Monday, December 12, 2011

A research paper...about Twitter

Research paper: two very scary words for a college student. They require hours of searching for relevant sources, though our generation luckily has access to computers that do this task for us. Anyway, I was assigned a research paper in Communication and Society, a course that mainly focuses on media and its influences on today's society.

Our guidelines for this research paper involved selecting a form of media (for example, a TV show, a book, a social media outlet, a movie you consider your favorite that you have seen more than a reasonable amount of times) and then choosing a theory we discussed in class, which would be too complicated to describe in detail.

I selected social media networking sites for my form of media: Twitter, obviously, with a hint of Facebook. I'll provide a shortened version of the theory I chose to give you enough information to understand how I looked at Twitter and Facebook.

The uses and gratifications (U&G) theory views audiences as active receivers. Instead of traditional theories of media that see audiences as being dummy consumers of media who cannot resist its influence, whereas the U&G theory shifts the focus to audiences. Audiences, within the U&G theory, have the ability to select which media they wish to consume according to the gratifications it offers. Thus, audiences participate in the selection of their media to satisfy their media needs.

How does this connect to social media sites? Well, Twitter gives users the option to 'follow' other users while Facebook offers the option to 'friend request' others. The decision process behind these actions of 'following' and 'friend requesting' interested me to the point of wanting to write an entire research paper about it!

Details of my lengthy paper would bore you, so I'd like to give you some food for thought instead. I found that friend suggestions drove people to not only join Twitter, but to follow other users. Here is an interesting infographic I found giving you lots of information about Twitter:

Picture credits to Lab42. It was featured in a blog post by Mashable, which can be found by clicking here!

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