Amsterdam Center for Social Media

This week in social media research: Who are those people not using Facebook?

By Ivar Vermeulen

In an MA class on Digital Marketing a few weeks ago, we were discussing Facebook’s business model. I made the point that Facebook benefits greatly from switching costs. Facebook, aside from being a nice way of keeping in touch with friends, is also a platform where people store their social “collectibles”: important contacts, life-changing posts and chats, and a lot of good memories. When users would decide to leave Facebook and switch to, say, Google+, this would cost them their collection. Hence, due to switching costs Facebook users will stick around, and Facebook will be around for some time to come.

One of the students did not buy the argument at all. He couldn’t imagine anyone actually needing Facebook to the extent that they couldn’t leave anymore. In fact, he wasn’t even thinking of joining Facebook at all. By now the class was dumbstruck. Not on Facebook? Who is this guy?

Still, a lot of people do not use Facebook. About half of my friends don’t. They think Facebook is for narcissists, extraverts, and superficial would-be socialites – people who like to change their profile pictures every week and make clever remarks all day; probably because they’re bored or self-absorbed. Or both. The question is, are non-Facebook users any different?

A paper by Nikolina Ljepava and colleagues in the latest issue of Computers in Human Behavior aims to answer exactly that question: How do non-Facebook users compare to Facebook users? It starts off with a hefty methodological challenge: Finding a representative sample of non-Facebook users in the (sigh…) student population that would serve as a research population. With some effort, the researchers found 36 students with no or an inactive Facebook account and compared them to 71 “normal” students selected from a much larger sample. They speculated that the difference between the groups might become apparent in the extent to which their peers used Facebook, in the intimacy of their friendships, in their need for self-disclosure, in their overt and covert narcissism (the latter being a predictor of non-Facebook use). Results showed that indeed the groups differed on all these characteristics. The typical Facebook non-user could be described as a person who  (in order of importance) (1) has few friends using Facebook, (2) is not overtly narcissistic, but (3) is covertly narcissistic, (4) does not have very intimate friendships, and (5) a low need for self-disclosure. Most of these findings are not very surprising, except for perhaps findings (3) and (4): I wasn’t familiar with the notion of covert narcissists before, but it seems to make sense that such people would not like Facebook; these are people who think they are pretty special, but do not like to shout it off the roofs. Especially when there are a whole lot of other people around who also think they are special and do like to express that thought (the overt narcissists). The other interesting finding is that the typical Facebook non-user does not have very intimate friendships. This goes against the idea of Facebook as a maintenance tool for superficial friendships. Instead, it seems that intimacy urges people to check in with their friends on Facebook.

One more thing about Facebook as a storage facility for our social collectibles: An intriguing recent study by Laura Mickes et al. in Memory & Cognition suggests that we might not really need it. In four experiments, Mickes and colleagues show our memory for Facebook postings is remarkably better than for almost everything else (faces, news headlines, etc.). The authors propose that this might be due to the postings’ casual tone, informational completeness, and social content. These factors would make Facebook postings exceptionally easy to encode and store in our own memories. So my story about switching costs might not hold up after all.


  • Ljepava, N., et al. (2013), Personality and social characteristics of Facebook non-users and frequent users. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 1602–07.
  • Mickes, L., et al. (2013), Major Memory for Microblogs. Memory & Cognition, 41(4), 481-89.

Does Facebook stop us from singing to ourselves when we are alone?

Camiel Beukeboom picture article

Camiel Beukeboom

The availability of social contacts is enormously important for people. We have a fundamental need to connect and interact with others. A lack of satisfactory social contacts has been shown to result in reduced psychological well-being and even in reduced physical health (Cohen, 2004). Yet, genuine social interaction is not always present. What do we do when we are alone or feel lonely?

Interestingly, research has shown that when social interaction is lacking, individuals seek out activities that can act as a substitute or reminder of social connections. Such activities have been called “social snacking” (Gardner et al., 2005). Social snacking reminds us of having an active social live when not immersed in it at that time, and appears to ameliorate some of the negative effects of feeling alone (Twenge et al., 2007). When individuals lack social interaction they may, for instance, look at photographs of loved ones, or anthropomorphize and talk to Read the rest of this entry »


Social media and international communication research


by Peter Kerkhof

Next week many of the ACSM academic staff will leave for the annual conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), this year conveniently (for Europeans hating long flights) located in London. ICA is the international association of communication scholars, and for many of us the ICA annual conference is the most important venue to present and discuss our research findings. This year attendance is at a record high, and so was the number of rejections: almost two third of submissions was rejected. Still, at the conference over 2300 papers will be presented by over 3500 authors, among whom 36 from VU University Amsterdam.

