Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Trust, Psychological Need, and Motivation to Produce User-Generated Content: A Self-Determination Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Trust, Psychological Need, and Motivation to Produce User-Generated Content: A Self-Determination Perspective

Article excerpt


As social media grow in popularity, more and more people produce user-generated content (UGC) in various types of social media. Thus, practitioners are interested in how to support people's motivation to produce UGC. While previous literature has examined various factors influencing people's motivation to produce UGC, few studies have examined the role of other participants as well as the social media sites. Based on self-determination theory, our study examines the relationship between content attractiveness, trust, perceived competence and autonomy, individual differences, and motivation to produce UGC. Using social network sites as the context of our study, we tested our hypotheses with U.S. college students, and the results supported our hypotheses. We contribute to the current literature by demonstrating that, when individuals perceive that other participants enjoy their UGC and trust social media sites, the individuals' perceived competence and autonomy are enhanced, which in turn supports their motivation to produce UGC.

Keywords: User-generated content; Self-determination theory; Need for competence; Need for autonomy; Trust; Content attractiveness

1. Introduction

The explosive growth of user-generated content (UGC) undoubtedly can be associated with the growth of social media applications in recent years. According to a report from Netpop Research [King et al. 2009], 76% of all U.S. broadband users actively contribute to social media applications. As of January 2013, the number of users of the five largest social networks were, in order, Facebook (1 billion), YouTube (800 million), Google+ (343 million), and both Twitter and LinkedIn (200 million) [Duggan & Brenner 2013]. It is the pervasive adoption of social media applications that has led to the explosive growth of UGC on the Internet. In addition, the availability of social media applications on a variety of mobile devices such as smartphones allows social media users to share their thoughts anytime from anywhere, which further facilitates the production of UGC.

The massive amount of UGC on the Internet forms a powerful force that is changing the existing structure of society and the business world. UGC has created a situation in which the traditional media no longer "own the news" [Charron et al. 2006]. Traditional controlled messages through TV, magazines, and direct mail now have to compete with the trusted words of content contributors on the Internet. Up to now, institutions such as governments, media outlets, retailers, and manufacturers have been the primary drivers of societal change, information dissemination, and new products. However, in the era of social media, the traditional top-down driving forces have been replaced by those from the bottom up. Individual Internet users, the grassroots, are integral to these activities through their spontaneous and real-time participation. Individual customers now can participate in product development and push the pace of innovation [Charron et al. 2006].

Many organizations realize the significant business value of UGC, and they would like to be part of this massive social movement. An organization has two ways to embrace social media and UGC: as a social media application provider and as a social media sponsor [Kroenke, 2013]. Social media application providers are the companies that operate social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, and many other social media sites are in this category [Kroenke, 2013]. Social media sponsors are companies and organizations that choose to support a presence on one or more social media sites [Kroenke, 2013]. For both types of social media participants, motivating users to produce UGC is vital. For social media application providers, the amount of UGC produced in a social media site in a given period indicates the Internet traffic of the site, which directly determines its online advertising revenue and the survival of its business. …

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