Banking on the go: investigating reasons for use and impact of age

by Ellie Barker

Background

The technological environment is forever changing, especially in relation to accessibility. As a result, technological advancements have attracted new users throughout all generation classifications. ‘Banking on the go’ illustrates the increasing availability of accessing mobile banking services whilst on the move and away from physical banking institutions.

Adoption of mobile technology has reached 4.77 billion consumers globally and around 68% of consumers in the UK (Statista 2017). The mobile app market accounts for approximately 44 million UK users (Statista 2017). Mobile apps represent a unique business industry specialising in production and maintenance of mobile app product and services. Input, however, comes from other sector and industry players. Heading towards post-Brexit, financial services need to provide far more interesting customer solutions (Severn 2016). Technological elements are, today, part of this immersive and engaging service solution. For financial services in the UK, firms are required to provide threshold services and engage customers with commonly used touchpoints. Although banks are increasingly providing customers with mobile apps, consumers’ readiness and adoption levels vary (Bolton 2017). Therefore, understanding mobile app adoption is relevant in society today due to the convenient and useful features it can provide consumers, such as controlling finances instantly.

Literature on e-banking and mobile banking adoption is existing and well developed already, although some factors are still to be considered. Hedonic motivations and various constructs which stimulate both adoption and use of mobile banking have not been discussed in detail. Hedonic motivations include factors such as enjoyment of the online service and the technological design. Utilitarian motivations such as convenience, practicality and efficiency have also been ignored. This research project will focus on mobile technology, specifically the mobile banking industry and mobile banking apps. The research will investigate the adoption of mobile banking by assessing the relationships between mobile technology-specific factors and their effects on Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers. The aim of this project is to clearly examine the motivations and technology-specific factors of mobile banking adoption.

Despite impressive adoption figures worldwide many consumers remain unwilling to adopt mobile technology or the benefits of mobile banking. Around 19% of people are accessing their bank on a daily basis through one of three channels; mobile app, physical location or website access via a desktop (Bolton 2017). Previous research looked into task-fit and usefulness of mobile banking as triggering or preventing adoption. However, studies on hedonic motivations are fragmented and do not capture values of mobile technology applications (Bolat 2015). Technology-specific factors are currently not recognised throughout the mobile technology industry; therefore, consumers continue to refrain from adopting mobile banking and mobile banking apps. Academics tend to treat mobile app settings similarly to those of electronic service settings. There are qualitative in nature studies but the outcome of these have not been input for quantitative studies, which this study intends to address.

This research investigates mobile technology alongside how motivations and generational differences impact adoption of mobile banking services. The model below was tested.

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Approach

A quantitative research approach was used in order to evaluate why users adopt mobile banking services, and to what extent motivations and generational differences impact their intention and actual use. A quantitate survey was generated on Qualtrics which was later distributed throughout various online platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and E-mail. The survey was used to measure user profiles, motivations and feelings towards mobile banking services.

Findings

The survey received 213 responses with 31 responses missing. Hence, 182 responses are used for further analysis. Table 3 shows the majority of the sample, 40.88%, were aged 22-38 (Millennials) followed by 38.12% of the sample who were aged 39-59 (Generation X). A lower amount of responses was recorded from Generation Z and Baby Boomers. Further testing of the impact that generation gap, as a control variable (moderating factor).

The majority of respondents take part in internet banking, mobile app banking and face-to-face banking. Interestingly, although traditional methods of banking, face-to-face and telephone are used, more and more technology-enabled banking services are in use (238 mentions across the same with Internet banking being used by almost 81% of respondents). It is also surprising to see the uptake of mobile apps (almost 70% of respondents are using mobile apps).

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Interestingly, across the younger generational group (18-21 and 22- 38) m-banking is one of the most popular platforms versus the older generational group (39-59) who prefer internet banking and finally 60+ opting for face-to-face approach. This light touch analysis already demonstrates differences in generational profiles.

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The findings supported most of the given hypotheses, suggesting that varying motivations and generational differences do influence adoption and use of mobile banking. Moreover, research found that younger generations are concerned with hedonic features, whereas older generations are focused on utilitarian features. Further research is required for expansion on generational profile motivations together with research on additional factors combined with the proposed motivations of this study.

H3A, H3B, H3C and H3D tested the impact of generational profiles on relationships surrounding attitudes, adoption, use and motivations towards m-banking services. H3A was rejected and H3B and H3D were only partially accepted as they presented insignificant results. The relationship between attitudes and adoption of m-banking had the lowest impact from generational profile. From this it is clear age difference does not have an impact on the relationship between attitudes towards m-banking and adoption of m-banking. This result contradicts the study of Foon and Fah (2011) which suggests age acts as a major influence on ITA m-banking. Nevertheless, results show generational profile has a slight impact on the relationship between adoption and use of m-banking, suggesting age is a determinant of continued m-banking use which is in line with part of Foon and Fah (2011) study which suggests younger generations who acquire technology experience are more likely to use m-banking services and apps than older generations. Results show generational profile also has an impact on relationships between UM and use of m-banking, suggesting UM, such as convenience, practicality and efficiency are more of a concern for older generations when using m-banking services compared to younger generations. This supports the study of Munoz-Leiva et al (2017) suggesting the key advantage of m-banking is the ability to manage finances any time in any location, proving a thoroughly convenient tool (Jun and Palacios 2016).

Furthermore, the research is in line with the study of Surendran (2012) which suggests PU and PEU are key determinants of adoption and use, especially amongst older generations. Additionally, mobility and portability have been proved the most valued features of m-banking services (Cruz et al 2010; Liang et al 2007), supporting the requirement of convenience for Generation X and Baby Boomers. New research findings suggest that generational profile has the strongest impact on the relationships between HM and attitudes towards m-banking. Results show 49.5% of variance in attitudes towards m-banking are explained by hedonic motivations when age is the moderating factor. This is substantial and suggests younger generations are predominantly concerned with HM, such as enjoyment, excitement and interaction, which determines their overall attitude towards m-banking services. This supports existing research from academics, as attitude is deemed a key determinant of technology acceptance (Chuttur 2009). Additionally, the study of Hew et al (2015) suggests consumers are more inclined to use m-banking services and apps if they are user-friendly with interactive features, which in turn develop positive attitudes and a customisable experience (Chaffey 2017).

Remaining hypotheses (H1A, H1B, H1C, H2A, H2B, H4A, H4B) tested the link between attitudes, adoption, use and trust towards m-banking, as well as differences in motivations. Firstly, results show that 81.7% of variance in use of m-banking is explained by positive attitudes towards m-banking. This is significant and financial institutions should implement trials or extensive marketing to encourage positive attitudes which should support uptake and use. Furthermore, 67.9% of variance in ITA m-banking is explained by positive attitudes which, as stated above, is in line with the study of Chuttur (2009) who found attitudes to be a key determinant of technology adoption. Positive adoption of m-banking has also shown a positive impact on use of m-banking which builds on the study of Oliveira et al (2014), focusing on adoption of technology and suggesting consumer performance can be explained through TTF.

New findings from the research also suggest HM have a slight positive impact on attitudes towards m-banking. This supports the study of Bolat (2015) on mobile technology distinctiveness, in which a new hedonic motive perspective derives from as emotional and creative value is developed from personalisation features and consumers also obtain social value from immediate access to communication channels. Additionally, 66.8% of variance in use is explained by a positive impact from UM which is extensive, hence financial institutions should install practical, convenient and efficient features within their m-banking services and apps to encourage continued use. This new finding supports the study of Ewing et al (2013) which suggests one of the highest-scoring features of consumer usage is integrated payments, therefore providing convenience for m-banking customers.

The last hypotheses were based on trust of m-banking services. Results show nearly 50% of variance in adoption of m-banking is explained by trust which is in line with the study of McNiesh (2015) which suggests consumers lack trust towards m-banking as they have to release personal information through a technological device. Additionally, results show nearly 60% of variance in discouraged use of m-banking is explained by distrust, building on the study of Lee (2009) which suggests consumers are discouraged from adopting and using technology if they obtain a level of PR, such as performance or financial.

The infographic below presents an infographic concluding the study. As shown, the younger generation, Generation Z and Millennials, are predominantly concerned with hedonic motivations in relation to adoption and use of m-banking services.

M-banking

M-banking and impact of age Infographic creator: Ellie Barker

Hedonic motivations, including fun, interactivity and enjoyment, have been found to generate positive feelings amongst a younger demographic, which in turn encourages their attitude towards m-banking, but most importantly the use. In contrast, the older generation, Generation X and Baby Boomers, are concerned with hedonic motivations, including convenience, practicality and efficiency. These aspects have been found to generate positive feelings amongst the demographic, which in turn encourages use of m-banking as well as positive attitudes towards the service.

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Digital Immersion: Is it what you thought it is?

by Charlie Simmons

Immersion is used outside of digital space as a term to measure the degree of involvement in a specific activity. Digital immersion is now a ubiquitous phenomenon that can be observed in all human activities starting with consumption of services and products as well as professional tasks.

Overall academic literature, in particular business and management literature, lacks understanding of digital immersion (DI) and as a result “immersion” is used interchangeably with “engagement” (Takatalo et al. 2010, p.27; Boyle et al. 2012; Bouvier et al. 2014; Parvinen et al. 2015). This project aims to examine what stimulates DI and how it causes behavioural changes in its users that keep them habitually absorbed.

The context of ‘streaming’ and e-sports presents opportunities to understand the DI in practice, enabling other digitally enabled businesses to borrow best practice techniques as well as create awareness of issues surrounding DI. Hence, e-sport, in particular Twitch.tv social community is chosen as a contextual setting to achieve the research aim.

