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Setting The Stage For Empirical Research In Virtual Social Networks

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This work sets the theoretical stage for future empirical investigations of the socio-economic dynamics in virtual social networks (VSN), at member and network entrepreneur levels. In so doing, I start by identifying the empirical loci, Flickr and LinkedIn, justify and describe the choices. A model of the utility function of the generic VSN member is followed by descriptions of the value dynamics for each VSN, which in turn create the premise for an economic model of VSN as platforms for multi-sided markets. The model is built by considering several theoretical angles from the perspectives of microeconomics and sociology of networks. The contribution is in extending theoretical and empirical insights across disciplines and fields with the idea of exploring and understanding the emerging VSN-phenomenon.

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Setting The Stage For Empirical Research In Virtual Social Networks

  1. 1. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social NetworksIntroductionThis work sets the theoretical stage for future empirical investigations of the socio-economic dynamics in virtual social networks (VSN), at member and networkentrepreneur levels. In so doing, I start by identifying the empirical loci, Flickr andLinkedIn, justify and describe the choices. A model of the utility function of the genericVSN member is followed by descriptions of the value dynamics for each VSN, which inturn create the premise for an economic model of VSN as platforms for multi-sidedmarkets. The model is built by considering several theoretical angles from theperspectives of microeconomics and sociology of networks. The contribution is inextending theoretical and empirical insights across disciplines and fields with the idea ofexploring and understanding the emerging VSN-phenomenon.Empirical LociWikipedia defines a virtual community as “a social network of individuals who interactthrough specific media, potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries inorder to pursue mutual interests or goals. One of the most pervasive types of virtualcommunity includes social networking services, which consist of various onlinecommunities.1”The empirical lens is applied to Flickr and LinkedIn, which are social networkingservices, or virtual social networks (VSN) whose themes are photo-sharing andprofessional networking, respectively.2 The VSN choice was made for analyticalsimplicity, for these two networks are monothematic, and illustrate supply or network-side similarities, and demand or member-side contrasts. On the supply side, thesenetworks are platforms for multi-sided markets, whereas on the demand side theyrepresent, let us say, types of utility realization. Flickr stands in for networks whosemembers satisfy utility in the present; LinkedIn is a case of network whose members’utility satisfaction is deferred. This is to say that, a) Flickr members get satisfaction atthe time of browsing, and b) LinkedIn members get deferred satisfaction, upon landinga new job.Before a model for the member’s utility function is advanced, we should also note thatFlickr and LinkedIn are the most prominent VSN in their niches, which is to say thatdemand-side economies of scale appear to have selected each as the leader.1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_community2 The official description of each VSN is in Annex 1. 1 of13
  2. 2. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social NetworksModeling the VSN Members’ Utility FunctionNature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain andpleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determinewhat we shall do. 3The number of members a VSN can theoretically have is the whole internet population,for the same individual can belong to more VSN at once. In practice, all kinds of limitsare present, e.g., time, language, theme interest, etc. The two types of resources VSNneed are the technology infrastructure and membership. Holding the cost of theinfrastructure constant regardless of the membership size, for now, a VSN can be incompetition for members’ attention across different niches.4From a microeconomics perspective, the empirical opportunity is to model and test anetwork member’s utility-maximization as a function of intertemporal choices(Nicholson et al.). If the member’s constraint is given by the amount of socializing timeon the networks (Y), the task is to find the optimal allocation between the times spent oneach network. If the choices are between spending time on Flickr (C0), and LinkedIn(C1), then Y = C0 + C1. Taking the average time one spends on LinkedIn to get a job to be1/r, we can say that there is deferred utility associated with C1, which is satisfied onlyafter an average period of time of (1/r).5 Below, there is the graphical illustration of theutility functions Ui, associated with the intertemporal time constraint and choices,adapted from Nicholson and Snyder (2010: 409-10).If C1 = 0, the member chooses to spend all the time on Flickr, or C0 = Y, and there is notime spent on LinkedIn. On the other hand, if all the time is spent on LinkedIn, C0 = 0,and C1 = (1+r)*Y.3 Jeremy Bentham, 1789, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation;http://www.econlib.org/library/Bentham/bnthPMLCover.html4 This creates the possibility for a given VSN to extend by adopting a theme from a competitor’s niche. Facebookappears to have embraced this path to growth.5 To be more accurate, r should be a probability following a certain probability distribution. 2 of13
