Psychology of Social Media:Implication for Design


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An overview of a social psychological approach to the design of social technologies, with design principles and a brief review of how I applied these principles to several R&D projects in the past few years.

This presentation was given to the Seattle chapter of IxDA in October 2009.

Published in: Technology, Business

Psychology of Social Media:Implication for Design

  1. 1. Psychology of Social Media: Implication for Design<br />Shelly D. Farnham, Ph.D.<br />Oct 19 2009<br />IxDA<br />
  2. 2. My Background: Industry R&D<br /><ul><li>Specialize in social media</li></ul>Social networks, community, mobile<br />Early stage innovation<br />Extremely rapid R&D cycle<br />study, brainstorm, design, prototype, evaluate (repeat)<br />Career<br />PhD in Social Psych from UW<br />7 years Microsoft Research<br />4 years startup world<br />Personal Map<br />
  3. 3. Research and Development Process<br />meeting social goals<br />
  4. 4. Waggle Labs: Social Media R&D Consulting and Incubation<br />Pathable<br />Swaggle (group text messaging)<br />Zillow community<br />Trusera<br />CoCollage (Strands)<br />Facebook analysis<br />Social Web 2.0<br />Reality AllStarz<br />Teen Focus Group (MSR)<br />City of Seattle<br />Twitterdinks<br />
  5. 5. Core Problem<br />Human social behavior evolved in different context than what we have today<br />We are still figuring out how to interact via tech<br />How is it different?<br />How do we make it better?<br />
  6. 6. Why Interact through Technology?<br />At a distance, over time<br />Access to greater number of people<br />More frequent, continues access<br />Interactions archived<br />Integrate with digital content<br />Identity and context manipulation<br />Large scale collaboration, coordination<br />
  7. 7. Social Psychological Approach<br />Understanding users<br />Individuals<br />Social dynamics: pairs, groups, networks<br />Phenomenological nature of social experiences<br />Social engineering<br />Technologies as social environments <br />Technologies as interventions<br />Focus on supporting social goals<br />Socially intelligent<br />Use understanding of social processes to inform design<br />
  8. 8. Example<br />Design goal: a profile and matchmaking system to increase likelihood of two people finding each other and having a successful dating experience<br />
  9. 9. Understanding Attraction<br />Predictors of attraction<br />similarity<br />frequency of exposure<br />Balance theory<br />Predictors of matching<br />matching hypothesis<br />Process<br />Reciprocal self-disclosure<br />
  10. 10. Impact on Design<br />Match on similarity in demographics, lifestyle<br />Provide opportunities for frequent exposure, interaction<br />Match based on equivalence in desirability<br />Put in social context (see friends, friends of friends)<br />Varying levels of communication: pseudonymous, identified, asynchronous, realtime<br />
  11. 11. Design Principles<br />Defining user’s goals<br />Social goals<br />To like myself<br />That others like me<br />Sense of belonging<br />Mastery, self-efficacy<br />Implicit vs. explicit<br />
  12. 12. Design Principles<br />Take perspective of user<br />What is there, and what think is there, not always the same<br />People respond to what they *think* is there<br />Behavior is function of person and situation<br />To predict and change behavior, must understand all the forces<br />Some internal, some physical, MANY SOCIAL<br /><br />
  13. 13. Design Principles<br />The best social technologies are invisible to the user<br />Need usability, to achieve sociability<br />Social translucence<br />Visibility, awareness, accountability<br />
  14. 14. Influential Early Research<br /><ul><li>HutchWorld Study: </li></ul> #1 reason patients used Internet was to interact with family and friends, not to meet other cancer patients/caregivers<br /><ul><li>Mall Study: </li></ul> How do people naturally model their social relations?<br /><ul><li>Relationships and groups
  15. 15. In terms of importance to self
  16. 16. Dynamic and idiosyncratic</li></li></ul><li>Social Networking, Community, Mobile<br />User studies<br />MSR Connections<br /><ul><li>Visualizing and interacting with personal and corporate social networks
  17. 17. Similarity based on interaction behavior, co-occurrence in communication groups
  18. 18. Users found graph visualizations too complicated
  19. 19. How extract meaning of collections/groups?</li></ul>Personal Map<br />Point to Point<br />Wallop<br />
  20. 20. Personal MapAutomatically organize contacts in a way that is meaningful/intuitive to user<br /><ul><li>Infers implicit social groups from communication behavior in email
  21. 21. Provide sense of who’s important
  22. 22. Dynamic, changes as levels of interaction change
  23. 23. Minimal maintenance required</li></ul>Similarity (A B) = (sum (AB * significance))/sqrt(A * B)<br />Grouped using hierarchical cluster analysis <br />Shelly Farnham::Will Portnoy<br />
  24. 24. Point to Point User Studiesfacilitate knowledge exchange by exploiting corporate social network information<br />At Microsoft:<br />75,000 mailing lists,<br />each person belongs to on average 11 mailing lists<br />Social network info presented relative to self<br />Shelly Farnham::Will Portnoy<br />
