|M.Sc Student||Hadas Eiges|
|Subject||Social Status on Social Networking Sites - A Comparative|
Analysis between Three Social Status Measures
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisor||Dr. Shalev Edith|
|Full Thesis text|
Social networking sites (SNSs) are a growing medium for social interaction. Marketers have been attempting to benefit from the potential for social influence on SNSs yielding mixed results. Indeed, to effectively utilize SNSs, marketers need to better understand the social rules of SNSs. According to past research, social influence is not equal among members holding different social status positions. Furthermore, the type of status measure employed has also been found to affect results. To further understand the relationship between status and social influence within SNSs, we designed an exploratory research that examines four key questions: (a) how do different measures of social status relate to each other? (b) Is social status differentiation associated with SNS characteristics? (c) Does social status manifest in specific interpersonal communication patterns on SNS? And (d) what is the relationship between conformity and social status on SNSs? To simulate natural behavior on SNS, we set up designated SNSs for Technion students. 175 participating students were assigned to 14 small and medium-sized SNSs and were asked to freely interact for two weeks, as they would in real-world SNSs. Participants’ behavior was measured by monitoring their connections and activities within the SNS. To measure conformity we posted an opinion poll, once every other day, and asked participants to publicly respond to it. Finally, we employed three established status measures: ‘other-report', ‘self-report' and ‘degree centrality’. Our results regarding (a) suggest that ‘other-report' is strongly associated with ‘degree centrality’, while ‘other-report’ and ‘self-report' are not correlated. A weak positive association was observed between ‘degree centrality’ and ’self-report'. With respect to (b), social status differentiation measured using ‘self-report' and ‘degree centrality’ was positively correlated with SNS size. Addressing (c), high-status holders behave differently than low-status holders on SNSs. Notably, ‘other-report' and 'degree centrality' were better able to differentiate between communication patterns on SNSs of the high and low status members than was self-report. Finally (d), high-status holders display greater conformity to the average group opinion than low-status holders. However, this relationship was only obtained with two of the three status measures: ‘other-report' and ‘degree centrality’. In conclusion, there is a difference between status measures in designations of SNS members to social status. High-status members, as identified by other-report' and ‘degree centrality’ appear to be more active in SNSs, while displaying greater group conformity. Future research should address whether high-status members exert greater social influence on other SNS members.