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Today, social media are probably at the peak of their popularity. Top social networking sites report impressive usage statistics, and social networking is one of the hottest topics in mass media and academic research. Yet all this hype may turn out to be not a sign of future prosperity of social media, but a nearing "recession." No matter how exciting a particular technology is, it will follow the typical technology adoption curve where a peak in technology adoption is inevitably followed by a decline (Moore, 1999). But the problem is that even a slight decline in the popularity of social networking sites may be enough for the pendulum of public opinion towards social media to swing from extreme optimism to extreme pessimism. This swing in public opinion can turn out to be especially disruptive for social networking sites and organizations that do not offer to their current and prospective clients' value beyond simple social networking features. Thus, the main purpose of this article is to identify and critically assess the value propositions currently offered by online social networks and provide some guidance to organizations on enhancing this value.

The rest of this article is structured as follows. First, the article discusses social media and social networks in general terms. Current statistics for some of the world's most prominent social networking sites are provided to argue that social networking sites have undergone a period of unprecedented growth. Then, the paper suggests that social networking and social media may be at the peak of their popularity and that these technologies are about to face a decline. Given this possibility, organizations must focus on delivering real value to their customers via social networks. To aid this goal, the paper proposes a conceptual framework that juxtaposes individual and organizational costs, benefits and barriers to value expansion in relation to social networking. Some specific implications for companies behind social networking sites, as well as organizations relying on social media in their business operations, are derived from this framework. At the end, it is argued that, in the long run, social networks, as well as organizations using social networks in their operations, will have to come up with disruptive value propositions by leveraging "Big Data" generated by social networks.


Web 2.0 Technologies

It can be argued that Web 2.0 paved the way for social media. Although coined in the late 1990s, the term Web 2.0 was introduced to the general public in 2004 at the O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 Conference (Christensson, 2008). The term Web 2.0 usually refers to second generation Internet technologies and tools that empower online users by providing them with an easy venue for online communication, social interaction and collaboration (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Web 2.0 interaction is characterized by user control of the content, freedom of expression and seamless collaboration among users. Web 2.0 tools and technologies provide access to rich and user-generated data, as well as access to niche communities or micro markets. On the technology side, Web 2.0 tools are characterized by platform-independence (i.e., content and interaction can be accessed from any device), cloud computing architecture (data and application are stored and accessed over the Internet, or "the cloud") and user interfaces with high levels of usability and interactivity (Tracy & Michael, 2014).

With the advent of Web 2.0, the role of an Internet user has changed from a passive information recipient to that of an information producer. Previously, users were only able to browse Web content generated for their consumption by someone else. With Web 2.0, users are increasingly publishing their own thoughts and viewpoints (Zhang & Wang, 2013). As a result, users have produced a vast volume of user-generated content, which is often referred to as "Big Data" (the term used to describe repositories of digital data characterized by high volume, velocity and variety). These vast repositories of digital data require new and innovative approaches for storing, managing and retrieving data (Jacobs, 2009).

Social Media

The emergence of new patterns of online interaction enabled by Web 2.0 tools and technologies led to a growing need to facilitate this interaction and manage big volumes of data generated as a result of this interaction. This need gave birth to social media. Social media are generally defined as new online platforms for enhancing communication and collaboration among users ( Tenopir, 2013). Many believe that the term social media only refers to the social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Yet the concept of social media is much broader. It can be used to describe pretty much any digital information system where users can interact and collaborate with each other. The word "social" in this context describes the way users of a digital platform share and interact with each other and the nature of online content through which they interact. The content they share could be anything from short status updates to long-form blog posts. It can also include rich media, such as images, videos or music. Some push the definition of social media even beyond the conventional understanding of what social media is and include under this definition messaging applications like WhatsApp and even Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services, such as Skype and Viber (Phil, 2015).

Different categories of social media sites exist to facilitate the communications between various types of individuals and organizations. An attempt to categorize various social media types is provided in Table 1. Of the social media categories presented in the table, this paper will focus on social networking sites--by far the most popular and widely used type of social media. Although the paper's primary focus is on social networks, much of the content of the paper may be applicable, to some extent, to all social media.