  3. 3. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social NetworksUtility maximization is achieved at (C0*, C1*), at which point the marginal rate ofsubstitution (MRS) between C0 and C1 is equal to (1 + r).6 It should also be observed thatr measures the opportunity cost that the member incurs when choosing to satisfy utilityat the present time rather than at some point (1/r) in the future.7If this is a model for the utility function on the demand side, the open question nowbecomes the extent to which network effects can explain the behavior of VSN after thenetwork reaches the dominant position. To be able to address this question, from thesupply side, next we examine the value dynamics for all network participants: members,advertisers and entrepreneurs or owners.Value Dynamics in Two Types of VSNIt should be noted from the outset that a way of representing structure related value-dynamics in social networks is by virtue of structural holes. Burt defined them ascharacteristic of any social structure in the following terms: Players [network members] are connected to certain others, trusting of certain others, obligated to support certain others, dependent on exchange with certain others. Push here and someone over there moves. […] The holes in social structure, or, more simply, structural holes, are disconnections or nonequivalencies between players in the arena. Structural holes are entrepreneurial opportunities for information access, timing, referrals, and control (1992). Gaps between clusters [members or member communities in the network] are holes in the structure of information flow, or more simply, structural holes. A structural hole between two groups need not mean that people in the groups are unaware of one another. It means only that the people are focused on their own activities such that they do not attend to the activities of people in the other group. Holes are buffers, like an insulator in an electric circuit. People on either side of a structural hole circulate in different flows of information. Structural holes are the empty spaces in social structure. The value-potential of structural holes is that they separate nonredundant sources of information, sources that are more additive than overlapping (2005).It follows that the members in VSN look to bridge structural holes, defined in the largestsense of the concept, and the network itself is the broker between members or membercommunities across different structural holes. A structural hole can be taken as afraction denoting the inverse of the strength of the relationship between two agents, oras Burt re-frames it, the entrepreneurial opportunity and motivation (1992). In Burt’smodel, the size of the entrepreneurial opportunity is directly related to the structural6 C0 and C1 are being assumed as modeling substitutes. This is an assumption consistent with the member’s alreadyhaving a job. Otherwise, they would be more like complements where 1 ≤ C1 and 0 ≤ C0.7 Moreover, by changing r, we could model various utilities associated with future job changes, which reflectsubstitution and income effects. If r = 0, we notice that the choice of time spent on socializing in two virtualnetworks turns the model in that of maximizing utilities between simple substitutes within a budgetary constraint,without intertemporal differentiations. 3 of13
  4. 4. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networkshole, or weaker ties between agents make for better entrepreneurial opportunities. Aswell, the physical network acts as broker on behalf of the network entrepreneur.First, we look at the value dynamics of Flickr, as two-sided platform enabled by thenetwork entrepreneur for the member and advertiser communities, respectively.Second, we look at the value dynamics of LinkedIn, a three-sided platform for member,employer, and advertiser communities. At this point, it is useful to have a look at Annex2 to learn about the main types of actions the members of Flickr and LinkedIn canundertake. Flickr, 2-sided value dynamicsFlickr is a web service for hosting, sharing and managing image-, and video-content,and online community. It offers two types of accounts: Free and Pro. Free account usersare allowed to upload 300 MB of images a month and 2 videos. Also, if a free user hasmore than 200 photos on the site, they will only be able to see the most recent 200 intheir photostream. Pro accounts allow users to upload an unlimited number of imagesand videos every month and receive unlimited bandwidth and storage.1.a) The network value from the perspective of the members comes through theirobservable network actions: Creation, Exploration, Socialization, Negativeexternalities, and Buying.Creation: Members post photos or videos with captions. Here, the user’s objective is topost as many photos as possible so that the Socialization objective is achieved. Thelimits or costs are: time, skill, location, equipment, level of membership (paid or free),the contribution inducing urge elicited by the results of exploration, and the amount ofsocial recognition garnered (Hertel et al. 2003; Davidovici-Nora 2009). The objective isto contribute those photos that will get the most social recognition—however, some, mayeven target licensing deals, or straight sales.Exploration: Members find photos from across structural holes spanning location,time, skill, equipment, etc. The limits here are: time to browse. Here, the user’sobjective is maximizing the finds over the search-time unit. The network entrepreneurhelps by providing random and social means to minimize costs: featured photos frommembers, and the social mechanisms (homophily based exploration: the preferences ofmy friends/preferred authors are more likely to become my preferences.)Socialization: This consists of members’ commenting on photos, marking otherphotos as favorite, creating, joining, and leaving groups/communities, adding one ascontact of friend—which automatically displays their latest photos on one’s homepage.The objective here is to interact and lower exploration costs. The costs here are time, 4 of13
