The role of Twitter as networked communication instrument for elite of Latvia

International Conference on Social e – xperience, Barcelona, 3 – 4 July 2012


This paper analyses multi-dimensional conceptualizations of social presence on Twitter through the components of awareness, cognitive and affective social presence. A special attention is devoted to the aspect of political participation, opinion leaders and involvement of the elite whose presence approximate different groups of society. The article also addresses critique of contemporary public communication of the network society in which presence and participation becomes more important than the outcome of the discussion. The empirical evidence of theoretical assumptions are tested by Twitter users in Latvia community survey comparing the data of 2010 and 2012 and the Twitter data corpus collected in analogical period of time, accumulating tweets of carefully selected community members.

Key words: social presence, Twitter, elite’s political participation, communication


Contemporary communication can be characterized as a set of emergencies to which one should react and with which one cannot keep up as it is not even possible.(Dean 2010).The speed and opportunities offered by technologies put an individual into a turning wheel in which thoughts are turned into reactions that have to be fast enough to catch up with the subject. Dean calls it communicative capitalism naming the features of this economic-ideological form as “intensive and extensive networks of enjoyment, production and surveillance”.

Since the invention of Twitter, microblogging has speed up the initiatives what individuals could have only dreamed of a decade ago. Twitter is enabling citizens to maintain mental model of news and events around them (Harmida, 2010). The flow of information has become faster as have the abilities to follow and think. Therefore, the world of communication has become turbulent, networked and focused on immediate issues which can be explored by a heavy presence in the networks of the social virtual world.

The contemporary networked communications have been noted as components of globalized neoliberalism (Harvey, 2005) and central to democracy (Dean, 2010). This is the time of communicative liberalism where focus is primarily centered on individual’s expressive creative activities in the networked public (Kersey, 2011).  Nowadays, social presence in the digital environment is accounted by messages posted, virtual availability for discussion and openness to involvement. This is not any more the feature of the early adopters, but the necessity of any socially active person. Rainie and Wellman (2012) name it a “networked operating system that gives people new ways to solve problems and meet social needs” (p. 9) pointing out that a characteristic feature of the system is networked individualism which is socially liberating and socially taxing and shift people’s social lives from the family and neighborhood level to more diverse personal networks.

Blogging and tweeting has become the forms of active social presence, attitude formation and expression in various society groups. Even though Twitter unites a rather small percent of the society, the more visible part – representatives of the elite, media, public relations and many other professions – have found this tool powerful and effective enough to be a part of it. Technologies connected with communication help to maintain contact with weaker ties and provide social capital. Rainie and Wellman (2012) see it as opportunity “to change the world or at least their neighborhood, organizing major political activity“(p. 19). The abilities of Twitter which unites the most active part of the society serve as a scene where anyone from the elite to a humble citizen can show themselves as caring members of the community. An individual can choose its own level of participation through creation of simple or value content, active or passive replies and retweets. The message of 140 characters can become a trust builder, mistake creator or information flow without particular target audience.

The case analysis of Latvia’s Twitter community explored in this article has been chosen due to the fact of high opinion leaders and the elite representation among the users of this microblogging platform. Even though Twitter users in Latvia position themselves as friend’s community, the results reveal a strong presence of the elite members of the most recognizable occupations: media, PR & advertising, music & art, politics, NGO, business and other. The phenomenon of connected individuals community has brought a high level of the governing elite and opinion leaders participation in discussions of political and economic interests.

The tasks of this paper are to explore whether communication instruments and technical abilities advance the political involvement of society through microblogging platform and to explore the role of networked communication within communicative capitalism – whether active consumption and circulation of information regarding political issues feature just discussion or facilitate an organization of various forms of political participation outside the virtual world.

The empirical data for this research will be provided by the two surveys executed in the Twitter community of Latvia in 2010 and 2012 and compared with independently collected data corpus of Latvia Twitter community tweets during 1 month of the pre-election period in 2010 and an election-free period in 2012.

Social presence factor in networked communication

The classical theory view on social presence assort different communication media along a one-dimensional continuum “social presence”, where the degree of social presence is equated to the degree of awareness of the other person in a communication interaction (Sallnas, Rassmus-Grohn & Sjostrom, 2000), stressing that a face-to-face medium has the most of the social presence, whereas all written and text-based communication has the least. Social presence is a basic architecture component for the telecommunication systems (Venkatesh & Johnson, 2002), the main construct analyzing CMC (Biocca, Kim & Lecy, 1995) and information sharing in CMC (Miranda, Saunders 2003). Walter (1995) has discovered its ability to develop the same intimacy as in face-to-face communication by using CMC over a longer time period which amplifies a strong sense of social presence.

Today, social presence is demonstrated by the way messages are posted digitally and how these messages are interpreted by others. It is strongly related to online interaction (Loeng, 2011) as the actual quality of communication sequence or context (Gunawardena, 1995). Being with another (Biocca, Harms & Burgoon, 2003) is a theory principle for the mobile and online media (Ames & Naaman, 2007) and Facebook usage (Chui, Cheung & Lee, 2008). Social presence defines how the participants relate to one another, which in turn affects their ability to communicate effectively (Kehrwald, 2008). Communication interaction has become the main component, leaving the medium per se for the past contemplations (Biocca, Harms & Burgoon, 2003). The new theoretical insights highlight the shift of this theory interpretation from a physical face-to-face to a perception of the actual presence which can be of different time and location (Lowry, Benjamin, Romano, Cheney & Hightower, 2006).

Steinbruck, Schaumburg, Duda &Kruger (2002) in their research have found that social presence brings closer virtual interactions to face-to-face communication and improves human communication contributing to the effectiveness of the virtual worlds (Yeh, Lin & Lu, 2011).

The more contemporary is the theory, the more it stresses different social factors that influence the success of communication. It means that in order to have an efficient communication with meaningful information exchange, the communicator has to have a multidimensional nature of social presence and has to find an appropriate subject, a medium and a communication partner. Tu (2002) has defined three dimensions of social presence: social context, online communication and interactivity where each dimension consists of a set of variables. The properties of communication interaction are bounded by social affordance of communication technologies, that is, the properties of technical environment which act as social-contextual facilitators relevant for the users’ social interactions (Kreijns, Kirchner, Jochems & Buuren, 2004).