Overview of Social Networking Sites

A social networking site is generally defined as a "a dedicated website or other application which enables users to communicate with each other by posting information, comments, messages, images, etc." (Al-Suwaidi, 2013). Typical features of social networking sites include (Curras-Perez, Ruiz-Mafe, & Sanz-Blas, 2013):

* Blogging: users can upload textual and multi-media information about their life events or personal reflections on contemporary events and others can post feedback)

* Grouping: users can join groups of people with common interests

* Networking: users can add or delete friends in their contact lists

* Instant messaging: users can send instant messages to their friends, thereby enhancing social interaction

Individuals and organizations actively participate in social networking and integrate these websites into their daily routines (for individuals) and operations (for companies). Some businesses, especially small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), increasingly make social networking sites a cornerstone of their marketing strategies.

Social networking sites have different technical features and appeal to different audiences (Boyd & Ellison, 2008). Some social networking sites appeal to groups of people with common language, racial, sexual, religious or national identities. Social networking sites also differ in terms of the technological tools and features they provide. These tools or features may include mobile connectivity, blogging, instant messaging, photo or video sharing, etc. In addition, the way in which content is visually presented and organized may differ among various social networking sites. But what all social networking sites typically have in common is the ability to facilitate communication and the exchange of information in textual and multimedia formats. Most communication in social networks takes the form of private emails, public comments written on user profile pages or "walls," blog-like entries or status updates, pictures or instant messages (Thelwall, Wilkinson, & Uppal, 2010).

Key Social Network Statistics

The five most popular networks worldwide as of November 2015, ranked by number of active accounts are Facebook, WhatsApp, QQ, Facebook Messenger and Qzone (see figure 3). Facebook, the absolute leader, has 1.55 billion users worldwide (Mahajan, Singh, & Kumar, 2013). This means that one out of every seven people on earth is using Facebook (Mahajan, Singh, & Kumar, 2013). Facebook is followed by WhatsApp Messenger that has approximately 900 million users. WhatsApp is a cross-platform instant messaging application that allows smartphone users to exchange text, image, video and audio messages for free. In addition, WhatsApp offers unlimited text messaging, group chats and location sharing options (Margaret, 2013). Ranked third is Tencent QQ (popularly known as QQ) with approximately 860 users. QQ was launched in 1999 and is currently China's largest instant messaging service. QQ has become somewhat of a national phenomenon in China, affecting the way hundreds of millions of Internet users in China communicate and even live their lives. Recently, Tencent QQ and Facebook partnered up to introduce a new messaging application called "QQ Chat." QQ Chat allows Facebook users to connect and chat with millions of users. It is also considered the first Web-based QQ instant messenger in English with built-in live chat translations to Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and Japanese ("What is QQ Chat," 1998). Ranked fourth is Facebook Messenger with approximately 760 million users. Facebook Messenger is a mobile application that allows users to send instant chat messages to friends on Facebook ("Facebook Messenger," 2010). Qzone is ranked fifth with approximately 653 million users. Qzone is a Chinese social networking site and a blogging platform for self-expression and content sharing that was launched in 2005.
Popular Social Media Users (Millions, November 2015) Reprinted from
Statista (2015)

User Base of Popular Social Media Websites - 2015

Facebook             1,550
WhatsApp               900
QQ                     860
Facebook Messenger     700
Qzone                  653
WeChat                 650
Instagram              400
Twitter                316
Baidu Tieba            300
Skype                  300
Viber                  249
Tumbir                 230
Sina Weibo             212
LINE                   211
Snapchat               200
yy                     105
Vkontakte              100
Pinterest              100
BBM                    100
LinkedIn                97

Number of active users in millions

Social networking usage statistics indicate that social networks have become an indispensable part of our daily lives (Rauniar, Rawski, Yang, & Johnson, 2014). For example, 90% of Internet users reported visiting a social networking site each month in 2010. In the United States, Internet users spent three times longer on blogs and social networking than on e-mail. Internet users spend 33% percent of their time online on Facebook. Collectively, this amounts to 53.5 billion minutes spent on Facebook by its over 800 million users. Users of Twitter generate 90 million "tweets" or posts per day.

