RA4: Looking at, looking up or keeping in touch with people?: motivations

Joinson, A. (2008). Looking at, looking up or keeping in touch with people?: motivations. Proceedings of the twenty-sixth annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems . Retrieved from http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1357213

Purpose
The purpose of this paper was to investigate the gratifications that users derive from using the social networking site, Facebook.

Methods
For their first study, 137 users were asked to describe how they used Facebook, and what they enjoyed about it. The phrases they came up with were then grouped and categorized into certain types of uses and gratification. Those items were then used in the second study, where 241 Facebook users were asked to rate how important these uses were to them. Afterwards, an exploratory factor analysis was conducted to determine which of these gratifications were most valued.

Findings
From the first study, generated themes were categorized and ranked as follows: keeping in touch, social surveillance, re-acquiring lost contacts, communication, photographs, design related, perpetual contact, making new contacts. In keeping with previous research, using Facebook to “keep in touch” was mentioned the most with 52 mentions.

The second study lead the identification of seven specific uses and gratifications of Facebook: social connection, shared identities, photographs, content, social investigation, social network surfing and status updating. The following images show the amount of use for each factor: (The higher number, the more use.)

These factors were found to have correlations with one another in some cases. For example, photographs were strongly correlated to social connection.

There was also report of females acting differently than males in terms of gratification and uses. For example, females were more likely to make their profile more private.

Analysis
This article investigates social networking sites using a “uses and gratification” framework. I thought the approach that was taken was well thought-out and that the researchers were able to obtain valuable information. This data is very helpful to my own research in TECH621, related to the value of specific Facebook features.

In general, I found the design implications to be very helpful and extensive. Much of the quantitative data and statistics were difficult to understand, but the charts were helpful. Overall, it revealed and analyzed the presented uses well and I would say it is an essential read for timely data on gratifications for social networking features.

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