Facebook: Why Do People Use Social Networking Sites?

Facebook: Why Do People Use Social Networking Sites?

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In September 2006, Facebook is just a new born social networking site which has approximately 9.5 million users (Raacke and Bonds-Raacke, 2008). In November 2013, the users of Facebook have increased to 1,278 million (Facebook, 2013). Based on user number and traffic research, Facebook already become the world biggest social networking sites. The dramatic development of Facebook brings a series changes in people’s everyday life. There are a number of functions to satisfy different demand of their audience. For example, Facebook allow users to build up a personal profile and post their information on it. In addition, they can find some entertainment function, Games app supply thousands of games. Many researches begin to focus their attention on the relationship between Facebook and its audiences. These researches mainly use college students as survey subject. As one of the biggest user group, more than 90% college students have Facebook account (Wiley and Sisson, 2006; Ellison and Steinfield et al., 2007; Raacke and Bonds-Raacke, 2008). Some researches showed college students spend time on Facebook per day is about 30 minutes (Ellison and Steinfield et al 2007; Valenzuela and Park et al., 2009; Pempek and Yermolayeva et al. 2009). However, these researches have just evaluated the impact of Facebook on users, and no research analyses how the audience demand affect Facebook service. As one of the Facebook users, it is important to know the relationship between Facebook and me. In this study, the relationship between Facebook and its audience will be analysing. At the beginning, we will apply use and gratification theory to dissect how Facebook satisfy users’ demand. Next it is to find how audience demand and behaviour affect Facebook. Finally, based on all these result, the interactive relationship will be concluded.
The users of internet are relatively active. They can active choose and use different media product to satisfy their social and psychological needs. Use and gratification theory is a significant way to explore the need individuals are meeting by using Facebook (Raacke and Bonds-Raacke, 2008). Although there are some criticism of the use and gratification theory, such as does not predict media exposure very well and failure to integrate different research finding (Larose and Eastin, 2004, Raacke and Bonds-Raacke, 2008), this approach is still a significant tool to understand Facebook usage and users’ need. Mcquail (2005:425) points four types media-person interactions: diversion, personal relationships, personal identity and surveillance. Park and Kee et al.