Social Networking Failures

Of course, the impressive success stories of Facebook, Twitter and the like have been accompanied by some equally valuable failure stories. Many social networks have come and gone over the years. The most dramatic and widely publicized failures are listed and discussed below (Rachael, 2015):


Friendster was founded back in 2002 by a Canadian programmer, Jonathan Abram. This was before such well-known social networking services as MySpace and Facebook became mainstream. The service allowed users to contact other members, maintain those contacts, and share online content with others. Users could share videos, photos, messages and comments with other members via their profiles and networks. Unfortunately, the numerous technical problems that the network experienced prevented it from growing further and then lead to a decline. Another possible factor contributing to the company's eventual decline was the top management decision not to sell the company to Google and keep it private. But even despite these two factors, Friendster was a very popular online social networking service up until 2004 or so. Probably the major factor behind the company's decline was competition from MySpace and then by Facebook. There were several attempts to revive the company, but all the services are inactive as of 2015.


MySpace was founded in 2003. It was another hugely successful online social network with all the characteristics of the "next big thing" on the Internet. Some of the main reasons behind the decline of MySpace are the numerous technical issues plaguing the network and the growing popularity of Facebook. Some business pundits also attribute MySpace failure to a series of administrative and strategic mistakes within the company, as well as the company's failure to evolve together with the rapidly developing Web 2.0 technologies and concepts that gave birth to this online service in the first place. Although the social network is still online, it is obviously struggling to remain relevant. The company's employee headcount was reduced down to approximately 200 from the original number of 1,600 employees.


Orkut was a social networking website launched by Google in 2004. The network was named after its creator, a Google employee named Oryut Buyukkokten. Orkut was a result of Google's policy to allow its employees to spend 20% of their work time on projects not related to their immediate job responsibilities. The social network was quite popular for a number of years, especially in such countries as Iran, Brazil and India. Google cited the growing competition from the company's alternative social media platforms, such as YouTube, Blogger and Google+ as the official reason for shutting down the network in 2014 and transferring some of its content to a "read only" mode. Yet the numerous problems related to technical performance, privacy, security and legal controversies in several countries may have contributed to the demise of the network, as well.

Yahoo! Buzz

Yahoo! Buzz was launched by Yahoo! in 2008 as a community-based news aggregator website similar to Digg. The defining features of this network were social bookmarking, user-controlled syndication of news from various sources and user ability to publish and share their own news stories. Yahoo! envisioned the network to be a significant source of traffic to well-established news outlets such as CNN, as well as the numerous smaller websites that lacked the marketing budgets of well-established news giants. Unfortunately, Yahoo's plans did not materialize. The platform was plagued by many technical glitches and, overall, seemed to be of little interest to Yahoo's existing user base at that time. Very few news websites signed up for this service. On April 19, 2011 Yahoo announced that they were shutting down Yahoo! Buzz in order to focus on its core business activities.


The Google+ network was launched by Google in 2011. Around that time it was widely considered as a viable attempt to remove Facebook from its "number one" spot in social media. Largely due to Google's loyal user base and abundant resources, the newly launched online social network received substantial publicity and started to show impressive growth numbers. Yet, very quickly, it was discovered that this growth was largely a by-product of people's interaction with other popular and valuable services provided by Google, such as Gmail, Google Drive, etc. As a stand-alone social networking service, Google+ did not offer much beyond what Facebook and several other popular online social networks were offering at that time. Being a newcomer to social networking while billions of users worldwide had been using Facebook for years did not help the network's success either. While Google+ is still alive and quite active, the company's plans to make it a viable competitor to Facebook have not materialized.


Launched in 2014, Ello (or "Anti-Facebook," as some people called it) was another attempt to compete with well-established social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. To compete with other social networking platforms, Ello decided to offer a minimalistic and marketing-free alternative to Facebook and Twitter. Ello intended to generate revenues "freemium" offerings (e.g., offering basic page layouts for free and charging a fee for more elegant or sophisticated ones, which is similar to the business models used by mobile gaming companies). While the network is still alive and may still have the promise to compete with existing social networking giants, Ello's popularity has been declining and the original promise of Ello may never materialize.


