  Engagement in 49 Facebook Behaviors  Perceived Impact of Facebook on Relational Outcomes  Frequency of Communication Through Various Channels  Relationship Descriptives and Demographics 12Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    13. 13. FB Relationship Maintenance Scales Exploratory Factor Analysis, 55 items, PCA, Promax rotation Supportive Communication (7 items, M=3.68, SD=.82, α=.88)  “When I see (person’s name) sharing good news on Facebook, Ill Like his/her update.”  “My Facebook interactions with (person’s name) are generally positive.” Shared Interests (7 items, M=2.33, SD=.88, α=.87)  “When I see something online that I think (person’s name) would find interesting, Ill send him/her a note about it on Facebook.”  “(Person’s name) and I use Facebook to share links or videos about a celebrity or TV show we like.” Passive Browsing (4 items, M=2.91, SD=.89, α=.85)  “Estimate the frequency with which you browse his/her photo albums.”  “I browse through (person’s name)’s profile page to see what he/shes been doing.” Social Information Seeking (5 items, M=2.73, SD=.86, α=.79)  “I use Facebook to get to know (person’s name) better.”  “(Person’s name) posts updates to Facebook about his/her day-to-day activities.”Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    14. 14. Predicting FB’s Impact on Relationships Two DVs of Interest: Facebook’s Impact on Relational Closeness Facebook makes me feel closer to (person’s name). Facebook has positively impacted my relationship with (person’s name). Facebook helps me understand (person’s name) better. Interacting with (person’s name) through Facebook makes me feel like I know him/her better. Being Facebook Friends with (person’s name) has improved our relationship. Facebook’s Impact on Relational Stability Without Facebook, (person’s name) and I would fall out of touch. Facebook is the only way I stay in touch with (person’s name). Overall, Facebook isnt very important in maintaining my relationship with (person’s name). [REVERSE] Facebook plays an important role in maintaining my relationship with (person’s name).Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    15. 15. Interaction Effect: Closeness by Maintenance Strategy on FB Relational ClosenessJessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    16. 16. Interaction Effect: Closeness by Maintenance Strategy on FB Relational StabilityJessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    17. 17. Geographic Distance Regression revealed significant positive relationship between distance two DVs, but histogram shows bimodal distribution So how to address this?  MANCOVA! Controlling for closeness, geographically distant Friends:  Engaged in three maintenance strategies to a greater extent than geographically proximate Friends (Supportive Communication, Passive Browsing, Social Information Seeking)Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    18. 18. Traditional FacebookCommunication Communication FB as Primary Communication Face-to-face Wall posts Phone calls Comments Text messages Likes Estimate the frequency with which you do the following Email with (persons name):Measurement scale: 1=Never, 5=Very Often Response Options: Never | Rarely | Sometimes | Often | Very Often Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    19. 19. FB as Primary Communication So how does this subgroup’s use of Face-to-Face Phone Calls Facebook differ from users? Text messages Emails Controlling for closeness, Friends Other whose communication primarily Facebook occurred through public Channels (Wall, com channels on Facebook: ments, Like s)  Engaged in three maintenance strategies to a greater extent than the rest of the sample  Perceived Facebook to have a greater impact on their relational closeness and stability than Facebook as Primary Communication Breakdown the rest of the sampleJessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    20. 20. Takeaways Importance of framing when we study relationship maintenance in online settings  Who is the population?  How are network members related?  What constitutes interaction and where does it take place?  What constitutes an instance of relationship maintenance?  Is “Liking” an update relationship maintenance?Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    21. 21. Takeaways Must consider role SNSs’ affordances play in altering the relationship maintenance process  Visibility: helps establish common ground  Association: connect “friends of friends”  Persistence: can “relive” special moments and conversations; keep in touch passively even when you can’t talk  Editability: selective self-presentation; putting your “best foot forward”Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    22. 22. Takeaways Must consider other ways in which these sites differ from more traditional forms of interaction. Context collapse Managed through:  Boundary regulation  Self-censorship  Lack of management (i.e., embracing network flattening to achieve greater potential benefits)Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    23. 23. Next steps Moving beyond tie strength to other ways of classifying relationships. Survey Question: Which category *best* represents your relationship with (persons name)?  Family member  Former classmate  Spouse/romantic partner  Hometown friend (non-  Close Friend classmate)  Current Coworker  Friend of a friend  Former Coworker  Someone in your field of work (but not a coworker)  Current classmateJessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    24. 24. Next steps Differences emerge when we compare engagement in relationship maintenance strategies across certain groups. (initial findings) Who was significantly more engaged?  Supportive Communication: Friends of Friends  Passive Consumption: Family & Friends of Friends  Social Information Seeking: FamilyJessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    25. 25. Next stepsTo what extent do actual behaviors inFacebook maponto perceived relationaloutcomes (e.g., closeness, satisfaction, access to resources)?
    26. 26. Next Steps Graph search: Maintenance tool?Jessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com
    27. 27. Thanks! Questions? Jessica Vitak College of Information Studies jvitak@umd.edu | @jvitak jessicavitak.comJessica Vitak | CASCI Talk | 4.23.13 | @jvitak | jvitak@umd.edu | jessicavitak.com

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