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Why people use social media: a uses and gratifications approach

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Purpose ‐ This paper seeks to demonstrate the importance of uses and gratifications theory to social media. By applying uses and gratifications theory, this paper will explore and discuss the uses and gratifications that consumer receive from using social media. This paper seeks to provide a better and more comprehensive understanding of why consumers use social media. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Exploratory study was conducted. 25 in-depth interviews were conducted with individuals who use social media. Findings ‐ This study identified ten uses and gratifications for using social media. The ten uses and gratifications are: social interaction, information seeking, pass time, entertainment, relaxation, communicatory utility, convenience utility, expression of opinion, information sharing, and surveillance/knowledge about others. Research limitations/implications ‐ Limitations are small sample size. Research implications are that uses and gratifications theory has specific relevance to social media and should be given more prominence. Uses and gratifications theory helps explain the many and varied reasons why consumers use social media. Practical implications ‐ This paper helps organizations to understand why consumers use social media and what gratifications they receive from social media. Originality/value ‐ This paper makes the contribution that uses and gratifications theory has specific relevance and should be given more prominence within the area of social media. This paper also provides a rich and vivid understanding of why consumers use social media.
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Keywords: Consumer generated media; Exploratory study; In-depth interviews; Qualitative study; Social media; Uses and gratifications theory; Uses of social media; Web 2.0

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 30, 2013

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