  5. 5. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networksand emotional. The network entrepreneur creates all kinds of levels of socialization—one may choose to keep oneself anonymous from others’ searches, or to regulate thelevels of access to one’s photos. The identity of the individuals is a matter left at thediscretion of the surfer.Negative externalities: Members can download and use photos without, or against,explicit permission from the author/owner. This is an activity yet unspoken of in thecontext of VSN. However, it is real, and the network entrepreneur has all incentives todiscourage and downplay its incidence, for it has the potential to take the network down.The users themselves seldom get to see their photos stolen or misused, yet it happensevery so often.8 The other type of negative activity is flaming—and this has beendocumented since the early days of the online newsgroups. The solution here is on acase-by-case basis—one can simply delete a comment, or ban another user altogether—e.g., the White House photostream has suspended the capability of users’ commentingon the individual photos. The lowest type of value negative externality is the presencesof free riders—users who only surf, yet don’t post either photos or comments. Given therichness of the environment, and the low marginal cost on the part of the networkentrepreneur to serve these users, their effect is yet to be quantified. On the other hand,they are most likely consumers of advertising, so they generate a modicum of overallvalue—each photo has displayed the number of viewers and public comments; if onesubtracts from the number of visits the number of favorites and comments, one gets theupper bound of free ridership for each photo.The beneficiaries of all types of negative activity are those who break the written andunwritten VSN rules. The costs for the community are born by the individualcontributors, yet considering the richness of the whole space, it must have been amanageable quantity.Buy: Members either buy pro-accounts, or have free membership and are advertisedto. The latter make buy decisions based on the ads they are exposed to. It should beobserved that the free members enjoy all the socializing facilities of the paying users, yettheir cost is regulated by strict limits on how many photos they can post. This meansthat they are very well characterized by their social activities, e.g., a membership in aLeica cameras group makes one a good target for sellers of Leica equipment andaccessories.2.a) The network value from the perspective of the advertisers comes in the form ofgoods and services sold, and/or increased brand awareness.8 From the author’s +90 contacts, over 3 years, two have complained about their photos’ being stolen and/ormisused. Their solutions consisted in one case in restricting access to family photos only to those in the FriendsList, whereas the other has started watermarking his photos. It should be mentioned that these are two of the highestcontributors, in terms of number of photos and/or quality, in the author’s Contacts List. 5 of13
  6. 6. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social NetworksAdvertisers benefit from being able to target very well segmented audiences. Thesocializing activities of the network members should characterize very well theaudiences, that is, the network members.3.a) The value dynamics perspective of the network entrepreneur is realized in termsof advertising revenue, and paid membership.The Flickr network entrepreneur is Yahoo as owner and operator of the physicalnetwork. From the structural holes perspective of VSN, Fickr is the platform brokeringacross structural holes between users, and/or users and advertisers. Flickr’s economicmodel is subjected to scale economies and diseconomies. Its objective is to generaterevenue, from paid membership and brokerage fees from advertisers, at a marginal rateabove or equal to the marginal cost of operating the network.The objectives for the network entrepreneur are: 1) to span as many and wide structuralholes as possible, 2) to qualify very well the users in terms actionable by the advertisers,3) to reduce negative externalities, especially through the members’ own actions orautomated mechanisms. For example, Flickr reduces the effects of the free riders bysuspending memberships inactive for 90 days. In other words, the value for them is inqualifying audiences for advertisers. LinkedIn, 3-sided value dynamicsApplying for jobs online has been a game changer. The candidates’ cost of applying for ajob decreased to the time it takes to submit a resume and fill in an online form. Theemployers’ cost of processing the job applications grew as candidates could broadcasttheir resumes to many more employers than before. Moreover, the risk of mismatchdue to noisy signaling or depreciated information processing capacity grew rapidly oncejob applications moved online. LinkedIn, a platform for managing professional profilesand matching job applicants with employers, has gone into addressing the shortcomingsof the online job application process.LinkedIn is a web service for hosting professional profiles and member communities. Itoffers two types of accounts: Free and Premium, and the employers are charged forposting jobs. Free account users are allowed limited capabilities in comparison topremium accounts that allow members, for example, to connect and contact directlywith any other network member. In addition, those members who post jobs, employersor recruiters, have to pay for each posting.1.b) The network value from the perspective of the job-seekers comes through theirobservable network actions: Profile creation and management, Re-Socialization,Learning, and Buying. 6 of13
