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Psychology of Social Media -- Portfolio


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An introduction to my approach as a social psychologist in the technology industry, with highlightsof of past projects and the trajectory of my research.

An introduction to my approach as a social psychologist in the technology industry, with highlightsof of past projects and the trajectory of my research.

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  • 1. Psychology of Social Media: Implication for Design
    Shelly D. Farnham, Ph.D.
    Dec 03 2009
  • 2. Agenda
    My background and approach
    Psychology of social media
    Brief overview of past research trajectory
    Deeper discussion of two recent projects –> technology and building real world community
  • 3. My Background: Industry R&D
    • Specialize in social media
    Social networks, community, identity, mobile
    Early stage innovation
    Extremely rapid R&D cycle
    Study, brainstorm, design, prototype, deploy, evaluate (repeat)
    Convergent evaluation methodologies: interviews, questionnaires, usage analysis
    PhD in Social Psych from UW
    7 years Microsoft Research
    4 years startup world
    Personal Map
  • 4. Research and Development Process
    meeting social goals
  • 5. Core Problem
    Human social behavior evolved in different context than what we have today
    We are still figuring out how to interact via tech
    How is it different?
    How do we make it even better?
  • 6. Why Interact through Technology?
    At a distance, over time
    Access to greater number of people
    More frequent, continues access
    Interactions archived
    Integrate with digital content
    Identity and context manipulation
    Large scale collaboration, coordination
  • 7. Social Psychological Approach
    Understanding users
    Social dynamics: pairs, groups, networks
    Social engineering
    Technologies as social environments
    Technologies as interventions
    Socially intelligent
    Use understanding of social processes to inform design
  • 8. Example
    Design goal: a profile and matchmaking system to increase likelihood of two people finding each other and having a successful dating experience
  • 9. Understanding Attraction
    Predictors of attraction
    frequency of exposure
    People I like like you
    (Balance theory)
    Predictors of matching
    Similarity of “level”
    (matching hypothesis)
    Reciprocal self-disclosure
  • 10. Impact on Design
    Match on similarity in demographics, lifestyle
    Provide opportunities for frequent exposure, interaction
    Match based on equivalence in desirability
    Put in social context (see friends, friends of friends)
    Varying levels of communication: pseudonymous, identified, asynchronous, realtime
  • 11. Design Principles
    Defining user’s goals
    Social goals
    To like myself
    That others like me
    Sense of belonging
    Mastery, self-efficacy
    Implicit vs. explicit
  • 12. Design Principles
    Take perspective of user
    What is there, and what think is there, not always the same
    People respond to what they *think* is there
    Behavior is function of person and situation
    To predict and change behavior, must understand all the forces
    Some internal, some physical, MANY SOCIAL
  • 13. Design Principles
    The best social technologies are “invisible” to the user
    need usability, to achieve sociability
    Social translucence
    Visibility, awareness, accountability
  • 14. Influential Early Research (1999)
    • HutchWorld Study:
    #1 reason patients used Internet was to interact with family and friends, not to meet other cancer patients/caregivers
    • Mall Study:
    How do people naturally model their social relations?
    • Relationships and groups
    • 15. In terms of importance to self
    • 16. Dynamic and idiosyncratic
  • Early Studies of Social Technologies
    social support
    Profiles and matchmaking
  • 17. Social Networking, Community, Identity, Mobile (2000-2005)
    User studies
    MSR Connections
    • Visualizing and interacting with personal and corporate social networks
    • 18. Similarity based on interaction behavior, co-occurrence in communication groups
    • 19. Enables dynamic network
    • 20. Extract meaningful collections/groups via cluster analysis
    Personal Map
    Point to Point
  • 21. Personal MapAutomatically organize contacts in a way that is meaningful/intuitive to user
    • Infers implicit social groups from communication behavior in email
    • 22. Provide sense of who’s important
    • 23. Dynamic, changes as levels of interaction change
    • 24. Minimal maintenance required
    Similarity (A B) = (sum (AB * significance))/sqrt(A * B)
    Grouped using hierarchical cluster analysis
    Shelly Farnham::Will Portnoy
  • 25. Point to Point User Studiesfacilitate knowledge exchange by exploiting corporate social network information
    At Microsoft:
    75,000 mailing lists,
    each person belongs to on average 11 mailing lists
    Social network info presented relative to self
    Shelly Farnham::Will Portnoy
  • 26. Point to Point User Study I
    39 employees completed task
    Participants listed 15 closest co-workers, used to assess accuracy of point to point map
    People most similar to the user tended to also be on the user’s list of coworkers.
