The results Indicated that student reactions did not overwhelmingly lean in a particular direction: Individual users perceive the site differently, and this determination directly correlates with the uses and gratification theory. I. Introduction Backbone Overview Backbone is a social networking site (SINS), which provides users with a platform to :rate a personal profile page, add friends’, and send messages.
Since the company Nas founded In 2004, It has become the top ranked social networking site (Canella, 2009). According to Backbone Statistics (2009), there are over 300 million current active users (I. E. Users that have logged-on In the past 30 days). Backbone users have Calmed the site a “necessity, along the lines of oxygen, water, and food” (Verna, 2009). For many people, visiting Backbone has become an Integral part of their dally lives, and has even caused some to have an unhealthy obsession with the site.
According to Elizabeth Cohen (2009), a CNN medical correspondent, therapists are seeing more ND more “Backbone addicts,” who become compulsive Backbone users to the point “here the site Interferes with relationships, Jobs, and normal dally life. The site has transformed social communication In the 21st century, with Backbone and other SINS reaching hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Features and Advertising Backbone continues to add new features and developments on a consistent basis.
Since It Is free to create an account, Backbone has to generate Its revenue elsewhere, through a venue such as advertising. Companies can utilize Passbook’s features to each their audiences In different ways. Congratulated (2009) states that SINS are ‘hanging the way advertisers reach consumers, and that these changes are affective advertising. Email: [email protected] Deed Privacy and Perceptions: How Backbone Advertising Affects Its Users by Katherine Roberts ? 25 online advertising all together.
There are a variety of ways to use Backbone, and the different features allow creativity and experimentation in advertising. For instance, when users log-on, they are taken to a homepage called a ‘News Feed” which highlights recent activities from other users. Each Backbone account also includes a personal profile page, a “Wall” to write public messages to other users, Backbone-generated applications (photos, events, groups, video, notes, and links), and an inbox to write private messages to other users.
The site also allows users to add optional features called Platform applications to connect in new ways. According to Passbooks statistics (2009), more than 70% of Backbone users utilize Platform applications on a monthly basis. Since these Platforms are optional, it is significant that users are seeking out additional Backbone features and uses for the tie. The purpose of Backbone has shifted, as the continued popularity of added features proves that its users are looking for more than Just casual networking with friends.
A few of the currently popular Platform applications include games, fan pages, and gifts. Solicitations gaming company Gang has dominated the site with applications such as Verifiable, Cafe© World, and Mafia Wars. Gang has over 126 million monthly active users, making it the leading Backbone development platform O’Neill, 2009). The company reported that they currently spend approximately $50 lion on Backbone advertising annually, and this figure is expected to increase as the company continues to develop over the years (O’Neill, 2009).
The games allow Backbone users to purchase virtual products with a credit card, as a means to advance further in the game. Techniques such as these provide Gang with Backbone-user generated revenues and encourage more advertising and developing on the site. Advertisers also have the option to create a free fan page, where companies and individuals can invite users to become a “fan” of a product, service, person, company, brand, etc. The page is set up similarly to a profile page, with the option to add status updates, photos, announcements, etc.
According to Passbooks statistics (2009), over 10 million users become fans of pages on a daily basis, which provides growing possibilities to reach consumers without any financial risk. There is also a chance to buy birthday gifts, as Backbone has expanded its ‘gift shop’ to include real gifts alongside virtual ones (Slacken, 2009, p. 38). This type of online shopping connects cyber space with the real world, so that what happens online does not necessarily stay online. Growth Another benefit to Backbone advertisers is the site’s growth. “Traffic to Backbone is up almost 200% over the last year.
Social media is no longer Just for techies or punier generations?it has become a mainstream phenomenon” (Shadowy, 2009). Not only traffic to Backbone increasing, but users are also spending more and more time on the site. According to Enchain (2009), network and blobbing sites account for 17% of all time spent on the Internet in August 2009, and that fugue is triple what it the lives of people around the world, and advertisers need to recognize and react to these changes. Slacken (2009) reports a recent study, where 43% of online purchasers named social-network surfing as the reason they decided to make their purchase.