  25. 25. Point to Point User Study I<br />39 employees completed task <br />Participants listed 15 closest co-workers, used to assess accuracy of point to point map<br />People most similar to the user were not crossed off map as not belonging.<br />People most similar to the user tended to also be on the user’s list of coworkers.<br />
  26. 26. Point to Point User Study II<br />17 employees completed 16 choices using Point to Point<br />Study design: Participants decided between two randomly selected people whom they would like to meet for knowledge exchange<br />network information affected decision-making<br />
  27. 27. Leveraging Social Media for Professional Social Networking<br />Whom do I most want to meet, in the limited time available to me?<br />Similar to me<br />Complementary skills/needs<br />Notable<br />How do I meet them?<br />
  28. 28. Who is here? Who do I want to meet?<br />
  29. 29. Social Networks<br />Social Scientist<br />Media Startup<br />Research<br />SocialTech<br />Community<br />RealityAllStar<br />BlogHer<br />Blogger<br />startup<br />community<br />social technology<br />blogger<br />
  30. 30.
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  32. 32. Social Networks Online<br />LinkedIn, MySpace<br />Lists of who’s connected to whom<br />Visualizations<br />Graphs<br />Need more summarization!<br />
  33. 33. Social Tagging<br />Add tags as you bookmark<br />Individual motivation<br />Across people, importance emerges<br />collective knowledge<br />Browse people and related content<br />Tags as pivots<br />
  34. 34. Exploration at Seattle Mind Camp 3<br />75 people provided tags for self, organization, related people, related events<br />
  35. 35. Pathable<br /> Community and social networking tools for conferences<br />
  36. 36. Design Themes<br />The event host is a connector and community moderator<br />Social tags are used as pivots of awareness, connection, and communication<br />Professional match matching for improved people finding <br />Incorporate communication back channels<br />
  37. 37. Face to Face Integration<br />Using existing technologies:<br />Mobile<br />Badges<br />Printable calendar<br />Visualization<br />
  38. 38. Personalized Badge<br />
  39. 39. Match-making<br />Best matches possible, with minimal effort in profiles<br />Based on predictors of successful matches:<br />Common interests<br />Same roles<br />Job title<br />Host provided categories<br />Co-location<br />By geography<br />By events<br />Existing shared groups and communities<br />Weighted sum to produce ordered list<br />
  40. 40. Why Host Cares about Community<br />We expect that sense of community at events increases attendee loyalty.<br />
  41. 41. Pathable BarCamp Seattle Study<br />Questions: <br />how important is social networking at events<br />can Pathable help?<br />BarCamp Seattle is a free, two-day conference held for Web 2.0<br />280 people registered for the event using Pathable<br />78 people total (76% male and 24% female) completed the questionnaire, 18 at the event and 60 afterwards online<br />
  42. 42. Primary Goal in Coming to Event<br />
  43. 43. Correlations between Event Features and Intention to Return<br />Sense of community and event attachment highly correlation r = .81<br />Bolded items are statistically significant at p < .05.<br />
  44. 44. Pathable Usage<br />Everyone registered through Pathable, about half actively used the system<br />60% actively browsed directory<br />47% actively browsed messages<br />19% actively sent messages<br />43% intended to use directory after event<br />55% intended to use communication features after event<br />If they said they came to event only to learn, less likely to use Pathable (t = 2.6, p < .02)<br />The higher the usage, the more they said it helped them meet people (r = .65, p < .001)<br />No correlation between usage and count of people met <br />Usage correlated with count of professional friends at event (r = .36, p < .01)<br />**percentages for those who indicated at least somewhat or quite a bit<br />
  45. 45. Impact on Professional Network<br />
  46. 46. Impact on Attachment and Sense of Community<br />
  47. 47. Impact of Usage by Feature<br />Pathable helped attendees meet others <br />the more they browsed the attendee directory <br />(r = .37, p < .005)<br />the more they browsed attendee messages <br />(r = .43, p < .005)<br />the more they sent messages <br />(r =.54, p < .005)<br />the more they used the match-making feature <br /> (r = .66, p < .005) <br />
  48. 48. Themes and Conclusions<br />Mission <br />Help people meet goals through social technologies<br />Incorporate psychology of social media<br />Clearly define user goals<br />Examine psycho-social context of technology to influence design<br />Prototyping and *early* deployment to assess technology’s ability to meet goals<br />Broad conclusions<br />Important to map natural social processes into social technologies<br />People are *always* seeking to develop social relationships, even in professional environments<br />Networking and community technologies can and SHOULD meaningfully impact face-to-face interactions<br />