Animating and sustaining niche social networks

Swift, Adam Glen & Spurgeon, Christina L. (2012) Animating and sustaining niche social networks. In Anyanwu, Chika, Green, Kerry, & Skyes, Jolyon (Eds.) Refereed Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association conference: Communicating Change and Changing Communication in the 21st Century, ANZCA, Adelaide, Australia, pp. 1-11.

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Within the communicative space online Social Network Sites (SNS) afford, Niche Social Networks Sites (NSNS) have emerged around particular geographic, demographic or topic-based communities to provide what broader SNS do not: specified and targeted content for an engaged and interested community.

Drawing on a research project developed at the Queensland University of Technology in conjunction with the Australian Smart Services Cooperative Research Centre that produced an NSNS based around Adventure Travel, this paper outlines the main drivers for community creation and sustainability within NSNS. The paper asks what factors motivate users to join and stay with these sites and what, if any, common patterns can be noted in their formation. It also outlines the main barriers to online participation and content creation in NSNS, and the similarities and differences in SNS and NSNS business models.

Having built a community of 100 registered members, the project was a living laboratory, enabling us to document the steps taken in producing a NSNS and cultivating and retaining active contributors. The paper incorporates observational analysis of user-generated content (UGC) and user profile submissions, statistical analysis of site usage, and findings from a survey of our membership pool in noting areas of success and of failure. In drawing on our project in this way we provide a template for future iterations of NSNS initiation and development across various other social settings: not only niche communities, but also the media and advertising with which they engage and interact.

Positioned within the context of online user participation and UGC research, our paper concludes with a discussion of the ways in which the tools afforded by NSNS extend earlier understandings of online ‘communities of interest’. It also outlines the relevance of our research to larger questions about the diversity of the social media ecology.

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ID Code: 57819
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Social Networks, Online Communities
ISSN: 1448-4331
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > Schools > Journalism, Media & Communication
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 [please consult the author]
Copyright Statement: This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australian License. To view a copy of this license, visit Creative Commons or send them a letter: Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94115, USA.
Deposited On: 07 Mar 2013 00:02
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2016 05:52

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