Research Proposal: Professional Networking on Twitter

Thesis

Why is Twitter a better networking resource than sites specifically built for professional networking?

Rationale/Motivations

Social Networking sites are reshaping the way we connect with each other. Twitter is one of the most popular social networking sites and ranks as the 9th most popular website in the world according to Alexa.com.

My research proposal is inspired by a TED Talk, given by Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter. He shared that the concept for Twitter was born out of another idea he was working on the time. Twitter was only meant to be a broadcast medium for simple status updates. Today it is much more. It’s now a medium for real-time event updates, citizen journalist news, a platform for social causes, marketing and advertising, etc. William’s main conclusion stated that users are the ones who transformed it into the vast social network it is today. I am interested in how users have transformed Twitter into a network and platform to create professional relationships.

I have multiple reasons for my interest in this research. In my first couple weeks in Elon’s Interactive Media program I was told that Twitter would be one of my best resources, not only for information but also for networking. In addition, I am interested in the increasing number of people being hired through social networks. I am also interested in Twitter as a company and brand.

The uses and gratifications theory can be applied to my research.  This theory applies because the users are the ones discovered Twitter’s potential and shaped it into a social network with many different purposes, including professional networking. Uses and gratifications theory can explain how consumers use Twitter to gratify their needs and identify the positive consequences of its use.

The Technology Acceptance Model is also applicable when studying the value of Twitter as a networking site.  It will help in comparing it to other networking sites like LinkedIn that are less successful.  The theory will help me decipher what makes one adopt some networking sites and what makes them reject others.

My next step is to continue to research how people use Twitter.  Find out what makes Twitter a trusted source for networking.  I also plan to research sites designed specifically for professional networking, like LinkedIn, PartnerUp and Upspring and their effectiveness

Methods

Primarily, I will research previous literature on the TAM and U&G theories. Then I plan to collect new data. I will shape a strategy for either surveying or interviewing Twitter and professional networking site users. I also hope to interview someone employed by Twitter about how users have shaped the direction of Twitter and where it’s going next.

Outcomes

We know that Twitter has grown exponentially in the last couple years and has become trusted networking resource. I hope find more evidence on what makes Twitter great for networking and also why it works better than sites that are built intentionally for professional networking, like LinkedIn. Twitter rolls out new features as the public demands them. Twitter Analytics was just launched this week, which will affect my research. I am also interested in the rise of jobs being landed through Twitter. In the future I hope to work as a social media manager or an online content community manager. With this research I hope to help myself and others to get the most out of Twitter through networking and creating relationships.

 

 

 

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