Discussing Immersion

Immersion is used outside of digital space as a term to measure the degree of involvement in a specific activity (Denisova 2016). Brown and Cairns (2004 Cited in Denisova 2016) described immersion as a deeper state of engrossment, eventually leading to total immersion. This second definition highlights that immersion is more than a feeling, but a state of mind. In light of this Schettino (2015) explored 5 areas of immersion; embodiment/sensory immersion, emotional involvement, sense of presence, challenge/Interactivity and flow (deep focus).

DI and digital addiction are closely related. Ali (2016) described digital addiction as the “obsessive and excessive use of digital media which could be associated with negative life experiences such as distraction, anxiety and preoccupation”. Ali (2016) also highlighted the evolution of digital space starting to merge with physical space. Addiction itself is associated with a negative persona, could it be that technology and digital space are simply becoming an extension of our natural reality? It is becoming easier to lose awareness of our physical surroundings and become preoccupied with digital space (Gregoire 2015). As a result, psychologists are pushing for warning labels on smartphones to warn users of overuse. Moreover, persuasion is used interchangeably with the DI term (Denisova 2016). However, two terms are interlinked but still distinct concepts. Persuasion is about changing behaviour and attitudes (De la Hera Conde-Pumpido 2017). Immersion is a step and a collection of effects that all together can lead to persuasion. This essentially highlights that persuasion could be the outcome of immersion.

Immersion is an experience, it is a valued factor that players are subject to when interacting with games. This factor essentially provides the cognitive sense of “being in the game”, which results in the deep engrossment of players that leads them to direct all their thought and attention into the game, as opposed to their real-world surroundings (Brown and Cairns 2004 cited in Denisova 2016). Whilst in this state of total immersion, players lose track of time and forget about everyday concerns (Denisova 2016).

The following sections will look to explore the five areas of immersion proposed by Schettino (2015) in relation to streaming to determine if the platform is indeed immersive, not simply interactive.

Embodiment and Sensory

Krishna and Schwarz (2014) explored sensory marketing and embodiment, they defined this focus as “marketing that engages consumers senses and affects their perception, judgement and behaviour.” Kenderdine (2007 cited in Schettino 2015, p409) defined embodiment as “the experience of the world in all senses of the body”. It is also argued that tools, such as computers facilitate the means to perform actions that would otherwise not be possible. In doing that computers are therefore an extension of one’s body (O’Connor 2016).This is further elaborated to suggest that the mind is not limited by the restrictions of our biology, it is intrinsically rooted within our interaction with the world (O’Connor 2016).

Virtual gaming requires the use of mental and physical attributes, and with increased accessibility to technology the distance between virtual playing and real-world activity is becoming negligible (Sentuna and Kanbur 2016). The increased interaction with players provides a sense of acceptance in the digital environment and also stimulates further popularity (Sentuna and Kanbur 2016).

Embodiment is stimulation of the senses, however applying this theme in the digital context has led to the premise of “user defined reality”. To elaborate, the (digital) world in which the game takes place and the characters (in-game characters and avatars) are considered extensions of the biological self.

Emotional Involvement

Schettino (2015) viewed emotions as the feelings described by the participants of the study and their levels of enjoyment. One participant in particular expressed that “She felt the pleasure of being “immersed” in the soundscape” (Schettino 2015). This statement captures the link between emotion and immersion. Emotions can be viewed as concepts created by language in order for people to communicate moods and explain behaviours, this allows people to label and share their ‘emotional’ experiences (Latinjak et al. 2015).

Studies have been found to suggest that emotion plays an important role in ensuring that people engage with digital content and communities (Cohen 2014). Content that triggers emotional responses can lead to social sharing, this is the forging of connections in order to share emotional experience (Harber and Cohen 2005 cited in Cohen 2014). Games (digital or traditional) can trigger positive emotions such a happiness, in turn this contributes to the players (Streamer) or spectators (Viewers) overall enjoyment (Cohen 2014). Wang, Shen and Ritterfeld (2009) found that the most defining factor of enjoyment in gaming, is whether that game is considered fun or not. Games that are popular to play are therefore more likely to have a popular spectator activity (Jia et al. 2016).

Lee and Schoenstedt (2011) found that, similar to traditional sport, spectators are emotionally involved in the eSport and their favourite players. Viewers follow their favourite teams and are stimulated by their victories and losses. As for the players (or Streamers) the competitive nature is a vital emotive factor, it is important to demonstrate their skills over others and win (Lee and Schoenstedt 2011).

Sense of Presence

Schettino (2015) found a pattern that participants felt as though they had physically travelled to the destination of the soundscape, even though in reality it was an illusion created by the sounds in the study. In another study, Brown and Cairns (2004) identified three levels of immersion: Engagement, the first level of immersion. This captured the need for the gamer to invest time, effort and attention into the gaming experience: Engrossment, the second level of immersion. In this the controls become natural and the gamers emotions were intertwined with the unfolding of the game; Total Immersion, the final stage of immersion. In this the gamers described a sense of presence, reality faded away and the game was the only thing that existed. Brown and Cairns (2004) described this notion as “When you stop thinking about the fact that you’re playing a computer game and your just in a computer.” These arguments demonstrate an interesting element whereby an immersive experience transcends the boundaries of what the mind knows to be possible, and instead defines its own reality.

Challenge and Interactivity

The challenge element is a crucial part of the gaming experience and is one of the more appreciated factors of players, it keeps them interested and returning (Denisova 2016). eSports adds a new dimension to gaming, as it puts players against each other in a competitive environment whereby their “skills” and “talent” are determinants for their success. The challenge element is altered by ranking systems that are put in place to ensure that the challenge remains fair and provides a sense of achievement for each individual player (Hamari and Sjoblom 2016).

In this point, Streamers are immersed in the challenge and compete to demonstrate their skills to an audience. Viewers are demonstrating interaction with this competitive play similar to how traditional sport appeals to “psychological and social drives such as excitement, social interaction, competition, achievement, diversion/escape, knowledge application, identification with sport and fantasy” (Lee and Schoenstedt 2011). The nature of Twitch.TV’s chat application satisfies the need for social bonding and encourages viewers to chat and interact with each other and the Streamer.

Flow

Schettino (2015) primarily focused on the level of focus that the participants exhibited, in the sense that they were engaged and exploring the different elements of the room in the study as if it was real and the only thing that mattered. The participants lost track of time and had to be asked to move on because they were so ‘focused’ or immersed in the experience. Similarly, Csikszentmihalyi (1975) described flow as the process of optimal experience. People become so absorbed in their activities that elements outside of this focus become screened out and irrelevant. Csikszentmihalyi (1990 cited in Jennett et al. 2008) went on to present eight elements of flow: Clear goals; high degree of concentration; a loss of the feeling of self-consciousness; distorted sense of time; direct and immediate feedback; balance between ability level and challenge; sense of personal control; intrinsically rewarding.

Brown and Cairns (2004) recognised that ‘Flow’ and ‘Immersion’ are closely related and that they both progress through degrees of engagement. Flow can be viewed as a measurement for the level of immersion that is being experienced. In other words, it describes the level of deep focus being felt by the individual as a result of the 4 other constructs: Embodiment and sensory; Emotional involvement; Sense of presence; and Challenge and interactivity.

Contextual Focus: Twitch.TV

Twitch.TV was founded in 2005 under the name “Justin.TV” (Cook 2014). It has since grown to become one of the leaders in peak internet traffic, accounting for 1.8% which is just behind Google and Netflix (Cook 2014). Twitch describes itself as

“… a community where millions of people and thousands of interests collide in a beautiful explosion of video games, pop culture and conversation. With chat built into every stream, you don’t just watch on Twitch, you’re part of the show… If you can imagine it, it’s probably live on Twitch right now” (Twitch.TV 2018).

Twitch.TV is a hub for ‘user generated content’. This is essentially anything that is produced and developed by its members. It also hosts eSports tournaments and provide coverage to eSporting events. The gaming focus is still a key element and core identity of Twitch.TV (Alexander 2018).

Twitch users are free to view streams (Viewers) or create their own (Streamers). This accessibility and freedom has provided the foundations for Streamers to express their love for games, demonstrate their skills and make a living from doing something they enjoy (Gerber 2017). This accessibility also creates a dynamic that blurs the definition of a consumer and producer of content, a viewer can aspire, learn and become a streamer if they so choose (Jenny et al. 2017). Furthermore, it is argued that having such a platform has only led to more followers and buzz around eSports and the commercialisation of gaming competitively (Casselman 2015).

Streaming Interactive Culture and Nature

Traditionally, mass communication models followed a unidirectional approach to the dissemination of information. Whereby the senders of information are separate to the receivers of information, who are passive and rely on the sender (Chung and Nah 2009). The ‘streaming’ environment does not fit that example and audiences are encouraged to be engaged and active.

Two-way communication theory captures the ability for a brand to have multidirectional communication with the public, stimulating true dialogue (Archer and Harrigan 2016). Streamers take the role of the brand and interact directly with their viewers to create an immersive environment that viewers are a part of. The common interest between the viewers of that particular ‘stream’ is the ‘Streamer’ and the content they provide. However, there is little research that can determine what elements of streaming cause or amplify DI.

This two-way communication between Streamers and Viewers creates an interactive culture. Interactivity is described as having two distinct dimensions: medium interactivity and human interactivity. Medium interactivity is referring to the communication between users and technology; human interactivity refers to interpersonal engagement between two or more users of technology that includes a communication channel (Chung and Nah 2009). Twitch.tv provides a platform that enables both medium and human interactivity through empowering users to contribute to content and connect with each other.

Streamer-Viewer Relationship

Opinion Leaders can be thought of as individuals that are in a position whereby they can influence the thoughts, attitudes and behaviours of other people within their scope (Nunes et al. 2018). Streamers can be thought of as digital opinion leaders as they use their platform to engage with an audience.

