Tweeting to Feel Connected: A Model for Social Connectedness in Online Social Networks
International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction (IJHCI), 29(10), 1-18, 2013
47 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2013 Last revised: 25 Mar 2016
Date Written: January 11, 2013
Social connectedness is an indicator of the extent to which people can realize various network benefits and is therefore a source of social capital. Using the case of Twitter, we develop and test a theoretical model of social connectedness based on the functional and structural characteristics of peoples’ communication behavior within a online social network. We investigate how social presence, social awareness, and social connectedness influence each other, and when and for whom the effects of social presence and social awareness are most strongly related to positive outcomes in social connectedness. Specifically, we study the concurrent direct and moderating effect of two structural constructs characterizing peoples’ online social network: network size and frequency of usage. We test our research model using data (n=121) collected from two sources: (1) an online survey of Twitter users and (2) their usage data collected directly from Twitter. Our results indicate that social awareness, social presence, and usage frequency have a direct effect on social connectedness, while network size has a moderating effect. We find social presence partially mediating the relationship between social awareness and social connectedness. We use the findings of our analysis to outline design implications for online social networks from a human computer interaction perspective.
Keywords: Online social network, social capital, social presence, social connectedness, social awareness, Twitter
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