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BC1: Alternatives to Established Frameworks
Will Wikis substitute newspapers and YouTube replace TV? Social Web Applications as Functional Alternatives for Traditional Media
Universität Hohenheim, Germany
Relevance & Research Question:
The Social Web consists of a broad range of different applications which are increasingly adopted by internet users. The diffusion of new media always leads to the question which functions these formats are used for. In the context of the Uses and Gratifications Approach, there is a long tradition of studying media from the perspective of functional alternatives (Rubin 2009). Here, media are considered as options for fulfilling specific needs of the audience that compete with each other and also with non-medial alternatives of need-fulfillment. On this basis, the paper at hand is looking at the question which functions Social Web applications serve for their users. More specifically, it analyses if Social Web applications substitute or complement traditional media.
Methods & Data:
To study these questions, an internet-representative web survey with a sample size of 3030 was conducted in summer 2009. Outcome expectations of six Social Web applications (Wikis, Blogs, Social Networking Sites, Video Platforms, Picture Platforms, Newsgroups) and the traditional media TV, radio, newspapers as well as face-to-face communication were surveyed by an adapted scale based on LaRose/Eastin 2004.
The results show that users ascribe social and communicative functions to all six Social Web applications included in the study. In this respect, Social Web applications resemble face-to-face communication. Furthermore, Video Platforms, Blogs and Social Networking Sites are used for entertainment reasons and, thus, compete with TV and radio use to some extent. Finally, Newsgroups and Social Networking Sites give their users orientation for everyday life and are seen as sources for information; both functions that are also fulfilled by newspapers and TV.
The present study can help to clear the role of the Social Web in society with regard to media functions. It can be shown that Social Web applications extend the range of functions served by the media to outcomes that used to be specific for face-to-face communication. For the future, a growing competition between the Social Web and traditional media can be expected - especially relating to entertainment and information.
Twitter Monitoring as a television research method
TU Ilmenau, Germany
Relevance & Research Question: With the rapid development of the Internet and its attractiveness, the importance for broadcasters to know more about their viewers than simple TV channel reaches and audience segmentations increases. Therefore, while competing for attention, it becomes crucial for them to understand how the audience evaluates and discusses their shows.
Methods & Data: To answer these questions we analyzed the content of Twitter messages via Web Monitoring. When tweeting, people do not only express their opinions about television in general but write about current thoughts, sometimes even during watching TV. This allows researchers to witness immediate reactions instead of relying on what people report about their sentiments later. It also has the advantage of being non-reactive: In interviews people tend to give socially desirable answers, whereas online statements are written in a natural situation. In our pilot study we analyzed 1.003 TV-related tweets posted on one day in May 2010. To find relevant messages, we created a list of keywords and conducted a search via the twitter search engine tzipr.com. The list included keywords relating to television in general as well as the most popular TV channels and shows.
Results: A content analysis of these tweets could show the potentials of Twitter Monitoring data for television research. We found that people write a lot about their viewing behavior and TV content. Tweets containing television-related information were less frequent but got re-tweeted more often, thereby reaching a larger audience. In general, people tended to refer to television usage in a positive way while being more critical concerning the programs they watched. This indicates that they liked watching television partly because it allows them to mock what's happening on a show and the people involved.
Added Value: For audience researchers and media specialists Twitter Monitoring can prove itself to be a useful approach to meter TV viewers' sentiments and opinions. Of course, it will not replace traditional methods like audience ratings and surveys, but it is on a good way to become a new standard for simply and effectively assessing audience images and evaluations of TV channels or shows.
Twitter as a data source for official statistics: first results
1Statistics Netherlands, Netherlands, The; 2Erasmus University Rotterdam
Relevance & Research Question: The social medium Twitter is used by more and more people to discuss topics of interest, exchange information, and/or contact friends and family. In this study we aim to gain insight on the content and usability of the information exchanged by Dutch Twitter users. Focus of the research was the classification of the topics most discussed on Twitter in the Netherlands and the usability of this information for official statistics.
Methods & Data: Two different data collection methods were used. In the first approach the twitter-search option was used to collect all Dutch Twitter messages originating from within the Netherlands over a weekly period. In the other collection method a user oriented approach was used. First, the network of Dutch Twitter users was chartered, resulting in a collection of slightly over 380.000 unique usernames. Next, for every username, up to a maximum of 200 recent Twitter messages were collected. The messages were pre-processed and classified with text-mining techniques.
Results: From the datasets obtained, we produced a classification of the topics discussed on Twitter in the Netherlands. Especially, hashtags (words prefixed with a hash symbol; such as #twitter) were found to be very insightful for our classification studies. The classification results revealed that a considerable amount of the messages collected deal with Dutch media (TV and radio shows), sports events, Dutch Elections and Twitter specific topics; such as twitter software and applications. From the results obtained, we conclude that the topics that are most interesting from a statistics point of view and for which our classification system works best are: politics, non-work (leisure time) activities, and interest in media.
Added Value: In our study we looked at the relevance of the information in Twitter messages from an official statistics point of view. To enable a solid conclusion one of our goals was to get an as complete as possible overview of all Twitter messages created within the Netherlands. According to our knowledge this has never been done before.