I’ve had a look at the social media related papers that will be presented at ICA (you can find a list of all presentations in the ICA programme guide (pdf)). Over 180 presentation and session titles (8% of all papers) mention words like social media (76x), Facebook (30x), Twitter (35x), blogs (25x) and YouTube (10x).

What do communication scholars study when they study social media? First, research on social media is present in virtually all possible domains of communication science. ICA has 25 divisions and interest groups (e.g., organizational communication, mass communication, information systems, communication and technology, public relations, health communication, interpersonal communication, etc.), and most of these divisions host social media related Read the rest of this entry »


Ziekte en gezondheid communiceren via sociale media

Door Charlotte van Hooijdonk

facebook_stethoscoop “De patiënt gaat op zoek naar informatie bij lotgenoten; hij zit in de wachtkamer en twittert hoe lang het nog duurt; zet een foto op Facebook van zijn nieuwe heup; hij blogt over zijn moeder in het verpleeghuis…”. Op deze wijze typeert Redmax (2012) de patiënt anno 2012. Alhoewel niet alle patiënten zo ver zullen gaan om foto’s van zijn/haar nieuwe heup op Twitter te plaatsen, blijft het gebruik van sociale media stijgen. Momenteel gebruikt 60 procent van de Nederlanders Facebook en Twitter wordt door bijna een kwart van de Nederlanders gebruikt (Oosterveer, 2013). Doordat zorgconsumenten steeds meer sociale media gebruiken, biedt het medium ook voor gezondheidsorganisaties volop mogelijkheden om patiënten te benaderen, te informeren en met ze in Read the rest of this entry »


This week’s harvest of social media research: Social media may be no longer cute but it helps intensify the customer-firm relationship

By Nicoleta Bălău

To paraphrase what Mitchell Kapor, the founder of the Lotus Development Corporation, said about getting information of the internet, harvesting publications on social media from the Web of Knowledge (the database of peer-reviewed journals) is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant[1]. There is without doubt an increasing body of research done on social media but the drink (i.e., the publication) I enjoyed ‘reading’ this week has been on how to positively intensify the customer-firm relationship. We all believe it’s possible but Rishika, Kumar, Janakiraman, and Bezawada (2013) bring research evidence for us to turn this belief into certainty. Their article is about “The Effect of Customers’ Social Media Participation on Customer Visit Frequency and Profitability: An Empirical Investigation”, published in Information Systems Research.

For firms, there has been always a challenge to ensure the effectiveness of the social media strategy.  The doubts about the effectiveness of social media arise because the link between firms’ social media efforts and the return on their investment has not been established. Read the rest of this entry »


Is er een reden om YouTube Branded Channels te bekijken?

Door Charles Vaneker

Sinds een aantal jaren kennen we het fenomeen YouTube Branded Channels. Het wordt vaak gezien als onderdeel van branded social media kanalen zoals Facebook en Twitter, Maar hoe moet je YouTube Branded Channels inzetten? En wat kun je ermee bereiken? Voordat deze vragen worden beantwoord eerst even een paar feiten op een rijtje.  In 2005 werd de videowebsite YouTube gelanceerd en nog geen half jaar later werd de website voor 1,65 miljard dollar overgenomen door Google (Financieel Dagblad, 5 maart 2007). In eerste instantie was het een ‘user generated content’ kanaal, waar internetgebruikers allerlei zelfgemaakte filmpjes en illegaal gedownloade films en tv-programma’s toegankelijk maakten.

acsm Charles

Maar inmiddels heeft YouTube zich ontwikkeld van een ‘user generated  content’   naar een ‘professionally generated content’ platform (Kim, 2012). Een van de eerste ‘professionally generetated content’ platforms (= Branded Channel) dat in Nederland werd opgezet was RaboSportTV (2007). Het kanaal behaalde sinds de oprichting iets meer dan 4,7 miljoen views. Het grootste succes ooit van een Branded Channel was dat van Red Bull. Dit kanaal zond op 14 oktober 2012 de vrije ruimteval van Felix Baumgartner live uit en bereikte Read the rest of this entry »


Weekly Harvest Social Media Research: How to Measure the Value and ROI Social Media

By Mirella Kleijnen

When screening this week’s publications on Social Media, my eye was caught by the final publication of Marketing Science’s “Practice Prize Winner”. As explained on their website, this Practice Prize is awarded “for an outstanding implementation of marketing science concepts and methods. The methodology used must be sound and appropriate to the problem and organization, and the work should have had significant, verifiable and, preferably quantitative impact on the performance of the client organization.”