The multidimensional meanings of social presence have been articulated in the researches of Biocca (Biocca, Harms & Burgoon, 2003) which highlight the approach on social presence as sensory awareness of others often achieved through such self-presentation features as signatures, avatars and personal profiles from the psychological aspect. The behavioral view stresses the importance  of the social experiences encountered in virtual places and provides a sense of having been present somewhere else by moving only virtually. Heeter (2003) has discovered that presence is an experience that varies in moment-to-moment fashion, and it can be learned experience.

Social presence plays an important role in establishment of online community in which the Internet-connected individuals interact with common interest, need or purpose (Preece, 2000). Whether it is sharing of knowledge, a status update or an information gain, being one of a community gives a feeling of social presence. The aspect of face-to-face communication theories developed before the raise of CMC has lost its importance. Shen & Khalifa (2008) state that compared to unidimensional conceptualizations of presence/social presence, multidimensional conceptualizations can better capture the user’s experience with online communities and therefore can indicate more valuable implications for community design. They have introduced a three-dimensional conceptualization of the social presence for online communities which mean that the social context is accompanied by an affective and cognitive engagement with the other members of the online community. It has transformed itself to such more psychological dimensions as awareness, affective social presence and cognitive social presence. In the online communities, awareness can be achieved “through users’ continuous participation in online discussion forums in the form of posting” (Shen & Khalifa, 2008). Awareness is secured by continuous communication as participation and interaction with other community members, display of online status and a feeling that other social actors are around to engage in communication (Heeter, 1992). Cognitive social presence refers to the extent to which a user is able to construct and confirm meaning about his or her relationship with others and the social space. Affective social presence shows person’s emotional connection with the particular virtual worldCognitive social presence refers to the belief about the user’s relationship with others and the social context.

Social presence conceptualized as the properties of the communication interaction, may better capture user perception of the online community and account for automatic or habitual aspects of community participation. To facilitate online community participation, Shen and Khalifa’s (2008) three-dimensional conceptualization of the social presence could be integrated into the motivational theory. It could create a direct effect of social presence on participation over and above those effects which are mediated by the motivational variables.

Past research of social presence factor analysis in Twitter

Online technologies and related practices for social interaction and engagement have originated a new form of shared virtual interpersonal communication. One of the most popular microblogging tools Twitter, authorizing its over 500 million[1] participants that acts also as social network and social media, “informing oneself about breaking news” (Teevan, Ramage & Morris, 2011) and expressing attitudes, emotions and opinions (Wohn & Na 2011). The popularity of Twitter since its establishment in 2006 is based on CMC stipulated by the fact of social presence of its participants. Social interaction via communication tools in real time give a great number of opportunities for self-expression, social networking, exchange of information and other virtual actions which an individual requires.

The broader concept of social presence on Twitter has not been widely analyzed; therefore, the author of the article will explore the main theoretical concepts which will be illustrated by facts and researches executed on Twitter.

Twitter can be explored from Shen and Khalifa’s (2008) three dimension online community model perspective with components of awareness, cognitive social presence and affective social presence. Measuring awareness, an important factor for most of the Twitter users, can be illustrated by a research implemented by Cha, Haddadi, Benevenuto & Gummadi (2010) estimating a user’s influence on others by indegree, retweet and mention influence. Following the analysis of a little over 6 million active users interacted with a set of 52 million users, the authors concluded that indegree represents user’s popularity but it is not related to other notions of influence. Retweets are driven from the content value of the tweet but mentions are driven from the value of the user. The most influential users can hold an influence over a variety of topics and they have a disproportionate amount of influence, caused by the power of law. It was discovered that none of the influence is gained spontaneously because to gain and maintain influence users have to keep high personal involvement.

Affective social presence can be illustrated by research done by Barnes and Bohringer (2009) whose conclusions on the causes of Twitter popularity is based on the fact that “continuance behavior of Twitter users is strongly determined by their perception of the value” (p.11). This emotional connection has aroused by virtual interaction with particular social network, whose “size influences development of the past use behavior and of perceptions of the critical mass, as users see the value of interacting with significant group of nodes in their network” (p.11). The results suggest that the continued use is strongly affected by satisfaction and habit.

Dunlap & Lowenthal (2009) research addresses very practical application of the affective social presence dimension – the possibility of an extensive use of Twitter in the study process. The results from incorporation of Twitter in two study courses intensifying just-in-time communication have brought to practical conclusions suggesting a succession of institutional benefits of Twitter use in particular: writing concisely, writing for the audience, connecting with professional community of practice, supporting informal learning and maintaining ongoing relationships.

Cognitive social presence referred as extent till which user is able to construct and confirm meaning of the relationship with others on the social space has common ideas with Naaman, Becker & Gravano’s (2011) research in which Twitter is called a social awareness system which has been shifting the way of how information is produced and consumed. Researchers’ aim is to interpret the emerging temporal trends of information appearing on Twitter by categorizing them and distinguishing features of trends. Investigation of 48 million tweets posted by Twitter users in New York City within the period of 7 months showed that trends originated from outside of Twitter are more informational than conversation. They generate more independent contributions while endogenous tweets originates within Twitter require stronger ties to be transmitted and these tweets differ in content, interaction, time, participation and social characteristics. People are keen on discussing but they forward less, in the context of local events as compared to other exogenous trends.

One of the basic concepts defining social presence by Biocca is “being with another” explains the main principle of Twitter – you have to follow Twitter users and you should be followed for an effective communication. Being with others mean interaction on physical and social levels. The capabilities of Twitter have enabled coupling of the physical and social systems. Publishing status updates, links to newspaper articles, hashtagging the conversation topic or retweeting “makes the communication space of this medium, on the one hand, a big arena, on the other hand, a very complex arena to navigate in” (Taekke, 2011, p.11). The events of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia, mirrored in Twitter as one of the fastest information tools of the 21st century, proved communication ability articulated by social presence to give pressure and influence through “an effect chain from the social media through mass media, through public opinion” (Taekke, 2011, p.12). The interdependence of physical and social systems “has produced new audience configurations” (Murthy, 2011, p.780). The audience has taken an opportunity to generate media content themselves because the physical location and the social necessity for expression has guided this action.

One of the first examples of the social presence broadcasted over Twitter occurred when Janis Krums posted a picture of a crashed plane on the Hudson River.[2] It has become a classic of the citizen journalism. Production, participation and consumption on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other user-generated media outlets represent a gradual involvement of its participants, starting just with consuming “after breaking through some barriers, individuals participate through interacting with the content and other users” (Shao, 2009, p.15). From the perspective of uses and gratifications, the more an individual is engaged with the social media, the bigger is the personal and the society gain (Haase & Young, 2010).