If history is of any value in predicting the future, then it can be said that any technology, no matter how important and exciting, will follow its course: any period of growth will be followed by a peak, which, inevitably, will be followed by a decline (Moore, 1999). With all the hype in the mass media surrounding social networking one cannot help but wonder whether the technology has reached its peak and will soon be entering maturity or even a decline. Decline of a technology does not necessarily mean the technology will cease to exist. A decline can be in the form of commoditization, where a promising technology that was once thought of being strategic and important for gaining and sustaining competitive advance becomes universally affordable and accessible to all organizations (Carr, 2003). But even a slight decline in the popularity of social networking sites may be enough for the pendulum of public opinion towards social media to swing from extreme optimism to extreme pessimism. This swing in public opinion can turn out to be very disruptive for the companies behind social networking sites and organizations that use social networking to support their strategic goals and objectives.

In the early days of social networking, technology often played a vital role in enabling social networking sites to capture and sustain its audience. Today, due to the likely commoditization of social networking technologies, the value that social networking sites are offering to their consumers (that is, "rank and file" users as well as organizations using social networking sites for business purposes) will be the most important survival factor. Consumer value is generally defined as the difference between what customers are paying for a product or service and what they get in return (Porter, 1996). Today, both consumers and businesses are paying a hefty price for using social media in terms of the productivity lost. The value that they get in return is often fuzzy and restricted by certain barriers. The benefits and costs that social networking sites provide to individuals and organizations, together with respective barriers to value expansion, are summarized in Table 2 below and then discussed in detail further in this section.

The Benefits of Social Networking for Users

Social media are still evolving and innovative uses of social networks emerge on a regular basis. Still, for most people, the benefits of social networking fall into three main areas: interpersonal interconnectivity, entertainment, self-expression and functional value (Tuten & Angermeier, 2013).

First, social networks can be a great platform to reconnect with relatives and friends, stay in touch with them via emails and get more involved in their lives via regular status updates, viewing and sharing pictures or videos and commenting on other people's opinions or events in life. Social networks are also becoming one of the most popular sources of entertainment. An hour or two of waiting time at the airport can easily be spent by reading news, learning new life "hacks," laughing at jokes, viewing pictures, watching videos, listening to music, delving in celebrity gossip or participating in polls. For some users, social networking sites become a source of artistic or political self-expression. A profile on a social networking site is frequently turned into an exhibition of one's artwork, visited places or political beliefs and affiliations. Some social networking sites are oriented towards providing functional value to their users. For example, LinkedIn can be used to find job leads, get insider information about a potential career or employer, find clients and establish valuable business partnerships. Recruiters are increasingly using LinkedIn to find employees for their clients. An academia-oriented social networking site ResearchGate is used by scientists and researchers to share the results of their work, get assistance with research and find research collaborators.

The Costs of Social Networking for Users

The price that many "rank-and-file" users are paying for using social networks and the kind of psychological health risks they are facing are quite high. At first, social networking was viewed as a distraction and productivity killer (Cohen, 2012). Indeed, today the average American spends 40 minutes per day on Facebook alone (Wagstafff, 2014). The combined impact of Facebook was estimated at a whopping 9.4% in reduced productivity of Americans (Cohen, 2012). But today's social networking is no longer viewed as an innocent time waster. Social networking is increasingly viewed as a serious addiction leading to a number of psychological problems. All this is combined with growing security and privacy concerns associated with using social networks.

Research has argued that social networking can lead to a number of psychological problems (Tuten & Angermeier, 2013). First, the structure of some social media sites, such as Facebook, is centered on regular posting of pictures and updates. This may nourish a certain degree of narcissism among social media users. Those who are not big on self-centered posts and updates may develop an unrealistic view of life. Life in social media often consists of fancy dinners, new purchases and exotic vacations. And this is not the life most people really live. Moreover, social media users may develop a false sense of relationships. Adding somebody to a list of friends in social media is not the same as developing a meaningful relationship in real life. Similarly, a large list of friends or followers on social media is not necessarily indicative of a large social circle in real life. Another psychological problem that social media users often develop is the inability to distinguish between credible information and rumors. Once a particular piece of information is shared by a large number of users on social media, it becomes "the truth" in the minds of social media users, regardless of whether this information is actually true or not.