  7. 7. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social NetworksProfile creation and management: The job seeker, current or future, is creating aprofile that is much richer in content and specifications than the regular job application.In addition to the information contained by the regular resume, the job applicant canadd several other dimensions to her professional profile. These are usually reflections ofthe candidate’ prior socializing, in real life or on LinkedIn, and are likely to provide thepotential employer with a much richer signal than the resume alone. The objective ofthe candidate is to build an image of a professional who is well respected for hertechnical and individual qualities. In other words, the job seeker wants to signalprofessional competence and personal integrity, or that the job seeker has social andintellectual capital vetted by the members of some professional community, even if onlyvirtual. The limit here is imposed by the amount of socialization.Re-socialization: This consists of getting endorsements and recommendations fromthe larger community of professionals in a group, or from colleagues and supervisors inpast and current positions. Additionally, people are active in the professionalspecialized communities in LinkedIn with the idea of generating new businessopportunities, learning, or simply having fun while investing in long term payoutrelationships. The job seeker is socializing or re-socializing to increase her social andprofessional recognition and learn about job opportunities from professionals otherthan the recruiting managers who add an extra processing step to the whole application—thus increasing the chance for signal misjudgment. The limit here is the knowledgeand time of the job seeker. Making a fool of oneself can backfire, or getting too manylow quality endorsements (e.g., from people in low positions) can also be detrimental.So, a job seeker ought to be careful in how she allocates her time and intellectual capitalon socializing activities.Also, when socializing in a professional group that is not necessarily prompted by a jobapplication, the job seeker is likely to reveal more facets of her personality; goodcandidates would want to come across as they are, and employers are likely to seek outsuch information. The many ways in which job seekers are building social andintellectual capital are subject to inputs and feedback with increased variety andobjectivity—or at least, the outside observer can assess the objectivity and variety oflinks and endorsements.Learning domain knowledge and job/business opportunities: These are theeffects of the members’ actions, which can be also expressed in term of investments inintellectual and social types of capital. This is an ongoing type of exploratory activitywhereby the job seeker learns new professional insights as well as opportunities. This isconstrued in terms of a diffused benefit, knowledge building, and a potential benefit offinding about and applying to a job opportunity before others. The clear limitation hereis the time required to scan the environment since the payouts are deferred and random,respectively. Another cost here is the type of account a job seeker has. Professional 7 of13
  8. 8. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networksaccounts offer job seekers higher levels of direct access to other network members. Freeaccount job seekers do not have these abilities, which automatically restricts the scope oftheir search, in addition to adding the cost of taking advertising.2.b) The value dynamics perspective of the employer is about sourcing for applicationsfor job openings and environment scanning.Sourcing for applications: Employers, or recruiters, need to fill the open positionswith qualified candidates who match the functional requirements. Their objective is toreduce the processing time by being able to filter out mismatches, on any one dimensionof a job seeker application. For example, a recruiter can automatically disqualifyapplications of those job seekers who do not have at least three recommendations fromsupervisors. Once several automatic filtering criteria are employed and the pool ofcandidates is reduced to a manageable size, the recruiter can go on with a process ofmanual sorting of the remaining applications. The limitation here is the reliability of thesocialization process on the job-seeker side, yet the recruiter can always find outadditional triangulation heuristics. There is also a cost incurred by posting a jobopening with LinkedIn.We should observe at this time that the value perspectives of the LinkedIn-advertisers,and -entrepreneur are identical, in general terms, to those on Flickr, respectively. Theimplication of this observation is that the analytical models of the two kinds of networksare more or less identical when describing the economic model of the entrepreneur. Ineffect, as suggested by the structural holes theory, the entrepreneur creates a platform toenable autonomous interactions