Managing Social Reputation in Twitter

Managing Social Reputation in Twitter

Annabell Preussler (Universität Duisburg-Essen, Germany) and Michael Kerres (Universität Duisburg-Essen, Germany)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1915-9.ch007


Online communities, like Twitter, attract thousands of users worldwide spending hours communicating with others via the Internet. Most platforms offer mechanisms that show the ‘rank’ or ‘social reputation’ users have gained within the social community the platform establishes. This chapter analyses the motivation of users to engage intensively from a social psychological perspective and follows the hypotheses that these status information function as a highly effective reward mechanism. The chapter describes the results of a survey that has been conducted with users of Twitter in order to find out how important it is for users to gain ‘followers’. The chapter outlines a theoretical construct that explains why users try to gain social reputation in different virtual worlds. For this, a typology of virtual worlds has been developed based on possible spill-over effects of social reputation that can be gained in virtual and real worlds.
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1. Introduction

The use of online communities has been growing noticeably over the past years. Within only a few months, services like Twitter1, Facebook2 or XING3 have gained several million of users. It is, however, not quite obvious what makes these platforms that attractive to so many users and what factors motivate them to engage very intensively in these environments. In our opinion, the possibility of building social relationships with others might be one aspect: Most systems offer mechanisms that show the ‘rank’ or ‘social reputation’ users have earned. The question is, how important is this ‘reputation’ for users, how actively do users they try to gain social reputation in virtual worlds and to what extent can this be described as a reward mechanism that influences a user’s behaviour?

In the following we will illustrate the users activities in gaining social reputation and its management by regarding the microblogging network Twitter. The objectives of this chapter are on the one hand to give an overview about the various scenarios of Twitter use and on the other hand to outline a theoretical construct dealing with reputation in social networks. This includes the definition of reputation in these networks and introduces the findings of a study which was conducted in order to find out to what extent Twitter users undertake activities for gaining online reputation. We will also deal with the question, whether this reputation mechanism influences users’ behaviour in relation to learning.

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