This statistic shows the potential power that advertisers have to reach a Milling and active audience. However, to fully understand the effect of Backbone advertising, it is important to understand how consumers perceive Backbone and its advertisers. This study will show how advertising can affect Backbone users, and provide further suggestions for a more effective means to reach a target audience through social networking. II. Literature Review Uses and Gratification Theory rhea “uses and gratification” theory (Katz, et al. , 1974) provides important insight into Nay Backbone is so widely used.
As an audience-based theory, uses and gratification hypothesizes that different consumers use the same media messages for different purposes, depending on their individual needs and goals (Sheldon, 2007, p. 40). According to Katz et al. (1974), the uses and gratifications theory is based on the assumption that (1) the audience is active, (2) the media choice lies with the audience member, (3) all mediums compete with other sources of need/goal fulfillment, (4) ass media goals can be found in the message of the source, and (5) cultural value judgments should be not be taken into consideration as the audience explores their own opinions. 6 ? The Leon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications Viol. 1, No. 1 Inter 2010 By directly applying these assumptions to mass media in terms of the social networking sites (specifically Backbone), a few customized observations can be made. First, the average Backbone user is active, as he or she has willingly created an account, and is a member of the site. Next, the user chose Backbone as a means to lawful his or her wants and goals over other sources. Essentially, the Backbone user came to the site for a unique purpose.
This can include the need to connect interpersonally as well as the want to promote a business or product (I. E. Advertising). In order to understand the perspective of a potential consumer, it is essential to study why Backbone users visit the site in the first place. The uses and gratification theory is a reminder that these needs are customized for each person, and therefore cannot be generalized to an entire population. However, meaningful information can e developed covering smaller populations with common characteristics.
For the purpose of this study, our subjects are college students who are already Backbone users, having Joined the site for their own specific reasons. Advertising Ninth individualized motives comes an individualized need for advertising. Social networking sites provide unique opportunities for companies that simply don’t exist elsewhere. Among the advantages are increased interaction between the business customers to connect to each other (as well as potential customers). Learnt 2009) states that Backbone is an effective marketing platform because networking ND communication are already taking place.
This allows companies to be directly Novel into conversations simply by appearing on the site. Backbone presents an entirely new way of scrutinizing a product or brand: “(It) has not only transformed the research and purchase consideration phase, but it also provides shoppers with a platform to advocate for the products and stores they love” (Shadowy, 2009). For example, product raves and reviews could appear on a fan page, or in an application. Not only does interactivity increase, but Backbone also allows for a complete customization of advertisements by the ad creators.
For the traditional web site advertiser (I. E. Using a banner ad on the side, bottom, or top of a site), Backbone advertisements are relatively easy to generate, and allow the creator a variety of choices when making an ad. The site lets advertisers select the exact demographic that sees the ad, which helps them not waste time or energy on people outside of their chosen market. The advertiser can view the results of who is clicking their ad, and modify it accordingly. Congratulated (2008) found that Backbone ads are extremely relevant to users because they are so highly targeted.
To test the effectiveness of Passbooks advertisers’ micro-targeting method, Lessen (2008) did an experiment by creating his own Backbone advertisement. It was an ad targeted to his girlfriend, so he typed in her specific demographic (a Wall Street Journal Reporter, 25 [ears old, living in San Francisco, graduated from Harvard in 2006, majored in history, etc. ) and was able to get the ad directly placed on her Backbone website. This test demonstrated advertisers’ ability to Anna-target their market in a unique way not seen in traditional advertising.
Privacy Nile the aforementioned story does show a highly effective means in reaching a argue audience, it also brings up the question of the accessibility of private information. Although users put up all personal information willingly, they may or may not know that their information can be shared with a third party. Passbooks recent partnership with Nielsen in September 2009 is Just beginning to change the advertising front of the site; so very little research currently exists in terms of consumer response to Anna-targeted ads (Enchain 2009).