The psychological impact of social networks on the youth seems to be even more dramatic (O'Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson, 2011). The young often lack the self-regulation skills of adults, are more susceptible to peer-pressure and, overall, often have difficulties controlling their emotions and behavior. This makes the young more prone to developing Internet and social media addictions. This addiction often acts as a catalyst for such potentially psychologically harmful behaviors as cyber bullying, clique-forming, sleep deprivation and sexual experimentation. Moreover, a person's heavy usage of the Internet and social networking in particular leads to decreased attention span, diminished capabilities to process complex information and results in poor academic performance (Kirschner & Karpinski, 2010).

To make things worse, many social media users are simply not aware of the amount of personal information they are placing in the public domain even through cautious use of social media (Tuten & Angermeier, 2013). Without realizing this, people often trust the most intimate details of their personal lives to social media. This information includes home and work locations, shopping preferences, personal and professional affiliations, etc. Moreover, once this information is captured in social media, it may be impossible to contain. For example, some social media websites explicitly state that they will store user information for an indefinite amount of time. Even deleting social media profiles may not help, as this information can be captured and stored by third parties for various purposes. All this personal information can be used by third parties for various purposes without explicit authorization from social media users. Some relatively harmless uses of this information include marketing research and targeted online ads. But some other uses are quite disturbing, such as using social media data for stalking, background checks by employers or as evidence in court.

Barriers to Value Expansion for Users

The value propositions that social networking sites offer to users are largely a function of the number of connections or "friends" that a user has on a particular social networking site. Indeed, the greater the number of connections, the more relatives and friends one can reconnect with, the greater the chance of landing a job and the larger the number of potential admirers of one's self-expression. But the extent to which expansion of a personal network creates additional value is limited by human psychology. Thus, after establishing a certain number of connections on a social networking site, a user will not be able to create any additional value by expanding the circle of "friends,"

The value from having a larger network of friends online may not materialize due to the following constraints: human physiology and time scarcity. Research suggests that the human cortex prevents humans from having a meaningful social relationship with more than 150 people (Dunbar, 1993). An average person may not be able to recognize and track emotion cues of a group of people of more than 150. But recognizing a person is not enough - a valuable relationship, either personal or professional, requires reciprocity. The number of reciprocal relationships an average working adult can possibly have is much less than 150. Most busy adults have problems remembering birthdays and anniversaries within their own family. Keeping up with hundreds of people and making sure their relationship is reciprocal is simply beyond the abilities of an average person. Of course, technically, there is nothing that prevents one from sending messages to hundreds of people through a social networking service. But an online relationship with a large number of people without reciprocity is called spam. People who do not reciprocate on a social network, but keep sending information about their mood, marital status changes or upcoming gigs are either ignored or deleted from the "friends" list. Nobody wants to be bombarded with spam through another channel.

The Benefits of Social Networking for Businesses

Quantification of returns benefits achieved with the help of social media is a fuzzy area. According to the Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) survey conducted by the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, 84.1% of companies using social media could not demonstrate any quantifiable returns from advertising in social media (Duke University, 2014). However, 34.7% of the survey respondents reported that they have "a good qualitative sense of impact" of their efforts in social media. Some of the commonly discussed benefits of social media for businesses include accessibility to consumer groups, customer engagement opportunities, media cost savings and the opportunity to encourage word of mouth communication. First, social media can provide a relatively inexpensive platform for reaching different consumer groups with information about the company's brand and products. This can potentially result in increased consumer engagement. Second, a company can potentially save money by posting their press releases directly into social media, bypassing various communication agencies and platforms. Finally, due to the informal and collaborative nature of interaction in social media, social media can be used to encourage word-of-the-mouth marketing. For example, Orange, a giant telecommunications company, has over 230 million customers, in 32 counties. Orange is using social media to connect to their customer base at a relatively low cost, inform them about new product and deals and answer technical questions (, 2014).

The Costs of Social Networking for Businesses

Currently, businesses are paying a hefty price for social networking in terms of lost employee productivity. For example, a 2007 study in the UK estimated that British workers spend 233 million hours or working time per month on Facebook (Mail Online, 2007). This amounted to GBP 132 million per day GBP 30 billion per year in lost productivity. Similarly, in the United States, it was estimated that workers spend 30 billion hours per year on Facebook (Cohen, 2012). This could well amount to USD 1.4 trillion of lost GDP.

