Junior Research Group ERC – Social Media
The junior research group ERC – Social Media examines how social media affect (organizational) knowledge exchange. Social media such as Facebook, Xing or Twitter help people to maintain and extend their social networks. Social relationships are (semi-)publicly displayed; social contexts collapse and members from different groups receive the same information. This information is usually displayed in so-called feeds; short messages often presented out of context. At the same time, social media explicitly ask for information sharing and present incentives for sharing by displaying activity in profiles. Social media thereby influence with whom and how people share information and knowledge. The research groups
Studies, from whom in their network people receive information, how they process information and what motivates them to share knowledge via different social media. The first research line focuses on the extension and altered composition of social networks and the consequences for knowledge exchange. The second research lines studies strategic knowledge sharing and focuses more on the underlying motivational processes.
Research line 1: Online knowledge networks
Within the ERC starting grant project „Redefining tie strength – how social media (can) help us to get non-redundant information and emotional support“, the research group examines how the extension and altered composition of social networks by social media affects the receipt of informational and emotional support. In an overarching longitudinal study with a representative sample of Dutch online users, the causal relationship between the composition of offline and online networks and various indicators of informational and emotional support is established. Experiments test how people can build representations of “who-knows-what” in their network from the stream of status updates and tweets.
Research line 2: Strategic knowledge exchange
Knowledge exchange represents often a social dilemma, e.g., a situation in which collective and individual goals are in conflict. People can for example share less important information to make a cooperation impression but withhold the real important information. The research group examines the influence of social and epistemic motivation on strategic knowledge sharing and how the technological features (e.g., profiles, reputation systems, gamification elements) of an online platform can increase knowledge exchange. Further studies focus on organizational knowledge exchange. The focus is on the (informal) sharing of information and knowledge across organizational boundaries (e.g., in Xing-groups or on Twitter). The group examines the role of self-presentation, reputation and identification with the various involved groups.