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Build, manage, and evaluate: Information practices and personal reputations on social media platforms

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This presentation is for a paper delivered to the Conceptions of Library and Information Science (CoLIS) Ljubljana, Slovenia (16-19 June 2019).

Paper abstract:
Introduction. The broad theme of this paper is the use of information to build, manage and evaluate personal reputations. It reports the findings of a study that considered the extent to which social media users replicate in online environments the established information practices of academics when they assess their peers. The three platforms considered are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Method. A multi-step data collection process was implemented for this work. Forty-five UK-based social media users kept journals and took part in semi-structured interviews.
Analysis. A qualitative analysis of the journal and diary data was undertaken using NVivo10. Information practices were analysed to considered the similarities or difference between social media practices and related practices deployed by academics related to citations.
Results. The findings expose the ways in which social media users build, manage, and evaluate personal reputations online may be aligned to the citation practices of academics.
Conclusion. This work shows where the similarities and differences exist between citation practices and related information practices on social media as related to personal reputations. Broadly, the findings of this research demonstrate that social media users do replicate in informal online environments the established information practices of academics.

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Build, manage, and evaluate: Information practices and personal reputations on social media platforms

  1. 1. Build, manage, and evaluate: Information practices and personal reputations on social media platforms @FrancesRyanPhD | frances@francesryanphd.com | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Presented by Frances VC Ryan Conceptions of Library and Information Science University of Ljubljana, Slovenia 16 – 19 June 2019 Co-authors: Hazel Hall, Peter Cruickshank, and Alistair Lawson Edinburgh Napier University | Centre for Social Informatics
  2. 2. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com A brief overview ►How online information contributes to the building, maintenance, and evaluation of personal reputations ►Personal reputation: Private individuals, rather than corporate identity and brand ►Considers both “private” and “professional” reputation – and how the two merge or blur together ►The term “private” relates to a person’s private life not privacy settings ►Set against a theoretical framework that compares social media practices to similar citation practices undertaken by academics
  3. 3. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com
  4. 4. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com The research question How do information behaviours related to the building, management, and evaluation of personal reputation on social media reflect citation practices related to the building, management, and evaluation of academic reputation?
  5. 5. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com The literature
  6. 6. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com The framework Theme Practices discussed in the citation analysis literature Possible similar practices in social media Linking or connecting with other individuals as a means of showing agreement or similarity Citing well-respected authors Citing an someone within the main content of a paper Making note of someone in acknowledgements or footnotes of a paper Co-authoring papers with well- respected academics Following academics on networking platforms Interacting with online content created by others Re-posting content created by others Linking self-created content to content created by others Linking to well-respected bloggers Tagging others in online content Hosting or providing guest blogs Self-promotion Self-citation or referencing previous works by one’s self Sharing details of work on professional networking sites or other online platforms Sharing on social media platforms Linking to or posting self-created content to the social media profiles of others Cross-linking or cross-posting self- created content across several platforms Strategic placement of content in favourable locations Agreeing to coerced citations Citing well-known authors in specific fields of study Participation in blogs and online communities Tagging well-known individuals in online content via user names to Sharing on social media platforms Strategic placement of content in favourable locations Agreeing to coerced citations Citing well-known authors in specific fields of study Sharing through social media platforms Participation in blogs and online communities Tagging well-known individuals in online content via user names to form an alignment Sharing information on social media platforms Connecting with individuals to boost own reputation Citing well-respected authors Following academics on networking platforms Co-authoring papers, or providing “gift” co-authorships Friending, following, or otherwise connecting with individuals online Fraudulent practices or identity masking Coercive self-citations or other citations added at the request of a publisher or editor Sharing information online under a pseudonym or via an anonymous account Theme Practices discussed in the citation analysis literature Possible similar practices in social media Self-promotion Self-citation or referencing previous works by one’s self Sharing details of work on professional networking sites or other online platforms Sharing on social media platforms Linking to or posting self-created content to the social media profiles of others Cross-linking or cross-posting self- created content across several platforms Evaluating the connections of others to determine their reputation Reviewing list of contacts on networking platforms Reviewing reference lists in articles Reviewing social media activities of connections Reviewing lists of online connections Evaluating individuals based on their overall visibility Reviewing citation indexes Reviewing online footprints of others Table 1: Similarities between practices discussed in the citation analysis literature and possible related practices found on social media platforms
  7. 7. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com The framework… simplified (Cat & Mouse, 2019) Linking or connecting to show agreement Self-promotion (Guru, 2019; Important, 2018; Super-Star, 2019) Strategic placement of content Evaluating othersConnecting to boost reputation (Pinky & Brain, 2019) (Ryan, Hall, Cruickshank and Lawson, 2019)
  8. 8. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com The methods ►Qualitative methods ►Multi-step data collection process ►Participant diaries (one week) ►In-depth, semi-structured interviews (1 hour) ►Coding structure based on themes from the literature and participant data