Two-Step Flow Theory

The Two-Step Flow Theory (Katz and Lazarsfeld cited in (Uzunoglu and Kip 2014) describes how people recognised as opinion leaders interpret information they receive through media channels and pass it on to others, and as a result, increase its influence. Bloggers are considered to be online opinion leaders (Uzunoglu and Kip 2014), and similar to bloggers, streamers have the knowledge, expertise and concealed influential power that keep their audiences engaged in their content.

The ease of creating content, publishing and sharing it with individuals with similar interests has become easier, and studies have proven that personal communication is more powerful at affecting attitudes of individuals compared to mass media (Uzunoglu and Kip 2014). Katz (1957) identified common characteristics and behaviours of opinion leaders and used them to define three dimensions: Personification of certain values (who one is); competence (what one knows); and strategic social location (whom one knows). The first dimension relates to the values and traits of opinion leaders. Competence captures the opinion leaders’ knowledge and expertise of the subject. Finally, social location refers to the size of their network, with particular emphasis on the number of individuals that value their leadership in the subject (Uzunoglu and Kip 2014). Twitch allows a ‘two-way communication’ between ‘Opinion Leaders’ and ‘Individuals’. The three dimensions proposed by Katz (1957) can be looked at further to identify several constructs that can be tested to identify to what extent, if at all, individuals feel contribute to their DI; SC; accessibility; entertainment.

Source Credibility

SC refers to the extent an individual is perceived to be a reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy source for information (Weirzl et al. 2016). This is a key attribute of opinion leaders as shown in the Two-Step Flow Theory (Katz 1957) and also considered a fundamental predictor of consumer acceptance with regards to product attitude (Filieri et al. 2018). It would be acceptable to apply the same characteristics of SC that one would apply to a professional athlete. The level of skill, ranking, professionalism demonstrated by streamers on their streams would prove their credibility to their audience.

Zha et al (2018) studied SC within the context of social media. The definition of SC in this context replicated similar themes along the perceived trustworthiness, knowledge and believability of the individual publishing content. There was also a suggested link to reputation, whereby if a user was to perceive the information being given was from a perceived credible source, they would also consider them to be reputable and would consider the information being provided to be of a better fit to the intended need Zha et al (2018). Zha et al’s (2018) study refers to “focused immersion” or “focused attention” as interchangeable definitions for the same described user behaviour. That focused immersion (or focused attention) is likely to lead to increased effort and better understanding, heightened enjoyment, curiosity and control. This research suggests that SC has an impact on focused immersion, hence the following hypothesis is proposed:

H1: Source credibility has a positive impact on digital immersion

Accessibility

The term ‘accessibility’ has multiple definitions in this study. Accessibility can be defined from its dictionary definition as “the quality or characteristic of something that makes it possible to approach, enter, or use it”(Cambridge Dictionary 2018). Within the context of this study it has two definitions. It refers to the ease of obtaining the technology to view or to broadcast streams. However, it also has another meaning that was highlighted through the literature. Accessibility can also refer to the interchangeable status of a ‘Viewer’ and a ‘Streamer’. As a result, the following hypothesis has been proposed:

H2: Accessibility has a positive impact on digital immersion

Jenny et al (2017) refers to the blurred definition of a consumer and producer of content and identified that consumers can aspire, learn and become producers if they choose. This introduces the concept of learning, or self-improvement within DI. Technology has advanced to enable new forms of learning (Moore 2013). Moreover, live-streaming platforms have two key capabilities which have been found to improve learning: 1) real-time interaction between viewer and streamers (Bradley and Lomicka 2000) and 2) video-based instruction (Duffy 2008). Twitch.tv has been described as a unique platform, where gamers who want to share their experiences with the gaming community can with ease (Payne et al. 2017). Research has described it as a “virtual third place, in which informal communities emerge, socialise and participate” (Hamilton et al. 2014, p.1315). Payne et al. (2017) found that Twitch.tv can have a significant positive impact on learning performance of viewers. This introduces a moderating variable surrounding viewers motivation to learn from the streamer, whether that is streaming as a function (e.g. streaming equipment/set-up, conduct) or improving knowledge or skill within the content (e.g. eSports/game knowledge and skill. A third hypothesis is proposed:

H3a: Source credibility has more impact on digital immersion when viewers desire to learn from the stream.

H3b: Accessibility has more impact on digital immersion when viewers desire to learn from the stream.

H3c: Group Affiliation and Community has more impact on digital immersion when viewers desire to learn from the stream.

Viewer Motivations

Successful games have many common attributes, one that stands out is the ability to draw a person in. This results in the person losing themselves in the digital world of the game, a term that people often describe as immersion (Jennett et al. 2008). This section looks at motivations of spectators of sports and translates that to the context of eSports and Twitch.tv.

Jia et al (2016) found that spectators study or watch streams for entertainment, which included repeatedly watching playbacks. Many sports attract large crowds, and followings that result in commitment to season tickets or collectibles and wearables (Mehus 2005). The Sport Fan Motivation Scale (SFMS) is a tool that was designed to measure the motivations of sports fans (Wann et al. 1999). Out of the eight categories identified, the following are also shared with literature surrounding immersion and eSports: Escape; Entertainment; Group affiliation (Wann et al. 1999). Escape captures the feeling of temporary relief from the ‘real-world’ (Wann et al. 1999). Entertainment within games captivate the players attention and hold it for long periods as players attempt to master the complexities of playing and accomplish objectives (Moore 2013).. Group affiliation refers to the desire to be surrounded by other people, a mutual bond that provides a sense of belonging and shared experience (Wann et al. 1999).

H4: Group affiliation and community have a positive effect on digital immersion

H5: Viewers perceived entertainment of a stream/streamer has a positive effect on digital immersion

H6: Viewers desire to escape from reality has a positive effect on digital immersion

Conceptual Framework

Untitled

Digital Immersion conceptual model

What did we do?

We conducted survey, in particular, an internet survey distribution method has been chosen. This allows respondents easy and quick access to the survey (Sue and Ritter 2016). Twitch.tv has said they are willing to share the posts on their student social media. The popularity of this social media could be vital in the development of voluminous credible responses. NUEL (National University Esports League) will also share the link to the survey on their social media. This highlights the flexibility of the online survey method, it can be accessible through multiple destinations and audiences in a cost effective manner (Sue and Ritter 2016). Compared to email, it also offers increased levels of anonymity should the respondent desire it. It is important to recognise that this type of survey can result in respondents abandoning, being distracted and forgetting to complete. In addition, the increased anonymity through this opt-in style results in limited information about respondents (Sue and Ritter 2016). The impacts of these disadvantages will be minimised through careful planning and careful survey construction, to ensure that all questions asked are easy to understand and have purposeful with regards to the research.

Results

Firstly, it is important to note that survey population was mainly male. This is typical of the eSports environment as it is predominately occupied by males (Hamari and Sjoblom 2016; Jenny et al. 2017). However, this could be considered a limiting to the generalisability of the study as results were predominately from the male position.

eSports and Twitch.TV have grown rapidly over the last decade surpassing some traditional sports, as well as generating mainstream interest and sponsorships (Jonasson and Thiborg 2010; Casselman 2015; Hamari and Sjoblom 2016). This study proposed a definition for DI and discussed how DI could be responsible for the growth and success of eSports. DI is defined as “the use of computer technology which stimulates deep mental and emotional involvement”.

The main portion of this study focussed on measuring the level of DI being felt in accordance with constructs prevalent throughout the literature. Out of the four hypotheses that were tested, only one was rejected. However, even the rejected hypothesis is a surprising result that also will be discussed.

The results showed that “Escape” is the most positively effecting single construct to effect DI. The feeling of temporary relief from the real world and “mind travel” is widespread throughout immersion literature (Wann et al. 1999; Schettino 2015). It therefore makes sense that escape is a valued element of DI. It also further demonstrates that reality can be determined by the individual, and digital environments that allow users to define their own reality are more immersive (Brown and Cairns 2004). This highlights an interesting phenomena, and applying what Brown and Cairns (2004) explained with playing computer games to this context it leads to the concept: “When you stop thinking about the fact you’re using a computer and your just in the computer”. Interestingly, this leads to the concept that content should allow users to forget about the real world and encourage their user defined reality.

The results showed GAC as the second most positively affecting construct to DI. Schettino (2015) identified five areas of immersion, GAC can be considered to effect or provoke reactions in all five of these areas (Jia et al. 2016; O’Connor 2016; Sentuna and Kanbur 2016; Jenny et al. 2017). Specifically the work on the SFMS tool completed by Wann et al. (1999) shows links between the five areas of immersion and the and the eight categories of the SFMS. It could be argued that sharing the experience with others leads to further immersion as the inclusion of a community provides users with a feeling of acceptance and validation of their digital reality (Jenny et al. 2017). Twitch.TV allows people to engage with the Streamer and all the other viewers of that stream. This means that there are vast amounts of people with similar interests all engaging in social interaction creating a community. Regular viewers that engage with the chat systems are also very much part of the Streamer brand, recognised by the Streamer and other members of the community (Archer and Harrigan 2016).

The results showed that the introduction of Learning as a moderator variable to GAC had to strongest overall relationship with DI. Payne et al. (2017) described Twitch.TV as a virtual third place which has a significant positive effect on the learning, socialising and participation of its audience. Immersion and GAC both express the synergy of interaction with people, places and things (Hamilton et al. 2014; Schettino 2015; Jenny et al. 2017), therefore it is logical that content that stimulates and provokes self-improvement leads to deeper focus and DI. Learning was also looked at as an independent variable and the results showed that there was a significant strong relationship with DI. Due to two of the original hypotheses being determine as unreliable via Cronbach Alpha, learning was only considered with GAC. This will be further discussed in the limitations section. However, further research should explore how Learning contributes to other constructs, especially considering its proven direct relationship with DI.