    People most similar to the user were not crossed off map as not belonging.
  • 27. Point to Point User Study II
    17 employees completed 16 choices using Point to Point
    Study design: Participants decided between two randomly selected people whom they would like to meet for knowledge exchange
    network information affected decision-making
  • 28. Mobile Social and Hyper-coordination:Supporting Life Cycle of Events
    Apart (Repeat)
    Groups, messaging, photo sharing for the smartphone
    Text messaging
    Shelly to coffee: caffeine?
  • 29. Groove Field Deployment Study
    After Katrina hurricane, economy at a stand still, largely evacuated
    Microsoft effort, Groove deployment to relief workers
    Secure, peer to peer collaboration
    Enables sharing and synchronization across locations, while mobile, with intermittent Internet access
    Ideal for ad hoc, cross organizational collaboration
  • 30. Waggle Labs (2006-2009) Social Media R&D Consulting and Incubation
    Swaggle (group text messaging)
    Zillow community
    CoCollage (Strands)
    Facebook analysis
    Social Web 2.0
    Reality AllStarz
    Teen Focus Group (MSR)
    City of Seattle
  • 31.
  • 32. Distribution of Daily Activity in Top Applications, Measured in Share of Total Daily Active Usage (28.4 million total, averaged for week ending 11/18/07)
    User Goals for Facebook Apps
  • 33. CoCollage
    The Strands Community Collage (CoCollage™) promotes awareness, interactions and communityin third places where people seek conversation and connection.
    Web site for sharing and conversation
    Large display showing “Community Collage”
  • 34. Third Places
    Semi-public places away from home (first places) and work (second places)
    People gather to enjoy conversation with friends and strangers
    Facilitate community development
    frequent serendipitous interactions
    increased likelihood of developing web of interpersonal relationships
  • 35. Existing “Technologies” for Community Development in Third Places
    Challenging to get to know who comes regularly over time, what they are like, and start conversations
  • 36. CoCollage: Expanding Impact of Place
    web site
    large display
    awareness and conversation
    in cafe
    asynchronous awareness, sharing and conversation
    in café or at home
  • 37. CoCollage Features
    People and profiles
    Commenting, voting
    Shared items (photos & quotes)
    The big screen
  • 38. Early Deployment Study
    Deploy to local coffee shop: Trabant, working closely with owners
    Observations, interviews and questionnaire
    develop a better understanding of the psycho-social factors that would impact adoption and use
    get immediate feedback for iteratively improving design
    explore how best to measure place-based community development for future studies
  • 39. Factors Expected to Influence Adoption and Use
    The size and activity of the existing community
    the extent to which the individual has a desire to meet others through the café
    the individual’s existing levels of psychological sense of communityandplace attachment to the café
  • 40. Place Attachment
    Rosenbaum et al. in study of a suburban diner
    People who experienced social support through diner, developed place attachment – bond between person and place
    Used items that loaded highly on three factors:
    Functional dependency: “I get more satisfaction out of Trabant than other cafes”
    Commitment: “I really care about the fate of Trabant”
    Identification with self: “The success of Trabant is my success”
    Sense of Community
    Place Attachment
  • 41. Questionnaire: Existing Community
    Size of their existing café network:
    58% had at least one acquaintance in café, of those averaging 4.2 each
    25% had at least one personal friend, of those averaging 2.8 each
    Psycho social factors:
    Satisfied with café (M = 5.6)*
    Lukewarm in sense of community (M = 3.5)*
    Place attachment on dependency (M = 5.4)* and commitment (M = 5.3)* factors, but less so on identity (M = 3.4)*
    Desire to connect with others
    56% had some or more interest in meeting others at the café
    suggests roughly half of regulars would want to join CoCollage
    *on scale of 1 to 7, where 1 = not at all and 7 = extremely so
  • 42. Raw Correlations
    Bolded items are statistically significant at p < .05.