Network communication impact on political participation

Networked communications are the cause for disruption of the axis of control between the political elites and journalists, the new media environment in particular diminishes the role of both to influence setting and framing of the political agenda by opening the space for public to interpret politics (Williams & Carpini, 2000). The increased opportunities of public towards to the elite within communication networks originate a new level of interaction and participation in public life. Only a limited number of persons possesses the necessary skills to make meaningful contributions to public discourse (Ferree, 2002). Depending on whether it is the elite or the general public, political participation via communication instruments is either professional or amateur. A person can be an elite politician but the lack of technological and communication skills in the virtual world brings the individual to the same level on which somebody from the general public is located with his opinion about the processes in the society. In such contemporary public communication, the noble amateur replaces the professional journalist; the celebrity replaces a cultural hero (Kersey, 2012). Such a platform as Twitter concentrates opinion leaders and influencers by the fact that everyone can become a publisher (Rainie & Wellman, 2012).

Twitter communicative autonomy provides tools for citizen involvement and creation of content instead of turning them into “unsophisticated consumers of information” (Carpini & Williams 2000, p.65). Presence, participation and communicative action have created a new feature of “politics as circulation” (p.98) where information is fetishizated but the political judgment is absent (Barney 2008). In result – no decisions are made because of persistent introduction of new information. Persons with access to information become voices to be heard due to their ability to form a substantial number of networked followers. Žižek’s (2006) critical approach points more at the individual enjoyment of the process rather than productive actions provided by the tools of the network systems. He also indicates a loss of the binding power of words because a person can erase himself from the system and “further incentives for their word to their bond” (Dean 2010, p.7). The boundary between the reality and the identity in the virtual world is slippery in terms of fulfillment of fantasies by using the keyboard.  From social presence point of view, the social experiences approach is dominating by giving the ability to move virtually through the issues of one’s own interest.

Even the architecture of the microblogging platform Twitter is oriented on the individual; the community awareness is represented through affective social presence as emotional bounds to particular audience with whom the person communicates. The border between a quality community member contributing value information with judgment content and just somebody who communicates whatever communication, communication of communicativity (Dean, 2010), is hard to draw. Terranova (2005) turns attention to the evaluation of the contribution of every community member going beyond just the coded signal and noise. According to Peters (2008), the influential elites have an influence over a large general public while the segmented elites hold a debate within their own circle, spreading the influence over other general public’s only randomly.

Discursive processes between the public elites and the general public should lead to integration of well-considered public opinions into political system. The distribution of political opinions in the pre-election phase resembles a production process where the arguments are distributed over different segments of networked public with a hope for good sales. On the contrary, after the election period, when the public political participation is not that important, the status of being influential as a public elite member is reached via communicative liberalism caused by the elite competition of keeping track of public interest.

Methodology and design

The aims of this study via survey of the Twitter users of Latvia are: 1) to define the aims, perceptions and habits; 2) to explore multi dimensionality of social presence; 3) to highlight the most visible elite groups in the community. The data will include responses gathered via the microblogging platform during the pre-election period in 2010 and a non-election period in 2012.

The aims of the study via analysis of an independent dataset are: 1) to test Twitter users of Latvia  behavior according to the tweets collected during the same period of time as survey; 2) to test the communication interests of Twitter users of Latvia according to the groups identified in the survey.


As mentioned before, there are two blocks of data to be used for this study – the survey and the independent dataset of tweets. The first Twitter users of Latvia survey was executed within the period of 10 days (July 19–July 28,, 2010) gathering 403 valid responses for further statistical data analysis. The second Twitter users of Latvia survey took place for 17 days (April 24–May 10, 2012) gathering 471 valid responses. In 2010, the survey consisted of 37 questions; in 2012 it comprised 39 questions. The accounts surveyed are in the Latvian language[3]. Even though Latvia can be considered a bilingual country in which the mother tong for a little bit more than a half of the population is Latvian, while for the other half is Russian or other language, it is possible to analyze only Latvia Twitter community which communicates in Latvian because of the uniqueness of the language which is spoken only by a couple of millions of people in the world. The communication in Russian even by the inhabitants ofLatvia cannot be tracked due to the reason that Russian is a widely spoken language.

There is no publicly available official data about Twitter users in Latvia. According to local media experts, in 2010Latviahad estimated 32393 Twitter users, 19 848 of them had used Twitter during the month before, 14 666 were hyperactive users who had tweeted 3 times during 7 days.

The first set of tweets dataset was collected within the period of 28 days (September 23–October 20, 2010)[4]. The dataset from 2010 is based on data collected during the study of Latvian parliamentary election (Skilters, 2012). It was formed from a set of Twitter user accounts that represent opinion leaders in the Latvian Twittersphere who are active in discussing political and other issues. The set of accounts for collecting the data was seeded of 179 accounts to follow. To view the broader scope of the discussion, the poll was enlarged by including accounts mentioned in the tweets collected. For the research purposes accounts were manually selected to correspond to the relevance of the topic. As relevant were considered: (1) media organization accounts; (2) most active Twitter individuals; (3) analysts and individuals discussing the elections and politics; (4) accounts of political parties and their candidates for the parliament. This process was repeated several times. As the result, 1217 accounts were acknowledged as valid for further exploitation. The collected data used for research are composed of 162808 tweets from which 53% are regular tweets, 33% are replies and 14% are retweets.

The total size of the dataset from 2012 is 122602 messages consisting of: 50% regular tweets, 32% replies and 18% retweets. It was collected during 28 days in 2012 (April 16–May 13) by collecting Twitter messages from the set of user accounts used for collecting the dataset in 2010, amended by 163 new accounts of politicians and other opinion leaders that were discovered on Twitter since.
For the qualitative analysis of data, key words were selected representing political (politics, voting, parliament, etc.), economical (euro, money, budget, etc.) and entrepreneurial (company, brand, discounts) communication to account the frequency of topics discussed in 2010 and 2012.

Latvia Twitter user survey analysis

The demographical data of Twitter users of Latvia is one of the basic elements that determine Twitter functions in the country. The community age composition is persistent: 37% from 20–24 years, 25% from 25–29, 14% from 15–19, 15% from 30–39, 4% from 40–49, 2% over 50. Accordingly, the age of the biggest part of individuals – 62% (2010) and 63% (2012) – is 20–29.

