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Analysing Social Network Sites

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1 Analysing Social Network Sites

2 Aims This week Social capital vs. Social support Communities
Persuasion technology in social networks

3 Social network sites It is easy to view social network sites simply as bits of technology Like we did last week Profiles, avatars, friends lists, etc. But there is more behind that Last week we asked “why do people use social network sites?” Same question this week!

4 But different perspective
So what do people get from social network sites? At a broader level, why do people use social network sites? Not ‘what do they do on them?’ But ‘what do they gain through that use?’

5 Social capital vs. social support
Social capital is the value of social relationships It can take the form of knowledge, skills, access to resources (e.g. job interviews), and more (e.g. money) Social support is the emotional experience of being cared for Can be understood as one of the resources of social capital

6 Social capital Social capital is an important concept for sociologists
It is one way to explain why people gather in groups that are larger than can be explained by evolution Today, it is seen as an explanation for many changes in society

7 Bowling alone In 1996, Robert Putnam argued that society (in America) was in decline because individuals’ social capital was in decline Neighbourhoods, towns, clubs, organisations All these were ‘disappearing’ into cities

8 Social capital in the net
Only online communities appeared to be going against the trend Online communities were starting to grow and provided access to people with knowledge, skills, resources, that people didn’t normally have access to Global village

9 Social networks That social capital on the internet was so promising gave rise to the view of ‘networked individualism’ That is, individuals were not ‘in’ groups, but rather maintained their individualism while being connected to others

10 Networked individualism
Individuals are connected to others in order to share resources, information, knowledge, etc.

11 Social network analysis
We can therefore analyse the way people interact by examining the flow of resources through the network E.g. Granovetter More likely to get a job from a friend of friend than a friend

12 Community “Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.” McMillan, 1976, as cited in McMillan and Chavis, 1986, p.9. The important features of communities include a feeling of being part of something greater than ourselves, something enjoyable and personally meaningful.

13 Features of community is a feeling that members have of belonging,
a feeling that members matter: to one another and to the group a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together Are these features then necessarily restricted to the real world, or can we successfully recreate communities on the Internet?

14 Meaningful relationships may be formed online because of, rather than in spite of, the inherent limitations.. “the medium will, by it’s a place where people often end up revealing themselves far more intimately than they would be inclined to do without the intermediation of screens and pseudonyms” Rheingold (1993, p.27)

15 Some opposition to online communication emphasis the transient nature of ‘friendships’ online, and fear that (particularly) young people online become more concerned with collecting numbers of friends than developing quality friendships with offline peers. These ‘commodity’ friendships may reduce the effort involved in maintaining friendships, but also may lack the supportive permanence of negotiating relationships in the real world

16 Friendship as a Commodity
This is the current system within social network sites And is useful for business and viral marketing But may be damaging to how we define relationships It is at odds with providing Social Support

17 Social support online Seems to be a focus on the potential dangers of online communication, with little acknowledgement of the potential benefits of it. Geographically dispersed/mobility disabled individuals who may share an unusual source of stress can now communicate easily Rare illness support groups/groups discussing sensitive emotional stress ‘Real world’ marginalised individuals who participate in online groups (skinheads, believers in aliens on earth etc.) reportedly feel greater social identification with their online groups and thus had greater self-acceptance and less isolation from others.

18 Group polarisation online
“the greatest loss in public discourse on the net is the loss of moderate voices” Shirky (1995) Group polarisation may be at least partly responsible for the level of extremism we see on the Internet Online it is easy to find like-minded others to reinforce our views Exaggerated effects can occur due to loss of moderate group members We can proactively seek out others who share our (perhaps) already extreme views & we can then quickly exaggerate a perception of righteousness of our views, given that others also hold them

19 Analysing Social network sites
It is important to consider both the technological and social Particularly the lived and felt lives of those who interact online Social network sites have a lot of potential Particularly to change how we communicate But also our behaviours

20 Articles and resources

21 Persuasion Persuasion is the deliberate influence of others in order to change their attitudes or behaviour Attitudes are our cognitive evaluations of other people, objects, events. How much we like or dislike something. Behaviours are the overt responses we make to our environment. The things we do.

22 Persuasion List five ways you may have been persuaded today
Has someone or something changed what you were doing? Or changed your evaluation of another person or product?

23 Captology “Computers As Persuasive Technology”- ology
“...captology focuses on the design, research, and analysis of interactive computing products created for the purpose of changing people’s attitudes or behaviour.” Fogg, 2003, p5 It is not so concerned with Computer mediated communication (i.e. person to person influence through computers) Coercion and deceit Though these are arguably very important in the study of persuasion

24 Advantages over human persuaders
More persistent E.g. software registration reminders “no human can be as persistent as a machine” p8 Greater anonymity “At times anonymity makes it easier for people to change” p8 Manage huge volumes of data E.g. Amazon recommendations Source: BJ Fogg. Persuasive Technology.