Interestingly, and contradictory to literature, Entertainment (H4) was rejected. It was found to be insignificant and have no relationship with DI at all. Research surrounding sports consumption motivation (Wann et al. 1999; Jia et al. 2016) and immersion literature (Schettino 2015; Denisova 2016) expresses the requirement of “entertainment” in order to motivate or experience immersion. It could be argued that people are immersed in their everyday “physical” lives, and that day to day behaviour is not always entertaining. The assumption could be made that digital environments when viewed as an extension of the biological self (Brown and Cairns 2004; O’Connor 2016), are receptive to the same factors that influence immersion in the physical world. This would need to be researched further to clarify how closely people link their digital world with their physical world and whether there is indeed a separation at all.

The study proved the existence of DI within the environments of eSports and Twitch.TV. Figure 4.5 shows the results from the testing of DI through questions generated as a result of the literature surrounding immersion conducted by Schettino (2015) and applying that to the digital context. Majority of respondents feel they “somewhat agree” or “strongly agree” with these statements. The statements cover: embodiment/sensory immersion, emotional involvement, sense of presence, challenge/Interactivity. Future studies could look to determine the level of Focus being felt as a result of the level of agreement that users feel with each of the other constructs.

At the heart of digital immersion is community: The more that individual is experiencing community and feels part of that community, the more likely they are to be immersed in the digital environment. Contrary to existing research on online influencing we found to support to demonstrate impact streamers (aka influencers) have on digital immersion in the context of e-sports. Moreover, entertainment within content is also irrelevant to the digital immersion. Once again contrary to existing research. Finally, content that allows users to escape from reality and forget about real world problems, and learning in combination with community factors found to have strong and positive impact on digital immersion. Findings of this research have implications beyond its contextual focus, e-Sports. Businesses can utilise learning, escape and community effect to improve online presence and stimulate much more meaningful engagement with a digital content.

Slacktivism to Activism conversion is possible and leading to success

by Elvira Bolat

Original content was published via LinkedIn:

Launched at the red carpet events the Time’s Up movement is gradually moving it audiences towards discussing further the issues of gender inequality, abuse of power and sexual harassment in workplaces and industries. It is not about awareness anymore but about taking actions, hearing stories of others and supporting victims.

From the  Time’s Up campaign example we see that social media campaigns are leading to more than just slacktivist behaviour. Society and audiences are listening and acting on information; they express empathy and they learn to be cautious. In the past two years my research colleague @FreyaSamuelson-Cramp and I have been looking into issues around outcomes achieved by social media marketing when it comes to promoting and engaging audiences and society with social causes, i.e. child abuse, poverty, immigration etc. Over the course of these two years we conducted empirical research into slacktivist behaviour and of course we have interpreted and followed through results achieved by famous social marketing campaigns such as IceBucketChallenge and KONY2012. In most of these cases we have seen amazing results in terms of awareness. Our study does show that slacktivists are engaging with the online social marketing campaign due to participatory and solidarity culture of social media. Psychological and emotional motives are strongly utilised by most social marketing campaigns, hence, they do achieve number of likes, shares and reshares – activity metrics of social media engagement. However, most of these campaigns, just like any social media content, are eventually lost in timelines of content, forgotten and dusted. What is different about Time’s Up? Below are some headings that I believe make Time’s Up a truly successful and different social media campaign.

STORY

Time’s Up movement created from the #MeToo campaign brings to light stories of sexual harassment in workplaces, entertainment industry and overall gender inequality issues where males are abusing own rights and power to undermine, disrespect and take advantage of women. The story of Men Power, and gender inequality (or should I say, Women Powerlessness) is documented in fairytales such as Cinderella (only prince can make cinderella a princess), Red Riding Hood (only the hunter could save the poor girl and her granny) is accompanying young children, leading up to embedded into upbringing differences in girls and boys. Today, however, stories are changing with Elsa relying on her sister to rule her land and Moana being the only person to save her people and in fact give back a demigod abilities to ‘powerful’ Mawi. And quite frankly these stories are not about battle of powers but the partnership of genders. #MeToo campaign, in light of these new stories, is not about females or males but about a suffer that abuse of power creates. This story united people, families, celebrities and their fans. Solidarity, community and emotions are three components that were critical stimuli to make #MeToo campaign a relatable story.

INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS

Time’s Up movement is a continuous campaign that is reactive and carefully planned at the same time. However, its success is hugely depends on utilising omni-channel communication with events marketing at the heart. Major entertainment events such as Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Grammys are platform to talk to all people across the world using celebrities are transmitters of the message. This time, however, victims themselves play a role in communicating their messages and having a community of supporters by their side. The show embeds solidarity and partnership – this makes a positive attitude and support unavoidable. Watch my favourite speech by Janelle Monáe during Grammys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjqFGS5CwFA 

Powerful, is not it? So, I can watch this speech over and over and share, reshare and comment because of social media channels like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc. TV channels, magazine covers, bloggers, any social media user have now shared their opinions and created own content to demonstrate solidarity and support. Bundle of channels and, hence, webs of conversations enable the Time’s Up to bring in financially and capabilities viable and critical partners (i.e. volunteer lawyers) together to help victims of sexual harassment and deliver a justice. Content and ubiquitous conversation enable victims to feel supported and speak out without feeling ashamed and hope to be supported.

It is not ends on communication and promotion only, we see changes in products and services – the whole marketing industry is reacting to #MeToo story with wearable gadgets being introduced to help victims in the incidents of attacks.

Overall, it is because of one single story and consistent and coherent multichannel transmission of the story, Time’s up, through crowdfunding vis-a-vis likes and shares, is building an army of supporters and people who truly can make difference to victims’ lives and build in policies and regulations, and change attitudes.

AUDIENCE JOURNEY MAPPING

Time’s up through awareness and move to interest and education is now slowly taking its audiences to stage of action and meaningdul engagement. This campaign is not about one reaction but Time’s Up aims to achieve a gradual combination of emotional and behavioural changes. With the global events at heart, the campaign is bringing in to spotlight the Story. However, behind the scene it enables others to conduct further research and form own opinion vis-a-vis social media conversations and follow-up media coverage. Now, gradually we see key stakeholders being involved in making visible and actionable changes that are to affect all of us via policies and cultural value shifts. This is what drastically differentiates Time’s Up from other social marketing campaigns. Here we see gradual journey, that all of us within the audience, conduct: from Awareness stage to Interest, Desire and now Action. Integrated marketing communications and careful mapping of audiences’ behavioural journey enables that conversion of slacktivists into activists.

SOCIAL MEDIA LISTENING

Social media listening is important part of a marketing research. It is mostly used in pre-campaign phases to shape story and make it relevant, current (or timely), choose channels and personas. However, in my article about Universities marketing I did write that social media listening needs to be everyday job of today’s T-shaped marketers: social media listening is not just about research but it is part of content development and social media storytelling – sensing when to release next chapter of your story, who to be the hero of your chapter. Time’s Up is doing this quite well and quite frankly it is not channel or event related. For instance after Golden Globes, Grammys and BAFTA events could easily shift attention to different phase of audience journey (as per above). However, Time’s Up did listen and learnt that audience was not ready yet and education (interest, desire) phase was to be prolonged.

PERSONA ENGAGEMENT, NOT DEVELOPMENT, APPROACH!

Although the campaign is aimed at everyone, there is a key persona for the Time’s Up – a victim (past, present and future) of sexual harassment. This persona is not narrowly described by her/his social media networks and other touchpoints, demographic and lifestyle profiling; this persona is defined by his/her journey in relation to the Story (as per above). This is quite different to other nonprofit or for profit marketing campaigns. Time’s Up is becoming a gradual part of its personas’ journeys, hence the campaign is underpinned by engagement approach. For instance, we see now gradual changes in attitudes that make victims of sexual harassment to be open about their stories. Next, Time’s Up is aiming to build a strong and leading to actual results support ecosystem that will enable victims to ‘break the silence’ and come forward. Future personas or these to be educated, and hence not to ever be victims, are part of the journey through education and learning and reassurance that this topic is no longer a taboo subject.

We are still to observe and learn about the Time’s Up campaign. However, one thing is clear about this social marketing campaign, it places key characters at the heart of its story, listens to conversations and evaluates readiness of audiences to proceed to the next phases of customer journey. It clearly uses a nonconformist – slacktivist – activist conversion as a foundation for its phased but continuous communication.

 

Universities need to adapt commercial brands-led marketing practices of social media listening and user-generated storytelling

by Elvira Bolat

UK universities still need to come to terms with the fact that the whole sector is experiencing great changes triggered by marketisation of higher education (HE) sector. However, given the changes are impacting the sector with such a speedy pace, commercial brand and marketing communication practices need to be adopted immediately – to remain competitive. In times of Teaching Excellence Framework when each UK university is graded for its commitment to teaching quality and student service, we now admitted that students are consumers. However, we still may argue that consumption of higher education is still a different process where prosumption, co-creation of experiences and students’ active role within the consumption process are significant elements of the educational journey. This is not the point we have tried to make in our recently published paper at the Journal of Marketing Management. Instead, we are calling higher education institutions (HEIs) to adopt “market-driven business practices” and attempt “to listen to and leverage student-generated social media content” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017). “However, the power of content creators needs to be left or shifted to students, whereas the role of HE marketers, educators and other stakeholders is in listening and engaging via students as brand personas, students who truly believe in a specific HEI brand but also are able to generate authentic stories and conversations with current and prospective students” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017).

The paper itself is based around a social media artefact, ‘This Is Where I Study’ (TIWIS) Facebook page, created by students in the form of dialogues and content.