However, the online privacy debate has existed since the creation of the Internet, with private information coming increasingly available to companies and individuals alike. For a variety of reasons, Backbone privacy settings are not always fully utilized. Users can change the Nay others see their private information, and Lange (2008) hypothesized that privacy settings may not be adjusted due to ignorance or the “it won’t happen to me” assumption.
Although Backbone is improving communication Ninth its users through blob announcements such as these, it does not make it clear as to exactly what information is shared, and to whom the information is given. Therefore, Backbone is not necessarily guaranteeing that certain information will be kept private, and this may be information that the user may not want a third party to have access to. Like Backbone privacy, prior research on SINS in general is limited, as Backbone in particular has only existed for the past five years.
Therefore, there has not been a significant amount of research done in the area of social networking sites and advertising effect on the users. Since SINS have become such an integral part of our daily lives, it is important for advertisers to understand how customers and potential customers on the site perceive them. Or advance that understanding, three primary research questions were constructed. rhea first question examines the Backbone user’s point of view, which is essential for success and understanding: RSI: How are Backbone and its advertisers scrutinized in the eye of the consumer?
The second question deals with the issue of privacy, as online safety and the control of private information is more difficult to monitor online: ARQ: How is privacy perceived on Backbone? Lastly, the third question yields the opportunity to provide suggestions and ideas for advertisers, which would be beneficial information for advertisers, as well as future research: ARQ: What would make Backbone advertising more effective? Ill. Method Sample Or address these questions, a survey of undergraduate students at four universities Nas conducted using the Backbone site.
The participants were recruited from Leon University in North Carolina (n=125), Pomona College in California (n=69), Miami University in Ohio (n=108), and University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania (n=47). These four schools were chosen because they represent all different geographical regions of the country and, additionally, Miami and Pittsburgh represent relatively large (> 15,000 undergraduate students), public institutions, while Pomona and Leon represent relatively small (< 5,000 undergraduate students), private institutions.
According to Congratulated (2008), a student sample is a relevant and significant group, as college students fit the demographic of SINS users. As an incentive, students were offered the chance to win a $1 5 tunes gift card through one random selection per school. Design and Procedure causes the goal was to reach as many students at the four schools as possible, a major sections: (1) demographic, (2) Backbone and advertising, and (3) privacy and perception. There was an optional box at the beginning of the survey for students to enter their e-mail addresses for a chance to win a $15 tunes gift card.
With the exception of optionally providing an e-mail address, the survey was completely anonymous. Participants answered close-ended demographic questions regarding their year in school (freshman, sophomore, etc. ) and gender. In the Backbone and advertising section, close-ended questions were asked regarding the number of Backbone “friends” the participant currently has, how often the participant checks his or her Backbone, and what Backbone “Applications” the participant has used. In terms of advertising, the participant was asked how aware he/she is of advertising on Backbone, and where he/she has seen advertising on Backbone.
In the privacy and perception section, participants were offered a chance to express how they feel about Backbone advertising, and relate this to their personal privacy. Participants were first asked about their current privacy settings on Backbone, in an effort to gauge their interest in protecting their personal information and identity. They were then asked about Backbone ads they have seen for their specific demographic, 28 ? The Leon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications Viol. 1, No. 1 Inter 2010 and were asked to share what specific ads they had seen.
From this information, they were asked if this type of advertising changes their perception of privacy on Backbone, as well as their perception of the companies that advertise, and to elaborate if they so chose. In closing, the participants answered an open-ended question about how companies can utilize Backbone to advertise more effectively. Four separate but identical surveys were hosted at Survey Monkey, which allows users to create their own web-based surveys (www. Surveying. Com). To maximize the potential for a large quantity of participants, Backbone itself was utilized for axiom, quick, and fast exposure.
Four Backbone “events” were created, specialized for each school, and the event included a description of my research, as well as a link to take the survey. Next, hundreds of students from each school were invited to their schools’ “event. ” The survey stayed open for exactly one week during mid-November IV. Findings rhea goal of this study was to see how Backbone users perceive the site and its advertisers. Each section of the survey provided information and opportunities for participants to honestly and openly express their perceptions, and give specific examples as to why they feel the way they do.
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