25 More advantages Use many modalities to influence Scale easily
Visual, auditory, haptic Scale easily Computers and software can scale easily. Go where humans cannot go or are not welcome (ubicomp) Immediacy, interactivity, ubiquity, persistence.

26 Interactivity Interactivity is the key feature of persuasive interfaces Sets it apart from other persuasive media such as TV, print, radio. “As a general rule, persuasion techniques are most effective when they are interactive, when persuaders adjust their influence tactics as the situation evolves.” P6

27 Persuasive technology
List five ways that technology might change your behaviour or attitude? what you are doing or your evaluation of an object, person, event

28 Levels of persuasion Macrosuasion – describes the overall persuasive intent of a product. Microsuasion – products that do not have an overall persuasive intent may still incorporate persuasive elements to achieve a different goal. E.g. continuous feedback on task completion.

29 Microsuasion Fogg argues that buttons on webpages such as “Sign-up” can be considered microsuasion. This seems to apply to any aspect of a site, including for instance, the curiosity people have about Facebook. Does a site design curiosity? This is also applied to in-game rewards and other co-occurring elements in success (e.g. the noise of a dying enemy in a game or haptic feedback from a controller). There is also promise or anticipation (e.g. gaining new powers or levelling up). And getting on a high score list.

30 Functional Triad Computer as Tools Increases capability
Computers as Social Actor Creates relationships Computer as Medium Creates experiences

31 Functional Triad Computers as tools:
Make behaviour easier to do, lead through the process, perform tasks that motivate Helping Computer as medium: Allow people to explore cause-and-effect relationships, provide people with vicarious experiences, help people rehearse a behaviour Simulating Computers as social actor: Reward people with positive feedback, modelling a target behaviour or attitude, providing social support Relating Tool: “...the goal of computing products is to make activities easier or more efficient to do... or to do things that would be virtually impossible without technology.” P24 Medium: “Computers function as symbolic media when they use symbols to convey information... They function as sensory media when they provide sensory information.” P25. Social Actor: “When people use an interactive technology, they often respond to it as though it were a living being.” P26.

32 Tool, Medium, Social Actor
Helping, simulating, relating

33 Functional Triad Computer as Tools Increases capability
Computers as Social Actor Creates relationships Computer as Medium Creates experiences

34 As a tool Seven techniques of persuasive technology: Reduction
Tunnelling Tailoring Suggestion Self-monitoring Surveillance Conditioning

35 Reduction Persuasion through simplification
Benefit/cost ratio maximisation through cost reduction – usually in terms of cognitive load May also increase self-efficacy, and therefore, positive attitude toward behaviour That is, when we think we are good at something we tend to like it more

36 “Traffic lights” are very popular!

37 Reduction

38 Tunnelling Leading users through a predetermined set of steps.
User gives up control and self-determination Captive audience ethical problems: must show ‘exits’ from tunnel

39 Tunnelling

40 Tailoring Persuasion through customisation
e.g. information filtering. Tailored information is more effective at changing attitudes/behaviour than generic May only require the perception that information is tailored. Includes personalisation/customisation

41 Tailoring Amazon uses numerous persuasive strategies
Here recommendations are based on previous purchases There are also options to customise the ratings to increase the feel of it being tailored

42 Problem? This isn’t a Facebook message. Its actually a scam.
The main difference is that Facebook users your name to tailor the message. The spam message isn’t as persuasive because it doesn’t identify me personally.

43 Suggestion “An interactive computer product that suggests a behaviour at the most opportune moment” (p43) Also known as kairos

44 Suggestion Urinal fly Focuses attention at the right time
Also uses techniques of reduction and tunnelling Drastically reduces ‘spillage’ Radar speed sign Gives you information at the right time

45 Suggestion Suggestion is most powerful when people are in a good mood;
when asked they can act immediately; when they feel obliged due to reciprocity; when they have recently denied a request.

46 Suggestion Facebook has mastered ‘hot triggers’
These are both the messages sent out And the content on the site The action I want to take are in the path of my browsing

47 Suggestion Where should you place your ‘Sign-up’ form?
Websites use may different techniques But what should be most effective?

48 Self-monitoring “Allows people to monitor themselves to modify their attitudes or behaviours to achieve a predetermined goal or outcome” (p44) Ideally real-time data feedback Fogg argues that this is related to self-efficacy and self-understanding I.e. People will feel more able to complete a task if they know how they are doing And will know more about themselves

49 Self-monitoring

50 Surveillance “allows one party to monitor the behaviour of another to modify behaviour in a specific way” (p46) Must be overt Can include reward But may simply instil compliance without internalisation

51 Surveillance

52 Conditioning “computerized system that uses principles of operant conditioning to change behaviours” (p49) Should immediately follow the performance of target behaviour But not every performance (Reward should be unpredictable)

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