As described in our survey design post, the survey was designed for the purpose of understanding the sharing behaviours among the users of social networks who have shared interests, and to identify the problems with existing social networks. The number of responses that have been received is 82. This post will describe the results of the survey and analyse the responses. The survey included two parts, relating to the difficulties with social networks, and what people share.
Difficulties with social networks
The first section of the survey was designed to gauge the difficulty of finding resources on social networks relating to real-life products, places and events.
The first question was specific to finding products in Facebook groups, Twitter and Path hashtags, YouTube channels and forums. The results show that 40% of the participants considered Facebook groups as “Very easy” to use and 39% of them rate Facebook groups as “easy”. Due to the fact that Facebook groups are not restricted one type of content (e.g. only photos in Flickr and videos in YouTube), the responses show that Facebook groups are the easiest way of finding product-related information. This suggests that people do not, in general, have much difficulty finding resources for real-world products on social networks. Similarly, the answers of the second and third questions show that participants considered Facebook groups the easiest method to find information about places and events. In finding information about events, 78% of the participants rated Facebook as “Very easy” or “Easy” whereas only 28% of them considered Path hashtags “Very easy” or “Easy”.
These findings provide evidence that having a central place that includes different types of rich media content is helpful. In LeapIn.it, this place is introduced by the concept of a “room” in the virtual world, which is entered by scanning a QR code or a barcode of a product.
By comparing Facebook groups with Twitter hashtags in finding product-related information, 10% of the respondents found Twitter hashtags difficult whereas 7% of them found Facebook groups difficult. Five participants said that finding event-related information in Twitter hashtags is difficult whereas only two participants said that using Facebook groups for this purpose is difficult. One participant suggested that having too much information in an disorganized manner is the reason that forums are difficult and not enjoyable.
Most of the problems that were pointed out by the participants related to hashtags, whether they are in Twitter or Path. Some said that non-trending hashtags are difficult to find, while others indicated that having someone in your “Following” list that uses a specific hashtag is a pre-requisite to know about it. Some pointed out that hashtags suit the needs of small closely-networked groups and they are not scalable. The problems of ambiguity, unclear search results and having unexpected names of hashtags were pointed out by participants, who described this as adding a burden to finding the right words to use for searching.
“Hashtag isn’t known until someone uses it. Most widely adopted hashtag for a “thing” isn’t necessarily the one I would of thought of. Since hashtag doesn’t discriminate between events/people/objects/whatever it makes it even more difficult to find because the scope captures so much irrelevant stuff.”
This finding suggests that Twitter hashtags could be more difficult to find than Facebook groups, and doing so consumes more time to find the required information. In LeapIn.it, this process is simplified by only requiring scanning of a barcode or QR code to enter the relevant room to browse and share information with others. Furthermore, one of the reasons that finding event-related information is difficult using hashtags is that there can be many hashtags (some fake and redundant representations of products and companies) with similar names, which have been referred to by one of the participants as “competing pages”:
“There are a lot of fake pages such as “Tesco.” instead of “Tesco” which can make finding authentic product pages difficult. With place-related pages, there tends to be a wide variety of competing pages, which makes finding the most suitable page difficult.”
Interestingly, it is mentioned that hashtags might contain irrelevant information about many things rather than specialising in one topic and they don’t have a way of discrimination between places, events, objects, etc. In LeapIn.it, this problem is eliminated by introducing features that allow the users to report irrelevant posts. Further, due to the fact that a room can only be entered by scanning the relevant barcode, it is assumed that the amount of irrelevant posts will be fewer than what can be found in existing social networks because a person will have an interest in the topic of the room.
What people share
This section of the survey identified the reasons that people participate in social networking websites. Specifically, this sought to understand the amount of social activities that participants engage in on social networks and the type of media that they post.
The results demonstrate that more than 18% of the respondents post videos and information about their events and participate in Facebook groups daily. 38% said that they post pictures in social network websites at least once a week, while 35% indicate they share their social updates in at least once a day. 54% said that they post their social updates at least once a week. In addition, 67% of the participants state that they share pictures in social network websites at least few times per month and 42% of them have more than three posts in Facebook groups per month. Similarly, 40% have at least a few videos posted per month and 74% have at least four social updates posted per month.
On the reasons that motivate people to post and share information about themselves on social networks, 76% of the participants state that they want to share their personal experiences. 89% of participants said that they post because they find they are interested in specific topics of discussion, and 91% indicate that they use social networks to help them to be connected with other people. 72% of the respondents are willing to help other users by posting helpful content in social networks.
These findings suggest a strong motivation for sharing rich media – the primary usage of LeapIn.it. Further to this, they suggest that people primarily post because they are interested in particular topics of discussion and to share personal experience – two motivations we hope will fuel usage of LeapIn.it. LeapIn.it’s rooms will be related to specific topics, so should encourage those with interest to contribute rich media. These results also provide evidence that people will find LeapIn.it useful for collaboration, communication, sharing and helping each other in a systematic, easy and enjoyable way.