Comparing the data of Twitter users in the US, the proportion looks different in favor of the older age group of the main users – 54% of 25–44 years old users leaving behind 44% of 18–34 year olds[5]. The Twitter community of Australia is older as well because 53% are 35–54 year old persons and only 19% are 18–34 years old[6].

The demographics by occupation depend on the age division of the users, marking students proportionally the biggest part of the respondents, followed by IT, marketing, advertising, PR and media. The increase from 15% to 23% of “Other” professions marks a positive change towards widening of the Twitter user scope

Table 1. Occupation of surveyed Twitter users of Latvia


Occupation 2010 2012
Student 27% 29%
IT & Telecommunication 16% 13%
Politics 1% 1%
Finances 3% 3%
Marketing & advertising 12% 10%
Public relations 10% 7%
Media 5% 5%
Academic 4% 3%
Sales 3% 3%
Tourism 2% 2%
Production 2% 2%
Other 15% 23%

Tu and McIssac’s analysis (2002) established three dimensions of the social presence – social context, online communication and interactivity. This theory is tested with research of Twitter users of Latvia  and gives an empirical evidence of the correctness of these assumptions, particularly that microblogging platform is powered by a social presence of its participants.

One of the dimensions defined by the authors of the theory – social context – is viewed through the following criteria: users’ characteristics and perception of online environment (Steinfield 1986), task orientation, recipients’ social relationships (Williams, Rice 1983), trust (Cutler 1995) and social process (Walther 1992). The reflection of the mentioned criteria can be found in Twitter users of Latvia survey results. The survey data of 2010 show that 42% of the respondents are using Twitter for more than a year but 8% – more than 2 years, which leads to an assumption that 50% of the respondents are experienced users of the microblogging platform. In 2012, the tendency is even more evident because 86% of the respondents are using Twitter from 1 to 3 years. However, the amount of newcomers have dropped from 50% (2010) to 13% (2012). This fact leads to an assumption that Twitter is becoming a firm community for people who have found this platform corresponding to their needs. In 2012, 90% of the respondents approved their ambition to continue to use Twitter in the future. 84% of the surveyed saw the Twitter user as a socially active person. In correlation to that, logical seems the increase of perception that Twitter is a powerful tool to call for action outside the virtual world from 77% in 2010 to 86% in 2012. These results correspond with Linkoln Dahlberg (2001) idea that networked communications are best utilized by individuals to become informed about political issues and to organize various forms of political participation, rather than to form alternative structures of political decision making.

The users’ habits of tweeting have not experienced essential changes in both survey periods. 43% of the respondents tweeted every day, 42% – several times per week, making total 85% of the active participants. Besides being active on Twitter, 57% of the respondents had their own blogs in 2010.

The Twitter user patterns can be featured in 2010 and 2012 surveys as deliberate and task-oriented because recipients’ main reasons for a use of Twitter are gathering of information, expression of one’s point of view and communication with other users. The resembling intensions have also been noted in Java’s research (2007), in which he states four main reasons of the Twitter use: daily chatter, conversations, sharing information and reporting news. Looking deeper in these issues, the ranking of reasons why people use this social platform is as follows: widening of mental outlook, entertainment, substitution of TV & press, use for work purposes.

67% of Twitter users of Latvia community  interacted with personally known accounts in 2010 but 2 years later this number has increased till 75%, leaving just 5% possibility to communicate with unknown accounts and 20% – with recognizable persons. The most of accounts in 2010 (75%) and in 2012 (56%) have chosen to follow from 100–200 persons. This is very different from the general Twitter statistics in the world where 81% of Twitter users are following less than 100 people[7]. The essential increases from 5% (2010) to 15% (2012) have experiencedLatvia accounts that follow from 500 – 5000 persons. This explains the fact that 14% has a high level but 48% a medium-high level trust to information published on Twitter in 2010 and tendency has remained stable. The social process as the element of social context dimension can be characterized by respondents’ attitude as 87% of them consider their personal accounts the best way how to address the audience.

Perception of Twitter in cognitive social presence context marks a definite attitude towards the platform because 58% agree versus 35% that do not agree to the fact of Twitter influence on their thoughts; however, on the contrary, 56% deny Twitter influence on their behavior. Dynamic adaptation of the Twitter social process has brought its users to a particular match scene because 51% of the respondents in 2012 admit the existence of competition with other users. 34% deny this idea and 15% have no opinion about it. 70% of the people surveyed acknowledge the possibility to spot other users’ behavior and learn from it.

A facilitator for social presence and active communication could be the fact of 99.99% recognition of the elite members’ presence within the community, ranked by professions as follows: media, PR & advertising, music & art, politics, NGO, business and other.

The next dimension of social presence is online communication perceived through computer literacy and language skills (Gunawardena, 1991), characteristics of discussion boards and use of emotions and paralanguage.

The professional and the age divisions, percentage of personal blogs, habits of being active tweeters leave no room for doubts about the level of computer literacy in Twitter users of Latvia community. The content of messages ranges from personal status updates to opinions and information sharing (Naaman, Becker & Gravano 2011) that characterizes the microbgloging platform users’ habits. In 2010, 36% of the surveyed considered themselves content creators, 43% – respondents of already created content, 13% preferred just to read and retweet, 9% – only to read the content. In total, 91% was engaged in social action of various levels. Data of 2012 show a decrease among the content creators (27%) and the just-readers (6%) and an increase in among the reactors (44%), the readers and the retweeters (22%). The slight changes can be explained by maturity of users and more extensive social presence through more communication and less content creation. This tendency reflects Dean (2010) argument that communicative capitalism reduces political action in favor of “consumption and circulation of information and transformation of governance into the production and assessment of public opinion” (Kersey, 2012, p.137)

The creators of almost any content expressed on the microblogging platform consider the content important. The ranking of tweets by importance in the survey of 2012 is the following: attitudes towards processes in the society, events in one’s own life, one’s own thoughts and ideas, one’s own political and economical views, just minor unimportant issues. When communicating, 75% of the respondents can see other active platform users and 92% are positive about collaboration with other users.

The significant proportion of the active content contributors and the consumers acknowledges the high level of computer and language literacy because 140 characters require skills to formulate the idea of the message as well as technical skills to attach the necessary audio/visual material which is often an integral part of the message. In 2010, only 32% of the respondents were aware of the behavioral and communication rules of Twitter versus 45% in 2012, whereas 51% of the unaware of the rules in 2010 have turned to 16% in 2012. The experience of platform use has diminished application uncertainty.