    Of 69 who completed questionnaire, 24 also joined CoCollage
    Sense of community, place attachment, and desire to connect correlated with whether joined CoCollage
  • 43. Percentage of users who engaged in each type of activity, with means
    CoCollage Usage
    • 82 users in first month
    • 44. Primary usage:
    • 45. create a profile
    • 46. browse other profiles
    • 47. upload images
    • 48. View others’ images
    • 49. Significant correlation between desire to make friends and
    • 50. number of comments (r = .43, p < .05)
    • 51. number of unique days they have returned to the system (r = .43, p < .05)
  • A Month Later: Impact on Place Attachment
  • 52. A Month Later: Impact on Neighboring
  • 53. CoCollage Study Conclusions
    Within first month, decent adoption
    82 out of roughly 400 regulars joined CoCollage in the first month
    Questionnaire results shows that people who
    a) are looking to connect with others
    b) already have a psychological sense of community at the café
    c) already feel place attachment to the café,
    are more likely to join CoCollage and start conversations
    CoCollage did have impact on attachment and neighboring over time
    Psychological sense of community for place and place attachment are meaningful constructs in predicting adoption of a place-based community technology
  • 54. Pathable: Leveraging Social Media for Professional Social Networking
    Whom do I most want to meet, in the limited time available to me?
    How do I meet them?
    EIBTM’s WorldWide Technology Watch Award for 2009
  • 55. Social Networking at Events
    World wide over 1.2 million professional events each year, adding up to a hundred billion dollar industry
    Meeting people!
    Forming connections with clients and colleagues
    Face-to-face for developing trust
    face-to-face for informal idea and knowledge sharing via conversation
  • 56. Building Community at Events
    In early interviews with conference organizers, they listed building community as a primary goal
    Why do event attendees and event hosts at professional events care about building community?
  • 57. What is Community
    Cupcake Society
    "I define "community" as networks of interpersonal ties that provide sociability, support, information, a sense of belonging, and social identity.”
    • Barry Wellman (2001)
  • Why Do Event Attendees Care about Community?
    Hey, I’m a member of the Cupcake Society too!
    Can I borrow some sugar?
    Take my recipe, too!
    • Community groups enable transitive relationships
    • 58. Powerfully increase social capital through simple act of joining community
    • 59. Communities of practice: group of people interested in content domain, shared practices increase effectiveness of members
  • Why Host Cares about Community
    We expect that sense of community at events increases attendee loyalty.
  • 60. Designing Pathable: Leveraging Social Media for Face to Face Professional Social Networking
    Whom do I most want to meet, in the limited time available to me?
    How do I meet them?
    How do we become a “social tie”?
    How do we become a community?
  • 61. Who is here? Who do I want to meet?
  • 62. Social Networks
    Social Scientist
    Media Startup
    social technology
  • 63.
  • 64.