  9. 9. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com The sample ►45 UK-based participants ►Recruited in generation groups ►Aged 22-69 (in 2016) ►31 females; 14 males ►Social media users ►Moderate to heavy users (41) ►Higher than average education levels ►In employment or recently retired
  10. 10. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com The findings ►Findings reveal how social media users build, manage, and evaluate personal reputations online ►Social media practices may be aligned to the citation practices of academics ►The findings relate to: ►Social media content for self-promotion ►Social media to form connections ►Social media to strengthen connections ►Censoring social media content
  11. 11. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Using social media content for self-promotion ►Sharing information specifically for the purposes of building professional reputation ► Done through “self-promotion” activities or by “creating a brand” Self-promotion tactics are viewed as an “intentional” way of “branding” their professional selves. (Wendy and Sharon) “[It is] important that my [work] is visible, so promoting [it] is kind of important.” (Yvonne)
  12. 12. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Using social media to form connections ►Connecting with others online signals relationships or links between individuals ►Decisions to connect made based on platform ►Different criteria for private platforms and professional platforms Private Professional
  13. 13. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Using social media to form connections ►Connect to create alignments ► Especially those beneficial to professional advancement, reputational gain, and job seeking LinkedIn connections viewed as possible future employers. (Kevin) Connect with people on Twitter who “are leaders in their fields” with the hopes of “actually have a conversation with them.” (Joanne)
  14. 14. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Using social media to form connections ►Not all connections are made willingly ► Some connections formed out of obligation or to be “polite” ► Obligatory connections are formed to spare awkward encounters in an offline environment Connected with family to avoid appearing like a “not very nice person” by not accepting a request. (Joanne) Connecting with someone from a running group because it would be “socially awkward and rude” not to. (Gillian)
  15. 15. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Using social media to strengthen connections ►By re-posting content created by others ►To deliberately build professional reputations Re-posting as a way to “curate” information that is “relevant.” (Jennifer) Re-posting content that that will be “interesting to [their] network” whilst also signalling to the original poster that they are “reading” and “enjoying” the content. (Gillian)
  16. 16. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Using social media to strengthen connections ►Interacting with content that has been shared by others Commenting on content to be “polite”, signalling an awareness of proper “etiquette.” (Diane) “Likes” to signal that they have either viewed or felt positively towards the content. (Karen) Tagging potential collaborators who are “influential people” to signal an interest in their work. (Amanda) “Likes” out of obligation if “everybody” at work is also interacting with the content. (Alison)
  17. 17. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Censoring social media content ►Censorship emerged as a key practice ► Especially in respect of protecting professional reputations Censorship by: ►Completely refraining from sharing certain types of information ►Avoiding re-posting content due to a reluctance to be associated with certain types of content or information ►Censoring interactions ► Avoid being linked or connected to the content ► Avoid encouraging similar content in the future Avoid sharing certain forms of information so that connections do not think someone is an “offensive person.” (Kevin) It is “important to be aware” that content is ultimately accessible to a wider audience that you might intend. (Andrew)
  18. 18. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Do these practices match up? ► Academics cite another academic or mention them in acknowledgements or footnotes, creating a link or an alignment ►The social media practices of re-posting, liking, and tagging online information creates links or alignments in a similar manner ► Academic cite with the express desire of the cited author being made aware of the citer’s work ►Social media users interact with online content through liking as a way of signalling that they are engaged with another individual’s social media content ► In academia, connections are formed through citations that create a link between the citer and citee ►Social media users do this by requesting or accepting connections with others
  19. 19. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Do these practices match up? (cont.) ► Only limited parallels have been found related to the evaluation of reputations ► The citation analysis literature shows that academics evaluate the reputations of their peers ►For example, by reviewing the reference list in a published article to determine who the author has cited or reviewing another academic’s lists of connections on social networking platforms ► These practices are not generally undertaken as a basis for evaluation in social media practice ►Possibly because social media users connect with people online after an offline relationship as already been determined
  20. 20. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Conclusions and further work ►This work has been shown where the similarities and differences exist between citation practices and related information practices on social media ► Further explorations of these similarities and differences in recently completed PhD thesis (ask me for details!) ►Limitations: Conclusions are drawn in relation to a particular demographic, and considers just three platforms ►Further work recommendations: ► Explore the motivations and decision-making processes that academics use in determining who they will cite as well as their decisions to not cite ► Consider the longevity of academic alignments made through citation practices, as well as the ways in which academics might break alignments if the need arises
  21. 21. Frances VC Ryan | @FrancesRyanPhD | www.FrancesRyanPhD.com Frances VC Ryan @FrancesRyanPhD www.FrancesRyanPhD.com frances@francesryanphd.com Build, manage, and evaluate: Information practices and personal reputations on social media platforms Hazel Hall @hazelh www.hazelhall.org h.hall@napier.ac.uk Peter Cruickshank @spartakan www.napier.ac.uk/people/peter-cruickshank p.cruickshank@napier.ac.uk Alistair Lawson www.napier.ac.uk/people/alistair-lawson a.lawson@napier.ac.uk Hvala!

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