Theoretically, Twitter is considered a popular and significant form of communication (Hermida 2010, Dann 2010, Naaman 2011) but practically only a little percent of the society uses it. In such a small nation as Latvia, this social platform has become a communication circle of people who know one another. Probably, despite this fact 73% (2010), 61% (2012) of people are open to hear different opinions even if they contradict people’s views. Openness and ability to communicate with anyone on Twitter is proved by 66% of respondents who acknowledge discussion and communication with followers versus 40% of active message retweeters.

The third dimension of the social presence – interactivity – is characterized by active communication and learning activities communication styles (Norton, 1986), topics (Walter, 1992) and size of the groups. As the main gain from using Twitter, 86% of the respondents mark the chance to get to know information faster than others followed by assumptions that Twitter is a good entertainment and self-presentation tool. These responses correlate with the opinion of 84% of the respondents who assume that the Twitter user is a socially active person.

Even though architecture of Twitter does not mark particular groups of interests, their existence is shown by 64% of respondents of 2010 and 78% of 2012. Friends and politics are the two most remarkable groups. In the pre-election period, the main identified in the survey was politics, closely followed by friends. In 2012, these groups have exchanged their positions. The entrepreneurship group has increased its significance in 2012, which can be explained by the growing amount of commercial accounts on Twitter. The identification of the economy group has slightly diminished but kept stable attitudes of this group, in particular, composition of society’s view on important economical issues, involvement of society groups in economy processes and lobbying of established interests. Perception of political group functions has also remained stable in both surveys ranking the tasks by their importance as follows: creation of an opinion on political issues, a pre-election campaign in favor of a particular political force, the support in the image creation of the preferred politician, discreditation of the competitive political personalities.

Independent dataset analysis

The independently collected data around the time of the parliament election period in 2010 marks 91 accounts that have tweeted every day and several times per day, highlighting 7% as very active communicators. In 2012, this amount has increased till 114 accounts, reaching 10% of the users.

As this dataset contains not only individuals but also media, some commercial, political party, NGO and other initiative accounts, for research purposes it is useful to look at accounts whose owners are recognizable individuals. After the selection process, there are 1085 accounts containing 130166 tweets, making 11% less accounts and 13% less total amount of tweets than the startup data. Here the composition of communication is dispersed among 48% regular messages, 37% answers and 16 % retweets.

The most of regular, reply and retweet communication is set within the frame activity of 1–200 tweets in a 4 weeks period in each sector which reflects the harmonious use of possibilities provided by Twitter. The more perceptible changes of tweets’ dynamics lie in the data range of persons who do not reply and retweet. The difference in recognizable individual replies (+34%) and (+26%) in retweets versus the overall data shows the early Twitter users’ tendency of one way communication via regular messages. The data of 2012 already show a decrease in these numbers – correspondingly (+20%) for replies and (+12%) for retweets.

The qualitative analysis of the dataset executed by the selection of the words included in tweets provides an opportunity to detect the main discussion topics of the selected set of the Twitter users. The results of the analyzed keywords in both years regarded politics above economics and entrepreneurship.

Table 2..The frequency ranking of used words

Keywords 2012 Keywords 2010
State 14,01% Elections, electorate 19,57%
Politics, politicians 8,71% To vote, votes 19,47%
Saeima 8,71% State 9,48%
Money 8,47% Politics, politicians 9,02%
President 7,86% Party 8,66%
Company 4,98% Saeima 6,89%
Elections, electorate 4,94% Money 4,81%
Party 4,87% Deputy 3,19%
Deputy 4,48% Company 2,41%
To vote, votes 4,41% President 2,21%
Economics 4,33% Economics 2,09%
Euro 3,60% Budget 2,00%
Finansing 3,25% Banks 1,88%
Business 2,91% Business 1,69%
Banks 2,76% Euro 1,05%
Budget 2,63% Enterpreneur 0,99%
Discount 2,24% Discount 0,98%
Enterpreneur 2,01% Parliament 0,84%
Parliament 1,47% Brand 0,82%
Democracy 0,83% Democracy 0,72%
Brand 0,69% Finansing 0,46%
Credit 0,67% Credit 0,27%
Enterpreneurship 0,61% Enterpreneurship 0,20%
Elite 0,50% Elite 0,16%
Sales 0,06% Sales 0,14%

As the dataset of both periods slightly differs, the evidence shows that Twitter users in Latvia community are interested in the same issues, only their topicality changes according to the agenda. In 2010, the main event was the election, correspondingly “elections” and “voting” were the main subjects to be discussed but even in a non-election year, the same keywords do not disappear from conversations. The economic issues in both years keep the ranking in the second tenth. It should be noted that the frequency of tweets in the first tenth is doubled or tripled in the pre-election period.


The issue of the elite structure and its role in Twitter users in Latvia community is based on several factors. The age of the biggest community part makes us question whether the elite can be found in the age range between 20 and 29 years. In the political elite context, the latest parliament elections have speeded up the generation change in the highest decision-making body, giving 14% of the seats to individuals of this age group. Together with the age group of 30–40 years, the youngest deputies make 38% of the mandates.

Table 3.The age structure of the parliament members in Latvia

Election 1998 Election 2002 Election 2006 Election 2010 Election 2011
Age 21–40 34 31 20 26 38
Age 41–50 37 37 34 33 30
Age 51–60 22 22 22 29 24
Age over 60 7 10 14 12 8

On the contrary, the survey data of participation in the elections revealing the age structure of the voters note that the age group between18–24 is the most passive, constituting just 41% versus 73% in the age group of 35 – 44[8].

Interesting correlations can be drawn from the second demographic indicator “users by occupation” and individuals’ views of the represented elites on Twitter. The surveyed individuals have marked media as the number one elite of Twitter. Statistically, they make a small portion (in survey – just 5%) but the number of their followers and opportunities to spread opinion also out off the Twitter community make them influential. As an example, the chief editor of the weekly analytical magazine “Ir” Nellija Ločmele is one of Latvia’s Top 10 influential Twitter persons[9] along with the Prime Minister and other ministers. Politicians, represented in the survey just by 1%, are the fourth biggest group identified as the elite on Twitter. The use of microblogging platform for political communication requires ideas, skills and regular involvement. There is no evidence of tendency for those politicians who initiate active tweeting to stop communication after the election period if they stay in politics. The established number of followers gives more value to the content if participation is regular. It gives an opportunity for the general public to follow the politician not just professionally, but also personally. Twitter is preferred more by the younger generation political elite who do not have a lot of parliamentarian and political experience. As the survey revealed an increase in perception of the existing rules and norms on Twitter, open communication and regular involvement are one of the components along with a quality content that makes Twitter the political platform for those who are ready to play under the rules.