The losses in worker productivity are accompanied by increased spending on advertising in social media. For example, a study by ZenithOptimedia, a marketing consulting company, estimated that spending on advertising in social media reached USD 4.6 billion in 2013 (Sass, 2013). According to a survey of marketing executives conducted by Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, the share of spending on social media advertising was estimated at 9.1% of the overall advertising budget in 2013 and was expected to increase to approximately 15.8% over the next few years.

On top of a growing presence in social media, companies face a number of risks while using social media that can lead to substantial financial outlay. These risks include security breaches, negative word of mouth, damage to reputation due to inappropriate behavior of employees in social media and possible legal liabilities (Tuten & Angermeier, 2013). First, social networks and corporate profiles in social media are increasingly becoming targets for hackers. The security breaches associated with corporate use of social media can result in loss of confidential customer data or corporate secrets. Second, while being useful in spreading good publicity and word of the mouth marketing, social networks can also be quite effective in spreading damaging rumors about a company. Moreover, once this information is out it can never be contained by the company. Third, interaction in social media on behalf of a company requires a certain degree of informality or freedom of expression from employees representing the company in cyberspace. While this can result in a more intimate connection with customers, it can also result in damage to reputation when an employee makes a provocative racial or political statement or uses profanity. All these potential risks of corporate use of social networks can result in lawsuits and legal liabilities for companies.

Barriers to Value Expansion for Businesses

All these value propositions to businesses using social media rest on one central assumption: consumers are quite willing to be bombarded with commercial messages from companies in the social media. But the opposite can be true: the more companies try to use social media to promote their brands and products, the less valuable social media will become for the rank-and-file social media users. This has happened to email already: email has morphed from a very valuable and efficient communication tool to the primary platform for explicit (e.g., commercial offerings) and implicit (unnecessary cc'ing) spam.


To survive the onset of the maturity or even decline stage of social networking, organizations using social networking as a part of their strategy or operations should focus on providing their customers with real value via social networks. This will entail devising strategies that take advantage of the current value propositions that social networks offer and strive to neutralize the value eroding aspects of social networking for both individuals and organizations. Most likely, value can be created most effectively if organizations focus on social networks that provide tangible value to rank-and-file users - beyond simple social networking capabilities. This category includes utility-oriented social networks, such as LinkedIn and Research Gate. Organizations should stay away from bombarding potential customers with commercial messages in social media. Instead, they should focus on providing tangible value to their customers through online social networking sites. This real value may include valuable information, professional advice or any other help that is related to a company's products or services. Moreover, organizations should be aware of the costs and risks faced by customers when using social networks and strive to minimize those costs and risks. In addition, organizations should be realistic about how much they can really engage a consumer given his or her psychological constraints and how much engagement is possible before social networking is perceived as spam by customers.

In the long run, to sustain their social networking initiatives, organizations should come up with "disruptive innovations" in relation to the value offered--that is drastically different models of serving current and potential clients. Several possible disruptive value propositions can be derived from the vast volume of archival and real-time data about individuals and companies with a presence on social networking sites. The data available through social networking sites can be combined with other vast pools of data. For example, search engines (such as Google) have been sitting on vast pools of search data that is also linked to individual profiles. Combining the search data with social networking data can provide a number of interesting possibilities. Without realizing this, people trust their most intimate thoughts and intentions to search engines (Ives & Krotov, 2006). For example, someone researching a particular disease or looking to enrich his or her personal life in an unusual way may hardly make these thoughts and intentions known via a public post on Facebook. Yet this information is easily revealed to a search engine via search queries. Combining social data with these intentions can provide a number of interesting insights about users of social networks. These insights can be used for more effective marketing and other business models that are based on an intimate understanding of clients via social networking websites.


Online social networks are probably at the peak of their popularity. Top social networking sites report impressive numbers of active users, with Facebook, the top online social network in the world, boasting approximately one billion active users. Social networking is also one of the hottest topics in the mass media and academic studies. The public generally interprets a boom in technology adoption as a sign of future prosperity. Yet the opposite is often true. Every peak is inevitably followed by a decline. Thus, a peak in the adoption of a technology is a sign of a nearing decline in popularity of the technology. Organizations should anticipate this possible decline in popularity of social networks and prepare for it by directing their attention to social networking sites that offer value beyond simple networking capabilities. Moreover, organizations should focus on delivering real value to their clients through social networking websites either via existing models of online social networking or by leveraging the big data for creating new models of social media use. In both cases, organizations need to offer tangible value to their current and prospective users. That is, the benefit of using social networks should outweigh the associated risks and costs for the average user.


