Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

How to Create Social Support on Facebook

Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

How to Create Social Support on Facebook

Article excerpt


Facebook is a market leader in the recent boom of social media. By October 2012, Facebook usage data showed 1 billion monthly active members, 1.13 trillion likes, 140.3 billion friendships, 219 billion photos, 17 billion geo-location tags, 22 billion music casts and 6 billion users who access Facebook through mobile devices1.

According to a survey form the Pew Internet & American Life, more than half of teenagers consider that they have received consonance from social network. A study by Readwrite2 showed that the major driver for people to use Facebook is to satisfy their need to belong and requirements for self-expression. These two needs are related to the age, cultural background and personality of users. However, satisfying a need to belong through Facebook has not been explored by previous studies. Additionally, Cobb3 proposed that "social support is defined as information leading the subject to believe that he/she is cared for and loved, esteemed, and a member of a companionship of mutual obligations." This indicates that social support is potentially provided by Facebook. However, no findings of how the services of Facebook carry social supports, and how to harness increasing social supports on Facebook, have been reported to date.

The current research was conducted in order to elucidate the presence or lack of social supports through Facebook. Further investigations included determination of the type of social supports provided by Facebook and evaluation of whether diverse types of social supports were conveyed by several Facebook functions (e.g., like and comment). Furthermore, scenario manipulations were employed to unveil the factors of social support types. The current study intended to summarize the above analyses and draw a conclusion on the following topics:

* Potential social support types of Facebook inferred by published literatures.

* Differences in the uses of Facebook like buttons and comment boxes by Facebook users, using demographic variables as benchmarks.

* The types of social supports conveyed by Facebook like and comment functions and their differences.

* The difference between Facebook like and comment functions under several communicative contexts (e.g., profile picture, tie and status), the consequent types and the differences in potential social supports created by Facebook like and comment functions.


2.1 Social Media

Social media has become one of the major communication tools in the past decade. The network site in social media provides a platform for presentation of real-life friendship. Social media allows friends to actively communicate with each other. At the same time, social media permits users to semi-publically or publically disclose personal information and to browse personal information of other users to find people with similar interests4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

2.2 Facebook

Facebook is a social media website that has built its success on multiple factors, such as successful targeting of college students and provision of a large quantity of high quality information to users. The prerequisite of an e-mail address for signing up for a Facebook account improves the validity of shared personal information. Social media is similar to a community, but the majority of social media websites hold weaker designs for security, access control and privacy protection than Facebook. Unlike other social media websites, Facebook offers its members highly sophisticated privacy controls9. Additionally, Thompson10 showed that social media websites provide social and emotional supports, information resources and a tie to other people. Social media websites keep friends in contact and allow friends to develop advanced relationships through short status updates over a period of time. The intimacy of friendship improves as friends seek out common interests and share their experience of success and defeat. Hampton, Goulet, Marlow, and Rainie11 mentioned that social interaction on Facebook delivered high quality social supports and those who frequently update their status also receive more emotional support, such as assistance on personal issues. …

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