I will be at the poster session for the Social Media & Society International Conference (September 27-28, Toronto)
Title: Sharing online videos for deeper interaction among friends
Background: The phenomenon of sharing content on social network sites has been widely explored in communication and Internet studies. Many authors recognize the importance of social connections between individuals, but they do not explain why and how users share content (Haridakis & Hanson, 2009; Jenkins, Ford, Green, & Green, 2012). Moreover, since these social connections are made visible by social media platforms, specific topics have been studied by such as: impression management and self-presentation (boyd & Ellison, 2007), issues of disclosing personal information, building and maintaining network (Caers et al., 2013).
Objective: However, maintaining one’s network, especially friendship, can be done in a less visible manner on social network sites. This paper analyses how sharing online videos is used to build and maintain friendship bonds between young adults.
Videos are an unavoidable Internet phenomenon (Purcell, 2010). Videos move from one site to another, from computer to phone, they are spread through word of mouth, and broadcast on television. Distributing a link to a video clip is often called sharing, users are enthusiastic about sharing audiovisual content (Cesar et al., 2008) ,and the numbers of shares ─ of online adults who watch videos on video-sharing sites ─ has nearly doubled since 2006 (Madden, 2009). Since sharing is at the heart of social media sites, there is a strong link between watching online videos and interpersonal communication (Oumard, Mirza, Kroy, & Chorianopoulos, 2008).
Methods: The data used in this paper are from semi-structured and open interviews. I proceed by conducting three interviews per participant, allowing the construction of a dialogue. During the first interview, I asked participants to simply describe their everyday experiences related to online videos. A second interview allowed me to elaborate on some details. The last meeting was directly inspired by the notion of reflective practices (Finlay, 2002), as researcher and participant discussed the initial interpretations and the research process.
Results: Far from being simply a vehicle for self-presentation, participants only share publically videos that will be of interest to everybody. Most of the time, they share online video to specific friends according to specific events or contexts. This paper illustrates how users express emotion, how sharing a video is a form of paying attention to others, how information, feelings or personal experiences can be shared through a YouTube link. It goes on to argue that video serves as a complementary channel of communication ─ sometimes the only one, sometimes as a reinforcement for a conversation ─ blurring even more the already fading boundary between online and offline interaction.
Conclusions: The paper concludes by suggesting that current research needs to go beyond examining what is visible on social network sites in order to understand how sharing communicates something about relationships between people.
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