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(2009) transfer these four interactions into four primary needs of Facebook usage in his research: socializing, entertainment, self-status seeking and information. Based on these two researches, in present study, these four demands will be analysed: socializing, diversion, self-status seeking and information.
There are a lot of researches about the reason why people use Facebook. Socializing is the most important cause. Pempek and Yermolayeva et al. (2009) founded 84.78% students in their research use Facebook to contact old friends. Another research covered 1200 internet users also found the 76% sample regard socializing is the most important reason to use social networking sites such as Facebook (Brandtzæg and Heim, 2009). Facebook have many function to satisfy users’ socializing demand. The users can creative their personal profile. These profiles use the users’ real name, and include some personal information such as gender, life events, address, contact information and interest. The people who are allowed could assess this information which enhances mutual understanding with each other. The audience can also post status on their page to show their current condition or share some link with their friends, and their friends can also comment, like or share these statue. It is a useful way to promote users communication. Facebook also have the function to recommend friends who have same friends network. The users’ demand to meet new friends could be satisfied.
In addition, diversion is also an element which cannot be ignored. The diversion need should be divided into entertainment and time killing. A recent survey found that 35.5% examples express that they use social networking sites mainly for entertainment (Kahan, 2012). Facebook have various entertainment functions. The user can play thousands of games by Game app function. Different kinds of public page provide large number music and video links. According to view these page, People can satisfy their entertainment demand. Another demand belong to diversion is time-killing. Brandtzæg and Heim (2009) found 3.5% users are mainly use social networking sites to pass their time. Both these two method can help people distract their attention form stress. The audience members get gratification of diversion by Facebook usage.
Furthermore, self-status seeking is an important demand for Facebook’s audience member, especially the people who are not good at social intercourse. Watkins (2009) has done a research about internet addiction and found most people who are addicted to internet feels lonely and isolated in real life. Park and Kee et al. (2009) pointed many respondents expressed than they use Facebook because of develop carerer, peer pressure and want to be cool. Another research (Valenzuela and Park et al. 2009) showed that most students regard themselves as parts of Facebook and feel proud to tell people they have Facebook account. One problem should be noticed that these three researches all published in three years ago when Facebook is not as popular as now. With Facebook developed dramatically, people do not regard having Facebook account as something special. The purpose which feel proud or to make themselves look cool is not exist. However, self- status seeking is still a significant need. It is mainly satisfied by friend number and comment amount in every statue.
Finally, information gratification is another significant purpose for people Facebook usage. Raacke and Bonds-Raacke (2008) revealed that 33.7% college students use Facebook to learn information about event, and 10.9% students use Facebook for academic purpose. Another research also find 10% audience regard seeking information as the most important reason to use social networking sites. Expect that, 6.5% users think debate is their main purpose to use Facebook. It is also a kind of information purpose, audience members attempt to know different people opinion about one topic and debate about it (Brandtzæg and Heim, 2009). Facebook have a huge number public pages, ordinary people can via comment function to communicate with celebrity, organization and company. By searching key word, people can easily found relevant information about some event, and know different opinion from the comment. They can even debate with other users. Facebook questionnaire app also supplies useful academic support to its college students users.
Totally, Facebook mainly satisfying four needs of individuals who participate in Facebook group: socializing, diversion, self-status seeking and information. It should be noticed that most people use Facebook for more than one category gratification, and the purposes of different audience use Facebook are also different. Raacke and Bonds-Raacke (2008) found different gender, hometown and year in school have obvious different in Facebook usage. Compared Brandtzæg and Heim (2008) research with the other research which focus on college students, it can be found that college students have obvious different with general audience. Hall and Hobson et al. (1980: 128-138) pointed that the information must be appropriated as a meaningful discourse and be meaningful decoded before it have an influence, satisfy a demand or be put to an application. When people using Facebook, same information or function could be achieve different affect. For example, some users viewing friends’ statue for better communicating with their friends, while the others just for time-killing or the need of information. The encoding and decoding theory also reveal that environment and our position would also affect the decoding way. Different categories Facebook users would have a particularly different in Facebook functions choose. Ryan and Xenos (2011) pointed neuroticism people are preferred using the Wall function than emotionally stable people. Some information also is misunderstood in the decoding process. For instance, someone post their traveling photo to record their life, the people who read this statue maybe think this is one kind of flaunt. When such misunderstanding happened, this message will not achieve the expected effect (Hall and Hobson et al., 1980: 128-138), and the audience will not achieved gratification in Facebook using.
Facebook satisfied different demand of its audiences. In the process, people’s life is changing. Communication become easier, people can easily know their friends’ daily condition in a short time. The environment of our life is also influenced. Popular culture is broadcasted in an amazing space by huge number Facebook users. It cannot be denied that Facebook already become the necessary part in people life. However, if Facebook is overused, the gratification people got will be damaged. People spend more and more time on Facebook, some of them even have a Facebook addiction. Too much private information has been uploading, and the privacy of people is under risk. The overuse of Facebook can also cause ignorance of communication in real life. It would have a negative effect on users’ socializing demand (Pempek and Yermolayeva et al., 2009)
As a free website, Facebook benefits mainly come from the advertisement. It is reported that 85% benefit of Facebook is come from advertisement (Yahoo, 2012). Due to the benefit of advertisement is based on the user amount and website traffic, Facebook have to take an effort on improve their website to satisfy the demand of user. On the one hand, the advertisement launched by Facebook are based on the users’ behaviour, such as comment some article, share some information like a page. According to these actions, Facebook will select the advertisement which is relevant to the audience. Only relevant advertisement and sponsored story will be showed on audiences’ pages (Facebook, 2013). This design can also satisfy the information demand of the users in some degree. Advertisement chooses is a significant aspect about how Facebook is affected by its audiences. On the other hand, Facebook are still improving their website to attract more audience. Since 2006, Facebook changes itself almost every month. Firstly, the function becomes various. Some function such as friend list and birthday reminder enhance the connection between Facebook users, and the improvement of music part give user better entertainment experience. Secondly, the platform of Facebook becomes more and more comfortable and pleasing. The difficulty of Facebook usage is persistently decreased. Thirdly, the mobile app is launched and gradually improves. Facebook becomes assessed anytime and anywhere (Loomer, 2012). All of these changes reflect Facebook try to satisfy the needs of users, and the audience demands how to affect Facebook design.
In conclusion, the relationship between Facebook and their audiences is interactive. The Facebook satisfy audience need from socializing, entertainment, self-esteem seeking and information. At the same time, the audience demand influence the advertisement activity and product design of Facebook. Generally, different people have different needs in Facebook using, and users always have more than one demand. Because of individual different, in some cases, the audiences would not achieve expected object. The overuse of Facebook could have a negative effect on demand satisfaction.
There remain many questions for further research. How to further enhance the relationship between Facebook and its audiences group? How to solve the negative effect caused by Facebook? What is the future direction of Facebook development? We hope the research do here will be helpful for further investigation.

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