between network members across structural holes. Itso happens that the members’ value dynamic in each type of network, i.e. present offuture satisfaction of utility, segments the membership in groups that not only themembers themselves, but also advertisers and recruiters find valuable. In conclusion, sofar we have created several empirical opportunities and laid the premise for a unifiedeconomic model of the network entrepreneur.An Economic Model of the Network Entrepreneur: Multi-sided MarketsThe network effect, or demand-side economies of scale, goes back in time to the earlydays of telephony and has stipulated ever since that the value of a network grows muchfaster than the linear progression of adding a new member.9 Prompted among others bythe hardware-software markets, Katz and Shapiro revived the classic network effectstory and showed that demand-side economies of scale cause growth in an existing stockof consumer utility as new consumers join in the consumption of given goods (1985).9 There is an assertion, known as Metcalf’s Law, suggesting that the value of a network with N members is N2.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfes_law 8 of13
  9. 9. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social NetworksWith the advent of the internet, the network effect has become a prominent feature ofthe new medium reflected in many an academic work about the value of the virtualnetworks enabled by the internet.A special case of network effects is the so-called multi-sided network or market, inwhich an increase in one kind of membership increases the value of a complementaryproduct to another distinct kind of membership—this being a reflexive relation. Rochetand Tirole are among the first to have studied two-sided markets by looking at the creditcard two-sided network of buyers and sellers and showing that an optimal pricingstrategy subsidizes one side of the market, as in increased adoption and growth in use bybuyers, by increased revenue from the other side of the market, as in sellers acceptingcredit card payments (2003). The strategic tradeoff is which side of the network tosubsidize. The following figure, adapted from Wikipedia, illustrates the contrastbetween charging each side of the platform vs. subsidizing on side of it with increasedrevenue from the other side.10Flickr and LinkedIn, by subsidizing the more price sensitive side of the network whosesize increases as result, i.e., photo-enthusiasts, job-seekers, can generate more revenuefrom the advertisers, and advertisers and/or recruiters, respectively. That is illustratedin the above figure by comparing the blue box, which is lost revenue from regularnetwork members, to the red box, which is the increased revenue from advertisers andrecruiters. The condition here is for the red area on the right side figure to be greaterthan the light-blue area on the left side figure. Moreover, this has been shown toincrease indeed the network size (Parker et al. 2005).A second insight yielded by the analysis of two-sided networks is that the entrepreneurought to subsidize the side that adds network value. Parker and Van Alstyne show that“at a high level of externality benefit, the market that contributes more to demand for itscomplement is the market to provide with a free good” (2005).11 The following figure,adapted from Wikipedia, illustrates this insight.10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-sided_market 9 of13
  10. 10. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social NetworksIt is therefore that network members add value to Flickr and LinkedIn, so they get to besubsidized. The explicitly higher value for the paying side in the network is precisely theresult of the autonomous segmentation network members do.In conclusion, VSN such as Flickr and LinkedIn enjoy the economies of multi-sidedplatforms (Rochet et al. 2003). These are coordinators of demands from various typesof customers.Discussion and Future ResearchWe have seen that VSN, an emerging socio-economic phenomenon, can be wellcharacterized in microeconomics, and micro–social terms in order arrive at an overallnetwork economic model starting from individuals’ behaviors. For example, in the caseof Flickr, photography enthusiasts seek each other continuously through the tools madeavailable by the platform, e.g., posting photos, commenting on others’ photos, creatingor joining groups dedicated to particular topics, etc. The matching process betweenusers, or between users and objects of interest in the network, allows the networkentrepreneur to qualify the network population in segments that may be relevant foreach other, and/or for advertisers. The theory of multi-sided platforms shows that thenetwork entrepreneur is better off subsidizing one side of the platform (i.e. networkmembers) to grow the size of the network and its value for the other side of the platform.The entrepreneur is thus able to generate more revenue from the other side (i.e.advertisers) due to an overall larger and better-segmented network.11 They also show that “At lower levels, firms may charge positive prices in both markets but keep one priceartificially low” (ibid.). 10 of13