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Oxford as Student Destination: TIWIS team’s field trip to Oxford, May 2015. Photographer: Mahmut Bolat

Extract from the paper adds:

“TIWIS is essentially a ‘social journalism’ artefact that caters for international students seeking to study in UK universities. TIWIS utilised the social media and marketing expertise of BU journalism and marketing staff and students to produce reportage that prospective foreign students can draw from… BU students worked with teams from other UK HEIs for content production. The BU journalism team was drawn from MA Multimedia Journalism students, with the marketing team drawn from MSc Marketing Management students. The ultimate intention of the TIWIS project was to create student-related and relevant content with the intention of stimulating continuous students’ conversations which would first benefit and improve experiences of international students studying in the UK and second enable the generation of student-generated data that can be analysed and underpin the UK HEIs’ marketing initiatives as well as other business decisions.” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017).

We have adapted three-stage analysis of netnographic data related to engagement with TIWIS page and content and found that:

“students’ engagement with social media platforms such as Facebook is dynamic in nature. It comprises behavioural expressions (manifestations and actions such as likes and shares as well opinion comments) and individuals’ experiences (subjective in nature stories and comments of personal experiences and views). Hence, netnographic analysis allows capturing actual behaviours via longitudinal ‘big data’ sets and support HEIs in proactive branding. Analysis of social media data demonstrates the value of encouraging and making accessible authentic conversations in order to create student-centred content.” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017).

Read full paper at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0267257X.2017.1328458?scroll=top&needAccess=true

Full reference: Bolat, E. and O’Sullivan, H., 2017. Radicalising the marketing of higher education: learning from student-generated social media data. Journal of Marketing Management, pp.1-22.

Let us present HENRY family :-)

by Gemma Kennedy

This exploratory study examined the influence that social media has on the consumption of luxury products. We all know that social media has created a different dimension of consumers in various categories of products and services, and for luxury products in particular. That being, the ‘aspirational consumer’, whose desires for luxury derive from content produced on social media. Often, despite their strong yearning for luxury goods, due to economic reasons, aspirational consumers are unable to frequently purchase luxury. Social media provides an avenue for aspirational consumers to conspicuously consume without the need to purchase, enabling them to use luxury brands to create value amongst themselves. Aspirational consumers are mostly found amongst HENRYs (high earners, not yet rich).

Would you consider yourself one of HENRYs?

Research into the consumption of luxury goods has frequently been studied through the prism of Veblen’s (1899) Theory of Conspicuous Consumption (Truong and McColl 2011). Studies around the influence of social media on conspicuous consumption are fragmented. The literature reviewed revealed there is a need for an in depth understanding of the influence that social media has on HENRYs consumers behaviour prior to purchase. A hybrid qualitative approach using online and face-to-face focus group data was utilised within this study to map a journey of HENRYs consumption behaviour. WhatsApp was used as a focus group facilitation tool and this in fact is considered as originality of this research as no published studies report on the use of messaging apps as the qualitative research tools.

The map that we have developed as per illustration below reflects the role that social media has amongst the conspicuous consumption of luxury brands.

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HENRYs’ map of conspicuous consumption, original illustrations by Lucy Turnbull

Findings highlight that status consumption is prevalent amongst HENRY consumers. The proliferation of social media usage further encourages HENRYs need for status goods. Social media provides individuals with an immediate environment for luxury conspicuous consumption. Social media influencers and user-generated media allow individuals to demonstrate their luxury status through the creation of social media content. HENRYs wish to emulate these behaviours from status influencers to produce their own social media content as evidence of their own luxury possessions. The reactions that derive from status posting satisfy their narcissist ambitions.

This research has been peer-reviewed and presented at the Academy of Marketing 2017 Conference in Hull, UK. The paper was praised by all attendees of the Consumer Behaviour track.

Reference for the conference paper: Kennedy, G. and Bolat, E., 2017. Meet the HENRYs: A hybrid focus group study of conspicuous luxury consumption in the social media context. In: Academy of Marketing 2017 3-6 July 2017 Hull, United Kingdom.

Full version of the conference paper can be found here: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/29423/

Below, see presentation slides from the Conference.

Parallel Worlds

by Samreen Ashraf

Men have become the tools of their tools”

Henry David Thoreau

Walking down the road you might see someone wearing a Manchester United t-shirt, taking sips from their Starbucks cup while face timing on their iPhone. An onlooker might conclude that this person is an avid football (more precisely Man United) fan with a strong taste for coffee who loves the innovative side of Apple.

In a second scenario you come across various social media accounts of a successful manager where all of these accounts portray her differently. For example, she is a party goer on Facebook, twitter shows her a well-informed individual, snapchat indicates her crazy stories, Instagram shows her photographer side (and hence the attached picture) whereas LinkedIn has her all achievements listed.

By going through these two scenarios it can be easily inferred that almost everybody is living two lives these days, an online vibrant life and an offline real life.

Whether or not these people know that by consuming certain products offline (the first scenario) or online (the second) they are creating their persona about who they are, what they are like and what they enjoy the most depending on their situations. These personas lead to certain labels attached to these people which can be also termed their identities and these impact their decisions including consumption.

Thus consumption provides a chance to the consumers to build and express their self-image and identities through their product/service choices not only to themselves but to the people around them.

Consumer identity might not have been as relevant a topic before but now due to the explosion of social media, mobile technology and big data; it impacts on everyday aspects of life.

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Parallel Worlds, photographer: Joao Sousa, model: Samreen Ashraf

This whole scenario has changed marketing communications throughout the globe and hence the ways companies interact with the consumers.

A significant difference is evident between the interaction methods used by the companies currently and ten years ago. There is a revolution in the way organisations are developing their marketing messages knowing what consumers stand for and the labels they attach to themselves. Consumer identity is also referred to as the core of customer relation management that means attracting the customers on the basis of congruence between them and the company. For example the Lloyds tag line and their TVC appeals the customers on the basis of trust and security which assures the consumers that the bank will always be with them regardless of their life situation. In another example, a person who considers him/herself environment friendly (green) would rather opt for an e cigarettes than traditional tobacco.

With examples like these, it can be concluded that incorporating consumer identities in marketing messages can be a way forward for companies to succeed in the global market place.

Digital Every Day

by Maria Musarskaya 

We live in a digital era, which can be described in various aspects: the digitalisation of information storage, the emergence of web society, the replacement of face-to-face interaction with digital social networks, the decrease in the influence of traditional media, and the constant need to be in-the-know of what is happening in the world. There are many characteristics of what the digital era is and what it offers the consumers and some of such characteristics are contradicting, for example: interactivity, dissociation, momentariness, timeless, and convergence. The discussion of social network phenomenon and traditional media crisis serves in revealing the following relevant issues of the information space: the information content creation, dissemination, and changes in consumer behaviour.

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Digital Every Day, photographer: Andrea Gette, model: Maria Musarskaya

A recent trend in any business practice is to fulfill the need of transforming customer experience and customer engagement through mobile devices. As is seen in the relevant photograph, the consumer is present in a social setting, yet is using a digital device to communicate and to share her experiences with people other than those she is surrounded by. In this instance the real world and the online existence of the consumer are converged and her life is being lived yet is being transmitted online. The consumer is more connected than ever before, yet the social interaction in a physical setting is hindered by the presence of technology.

Maria’s life in the real world and online has merged as almost every aspect of her life in some way depends on her connectivity to the digital world.

 

Championing a Cause

by Maria Musarskaya

Coming of age during a time of rapid and dramatic technological advances, millennials make up a unique generation. They regularly use social media – 88% report getting their news from Facebook—and are savvy users of the Internet, one of the most important and powerful tools of their time. Checking their phones an average of 43 times a day, millennials seem to be perpetually connected to the world around them, and interact with each other on social media on an almost continuous basis.

This connectedness is an essential mechanism with which members of our generation communicate with each other not only just to socialize, but also to advance our ideas of social justice for the world we live in. There are many Facebook pages and Twitter profiles dedicated to social movements, including Social Justice Solutions and Social Justice Warriors, which have a combined 221,000 followers. To millennials, social media is a valuable organizing tool for the causes they champion. And since social media is a relatively recent and constantly evolving phenomenon—Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat are continually tweaking how they work—the strategies activists use to promote change are evolving along with it. This trend can be seen by examining the evolving methods of two major social movements that much of our generation is currently engaged with: Black Lives Matter, and the push for equality among people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

wedemandjustice

We Demand Justice, photographer: Hector Paulino, model: Hector Paulino

As seen in the above image, the user of Facebook, Hector Paulino, is showing his support for and raising awareness about justice by adding a filter which adds a note to his picture saying ‘WE DEMAND JUSTICE’ and sharing it on his social media profiles.

Social media ‘on the go’: Does age has any impact?

by Harry Cutler-Smith

sm_onthego_age

Social Media ‘On the Go’ & Age Difference, photographer: Harry Cutler-Smith, models: Janet Cutler, George Cutler

Introduction

Social media can, therefore, be seen as an extension of people’s lives with opportunities to construct virtual identities as well as personal, social and professional spaces that altogether extend boundaries of offline contexts. Social media consumption is particularly immersive and complex in the cases when individuals are accessing and using social media on the go, via mobile devices. Although extensive number of studies explored the consumers’ adoption of mobile technology and adoption of social media, adoption of mobile social media (consumption of social media on mobile devices) remains underexplored. Moreover, existing research on social media adoption has identified two generational groups, generation Y (aged 18-25) and generation X (aged 35-60) which have active use of social media, although their motives and attitudes towards social media as well as consumption patterns differ. With the increased use of social media ‘on the go’, no existing studies have investigated the generational gap in the adoption and use of mobile social media (MSM).

