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Tuesday, July 28 • 14:46 - 16:15
"Eager Tweeters: Exploring motivations for participation in a Twitter community of interest"

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Author: Sarah Gilbert

Background: Founded in 2010 by Colleen Young, #hcsmca is a Twitter community of interest dedicated to discussing healthcare in Canada. Its vision is “to drive social collaboration for better health and health care” (Young, 2014). #hcsmca’s membership is comprised of people from diverse social and professional roles. Given the diversity of the group and the breadth of interests and expertise, this case study will explore why members participate in #hcsmca with a particular emphasis on the role learning plays in motivation. 

Objective: Findings from this case study are anticipated to provide input on what aspects of social media use support learning and community; will expand theoretical understanding of motivations to contribute to online environments; will provide contributor insight into learning in online environments; and will address the societal impacts of social media use, particularly when used outside formal learning settings for learning. 

Methods: To identify and explore motivations for participating in #hcsmca I am conducting semi-structured interviews with #hcsmca community members. Recruitment was aimed to target members of varying levels of participation (e.g., regular contributors to peripheral participants), varying levels of experience in the community (e.g., long time members to newbies), and varying roles (e.g., activists, healthcare practitioners, patients and patient advocates, and social media experts). During interviews participants respond to questions designed to identify their experience with and role in the community and questions based on intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors such as learning (intrinsic) and identification with the community’s goals and topics (extrinsic) (Budhathoki & Haythornthwaite, 2012). Eighteen expert interviews have been conducted as of the submission date. 

Results: As data collection is still in progress, formal analysis has not yet been conducted on the transcripts. However, themes are emerging from the data. For example, while Twitter seems an unlikely candidate as a platform on which to engage in in-depth discussions of complex topics due to its 140-character message limit, for many participants the affordances of Twitter are integral to their participation. Features such as mentions, the “favourite” function, and re-tweeting provide indications that members’ contributions to the conversation are valued. Additionally, features of the social network impact motivation. #hcsmca is a diverse social network (Gruzd & Haythornthwaite, 2012). Members have varying professional and social roles, and live in geographic locales throughout North America. This diversity and the novel information, perspectives, and experiences that are shared between group members has been cited by most participants as a key element of their learning experiences and drive to participate. 

Future Work: Immediate future work will focus on formal analysis of the interviews (analysis is expected to be complete or nearly complete by the time of the conference). As a case study in a larger project, results from this case will eventually be integrated with two other cases to explore motivations between participants in large-scale open crowd-based environments and participants in online communities. 

avatar for Sarah Gilbert

Sarah Gilbert

PhD Student, University of British Columbia

Tuesday July 28, 2015 14:46 - 16:15
(7th Floor) Room TRS1-109 (Ted Rogers School of Management) 55 Dundas St West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C3

Attendees (14)