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Hind Sahoo is a doctoral student at ADU and a Marketing major at Etisalat. He works in the United Arab Emirates.

Vlad Krotov received his PhD in Management Information Systems and Strategic Management from the Department of Decision and Information Sciences, University of Houston (USA). His teaching, research, and consulting work is devoted to helping organizations use Information and Communication Technologies for achieving and sustaining competitive advantage. He taught at the University of Houston, Texas A & M Prairie View, and Abu Dhabi University (where he also served as an Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs). Currently, he is an Associate Professor of MIS at Murray State University (Kentucky, USA). Email:

Hind Sahoo

Etisalat University College, United Arab Emirates

Vlad Krotov

Murray State University
The Main Categories of Social Media

Category          Main Functionality            Example

Social Networks   * Creating a profile          * Facebook,
                  * Communicating with          * Myspace
                  people with similar
                  interests and background      * Bebo
Bookmarking       * Storing, bookmarking        * Delicious
                  and sharing links
Sites             * Users can "tag" the         * Tagging
                  links to others to make
                  them easy to search and
Social News       * Posting and sharing         * Digg
                  news and stories
                  * Users can vote on new       * Fark,
                  items; the item which
                  gets the most votes wins      * Reddit
                  and is displayed as
                  the most important news
Media Sharing     * Uploading and share         * YouTube
                  media items (like
                  pictures and video)           * Flickr
                  * Some media sharing sites    * Pinterest,
                  provide other
                  features like personal        * Instagram
                  profiles, commenting
                  and voting                    * SlideShare
Blog Comments     * Posting extended stories,   * WordPress
                  opinions or
and Forums        comments                      * LiveJournal
                  * The space at the end of     * Blogger
                  each "post" allows
                  members to hold
                  conversations by posting
Micro Blogging    * Sending and receiving       * Twitter
                  short updates that are
                  send out to anyone            * Tumblr,
                  subscribed to receive
Passion-Centric   * Connecting and              * TheSamba
                  communicating with those
Sites             who share similar interests   * Chatterbirds
                  or hobbies
                                                * Germancarforum
Community Sites   * Connecting with people      * BigWaveDave
                  with shared values,
                  beliefs, or other shared      * BlackPlanet
                  identities; imitate
                  real-world communities        * Dogster
Opportunistic     * Supporting professional     * LinkedIn
                  and business
Sites             communication and             * Academia
                                                * Alibaba
                                                * ResearchGate

(adapted from Al-Suwaidi, 2013; Dateling & Bick, 2013; Tomkins &
McLoughlin, 2009)

Benefits, Costs and Value Barriers of Social Networking


Individual Level       * Distraction and productivity loss
                       * Addiction-like symptoms Possibility of
                       nourishing narcissism
                       * Developing a false sense of relationships
                       * Inability to distinguish between credible
                       information and rumors
                       * Various harmful anti-social behaviors among the
                       youth: cyber bullying, clique-forming, sleep
                       deprivation, sexual experimentation, etc.
                       * Privacy and security risks
Organizational Level   * Loss in worker productivity
                       * Inflated social media budgets
                       * Risks of security breaches and privacy
                       * Negative work of mouth
                       * Damage to reputation and legal problems due to
                       employee behavior in social media

                       Benefits                      Value Barriers

Individual Level       * Interpersonal connectivity  * Our brain's
                       * Entertainment               inability to form
                       * Self-Expression             strong social
                       * Functional Value            bonds with a large
                                                     number of people
                                                     * Lack of time for
                                                     relationships via
                                                     social networking
Organizational Level   * Accessibility to consumer   * Increase consumer
                       groups                        engagement via
                       * Customer engagement         social media may be
                       opportunities                 perceived as "spam"
                       * Media cost savings
                       * Encouraging word of
                       mouth communication

(adapted from Al-Suwaidi, 2013; Dateling & Bick, 2013; Tomkins &
McLoughlin, 2009)
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Author:Sahoo, Hind; Krotov, Vlad
Publication:Journal of Competitiveness Studies
Article Type:Reprint
Date:Sep 22, 2018

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