Theoretical Background

Social media, defined as technological platforms and channels which enable interaction, exchange of information and content virtually between individuals, groups of individuals anywhere anytime (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010; Kietzmann et al., 2010), represents an increasingly important way for brands and businesses to connect and interact with consumers (Murdough, 2009). The challenge, however, lies in viewing social media as simply another technological tool that facilitates conversations and exchange of information. With time social media has become a platform, which individuals rely on and are dependant upon during their daily lives and business activities. Social media can, therefore, be seen as an extension of people’s lives with opportunities to construct virtual identities as well as personal, social and professional spaces that altogether extend boundaries of offline contexts (Correa et al., 2010). Social media consumption is particularly immersive and complex in the cases when individuals are accessing and using social media on the go, via mobile devices.

Consumption of social media via mobile devices (MSM) is compelling to individuals because of the means of production, distribution and consumption – all found on a single device, which individuals can carry anywhere anytime (portability) and can personalise according to own interest and needs (Humphreys, 2013; Bolat, 2014). Simple rationale for the increased usage rates of MSM is in a convenience deriving from ability to quickly share timely and, therefore, relevant footage, data and content with others (Bolat et al., 2016). Due to SNS being embedded within mobile phones and tablets computers, there was a noticeable increase in mobile phone usage rate over the past decade (Goggin, 2010). This is due to their integration within individuals’ lives. Social media is on the rise due to the fact that it is widely accessible and to some degree essential. Accessing social media on the go enables continuous accessibility and connection with social ties as well as creates opportunities for constant

presence and engagement in the social media context (Bolat et al., 2016). Having said that, research into understanding consumers’ experiences with using and adopting MSM is scarce and fragmented. Studies around social media adoption and usage can be divided within the two main streams, technical in nature papers (Trusov et al., 2009; Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010; Tsai and Men, 2013; Gamboa and Gonçalves, 2014; Moncrief et al., 2015
 ) where social media technical and functional features od ‘media’ component are assessed and papers studying the ‘social’ component with a focus on understanding behavioural aspects of social media use, to name few, social interaction, social ties, social identity (Kwon and Wen, 2010; Shiue et al., 2010) and the application of social media in both the consumer and the business contexts (Baird and Fisher, 2005; Eyrich et al., 2008).

In investigation of social behavioural aspects of social media consumption, however, technical side of SNS is also captured. In particular, Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (Davis et al., 1989) has been adopted to examine the role of perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness on individuals’ attitudes towards the adoption of social media (Eyrich et al., 2008; Steyn et al., 2010; Hajli, 2014). Moreover, privacy and trust issues which usually lead to negative associations when adopting technology, have dual effect in the social media context where permission-based communication is enabled due to technical ability of SNS users to control their privacy settings (Ashley and Tuten, 2015). Other studies like De Valck et al. (2009) extended TAM by incorporating Theory of reasoned action (TRA) (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980) to investigate how SNS affects the decision-making processes of consumers. De Valck et al. (2009) found that social ties formed via SNS have a significant impact on consumers’ motivations to engage with SNS. Social media word-of-mouth (sWOM) is proven to have higher impact on consumers’ decisions and evaluations than offline WOM (Tursov et al., 2009; Kozinets et al., 2010). In studying the motives of consumers to use social media existing studies (Porter and Donthu, 2008; Johnson and Yang, 2009; Hughes et al., 2012) adopted the uses and gratification approach (Blumler and Katz, 1974). The most evident motives to use social media are social and informational (Johnson and Yang, 2009; Hughes et al, 2012). Informational motives refer to desire to obtain and consume content. Social motives are more complex and include rational motives of sharing information and emotional motives that include social connections and creating social dynamics (Krishnamurthy and Dou, 2008). Moreover, Leung (2006) have emphasised the impact of psychological motives on individuals’ adoption and use of social media and in particular found that those users, which show signs of boredom, often retreat to social networking in an effort to satisfy their need of entertainment. In addition, numerous studies (Correa et al., 2010; Heinonen, 2011; Hughes et al., 2012) focused on classifying and categorising the social media used based on their psychological motives to engage with social media. These studies concluded that extraversion, neuroticism and openness are the main personality traits of the typical social media user.

Although users’ motives to engage with social media are extensively researched, little is known about individuals’ motives to engage with MSM. In addition to entertainment, social and informational motives, mobile devices offer the users functional value – technical competencies of mobile technology such as transmission and exchange of content in various formats, ease of use of technical functions, multi-tasking functionality of allowing to combine voice conversations, text communication and web-browsing (Bolat, 2014). Hence, it rationale to assume that functional motives positively influence attitudes of individuals to use MSM.

Moreover, existing research on social media adoption (Vanslyke, 2003) has identified two generational groups, generation Y (aged 18-25) and generation X (aged 35-60) which have active use of social media, although their motives and attitudes towards social media differ. These two groups were defined by Prensky as ‘Digital Natives’ (generation Y) and ‘Immigrants’ (generation X), describing the generational gap between the Internet users (Vanslyke, 2003). Existing studies demonstrate that two generational groups differ in the ways they consumer social media. Itom et al. (2008) discuss the impact social media has on the younger generation, for example communication, socialising skills and even self- expression, which are all enhanced through their use of social media platforms (Itom et al., 2008). Whereas digital immigrants adopt social media in order to engage connect with others to fill their need for companionship and to participate in new activities (Prensky, 2001). With the increased use of social media ‘on the go’, no existing studies have investigated the generational gap in the adoption and use of MSM.

 

Based on the above review of existing research, the following conceptual model and hypotheses are being proposed (figure 1), which examines consumers’ adoption and engagement with social media ‘on the go’ (MSM), with particular focus on the role the consumer’s age plays in the adoption of MSM.

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Figure 1. Conceptual model and hypotheses

Methodology

The data was collected using the mixed methods of data collection, the focus groups and the survey. Focus group included exploratory phase of in-depth investigation on differences different age groups experience when using social media on the go by focusing on (1) mapping individual’s daily engagement with social media across devices and (2) asking individuals across two different age groups to ‘show and tell’ how they use and consumer social media on their mobile devices. Following focus group, the survey measurement instrument was modified to capture results of qualitative data analysis. Snowball sampling was applied to ensure the survey gained the most exposure possible. It was shared through online networking sites (Facebook and Twitter). The survey was sent to multiple (20+) specific peers, who were asked to complete and share the survey with as many others within the required age brackets. To lessen the issue of bias responses the initial recipients weren’t chosen at random (family, close friends) and were required to send it only to those who they felt would complete the survey appropriately. The entire online survey consisted of 11 questions, using multiple choice answers and a Likert scale. The statements can be seen in the downloadable measurement instrument.

Thematic analysis and regression statistics were used to analyse mixed data.

Findings

Focus Group

A total of 8 participants from two age groups (18-25 and 35-60) took part in a focus group.

Figure 2 illustrates touchpoints with social media on-the-go: “Home” and “Work” were two locations which came up frequently amongst the group, also a theme of multiple locations of social media usage with generation Y was noticeably higher.

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Figure 2. Information on the location / activity of social media usage (%)

Figure 3 depicts the number of each individual’s use of certain devices. A distinct pattern shows that both generation X and Y all use a smartphone when using social media, the pattern continues but the number of individuals decrease with the use of a games console / smart TV and or tablet device. The younger generation presented slightly higher in terms of using a computer / laptop to engage with social media during their average daily routine.

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Figure 3. Information on the devices participants used for accessing social media ‘on the go’ (%)

Figure 4 illustrates that “Social Networking” and “Social Entertainment” are as the most common purposes among the two age groups, although more common with generation Y (younger age group). “Social Commerce” and “Social Publishing” presented no distinguishing differences with either generation.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-23-07-27

Figure 4. Purposes of using social media ‘on the go’ (%)

Figure 5 demonstrates that only 1 network isn’t used by an individual from the younger age group whereas generation X only use 50% of the proposed networks.

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Figure 5. Social media networks used ‘on the go’ (%)

Analysis of the focus group discussion suggests differences and similarities in motives to use social media on-the-go across two age groups.

Similarities: The first similarity is the devices used by participates, both parts of this study suggest mobile usage is increasing and people tend to access social media on their mobiles. (Humphreys 2013). Culture also impacted on user’s engagement with social media; users from both age groups stated aspects of cultural change which influences their use of social media on the go (Strutton et al. 2011). This linked to the motive of time and location; participates which had family in other countries had relied much more on social media as a platform to communicate; somewhat supporting the authors second research question. The author found that social motives for usage of social media on mobile devices came up more frequently amongst all ages when compared to the other motives; supporting the authors third research question (Humphreys 2013).