According to Zaller (1992), Twitter users in Latvia community has a high level of political awareness because the fast information gain is seen as the main benefit of the platform use. The highlighted factual political knowledge and interest in politics can be explained by many conversational topics regarding this theme.

The differences of perception whom to trust in the general  public and the Twitter community can be noted considering the annual survey of the economically active persons between 18 and 55 years[10]. Trust to parliament is estimated at 0.3%, trust to government and president at 1% and trust to social networks and media at 2% versus the Twitter community which shows 62% of trust to the Twitter content.  Respectively, as the members of the parliament and other politicians are among the active Twitter users and are recognized as the 4th biggest  elite group in this microblogging platform, it can be concluded that the access to information from the primary sources and the abilities to communicate directly with the elite enhance the general trust.

The survey data pointed out that only 1% of the participants regard their occupation as politicians, so hypothetically – decision-makers. The selection of Twitter accounts for the dataset analysis, identified about 150 accounts of decision-makers (the members of the parliament, ministers, heads of the political parties). The small set of “potential decision-makers” that is regarded as the 4th biggest elite group identified on Twitter can be explained by Peters’ (2008) idea of influential actors who affect circulation of ideas without having visibility or authority. The rest of the recognized elite by the survey can be regarded as the level between the general public and the decision-making elite, according to Kersey (2012), due the increased “capacity of the public relative to the elite public actors within the public sphere” (p.205). The classical set of the elite – the general public is demolished on Twitter. The new setup within the networked public is called “intermediate production and active consumption” (Kersey, 2012, p.222) where production occurs on the elite level and reflects creation of the content (regular tweets) but consumption – replies and retweets – on the segmented elites’ level (Peters 2008). As Kersey (2012) notes, “at the elite level, processes are primarily oriented at strategic competition for influence; at the general public, processes are primarily forms of consumption” (p.230). Topicality of the information gain, expression of the opinion and interaction with the other members of the community have positioned Twitter as a set of communicative action platform whose members see opportunities to take the actions out of the virtual space but the hurdle of the authority and instruments of influence in the real world prevent it. This can be applied to one of the biggest represented groups of around 20% (marketing, advertising, PR) which is also identified as the second biggest elite group.

Although the members of the political elite and opinion leaders are among the active communicators on Twitter, the instrument of the survey and the dataset analysis do not reveal their personal aims being reflected on Twitter. It can be speculated that the elite is here – on Twitter to collect public opinions and discuss the current political issues with the opinion leaders and the general public. The further research of the elite networks, their conversation objects and tweet content could give a better affirmation of their actions.

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Latvijas Twitter aptauja Nr.2

2010. gada jūlijā tika veikta Twitter aptauja Nr. 1, kurā piedalījās nedaudz vairāk kā 1% aktīvo Latvijas Twitter lietotāju. Tās rezultāti tika publiskoti Twitter vidē, kā arī izmantoti vairāku pētījumu un zinātnisko rakstu sagatavošanā. Rezultātu pilnu izklāstu var lasīt šajā blogā.  Pamatojoties uz aptaujas rezultātiem, ir tapuši zinātniskie raksti, ar kuriem var iepazīties sadaļā Pētījumi, kā arī ar rezultātiem tika iepazīstināti dažādu valstu pētnieki konferencēs, Latvijā, Lietuvā un ASV.

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Nacionālās identitātes komunikācija sociālajos tīklos

Apvienotais pasaules latviešu zinātnieku 3. kongress ( The United World Congress of Latvian Scientists, November 11, 2011)

2011. gada novembris

Nacionālās identitātes komunikācija sociālajos tīklos.

The communication of identity in social networks.

Viss izdevums pieejams Latvijas Nacionālās bibliotēkas datubāzē

Nacionālā identitāte un komunikācija. Pasaules latviešu zinātnieku kongresa ziņojumu krājums” tapis Valsts pētniecības programmas “Nacionālā identitāte (valoda, Latvijas vēsture, kultūra un cilvēkdrošība)” ietvaros.

Rakstā aplūkoti pētījumi par identitātes veidošanos reālās un virtuālās vides mijiedarbībā un indivīdu iespējām un interesēm uzturēt un attīstīt nacionālo identitāti virtuālajos sociālajos tīklos, kam parasti nav ģeogrāfiskas, valstiskas vai nacionālas dimensijas. Šim jautājumam ir pieaugoša praktiska nozīme, jo palielinās indivīdu mobilitātes iespējas un arī līdzdalība dažādos virtuālajos sociālajos tīklos, kas var būt globāli un lokāli. Analizētie pētījumi liecina, ka nacionālās identitātes konstruēšana un reprezentācija iespējama un pastāv gan tīklos, kuru mērķis ir nacionālās piederības uzturēšana indivīdiem, kas ir teritoriāli šķirti no nacionālās kopienas, gan arī cita veida sociālajos tīklos, kuru pastāvēšana saistās ar citām interesēm. Virtuālajos sociālajos tīklos nacionālās identitātes konstruēšanai indivīdiem ir pieejams plašs instrumentu klāsts un to izmantojums ir atkarīgs no katra indivīda interesēm un izvēlēm.

Atslēgvārdi: sociālie tīkli, identitāte, nacionālā identitātes konstruēšana

Izmaiņas izpratnē par nacionālo identitāti veicina globalizācijas procesu radītās pārmaiņas sabiedrībā, un jaunās tehnoloģiju sistēmas, kā atzinis Zigmunts Baumans (Zygmunt Bauman) (Bauman, 1989), veido pamatu visas ekonomikas ģeogrāfiskai reorganizācijai. Tas sasaucas ar Manuela Kastela (Manuel Castells) ideju par „plūsmu telpu”, kas ir pamats, lai veidotos jauns sabiedrības organizācijas veids – tīkla sabiedrība (Castells, 1996/2010).