  11. 11. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks Future researchIn order to empirically test the above theoretically driven statements, we can think ofdeploying software agents, designed specifically for the Flickr and LinkedIn’sapplication programming interfaces (APIs), with the idea of collecting network datashowing the actual behavior of the members. As far as the methodology goes, therecould be two directions. The first one is the more traditional one relying on inferentialstatistics. The second one, which I will sketch next, considers VSN as complex adaptivesystems, and could yield insights about the organizational structure and its evolution. Ishould say that the microeconomics insights should be the first candidates forexampling the individual behavior of network members, and if successful suchenterprise can extend the usefulness of the complex systems paradigm beyond itscurrently metaphorical position.To think of a mechanism accounting for the evolution of mature VSN, I should observethat they are open systems, characterized by simple structures relative to their size, andconsist of large numbers of agents, connected into subsystems, and potentiallyinterconnectable at multi-level and in any combination possible. In the view oforganization theory, such structure is complex and characterized by hard to predictbehavior, due to its nonlinearity associated with feedback loops (Anderson 1999). Inconclusion, successful VSN appear to behave like complex adaptive systems (CAS) inthat they self-organize while continuing to import energy. In reviewing the literature oncomplexity and organizations, Anderson indicates that CAS“-models represent agenuinely new way of simplifying the complex. They are characterized by four keyelements: agents with schemata, self-organizing networks sustained by importingenergy, coevolution to the edge of chaos, and system evolution based on recombination,”(Anderson 1999).12The agents with schemata are the network members, and the energy importationmechanism can be explained in microeconomics and micro-social terms. The potentialfor contribution would be to go beyond static models of economics into showing theevolution of VSN in time.12 Anderson also makes the point that CAS informed models help organization science by “merging empiricalobservation with computational agent-based simulation.” As there has been scant empirical evidence of actualcomplex adaptive systems, framing virtual social networks in CAS terms should encourage more realisticexperimentation and simulation. It should also be noted that the author also indicates that the “CAS perspectiveopens up exploration into how ideas, initiatives, and interpretations form an internal ecology within anorganization,” (ibid. p. 221). 11 of13
  12. 12. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social NetworksBIBLIOGRAPHYAnderson, P. (1999). "Complexity Theory and Organization Science." Organization Science 10(3): 216-232.Burt, R. S. (1992). Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition, Harvard University Press.Burt, R. S. (2005). Brokerage and Closure. New York, Oxford University press.Davidovici-Nora, M. (2009). "The Dynamics of Co-creation in the Video Game Industry: The Case of World of Warcraft." Communications and Strategies(73): 43-66.Hertel, G., S. Niedner and S. Herrmann (2003). "Motivation of software developers in Open Source projects: an Internet-based survey of contributors to the Linux kernel." Research Policy 32(7): 1159-1177.Katz, M. L. and C. Shapiro (1985). "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility." The American Economic Review 75(3): 424-440.Nicholson, W. and C. Snyder Intermediate Microeconomis and Its Applications, South-Western Cengage Learning.Parker, G. G. and M. W. Van Alstyne (2005). "Two-sided network effects: A theory of information product design." Management Science 51(10): 1494-1504.Rochet, J.-C. and J. Tirole (2003). "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets." Journal of the European Economic Association 1(4): 990-1029. Annex 1: VSN Descriptions Flickr LinkedIn “Flickr - almost certainly the best online photo “Your professional network of trusted contacts gives management and sharing application in the world - you an advantage in your career, and is one of your has two main goals: most valuable assets. LinkedIn exists to help you make better use of your professional network and 1. We want to help people make their photos help the people you trust in return. Our mission is to available to the people who matter to them. connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. We believe that in 2. We want to enable new ways of organizing a global connected economy, your success as a photos and video.”13 professional and your competitiveness as a company depends upon faster access to insight and resources you can trust.“14 Annex 2: VSN Members Actions Flickr LinkedIn Join the overall network at no-charge or Join the overall network at no-charge or13 http://www.flickr.com/about/14 http://press.linkedin.com/about 12 of13
  13. 13. via fChSetting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks premium level premium level Social Join a group Join a group Create a group (open or with rules) Create a group (open or with rules) Connect with a member Connect with a member Mark a member as a friend Mark a member as a colleague Post a comment/mark as favorite Post a question/reply Add a member to your network Add a member to your network Write/accept a reference about/from a Write/accept/request a reference about/from a connection connection Communicate with a member Communicate with a connection Undo any of the above Undo any of the above Recommend a photo to a connection Introduce a connection to a job Control Manage presence levels Manage presence levels Report abuse/flag inappropriate Report abuse/flag inappropriate Thematic Browse/search photos Browse/search job postings Browse/search members Browse/search members Post a photo Post a resume/job Download a photo Apply for a job 13 of13

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