Category Archives: Social Media Research

Follow up research to “Did Social Media Really Matter?” Published!

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

Exciting News! This week’s post is a quick announcement those interested in research on social media and civic and political participation!

My latest publication with my colleague, former fellow WSU graduate student, and good friend Masahiro Yamomoto is now available for “early view” online. As you know, I research new and social media and civics / politics.

Published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, the article “More harm than good? Online media use and political disaffection among college students in the 2008 election” is a follow up to our 2010 publication “Did social media really matter? College students’ use of online media and political decision making in the 2008 election.”

“Where Did Social Media really Matter?” asked whether social media and online expression on social media sites were related to positive political outcomes, namely political self-efficacy and situational political involvement, “More Harm Than Good?” asks whether these media are related to political disaffection. Specifically, we looked at political cynicism, apathy, and skepticism.

While cynicism – lack of confidence or trust in the political system, and apathy – indifference or lack of interest in politics, are both negative, skepticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Skepticism falls short of rejecting politics or the process of politics, but it is characterized by a disbelief and thus a need to gather more information about what one learns in the media about political issues, candidates, etc.

So what did we find?  Attention to social media was related to cynicism and apathy, and related negatively with skepticism. However, there was a positive relationship between online expression and skepticism.

In short, as our previous research suggests, paying attention to political content on social media may not have played as positive a role for young adults in the 2008 election as some have suggested. The story, of course, is not the same for online expression – so why is that?

We must of course consider all the limitations of the study. And keep in mind that this is 1 study and 1 sample. Please read the study to learn more about these concepts, related research, the sampling design, limitations, and other important considerations.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this paper was presented at AEJMC 2012.

All my blog posts on social media research.

Cheers!

-Matt

photo CC Tom Lohdan

Why Do Academics Blog? Mysteries of 21st century academia!

Hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving break!

A recent article published in Studies in Higher Education asks: Why do academics blog?

Hmm. I guess it seemed obvious. Why does anyone blog? Fame, fortune…? Then I got thinking. Yeah, why do academics blog?

Of course, as an academic and a blogger, I had to read the article. It is titled: “Why do Academics Blog? An Analysis of Audiences, Purposes, and Challenges.

Articles such as Why Academics Should Blog by McGuire at Huffington Post, say that people should blog for a number of reasons as “the point of academia is to expand knowledge,” and the hard to accept but admittedly true: “because some of your ideas are dumb.”

Of course, there are other reasons too, like promoting your ideas and that your blog is part of / and builds your reputation. The authors of the research article wonder if this is in fact true – why do academics blog? By investigating 100 academic blogs  via content analysis , the authors produce an interesting look inside the real reasons why academics blog.

This got me thinking about why I blog.

Why do I blog?

When I created this blog, I spent lots of time working on who I was writing for, and how I wanted to name my blog. I attempted to articulate that in my “About this blog” page. I’ll summarize:

Social media education is a new and emerging field. I want to be a part of that conversation.

To expand:

I teach social media. I have a vested interest in growing with the field. To be great at my job, I need to grow, change, adapt. I need to constantly learn. So, I want to learn and reflect on what I learn.  But I believe I can also help the field grow. I want to share my knowledge.  Maybe by talking about my experience, I can help other educators, or get people thinking about social media education. And too, I want to meet others with similar interests and goals.

How has a Blog has been helpful to me?

Oh, this list could go on and on. So here are a quick few:

  • I’ve met great professors who are great people – before I blogged, I was on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. And I’d connected with some folks. It wasn’t until I began blogging that I really began having meaningful conversations with other academics. As I shared my knowledge, experience, and areas of interests, an amazing thing happened! Other people have learned about me, who I am, and what I have to say and what I am hoping to learn. Doesn’t that make it easier to connect and build relationships?
  • I’ve been asked to participate in events – from research to Google+ Hangouts, new opportunities to grow, learn, and enhance in the field have been presented to me by awesome people I never would have met (see item above).
  • It has given me a chance to reflect – I’m the sort of person who learns by talking things through or teaching them to others. 
  • It has helped me grow my other social media – I believe that when people see you have a blog, they see that you are participating in the social media conversation at a deeper level, and thus are more likely to follow and engage you on sites like Twitter. I’m not sure if the blog signifies a level of credibility, or that they anticipate gaining more from you because you have a blog. But, I have certainly been much more interactive with folks on social media. And if # of followers on Twitter is important to you – those metrics have grown significantly!
  • It has given me a chance to help others – and I love to help others! I’ve seen a lot of folks looking over my syllabi and assignments, and it makes me feel great that something I have done may inspire them in what they teach!
  • My own place to share my research – I first created a professional website when I was in grad school using Sharepoint. I then moved to WordPress, but the page was static. Having a blog is so much more dynamic, but I still use by blog to post my CV, research, and so forth. I’m always excited when I see people looking over my research or searching my research on Google and finding my site.

I hope you enjoy the research article!

Why do you blog? How has blogging opened opportunities for you? Are you thinking about blogging but haven’t started?

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

– Cheers!
Matt

photo – creative commons, opensourceway

Upcoming Events: Speaking on Social Media and Democracy

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I am very excited!  Tomorrow, April 30th, I will be traveling to Washington, DC to participate as a U.S. Speaker and Specialist in the United States State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP). This amazing program, which I had the honor of participating in last year, provides informational outreach around the world.

This engagement will be in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava in the Slovak Republic. I will have the pleasure of speaking via video conference with students in Slovakia. The subject I will be speaking on is the rise of social media as a tool for democratic participation, my area of research expertise.

I recently had an opportunity to speak on a similar topic to the Rotary Club of Shepherdstown West Virginia. However, my presentation to the IIP will be focus more on my recent and forthcoming publications.

Thinking over the many changes we’ve seen in social media and political campaigns in the last few years, I’m excited to share some new thoughts and preliminary findings from our 2012 election survey.

I hope everyone’s semester is coming to a close in a relaxing and non-chaotic fashion as possible!

-Cheers!
Matt

photo: CC y robposse