This paper will be presented in the form of a research proposal designed to identify the impact of group activity on the content and influence of media messages and how these play out through the influence of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. By working to detail the basic premise behind the research, the research questions that will be addressed, and the variables and research model that will be utilized, it will be possible to gain an idea of the true scope of the research at hand.
Keywords: research proposal, media influences, media content, impact, influence, social media platforms
Research Proposal: The Influence of Social Media
Social media forms a central aspect of contemporary communication methods (Cheng-Chung, 2011). The impact of group activity on the content and influence of media messages is a current area of research (Howard and MacGee, 2013), with interest increasing into the role an emerging core group may play in influencing the overall sentiment of multiple news articles derived from the same news topic (Authors).
When exploring the content and power of media messages it is evident that a large proportion of this media communication occurs through social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook (Comes et. al., 2013; Paek, Hove and Ceon, 2013), offering a quick and accessible method for the sharing of personal opinion about current events. These platforms are considered methods for the sharing of knowledge, but also there is recognition of the additional influence they appear to have for rapidly sharing a message with large audiences, not just as events happen but in preparedness. This form of communication is noted to take place even when the message is not clearly defined, for example alerting others to the potential for an incident. As such, the method of communicating that exists through social media platforms can provide an alert system as well as a platform for the review of current news topics (Comes et. al., 2013).
A particular consideration when seeking to further understand the way social media operates when a core group is active is related to the role of social media in influencing the impact of the core group on the central message. Tweeting and tagging are highlighted as possible ways in which the sentiment of news articles could be influenced in the desired direction (Merchant, Elmer and Lurie, 2011).
II. Aim of Current Research
The aim of the current research is to establish the impact of various media methods on the influence of the core group on the sentiment in question.
II. Research questions
Q.1 When communicated via social media platforms, is the alert message influenced by the presence of a core group?
Q.2 Do individuals pay more attention to social media communication when it takes the form of an alert?
Q.3 Does an alert communicated via social media format change in response to core group influence?
H.1 An alert style communication on social media platform will be responded to by a larger audience when supported by core group responses.
H.2 An alert style social media communication message will receive more interest than a neutral communication message.
H.3 An alert message, communicated across a social media platform that receives a neutral core group responses will not change in content.
H.4 An alert message, communicated across a social media platform that receives a negative core group responses will be influenced in a negative direction.
H.5 An alert message, communicated across a social media platform that receives a positive core group responses will be influenced in a positive direction.
IV. The Alerts and Alert Systems
There are several different methods of alerting a user on a social media platform of an article that may be seen as worthwhile to pass along, including, but not limited to, private messages, chat conversations, posting directly to a user’s wall, utilizing the message alert system present in some of the social media platforms (if enabled), and even simply sharing a given article. It is believed that the method by which the article, content, or sentiment is shared may have an effect on influencing the core group, whether or not the message is spread, and even the opinion of the item.
The dependent variables for the purpose of this experiment will be the level of interest in the participants and the level of influence in the type of information received through a social media platform along with the level of attention given to the message based on the manner in which it was received.
The independent variables will include the type of alert used to notify the core group of the information being presented to them, and the specific social media platform through which the users will receive the alert.
The control for the experiment will be the content of the media message being conveyed to the control group through each of the different social media platforms and through the various methods of notification.
VI. Research Model
There are many different research models and methodologies that could be utilized for the purposes of conducting such a study. For ease of research, it has been determined that a primary research study will be undertaken, with a core group of individuals being selected to participate. This core group will be able to utilize their current social media platforms; however they will need to consent to add a research account created for the purposes of disseminating content to their followers/friends list.
The researcher will then send the core group information on target media related events through the use of various mediums and monitor whether the content is shared publically. Upon the completion of the research, the participants of the core group will be requested to complete a survey and an exit interview, determining if any content was shared privately, and what the core group’s opinions were regarding the method used to notify them of the content, their preferred methods for distributing information, the reasons for those preferences, and whether or not different methods of information distribution were utilized for different social circles or different groups of individuals connected to, but outside of, the core group.
In completing both an exit interview and a survey, the researcher will be able to clearly identify the effects of alerts on the core group in order to gain a better understanding of the overall influences and effects of the social media platform and the methods of media distribution utilized.
- Cheng-Chung, L., Kuo-Oing, L., Wei-Hong, C., Chiu-Pin, L. and Gwo-Dong, C. (2011) Collaborative storytelling experiences in social media: Influence of peer-assistance mechanisms, Computers & Education, 57(2), 1544-1556.
- Comes, T., Fiedrich, F., Fortier, S., Gelderman, J. and Yang, L. (2013) Tweet4act: Using incident-specific profiles for classifying crisis-related messages: Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany.
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