Nacionālā identitāte saistāma ar piederību kādai teritorijai un tajā dzīvojošās nācijas atribūtiem – valodu, vēsturi un kultūru. Veidojoties tīkla sabiedrībai (Castells, 1996/2000), rodas arī jauna nacionālās identitātes iespējamā atribūcijas telpa. Tās pamatā ir virtuālie sociālie tīkli, kuru infrastruktūra veido individuālās, grupu un organizāciju, sociālās un globālās attiecības (van Dijk, 2006). Tīklu pielietojamības plašums aptver attiecību spektru, kas indivīda, organizāciju un pat valstiskā līmenī pilda sabiedrībai būtiskas funkcijas.

Virtuālajai videi nav telpas robežu un nav arī to ierobežojošās laika dimensijas. Tīkla sabiedrībā attiecības starp indivīdiem veidojas, balstoties uz uzticēšanos, kas bieži vien nav sakņota reālās vides attiecībās un pieredzē. Dažādu virtuālo kopienu dalībniekus tas tomēr apmierina, jo „nav citas pieejas realitātei, kā vien caur mūsu subjektīvajā pieredzē balstīto pasaules skatījumu” (Šķilters, 2011, 6). Tādas virtuālās kopienas kā dažādi sociālie tīkli – Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn,, un citi ir sociālo attiecību konstrukcijas, kas aptvērušas miljoniem indivīdu, kas būtisku daļu laika no savas dzīves pavada, komunicējot šo
virtuālo kopienu ietvaros.

Būtisku sabiedrībai un indivīdam sociālu aktivitāšu realizēšanas pārcelšana uz virtuālo vidi ir pietiekama motivācija, lai cilvēki identificētu sevi ar kādu virtuālu sociālu kopienu, kas atbilst viņu identitātes kritērijiem, un tālāk iesaistītos tās darbībā un savu interešu realizēšanā. Ikviena indivīda identitāte, uzturoties arī virtuālajā vidē, ir svarīgs nosacījums, kas palīdz orientēties un
iekļauties kādā sociālā sistēmā.

Vairākumam sociālo tīklu nav ģeogrāfiskas, valstiskas vai nacionālas dimensijas, tāpēc rodas jautājums, vai indivīdiem sociālajos tīklos nacionālā identitāte ir būtiska, lai sevi identificētu, bet, ja ir, – kā to reprezentēt. Šī raksta mērķis ir raksturot teorētiskās un pētnieciskās izpratnes nacionālās identitātes nepieciešamībai sociālajos tīklos, kā arī identificēt veidus, kā tā var tikt konstruēta.
Jautājumam par nacionālās identitātes veidošanos un pastāvēšanu sociālajos tīklos ir arī pieaugoša praktiska nozīme, jo turpina palielināties to indivīdu skaits, kas izmanto dažādus sociālos tīklus. Tāpēc nacionālās identitātes saglabāšana virtuālajā vidē aktuāla var būt ne tikai cilvēkiem, kuriem šis jautājums nozīmīgs ir ne tikai reālajā ikdienas dzīvē, bet arī sabiedrībām un valstīm kopumā, lai saglabātu šo būtisko piederību bez tradicionālajiem vides simboliem, mainot lietojamās valodas un iekļaujoties multikulturālā telpā, kurā nacionālās kultūras un telpiskās piederības nav būtiskas.

Identitātes veidošanās sociālajos tīklos
Sociālie tīkli kā šodienas sabiedrību atspoguļojošais raksturlielumus aptver nozīmīgākās attiecību konstrukcijas vairākās dimensijās. Tīkla sabiedrības infrastruktūru Jans van Daiks (Jan van Dijk) raksturo kā sociālos tīklus, kuros ir „1) individuālās attiecības, kas ietver indivīdu privātās attiecības ar draugiem, kaimiņiem, radiem, kolēģiem; 2) grupu un organizāciju attiecības, kas izpaužas, piemēram, virtuālās komandās un projektos; 3) sociālās attiecības, kas veido sabiedrības politiskos, ekonomiskos, pilsoniskos un institucionālos tīklus, un 4) globālās attiecības, kas saista valstis un starptautiskās organizācijas pasaules mērogā” (van Dijk, 2006, 26 ).Kā rāda šī  attiecību klasifikācija, sociālie tīkli aptver to attiecību spektru, kas indivīda, organizāciju un pat valstiskā līmenī pilda sabiedrībai būtiskas funkcijas. Jau minētā struktūra norāda uz tīklu tematisko un indivīdam nepieciešamo sociālo funkciju pārklājuma plašumu,
kas ir cēlonis dažādu sociālo tīklu popularitātei visā pasaulē, jo „sociālo tīklu globālums un to robežu neeksistēšana sniedz vēl nebijušas iespējas indivīdam, taču to plašums liek tam rast savu identitāti — īpaši apjukuma brīžos, kad pārliecības, kā pozicionēt sevi dažādu uzvedības un dzīves modeļu kontekstā, nav” (Bauman, 1998, 82). Šo faktoru kontekstā aizvien „mazinās nacionālās valsts, etniskās piederības un tradicionālās ģimenes ietekme” (Beck, 2002, 22), kas indivīdam piedāvā iespējas pašam izvēlēties sev piemērotāko identitāti. Iespējams, ka tieši šo faktoru ietekme – sociālo tīklu daudzfunkcionalitāte un klasisko vērtību, kā etniskās piederības, nacionālas valsts būtiskuma samazināšanās indivīda dzīvē, — ir iemesls dzīves pārnešanai virtuālajā pasaulē.

Identitāte reālajā dzīvē vai virtuālajos tīklos ir daļa no patības, ar ko indivīds top pazīstams citiem (Altheide, 2000), un tās konstruēšana ir publisks process, kas ietver divus posmus — personas „identitātes paziņojumu” un pārējo akceptu šim paziņojumam (Stone, 1981). Reālajā vidē, konstruējot identitāti, rase, dzimums, valoda un citi faktori var kļūt par šķērsli personas identifikācijai saskaņā ar to, kā persona jūtas un domā. Dažādi vēsturiski veidojušies aizspriedumi un mīti par kādas rases vai tautības pārstāvju iezīmēm var radīt dažādus šķēršļus citu uztverē, bet virtuālajā vidē indivīdam ir iespējas ar tādām nesaskarties. Identitātei var būt sociālas, kultūras, psiholoģiskas un filozofiskas saknes (Buckingham, 2007). Psiholoģiskais konteksts identitātes veidošanās procesā izpaužas kā nemitīga attīstība, kuras laikā indivīds atkal no jauna izvērtē sevi, jautājot – „kas es esmu”. Izmantojot socioloģijas pieeju, identitāte tiek ietverta rāmējumā, ko veido indivīda attiecības ar sabiedrību vai kultūru. Savukārt sociālās identitātes nozīme
visspilgtāk izpaužas indivīda attiecībās ar grupu. Virtuālajā vidē bez faktoriem, kas būtiski indivīdam, veidojot identitāti, ir vēl tehnoloģiskie aspekti, kas vai nu palīdz, vai arī sarežģī identitātes attīstību, kā arī atklāj to kāda noteikta sociālā konteksta ietvaros (Boyd, 2008).