  • 65. Exploration at Seattle Mind Camp 3
    75 people provided tags for self, organization, related people, related events
  • 66. Pathable
    Community and social networking tools for conferences
    Community Dashboard 
    Attendee directory
    Integration (blog, twitter, LinkedIn)
    Wiki (Wetpaint)
  • 67. Design Themes
    The event host is a connector and community moderator
    Rich information with minimal effort
    Social tags are used as pivots of awareness, connection, and communication
    Professional match matching for improved people finding
    Incorporate communication back channels
  • 68. Profile
    Per event
  • 69. Profile
    • User can prepopulate from past event
    • 70. Host can prepopulate, e.g. for speakers
  • Attendee Directory
    Most used feature
  • 71. Conversation
    To all, or tags
    Subscribe to mailing list
  • 72. Contacts
    Added through bookmarking
  • 73. Tweet Stream
    Live updates
  • 74.
  • 75. Host Manager
  • 76. Face to Face Integration
    Using existing technologies:
    Printable calendar
  • 77. Personalized Badge
  • 78. Match-making
    Best matches possible, with minimal effort in profiles
    Based on predictors of successful matches:
    Common interests
    Same roles
    Job title
    Host provided categories
    By geography
    By events
    Existing shared groups and communities
    Weighted sum to produce ordered list
  • 79. Pathable BarCamp Seattle Study
    how important is social networking at events
    can Pathable help?
    BarCamp Seattle is a free, two-day conference held for Web 2.0
    280 people registered for the event using Pathable
    78 people total (76% male and 24% female) completed the questionnaire, 18 at the event and 60 afterwards online
  • 80. Primary Goal in Coming to Event
  • 81. Correlations between Event Features and Intention to Return
    Sense of community and event attachment highly correlation r = .81
    Bolded items are statistically significant at p < .05.
  • 82. Pathable Usage
    Everyone registered through Pathable, about half actively used the system
    60% actively browsed directory
    47% actively browsed messages
    19% actively sent messages
    43% intended to use directory after event
    55% intended to use communication features after event
    If they said they came to event only to learn, less likely to use Pathable (t = 2.6, p < .02)
    The higher the usage, the more they said it helped them meet people (r = .65, p < .001)
    No correlation between usage and raw count of people met
    Usage correlated with count of professional friends at event (r = .36, p < .01)
    **percentages for those who indicated at least somewhat or quite a bit
  • 83. Impact on Professional Network
  • 84. Impact on Attachment and Sense of Community
  • 85. Impact of Usage by Feature
    Pathable helped attendees meet others
    the more they browsed the attendee directory
    (r = .37, p < .005)
    the more they browsed attendee messages
    (r = .43, p < .005)
    the more they sent messages
    (r =.54, p < .005)
    the more they used the match-making feature
    (r = .66, p < .005)
  • 86. Figure 9. Life cycle of Pathable activity before, during and after event
    Life Cycle of a Pathable-enabled Event
    • Gnomedex
    • 87. Can create an active community with minimal effort
    • 88. Two emails
    • 89. Seeded initial profiles
    • 90. Seeded conversations
  • Seeding the Community
    Ensure the community feels full from the start
    Model the desired behavior
    Invite the organizers, speakers, volunteers to complete a profile first
    Author the speaker/high status profiles
    Seed representative tags
    Seed type of conversation hoped for
    Send personal invitations
  • 91. Leveraging Match-making Features
    Nurturing tags
    Use badges
    Use color coded categories
    Provides overview
    Easy point of conversation
    Job types: developer, designer, marketer
    Interests: blogging, podcasting, and mobile
    Person types: creative vs. geek
    Personality: introvert, extrovert
    Integrate with face to face
    Birds of a feather meetings
  • 92. People Loved Badges
    and blogged about them!
  • 93. Themes and Conclusions
    Help people meet goals through social technologies
    Incorporate psychology of social media
    Clearly define user goals
    Examine psycho-social context of technology to influence design
    Prototyping and *early* deployment to assess technology’s ability to meet goals
    Broad conclusions
    Important to map natural social processes into social technologies
    People are *always* seeking to develop social relationships, even in professional environments
    people, networks, and groups as primary content
    Networking and community technologies can and SHOULD meaningfully impact face-to-face interactions