As such, the work by Kumar et al. (2013) is a typical example of research that bridges the gap between academia and practice, on a topic where this is desperately needed. While the importance of social media is trumpeted by many, there is still limited insight in the ROI of Social Media. In a time where marketing accountability is a hot topic of debate, a better understanding of the value of Social Media for the company in terms of actual performance is essential.

In their study, Kumar et al. suggest a method to measure social media return on investment (ROI) and the value of a customer’s word-of-mouth (WOM). They do so by composing two metrics they define as: Read the rest of this entry »


Social Media Stress

Marleen Huysman

This week, Joe Walther was visiting the VU. Joe is professor of communication research at Michigan State University and a highly respected scholar.
He presented his well-known work on social influence and self-identification, developed and popularized decades ago and extremely valuable in the age of Social Media and Social Networking Sites. He told us about his empirical studies analyzing the utility of the theories when interacting via social networking sites, and shared with us some hilarious examples of ‘discussions’ his sampled students openly shared with the rest of the world. We ended up with a discussion about the seeming ignorance among the students while presenting themselves online. We discussed that this seems ignorance but is not: knowing to be ‘watched’ is most likely incorporated in their online behavior, including their self-presentation and self-identification.
The role of the unknown spectator as a ‘third agent’ influencing the use of social media is quite interesting and has not received the academic attention that it deserves. For example, the social tools allowing user generated content to be shared in the open yield new Read the rest of this entry »


Klagen op internet: reviews in de travel- en hospitality industry

door Corné Dijkmans

“Service failures” komen in de travel- en hospitality industry helaas zeer veelvuldig voor. Hoe komt dat? Mede door de aard van het product: het gaat om een dienst, een ontastbaar product, waarbij de beleving vaak zeer  individueel is en afhankelijk van kleine dingen.  Tevens is bij een dienst “try before you buy” niet of nauwelijks mogelijk (Berry & Parasuraman, 1991).

Veel aspecten van een dienst worden de consument immers pas bekend na “aanschaf”, bijvoorbeeld als het om een hotel gaat: de klantbenadering door het personeel, de hoeveelheid ruimte in de kamer, de exacte ligging van het hotel en de hotelkamer binnen het gebouw, de kwaliteit van het sanitair, etc. Allemaal zaken die vooraf erg lastig in te schatten zijn door de consument, maar die wél een grote impact op de klanttevredenheid hebben.

De unieke en individuele optelsom van al deze ervaren aspecten leidt uiteindelijk tot een positieve of negatieve slotsom (dan wel een mengeling hiervan) voor de gast. Dit kan leiden tot het gevoel van ervaren “service failures” bij een gast. Hierbij kan een onderscheid gemaakt worden tussen ‘service failures’ als gevolg van (Sparks, 2001):

  1. Omissions (een deel van het beloofde/verwachte product wordt niet geleverd; bijv. het hotelzwembad blijkt gesloten) Read the rest of this entry »

Autisme en sociale media

door Martin Tanis

Eén van de kenmerken van autisme of het bredere autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is het verminderd vermogen tot sociale communicatie (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). In de afgelopen decennia is veel onderzoek gedaan naar de redenen waarom mensen met ASD hiertoe vaak minder goed in staat zijn. De afwezigheid van expliciete cues, een overload van allerlei stimuli, het gebrek aan een heldere structuur en het hoge tempo van interacties staat een spontane, ongedwongen interactie vaak in de weg (Begeer, Koot, Rieffe, Terwogt, & Stegge, 2008). Ook de manier waarop mensen met ASD informatie verwerken, is fundamenteel anders: bij mensen met ASD is vaak sprake van een vergrootte aandacht voor details. Zo slagen zij er vaak niet in om allerlei details van bijvoorbeeld gezichtsuitdrukkingen samen te vatten tot een coherent beeld zoals bijvoorbeeld complexe emotionele uitdrukkingen (Happé & Frith, 2006). Ook wordt alledaagse communicatie bemoeilijkt door een beperkt vermogen in het stellen van prioriteiten, en het nemen van beslissingen (Volkmar, Lord, Bailey, Schultz, & Klin, 2004). Dit alles kan er voor zorgen dat mensen met ASD allerlei problemen ervaren rondom sociale interactie, met gevoelens van eenzaamheid tot gevolg (Bauminger, Shulman, & Agam, 2003). Sterker nog, het verlangen naar sociale interactie is vaak zeer sterk en mensen met ASD doen vaak een beroep allerhande cognitieve vermogens om het gebrek aan Read the rest of this entry »

February 2019
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