Why be creative on social media?

There are five motivators for creating novel content online, whether blog posts, shared news stories, images, photos, songs, videos or any of the other digital artifacts users of social media and social networking sites share endlessly. Research just published in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising suggests that these five factors are: entertainment, self-expression, social-belonging, communication, and social-cognition.

Media and journalism experts Chang-Dae Ham of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Joonghwa Lee of the Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, USA, and advertising and public relations expert Hyung-Seok Lee of Hanyang University in Gyeonggi-do, Korea, have used the theory of uses and gratifications together with the theory of reasoned action to help them understand why members of the public, everyday consumers, create social media content and how motivational beliefs and subjective norms influence attitudes towards such creativity.

Social media and networks are defined as the collection of interactive technologies, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and many more or less familiar outlets, that allow internet users, both at the desktop or on mobile devices, to create, share and communicate content with other people, whether friends, family, work colleagues, acquaintances or members of the wider social networks as a whole. This concept arose from what is often referred to as the second generation of websites, the web 2.0, where interactivity, rather than passive viewing and reading, are critical to the success of the sites. Millions, if not billions, of people now express themselves through their creative output on social media with wildly varying degrees of success and “reach”.

Live internet statistics reveal that the number of internet users continues to rise, it is currently estimated at well over 3 billion, almost half the global population; with almost half of those being active members of Facebook. Those users are sending tens of billions of emails each day, viewing or working on more than a billion websites, doing billions of online searches, writing hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of blog posts each day, sending hundreds of millions of tweets, creating and viewing millions of YouTube and Vine video clips, Instagram photos and Tumblr posts.

The team suggests that the five significant motivations they found among creative users are similar to those seen previously among those using the Internet more passively, but with social-cognition being a particular motivator of interest. Within this online incentive, users share information, share their point of view, voice their opinions, provide information, present their special interests and participate in topical discussions.

“The findings of this study would help future studies to build a more comprehensive theoretical model, which will allow scholars to understand the factors influencing consumers’ creating behavior of social media content,” the team concludes.

Ham, C-D., Lee, J. and Lee, H-S. (2014) ‘Understanding consumers’ creating behavior in social media: an application of uses and gratifications and the theory of reasoned action’, Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.241–263.

How smart are you with your smart phone?

In the age of the smart phone, how smart are the mobile shoppers who use these almost ubiquitous devices? A study from South Korea published in the International Journal of Mobile Communications hopes to answer that question.

Thae Min Lee of the Department of Business Administration, at Chungbuk National University, South Korea, and colleagues suggest that the received wisdom, particularly among mobile consumers, is that they can browse for and purchase items with a greater sense of efficacy compared with traditional shoppers. However, the researchers have looked at the emotive responses of purportedly smart shoppers when faced with price promotions and suggest that impulse buying rather than smart decision making is predominant.

“Smart phones have changed consumers’ everyday lives,” the team says. There have been many changes in consumer behaviour related to the ease with which information can now be acquired even while on the move. Moreover, the sharing of information is even more facile now so that consumers feel empowered by their access to social networking sites, customer-driven product review sites and other online sources of information, all accessible via their smart phones.

Earlier surveys of users of smart phones and tablet computers suggest that consumers are led by the devices in that they make more impulse purchases because the buying process is so easy. Lee and colleagues have investigated the emotive aspects of being a “smart” consumer – buying satisfaction, self-confidence, impulse buying, purchase regret and other dimensions of mobile shopping.

The current research suggests that many consumers, believing they are smart shoppers, are making more impulse purchases based on price promotions and the like. Ease of access to online shopping apps and sites as opposed to the need to make a trip to a shopping mall or supermarket has led to the illusion of control. Those people who do the most mobile shopping believe they have more knowledge and know-how about shopping than traditional shoppers and feel that they are saving more time, money and effort, which in some cases they may well be. However, if they are making purchases of unnecessary goods and luxuries that they would normally not make, then they are inevitably wasting money regardless of the savings coupon, online cashback or other price promotion.

Park, C., Jun, J.K. and Lee, T.M. (2015) ‘Do mobile shoppers feel smart in the smartphone age?’, Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.157–171.

Real money, that’s what we (still) want (for now)

We will still be using real money for at least the next 5 to 10 years, but financial transactions carried out using mobile electronic devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers, will increasingly become the norm during that time period, according to research published in the International Journal of Electronic Business.

Key Pousttchi and Josef Felten of the University of Augsburg and Jürgen Moormann of Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Germany, explain how social media and mobile devices are being utilised increasingly by banks while the power of the individual customer is being augmented by the same technologies. Moreover, those technologies are also leading to novel financial services such as online bartering systems and virtual currencies, crowd funding and online social borrowing and lending. Given that the banking sector was among the first industries to widely adopt information technology – everything from financial planning and credit-decision systems to automated teller machines – none of this is any surprise.

However, in order to understand future trends, the team has carried out a Delphi study, a systematic and interactive forecasting methodology, the results of which suggest that mobile finance will continue to grow during the next decade in retail banking, but conventional transactions will remain largely predominant for at least another 5 to 10 years. Underpinning the evolution of finance is the perhaps too slow recognition by financial institutions that the relationship between customer and bank remains important and especially so in the age of social media and networking. In that era, everyone’s opinion can count and a simple mistake or disinterest on the part of a corporation can become today’s “viral” news story and a possible step down the road to ruin for the unwary company.

The team’s study demonstrates that complex issues will continue to be dealt with through direct, personal communication while standard processes will be subsumed by new media tools providing customer and bank with the new typical form of access.

Pousttchi, K., Moormann, J. and Felten, J. (2015) ‘The impact of new media on bank processes: a Delphi study’, Int. J. Electronic Business, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.1–45.