The proliferation of influencers on social-media platforms has drawn considerable research attention, particularly in the field of marketing. Nevertheless, there is limited understanding among HCI and communication researchers of what leads these social-media influencers’ (SMIs’) audiences to favor and choose their content over traditional media. To fill this gap, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 45 SMI audience members. Our findings revealed a total of eight categories of SMIs’ appeals, i.e., factors that made the interviewees favor their content over traditional media. These appeals can further be grouped into three categories: content, presentation, and closeness. In particular, we identified the key role of SMIs’ perceived high autonomy and independence, which led both their content and their presentation styles to be seen as distinct from and more appealing than traditional media. Likewise, four closeness appeals made our participants feel emotionally attached to SMIs, resulting in sustained engagement.
Faith institutions provide social support and community care for many in the United States (U.S.). Notably, churches with predominantly Black populations have served as a site for social change and care provision, historically and in contemporary society. However, the pandemic has emphasised how localising these care networks in physical spaces can limit access to social support. Information and communication technologies offer opportunities for expanding access to care in these communities. However, integrating care networks into online contexts remains a challenge for many churches, and the potential for technology to expand these networks is not well understood. Through interviews and focus groups with nine church members, we explore how hybrid faith communities that bridge offline and online contexts can enable social support and care provision. Our findings highlight care network structures in Black churches, barriers to embedding these networks online and strategies for building more seamless hybrid support systems.
When emerging adults move out of their parents’ homes for the first time, their needs for togetherness and connection evolve, as do their parents’. In co-located homes, people often experience togetherness passively by sensing one another’s presence in their environment. However, when no longer living together, methods of experiencing togetherness change. Thus, we conducted an interview and co-design study with 16 pairs of parents and emerging adults that explores this concept across distance. The study uncovered differences in the connection needs of emerging adults and their parents, including their goals in connecting, the amount of communication they needed, and their needs for privacy and transparency. We additionally found that passive connecting factors included ambient sounds of the home, visual shared experiences and traces of one another in the home, ambient home smellscapes and smell memories, touching left-behind objects or gifted objects, and the taste of family recipes and the ambience of family mealtimes. We discuss suggestions for designing for passive co-presence based on this new knowledge.
Pictorial emojis and stickers are commonly used in online social communications. We analyzed social communications using Bitmoji stickers, which are expressive pictorial stickers made from avatars resembling actual users. We collect a large-scale dataset of 3 billion Bitmoji stickers' metadata, shared among 300 million Snapchat users. We find that individual Bitmoji sticker usage patterns can be characterized jointly on dimensions of reciprocity and selectivity. Generally speaking, users are either both reciprocal and selective about whom they use Bitmoji stickers with or neither reciprocal nor selective. We additionally demonstrate network homophily by showing that friends use Bitmoji stickers at similar rates. Finally, using a quasi-experimental approach, we show that receiving Bitmoji stickers from a friend encourages future Bitmoji sticker usage and overall Snapchat engagement. Our work carries implications for a better understanding of online pictorial communication behaviors.
Culture shapes people’s behavior, both online and offline. Surprisingly, there is sparse research on how cultural context affects network formation and content consumption on social media. We analyzed the friendship networks and dyadic relations between content producers and consumers across 73 countries through a cultural lens in a closed-network setting. Closed networks allow for intimate bonds and self-expression, providing a natural setting to study cultural differences in behavior. We studied three theoretical frameworks of culture - individualism, relational mobility, and tightness. We found that friendship networks formed across different cultures differ in egocentricity, meaning the connectedness between a user’s friends. Individualism, mobility, and looseness also significantly negatively impact how tie strength affects content consumption. Our findings show how culture affects social media behavior, and we outline how researchers can incorporate this in their work. Our work has implications for content recommendations and can improve content engagement.
Activism efforts have played a central role in advancing the rights of disabled people in the United States. Social media offers new opportunities for people with disabilities to engage in activism while bypassing the accessibility issues involved in traditional activism. At the same time, disabled people face various forms of social and technical exclusion that may also complicate their use of social media for disability activism. To understand how disabled activists advocate for social change online, we interviewed 20 disabled content creators about their goals, strategies, and challenges around posting activism content on social media. We find that visibility is essential for successful online activism, but that the pursuit of visibility requires disabled content creators to navigate additional challenges including social stigma, algorithmic suppression, accessibility issues, and a heightened risk of harassment. We identify three main types of disability-related harassment faced by disabled activists, along with six ways in which they respond to such harassment. We examine the sociotechnical nature of the strategies disabled activists use to gain visibility, and identify key trade-offs involved in mitigating harassment while engaging in activism on social media.