Social Networks, Interactivity and Satisfaction: Assessing Socio-Technical Behavioral Factors as an Extension to Technology Acceptance

Article excerpt

Abstract

As the use and value of social networks continues to expand and creatively grow, the question of how to attract people to the various sites becomes an important question. This research focuses on interactivity and its role in user satisfaction with a social network site. A model is put forth that focuses on factors that help answer these questions. A survey was conducted with 164 users of social networking websites (i.e. Facebook, Linkedin & Twitter) regarding technology acceptance, marketing related factors and user satisfaction. We find that perceived interactivity (in terms of control) and level of focus/concentration do affect an end user's satisfaction with a social network along with antecedents from the technology acceptance model (TAM). These findings suggest both TAM related factors and marketing related factors both impact the user experience on a social networking site.

Keywords: Interactivity, Social networks, Technology acceptance model, TAM, Satisfaction, Perceived interactivity, Social capital, Socio-technical theory, Communication, Online shopping, Ecommerce, Social shopping

1 Introduction

Social Networking's pervasive growth continues to spread in popularity and importance in all segments of the population, across industries and countries. The importance and growing attention to social networks (SNs) can be seen in marketing, health, education, economics, and throughout a variety of other industries. The value to organizations can be seen in many ways. Social networks allow for an increased ability to communicate, collaborate and share information without consideration of time, space or distance. This information sharing can be seen in ever increasing numbers in online virtual communities such as social networks.

Information sharing is valuable in so many ways to individuals as well as organizations and institutions [24] . Organizations report huge savings across the firm in areas such as marketing, advertising, sales, customer service and recruitment. Health organizations report more efficient and effective information sharing through online interactions [23]. They are able to respond and quickly communicate and share information with others such as patients, doctors, suppliers, and other organizations around the clock [23].

Social shopping is another growing example where information sharing between friends continues to creatively expand the use and value of social networks. Facebook and other social networks are combining with ecommerce to offer social network/ecommerce options. Shopping is a social experience for many and the social fashion shopping sites are proving to be very popular [44]. Social shopping sites such as Feyt, Lyst, Pose, Snapette, Motil and Pinterest allow online users/shoppers to shop around the globe with old and new friends who give them shopping tips or offer their opinions on a range of topics including outfits, store reputations and locations. It creates a very social, interactive online shopping environment.

As global communication continues to expand it becomes important competitively to understand how to create a satisfying interactive environment that encourages users to not only visit but continuously return. We are in an era where firms are looking at new ways to build and establish various relationships with users who may be friends, buyers, sellers or customers. Understanding which factors relate to user satisfaction within online social networks can help in developing interactive social networks that are satisfying and encourage continued use.

In reviewing previous research on social networks there is limited research that examines interactivity and sociotechnical relationships [9]. This limited research can be seen in the online shopping environment as well. Past online shopping studies tended to focus less on social relationships and social interactivity and more on specific areas such as customer characteristics and behavior toward the web-stores. …