Differences: The results from both parts of the focus group have identified trends of differences amongst the two generations; this refers to the diverse factors each age group deem influential to their social media usage. The review of literature suggests (Correa et al. 2009; Boltan et al. 2006) that the level of diversity exhibited by an individual can lower their engagement with social media; literature states that the younger generation are more open to diversity and there for more likely to engage with multiple forms social media (Boltan et al. 2006). The results indicate that generation Y used more SNS than the older generation, suggesting that diversity does have an effect on an individual’s usage of social media. This could also be a result of other traits; extraversion is linked to those individuals who are enthusiastic of adopting social media resulting in higher usage of social media. It was indicated during the discussion that two members of the younger age group were reluctant to adopt new forms of social media, even though they are active users of other SNS. Openness suggests an individual is less likely to change and/or adopt; Correa, Hinsley and Zuniga (2009) state that generation Y score lower in regards to openness to social media. During the discussion the author noted that the older generation exhibited less diversification, but higher adoption to using social media to fulfil the need to communicate (Strutton et al. 2011; Correa et al. 2009). The differences, stated above indicate the authors question on whether there is a difference in the way both age groups use social media on the go is supported. Entertainment factors of social media usage refer to video content, gaming and other forms of social media which allows users to lessen boredom (Leung 2006). From the results of the mapping activity the younger generation scored 50% higher than the older age group when considering entertainment as a motive of social media use. Video streaming such as; YouTube is considered a source of entertainment accessible through social media on mobile devices (Shao 2009). The higher score for use of YouTube with the younger generation could explain. The results from both parts of the focus group have identified trends of differences amongst the two generations; this refers to the diverse factors each age group deem influential to their social media usage. The review of literature suggests (Correa et al. 2009; Boltan et al. 2006) that the level of diversity exhibited by an individual can lower their engagement with social media; literature states that the younger generation are more open to diversity and there for more likely to engage with multiple forms social media (Boltan et al. 2006). The results indicate that generation Y used more SNS than the older generation, suggesting that diversity does have an effect on an individual’s usage of social media. This could also be a result of other traits; extraversion is linked to those individuals who are enthusiastic of adopting social media resulting in higher usage of social media. It was indicated during the discussion that two members of the younger age group were reluctant to adopt new forms of social media, even though they are active users of other SNS. Openness suggests an individual is less likely to change and/or adopt; Correa, Hinsley and Zuniga (2009) state that generation Y score lower in regards to openness to social media. During the discussion the author noted that the older generation exhibited less diversification, but higher adoption to using social media to fulfil the need to communicate (Strutton et al. 2011; Correa et al. 2009). The differences, stated above indicate the authors question on whether there is a difference in the way both age groups use social media on the go is supported. Entertainment factors of social media usage refer to video content, gaming and other forms of social media which allows users to lessen boredom (Leung 2006). From the results of the mapping activity the younger generation scored 50% higher than the older age group when considering entertainment as a motive of social media use. Video streaming such as; YouTube is considered a source of entertainment accessible through social media on mobile devices (Shao 2009). The higher score for use of YouTube with the younger generation could explain the increase of entertainment being a motive for social media usage on the go for generation X. There were no diverse correlations between the device usages amongst either age group, supporting that each age group could revert to different means (devices) in order to fulfil their need for entertainment (Shao 2009). The concerns of privacy is an issue all users of social media should take into consideration, especially in regards to the younger generation; whom are noted for not taking responsible measures when sharing, posting content online. The motive of privacy became a prominent difference compared with the two age groups; the discussion identified that the younger generation wasn’t as conscious to the issues of fraud or invasion to privacy as much as the older generation (O’Keeffe et al. 2011). The differences above indicate particular differences in relation to both age groups; supporting the authors forth research question.

Focus group study suggested that social motives were the main influence towards both age groups consumption of social media on the go; due to literature (Blight et al. 2015; Correa et al. 2009; Humphreys 2013; Hughes et al. 2012) emphasising the impact communication, forming relations and interaction had on user’s activity. Both generations are actively using social media on their mobiles, the fact that both age groups utilise social media to communicate and the differences of opinions both generations apply to the motives to use social media on the go (privacy, entertainment and location).

Figure 6 provides overview on hypotheses testing and confirmation.

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Figure 6. Overview table for hypotheses testing

The overall results from survey suggest that a majority of my hypotheses are supported and from this the authors research questions (1-3) are concluded with positive results. The users’ attitude towards social media was found to have an impact on the user’s actual use of social media on-the-go (H7) with a positive relationship .572 and strong significance between the two variables (ATT and AU1). This is also the case with the further two research questions; impact of time and location on users’ intention and indication on the specific motives which influence engagement of social media on-the-go.

Time and location was found to have a considerable impact on user intention of social media on-the-go (H8b) with a positive relationship .568 the hypothesis is supported; making time and location an important factor for businesses to consider when targeting members of either generation. Excluding the privacy factor and the age moderation of social and information motives; all other motives and factors have a positive impact on user engagement and are supported with the influence of age moderation, concluding the third research question proposed by the author. The fourth and final research question is positively supported in regards to entertainment and functional use, with the age moderation suggesting that age impacts the attitudes towards these motives when using social media on-the-go. The review of literature (Strutton et al. 2011; Bolton et al. 2013) supports the findings of age moderation as entertainment is widely adopted by the younger generation which are considered “Digital Natives”.

The result findings help propose supported methods which could benefit the business world. The impact of the motives on users’ actual use of social media on-the-go suggests that in order to target the younger generation, it is important to incorporate specific factors such as entertainment to enhance the consumers interest to the communication; the impact of entertainment is supported by Shao (2009). The factor of privacy wasn’t continued through to the regression analysis due to its unreliability; however, the discussion from study 1 proved that privacy isn’t an issue considered by either generation. The privacy factor relates to those applications which require users to agree to allowing the publisher access to specific areas on their mobiles and or social media profiles. With the low consideration of privacy as an influence to use social media on-the-go, businesses are able to gain knowledge of consumers as the likelihood of being granted access is high across both generations. The focus group identified a trend of the adoption of technology; a majority of participates from both generations agreed that they wouldn’t use a certain new wearable-tech product as it was deemed unnecessary or too expensive. Although interest to other technologies were indicated from a minority of both age groups which was stated to be more interesting, the author recommends further research into wearable technology.

Implications

The author indicates that the main factor to consider when researching the generational gap is the rate of adoption and the unexpected nature of the user. (Correa, Hinsley and Zuniga 2009; Strutton et al. 2011) identify that consumers of both generations differ in the rate of adoption, but overall adopt to social media and social media on-the-go nonetheless. Both study 1 and study 2 confirmed that generation X uses mobile social media just as much as the younger generation whom are considered more technological savvy. The increased adoption of social media amongst generation X is considered an effect of age blurring; this refers to the phenomenon of older consumers adopting to certain trends which would be commonly referred to as a younger persons thing – i.e. social media and social media on-the-go (Euromonitor 2011).

The increasing rate of adoption of new trends forces marketing departments to consider new approaches to advertise and capture the interests of both the younger and older generation. More research is required when targeting an audience of either or both age groups as trends have a habit of changing rapidly, limiting the time frames marketers have between constructing an effective or ineffective mobile social media advertisement. The author emphasises the importance of understanding the rate of adoption and the ability to identify new trends which influences the engagement of social media on-the-go across both generation X and Y.

Access and read full list of sources used in this study.

Access and read conference paper I have presented with my co-author, Dr Elvira Bolat, in Newcastle:

Bolat, E. and Cutler-Smith, H., 2016. Social media ‘on the go’: Examining the impact of age. In: Academy of Marketing, 4-7 July 2016, Newcastle, UK. Link to the paper: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/24443/

Are you Slacktivist?

by Freya Samuelson-Cramp

Helping the world one ‘like’ at a time – The rise of the slacktivist*

* please note these are extracts from conference paper to be submitted as book chapter (details can be found below)

Over the last ten years social media has become a buzzword in all things business, psychology and global change. The Charity and Non-profit sector has adopted social media as one of their core engagement and fundraising tools showing the great power of the online community, however, the extent to which this is benefitting the sector is debateable. Is liking an organisation on Facebook is equal to donating money? A consumer interaction with charities and non-profit businesses by sharing and liking campaigns is based around the notion of ‘Slacktivism’. To date, studies on ‘Slacktivism’ behaviour in the social media context are limited with Rotman et al.’s (2011) study discussing a process framework for slacktivist and activist behaviour on social media, however, with no empirical evidence obtained to illustrate framework. Adopting theories of reasoned actions and planned behavior together with Goldberg’s big five personality factors, this study aims to investigate the motivations and interactions of social media users towards non-profit social media campaigns, with particular interest of studying ‘Slacktivists’. This study reveals no highly significant difference between all supporter types. Slacktivists and activists were found to be the most similar on personality traits and motivations, however slacktivists were less motivated by altruism. Interestingly, the emotional and psychological motive was found to not influence any of the groups in their support towards charities on social media, which differs to research not conducted on social media, suggesting social media facilitates a relationship between supporter and charity which is instantaneous or unemotionally involved and subsequently uncommitted to the cause. On the contrary to existing research (Seidman 2013; Pillai et al. 2015), this study found (1) the subjective norm to have the strongest correlation with slacktivist behavior and, therefore, suggests slacktivists are somewhat influenced by the perceived pressure those around them; (2) neuroticism (low rating on the emotional stability scale) does not influence slacktivism. Moreover, empirical evidences shows that slacktivists are strongly motivated by the familial link and by the emotional and psychological motive. Hence, it is not surprising to see that this study found no relationship between attitudes towards charity-related social media (ATTCH) and slacktivist behaviours. If those who are slacktivist are not emotionally engaged with a charity and do not have any real attitude towards their social media campaigns, they may just be engaging with content out of boredom or because they have been prompted to by a peer. Overall this study highlights that when communicating via social media Charity and Non-profit sector deals with diverse categories of audience, hence, objectives and communication tactics should be mapped against each individual category.

slacktivism1

Helping the world one ‘like’ at the time, photographer: Freya Samuelson-Cramp, model: Freya Samuelson-Cramp

Theoretical Background

Over the last ten years social media has become a buzzword in all things business, psychology and global change. Guo and Saxton (2012) claim that social media platforms have paved a way for reaching and mobilising new networks of community actors. These platforms further give a voice to issues that might otherwise have no airtime on traditional media (Lovejoy et al., 2012).The Charity and Non-profit sector has adopted social media as one of their core engagement and fundraising tools showing the great power of the online community due to its vast reach and cost effectiveness (Lawrence, 2013). However, the extent to which this is benefitting the sector is debateable.

Is liking an organisation on Facebook is equal to donating money? Grummas (2014) reports that online supporters are not effectively changing anything but are merely showing tokens of appreciation by liking and sharing online charity-related campaigns. A consumer interaction with charities and non-profit businesses by sharing and liking campaigns is based around the notion of ‘Slacktivism’. ‘Slacktivism’ is defined as “a willingness to perform a relatively costless token display of support for a social cause, with an accompanying lack of willingness to devote significant effort to enact meaningful change” (Kristofferson et al., 2014, p.1149).

slacktivism

Are You Slacktivist?, photographer: Freya Samuelson-Cramp, model: Freya Samuelson-Cramp

To date, studies on ‘Slacktivism’ behaviour in the social media context are limited with Rotman et al.’s (2011) study discussing a process framework for slacktivist and activist behaviour on social media, however, with no empirical evidence obtained to illustrate framework. Lee and Hsieh (2013) conducted study on online petitions for and against gun possession and found that slacktivist behaviour deters consumers from taking further action as they have already satisfied their altruistic needs, however, no other similar studies were conducted to demonstrate generability of results.

