Medium is the Message: Unraveling the Social Media Platforms' Effects on Communication and Opinions

dc.contributor.authorEroglu, Derya Ipeken
dc.contributor.committeechairSeref, Onuren
dc.contributor.committeechairSeref, Michelle Marie Hannaen
dc.contributor.committeememberLowry, Paul Benjaminen
dc.contributor.committeememberWang, Alan Gangen
dc.contributor.departmentBusiness, Business Information Technologyen
dc.date.accessioned2023-08-04T08:00:36Zen
dc.date.available2023-08-04T08:00:36Zen
dc.date.issued2023-08-03en
dc.description.abstractThe number of social media platforms (SMP hereinafter) is ever-increasing, and all of these platforms compete for more attention and content. The global social media market is expected to grow to $223.11 billion in 2022 (Social Media Global Market Report, 2022). In an era characterized by the meteoric rise and evolution of Social Media Platforms (SMPs), understanding the interplay between platform features and user behaviors is both critical and complex. In this dissertation, we aim to elucidate the relationship between SMPs and society, with the ultimate objective of fostering a healthier social media ecosystem. This dissertation is comprised of two incisive essays, both of which are underpinned by robust theoretical frameworks. The first essay adopts an expansive purview of the SMP ecosystem. Grounded in Uses and Gratifications Theory and media studies, it establishes a user typology based on the previous typologies and examines the interaction between user motives, SMP scores, and SMP features. Employing the Analytic Hierarchy Process, a sophisticated decision-making tool, the study quantifies utility-driven choices across platforms. A notable revelation is the heterogeneity in user reliance on SMP features, contingent upon their underlying motives. This essay offers critical insights into the multifaceted nature of SMP utilization. The second essay focuses specifically on Reddit's ChangeMyView community, an exemplar of constructive discourse in the SMP environment. It constructs a theoretical model premised on the Elaboration Likelihood Model and the concept of pre-suasion, and utilizes a mixed-methods approach to explore the persuasive strategies using Content Analysis. We also utilize ChatGPT in the Content Analysis to corroborate our inferences. The findings confirm our theorization about the role of the Delta reward system in fostering reflective engagement with content, which leads to informed opinion formation. Collectively, with these essays, we aim to provide extensive insights into the dynamic interplay between SMPs and users. Both essays hold significant implications for research community, SMP decision-makers, organizations that use SMPs, and a broader audience interested in optimizing their social media repertoire. Through a theory-driven and empirical lens, employing several epistemologies, this dissertation provides a holistic depiction of the SMP ecosystem.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralThe landscape of social media is constantly evolving with an ever-growing number of platforms vying for user attention. In this dissertation, we aim to analyze the relationship between social media platforms and their users, seeking ways to foster a healthier and more constructive social media environment. This dissertation is structured into two distinct yet interconnected essays. In the first essay, we look at the broader ecosystem of social media platforms. It categorizes users based on their motivations for using social media, such as seeking information or connecting with others. We examine how different features of social media platforms cater to these diverse motivations. To accomplish this, we employ a method known as the Analytic Hierarchy Process, which is a decision-making tool used to measure and analyze choices. The key insight from this essay is the diversity in how users interact with social media features, and how this interaction is influenced by their underlying motivations. In the second essay, we take a closer look at a specific community on Reddit called ChangeMyView. This community is unique as it encourages users to engage in thoughtful and reasoned debates. In this essay, we develop a theoretical model to understand the mechanisms through which information is processed and opinions are changed within this community with a strong focus on Delta system, a feature that rewards users for successfully changing someone's opinion through challenging their view and pointing the flaws in their thinking. Collectively, the dissertation provides an in-depth understanding of the dynamic relationship between social media platforms and users. It does so through rigorous analysis underpinned by theoretical frameworks. This research is not only academically significant but also has practical implications. It provides valuable insights for decision-makers to improve social media platforms, aids organizations in understanding how best to engage with social media, and informs users on optimizing their social media interactions. In essence, this dissertation serves as a comprehensive analysis that bridges the gap between the ever-evolving features of social media platforms and the multifaceted behaviors of their users.en
dc.description.degreeDoctor of Philosophyen
dc.format.mediumETDen
dc.identifier.othervt_gsexam:38209en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10919/115984en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalen
dc.rights.urihttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/en
dc.subjectsocial mediaen
dc.subjectsocial media designen
dc.subjectsocial media user typologyen
dc.subjectsocial media useen
dc.subjectcross-platform analysisen
dc.titleMedium is the Message: Unraveling the Social Media Platforms' Effects on Communication and Opinionsen
dc.typeDissertationen
thesis.degree.disciplineBusiness, Business Information Technologyen
thesis.degree.grantorVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophyen

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