Social Presence in Social Media: Persuasion, Discourse, and Design
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New age information systems such as social media sites, virtual worlds, and virtual communities have made users’ presence in the information system more salient, bringing in the notion of “social presence,” which is the degree of salience of the “other” person in computer-mediated communication. I analyze this important construct from three perspectives in three essays. The first essay examines the outcomes of social presence in a task performance context. Is social presence persuasive? If so, how and when? This essay develops a social presence model of task performance and empirically tested it using multivariate meta-analytic structural equation modeling. The second essay examines social presence as a mesh that integrates a user’s social network position and the content generated by her. This essay develops a social network based model of user-generated content (social support) in online health communities, and empirically tested the model by combining social network analyses, text mining, and econometric modeling. The third essay examines the impact of the “competition” dimension of social presence (i.e., others are present but competing with the user) on technology usage behavior in a healthcare context. This essay explores the role of a competitive mobile gamification app and technology perceptions about the medication events monitoring system (MEMS) in enhancing timing adherence of HIV patients. The research model was tested using a four-month long-panel experimental study of gamification in poorly adherent HIV patients in a major regional hospital in Buffalo, New York.