Whether slacktivism is seen in a positive or negative light, it is important to explore and understand the reasons behind the phenomenon so that non-profit organisations can either encourage or discourage this behaviour to their advantage. Adopting theories of reasoned actions and planned behavior together with Goldberg’s big five personality factors, this study aims to investigate the motivations and interactions of social media users towards non-profit social media campaigns, with particular interest of studying slacktivists.

Figure 1 provides full conceptualisation of existing research which will help to study slacktivism behaviour.

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Figure 1. Conceptual framework – Slacktivism

Research method

Self-administered surveys were deemed the most suitable method for collecting data for the research due to ability to delve into what the participant thinks and believes to explain cognitive processes like opinions and behaviours with more validity (Maylor and Blackmon, 2005). This type of survey also accommodates the use of anonymity and confidentiality, which is imperative to the research as questions surrounding charitable support and donations can be quite intrusive in nature. This may have provided the research with more genuine responses from participants as they would not be affected by social desirability bias which can create issues of validity in the results (Fisher, 1993). This was important when exploring participants’ relationships with charity and donations as there is a lot of social pressure around supporting charities (Reyniers and Bhalla, 2013).

Survey was distributed online via Facebook. The research was based on interaction within this platform and, therefore, needed respondents who use this site. The survey was designed using PollDaddy.com as it allowed the use of images, a larger number of questions and range of survey styles compared to other providers. Participants have been accumulated using a combination of two non-probability methods, a convenience and snowballing sampling methods. Overall, 154 usable surveys were completed. Respondents were 34% male and 66% female and 78% aged 18-34 with varied income levels (41% of the sample in the <£10000 income bracket; 18% of the sample in the £20000-30000 income bracket; 31% of the sample in the >£40000 income bracket).

The survey employed the use of a 48-item questionnaire to identify demographics, personality, social media use and constructs based on motivation and processes formulated from the literature reviewed.

Findings

In terms of categorisation by supporter types, overall, 118 participants showed activist behaviours, 92 showed slacktivist behaviours and 53 participants showed non-conformist behaviours. Each supporter type rated very highly across all personality traits, of which there was a high agreement to portraying the openness to experience trait. Drawing from the lack of ‘low’ ratings on personality traits it would appear that participants may have not wanted to portray themselves negatively, however, there was more agreement to the neurotic trait (low emotional stability). Previous studies have claimed neuroticism to be higher in females than males (Goodwin and Gotlib, 2004; Johnson, 2003; Farmer et al., 2002; Lynn and Martin, 1997), which could explain our results, as the sample was predominantly female. Activists rated the highest on emotional stability and extraversion compared to the other supporter types, which would be expected of someone who wanted to be physically involved in altruistic behaviours and partake in fundraising events. Slacktivists were the most open to experiences, agreeable and conscientious, which would suggest they do feel a moral right to help but perhaps are encouraged to act by others requests or from the excitement of doing something new. Non-conformists did not rate higher than the other supporter types on any positive traits however did have the highest percentage of people who were low in conscientiousness and openness to experiences. This is predictable as non-conformists do not partake in supporting charities online, which could be owed to a lack of caring about moral duties and need to be involved.

Comparisons between motivations and supporter types show that all supporter types believed they were not influenced by emotional or psychological motivations to support charities on social media. This could be an effect of the media channel used (social media) or perhaps participants are cynical about emotional or guilt marketing (Cotte at al., 2005). Contrary to our beliefs slacktivists rated higher on altruistic motivations than activists. However, predictably non-conformists disagreed the most to being motivated by altruism. There was little agreement to being demonstrably motivated across all supporter types, especially for non-conformists who gave no agreement. Familial motivations were the strongest influencer of supporting charities on social media which may suggest this type of behaviour is used to create a supportive community for a friend or family or support is often given in honor of a passed relative.

It was found that the demonstrable motive was the only significant variable to impact on attitudes towards social media. The familial motive proved to have the most significant relationship with the attitudes towards charity-related social media. The second most significant motive in impacting attitudes towards charity-related social media campaigns was demonstrable motive.

Finally, we found no significant relationships between attitudes towards charity-related social media campaigns and the slacktivits and activists behavior. Those with activist behaviours were the most influenced group by the attitudes towards charity-related social media campaigns.

Our findings reveal no highly significant difference between all supporter types. Slacktivists and activists were found to be the most similar on personality traits and motivations, however slacktivists were less motivated by altruism. Interestingly, the emotional and psychological motive was found to not influence any of the groups in their support towards charities on social media, which differs to research not conducted on social media, suggesting social media facilitates a relationship between supporter and charity which is instantaneous or unemotionally involved and subsequently uncommitted to the cause. On the contrary to existing research (Seidman, 2013; Pillai et al., 2015), our study found (1) the subjective norm to have the strongest correlation with slacktivist behavior and, therefore, suggests slacktivists are somewhat influenced by the perceived pressure from those around them; (2) neuroticism (low rating on the emotional stability scale) does not influence slacktivism. Moreover, empirical evidence shows that slacktivists are strongly motivated by the familial link and by the emotional and psychological motives. Hence, it is not surprising to see that we found no relationship between attitudes towards charity-related social media and slacktivist behaviours. If those who are slacktivist are not emotionally engaged with a charity and do not have any real attitude towards their social media campaigns, they may just be engaging with content out of boredom or because they have been prompted to it by a peer. Overall this study highlights that when communicating via social media Charity and Non-profit sector deals with diverse categories of audience, hence, objectives and communication tactics should be mapped against each individual category.

Drawing from the correspondence analysis results, the majority of those with slacktivist behaviours were found to have the openness to experiences trait (93%). Openness to experiences has been positively correlated to social media use (Correa et al 2010) and so may explain the relationship between slacktivists and social media and why it is their preferred way of supporting charities. Seidman (2013) found high levels of neuroticism amongst those who used Facebook to create an ideal self-image, however, very few slacktivists rated themselves as neurotic (low rating on the emotional stability scale),. This suggests slacktivists do not take part in supporting charities on Facebook because they worry what others think or are trying to create the ‘ideal ‘social media image. Contrary to this, the subjective norm had the strongest correlation with slacktivist behaviour (.234) which suggests slacktivists are, however, influenced by perceived social pressure.

Slacktivists mostly felt motivated by the familial link (36%) and disagreed that they were influenced by emotional and psychological motives (77%). There was no apparent causal link between the demonstrable motive and slacktivists, similar to research by Sargeant et al’s (2006) who found no relationship to the demonstrable motivation in committed giving. Sargeant et al (2006) did find a causal link between emotions and commitment to giving but this study did not uncover a similar link. This raises the question whether it is the difference of support being on social media which prevents it from being motivated by emotional and psychological means, because it is not being used as a tool for committed support. Perhaps the use of social media for supporting causes allows the individual to give quick and momentary support which yields no emotional connection or longevity in their continued support. This may also explain why there was no significant relationship between attitudes towards charity related campaigns and slacktivist behaviours. If those who are slacktivist are not emotionally engaged with a charity and do not have any real interest in their social media campaigns, they may just be engaging with content out of boredom or because they have been prompted to by a peer.

For activists (69%) and slacktivists (68%) alike, emotional stability was the least recognised personality trait, which may mean they are more affected by their emotions than non- conformists. Activists were also most likely to have extrovert personalities, and such personalities use social media to present their ‘real’ self rather than an “ideal” self (Michikyan et al 2014). Extrovert activists appear more likely to support causes they really connect with offline and online, whereas slacktivists (who rated lower on the extraversion scale) may give more thought to engage with causes to improve their image.

It is unsurprising that all supporter types rated as extroverts and most highly open to experiences as these traits are both positively linked with social media use (Correa et al 2010). Agreeableness has been consistently linked to altruistic and pro social behaviour (Caprara et al 2010, Corr et al 2015) and has been further supported by this research. Agreeableness appeared to be the most prominent in slacktivists rather than activists, and this is relevant as it involves being compliant with requests from others (Carlo et al 2005). Sharing posts and becoming involved in viral campaigns such as the Ice Bucket challenge are behaviours that depend on such compliance. The subjective norm plays a part in defining each supporter type.

Moreover, the research also found differences in motivations between all cohorts studied. Like slacktivists, both activists and non-conformists disagreed most to being influenced by the emotional and psychological motivations. This adds further support for suggesting whether it is social media which disengages the user emotionally (highlighted in objective 3) and thus is not a motivator in supporting charities on this platform.

Implications

Drawing from the research and past literature, it is clear that slacktivists can still be valuable supporters and perhaps should be nurtured in the hope that they may give more tangible support in the future. It could be possible that slacktivists are only be held back by a lack of time, money or effort and charities should still aim to build relationships with these supporters so they remembered when these resources become available. The findings suggest to increase the effectiveness of social media campaigns charities should refrain from using emotional tactics but perhaps focus on the notion of supporting a friend or family through posts and videos. As technology and its consumers evolve it is important for charities to evolve also to remain connected and relevant in today’s society.

Further information

This study was accepted for presentation and publication in Proceedings for 5th International Conference on CSR (iCSR). Conference took place on 6-7 October 2016 in Bocconi University (Milan, Italy). Paper titled ‘Helping the world one ‘like’ at a time – the rise of slackticist!’ was co-authored with Dr Elvira Bolat. See presentation slides below. Full paper is now under review to be accepted for inclusion as book chapter as part of iCSR 2016 collection of best papers.