FACEBOOK ME: COLLECTIVE SELF-ESTEEM, NEED TO BELONG,AND INTERNET SELF-EFFICACY AS PREDICTORS OF THE IGENERATION'S ATTITUDES TOWARD SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES Harsha Gangadharbatla
ABSTRACT: Within the user-generated content sites, the role and growth of social networking sites has been undeniably overwhelming. Social networking sites (SNS) generate millions of dollars in revenue and advertising, yet little is known about why college students join and participate in these sites, which allow users to create their own content or space. This study adopts survey methodology to investigate the influence of college students' level of Internet self-efficacy, need to belong, need for cognition, and collective self-esteem on their attitude toward SNS. Internet self-efficacy, need to belong, and collective self-esteem all have positive effects on attitudes toward SNS. Furthermore, attitude toward SNS mediates the relationship between willingness to join SNS and (1) Internet self-efficacy and (2) need to belong, and the mediation is only partial between willingness to join and collective self-esteem. The author also draws managerial implications.
User-generated content sites provide platforms for information sharing, video sharing, photo sharing, and blogging. Often referred to as Web 2.0, these sites are expected to generated $4.3 billion by 2011, more than four times what U.S. user-generated content sites generated in 2007 when more than 70 million U.S. Internet users created content online (eMarketer 2006). According to Nielsen/NetRatings, user-generated content sites constitute 5 out of top 10 fastest growing Web brands (Neilsen 2006). Among these usergenerated content sites, the role and growth of social networking sites (SNS) has been undeniably overwhelming, especially among teens and young adults; more than 55% of teens online use social networks, and 48% of them visit SNS daily or more (Lenhart and Madden 2007). Despite these staggering statistics, very little research exists in this area, particularly to understand the antecedents of SNS usage (Wellman and Gulia 1999). From basic bulletin boards and discussion forums to currentgeneration sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Flickr, user-generated content sites come in many types and forms. Almost all user-generated content sites provide for some means by which users can connect and communicate with one another. Sites that offer a means of connection can be either business-related (e.g., LinkedIn) or social in nature (e.g., MySpace, Orkut, Facebook). Other networks combine both purposes (e.g., Ryze). Members can join user-generated content sites through either self-registration or an existing offline connection; a valid e-mail address is required in both cases (Murchu, Brestlin, and Decker 2004). As the role of SNS becomes increasingly prominent, usage of SNS grew from 5%
of American households in 2005 to more than 10% in just one year (Lewis 2007). MySpace.com, for example, has grown from 16.2 million users in 2005 to 46 million in 2006 (a 183% increase), whereas Google, the second fastest growing Web brand, grew at only a 23% rate (Nielsen 2006). According to comScore Media Metrix, MySpace.com hosted 21 million unique users who engaged in 169 million visits in the year 2005 (eMarketer 2006). Furthermore, advertising spending in just the social networking area is estimated to be $865 million, with a projected value of $2 billion by the year 2011, or almost 8.5% of total online spending (eMarketer 2006). In other words, the revenue generated by SNS should be almost half that of generated by all user-generated content sites in the near future. Social networking sites provide a variety of services, such as users' own unique "space," as well as enabling them to share photos and videos, maintain blogs, and encourage group interactions through chat rooms, instant messaging (IM), and e-mail. Some networking sites even offer dating and matchmaking capabilities. Most...
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