Tā kā virtuālajā vidē konstruēto identitāšu viens no stūrakmeņiem ir uzticēšanās, jo vārdos un citos vizuālos izteiksmes līdzekļos radītie tēli visbiežāk netiek pārbaudīti realitātē, tad identitātes konstrukcijās ir iespējams izmanot arī tādas personas pārliecības, kas ir tikai indivīda iztēlē, bet dzīvē neeksistē. Eksperimenti ar identitāti ir iespēja pārbaudīt kādas noteiktas kopienas biedru reakcijas uz vienu vai citu jautājumu, nosakot savu atbilstību šai grupai. Identitātes piemērīšanas rezultātā personai ir iespējas samērot savas individuālās vēlmes un grupas nolūkus un mērķus, kurai tas vēlas pievienoties. Šajā aspektā jānovērtē arī sociālie tīkli, kuros indivīds var iesaistīties, lai realizētu savas intereses un komunicētu, jo pieejamība ir plaša un daudzveidīga. Turklāt indivīds var, pievienojoties vairākiem tīkliem, katrā veidot savu atšķirīgu identitāti. Piemēram, tādos sociālajos tīklos, kuru viens no galvenajiem instrumentiem tālākai komunikācijai ir profila informācijas radīšana, tas dod iespēju ”radīt kontrolētu iespaidu par sevi noteiktu sociālu attiecību
ietvaros” (Boyd, 2008).

Profils ir kā vizītkarte, kur „indivīds identitātes konstrukcijas procesā kaut kādā mērā iemieso attiecīgās sociālās kopienas prototipu – shēmu, standartu, pēc kura notiek identitātes kopienu kategorizācija” (Šķilters, 2011,8). Lai persona būtu interesanta attiecīgās kopienas ietvaros, tai ir jāsniedz informācija, kas ir atbilstoša un arī pievilcīga šai kopienai, kā arī pieejama kopienas locekļiem turpmāko attiecību uzturēšanai. Identitātes veidošana ir kā stāsts, kuru persona vēlas izstāstīt citiem, taču ir jāņem vērā, ka
atbilstīgi savai konstruētai identitātei personai veidojas arī tiesības un pienākumi, bet pats stāsts kļūst par kādas noteiktas kopienas naratīva daļu. Sociālajos tīklos konstruētās identitātes „ir kaut kas starp pagātni un tagadni kā vieta, kur noglabāt savas dzīves svarīgos notikumus un uzturēt saskaņotu identitāti” (McLean, Pasupathis, & Pals, 2007). Virtuālā vide tādējādi kļūst reālāka, jo ir vieta, kur glabājas personas veidotā identitāte, kas jau kļuvusi par kādas kolektīvās identitātes sastāvdaļu. Taču šī identitāte var nebūt pilnībā atbilstīga reālajai, jo personas pašidentitātes uztveri var iedalīt „es tagad” un „iespējamais es” (Markus & Nurius, 1986), kur pēdējais virtuālajā pasaulē indivīdam ļauj konstruēt tādu identitāti, kas palīdz pārvarēt apstākļus, kas traucē to ieceru realizācijai, kas reālajā pasaulē nebūtu iespējams. Šo spriedumu apstiprina, piemēram, pētījums par Facebook lietotājiem – universitātes studentiem, kas virtuālajā pasaulē bija radījuši tādas vēlamās identitātes, kas kaut kādu apstākļu dēļ nebūtu realizējušās realitātē (Zhao, Grasmuck,
& Martin, 2008).

Sociālajos tīklos konstruētās identitātes kļūst par „leģitīmām tīkla grupas biedru publiskos komentāros” (Goldie, Manago, & Greenfield, 2010). Savu identitāti izcelt ar dažādiem multimediju instrumentiem tai piešķir dimensiju akcentēt kultūras piederību vai komerciālo
identitāti – simpātijas kādam zīmolam (Hongladarom, 2011). Izpētot Facebook lietotāju identitāti un komunikāciju, Sorajs Hongladaroms (Soraj Hongladaroms) secina, ka to indivīdu, kas uztur regulāru komunikāciju un sava publiskā profila informācijas atjaunošanu, identitātes virtuālajā un reālajā pasaulē neatšķiras. Šo atziņu autors pamato ar to, ka realitātē personas identitātes
veidošanā būtiskāka loma ir ārējiem faktoriem, tādiem kā sociālai uztverei, fiziskam izskatam, nevis personīgajām atmiņām un emocijām. Arī virtuālajā vidē situācija ir līdzīga, jo personas sajūtas un informācija, ar ko tā dalās savas kopienas ietvaros, iegūst jēgu tikai tad, ja to šī kopiena saprot un pieņem. Līdzīgi secinājumi ir arī Šaniang Zhao (Shanyang Zhao), Šerri Grasmukai (Sherri Grasmuck) un Jasonam Martinam (Jason Martin) (Zhao, Grasmuck, & Martin, 2008), kas norāda, ka virtuālā vidē veidotā identitāte nav tas, kas raksturo personu, bet gan sociāls produkts, kas rodas noteiktā vidē un saskaņā ar to, taču persona realitātē un sociālajos tīklos rīkojas līdzīgi. Viens no indivīda galvenajiem izaicinājumiem ir spēja šīs abas vides apvienot un koordinēt, izmantojot tās priekšrocības, kas ir virtuālajā pasaulē salīdzinājumā ar ierobežojumiem, kas pastāv reālā vidē un tiešajā saziņā.

Savukārt tādos sociālajos tīklos, kur galvenais ir saturiskā komunikācija, piemēram, Twitter, galvenais identitātes atklājējs ir indivīda domas un spriedumi, kas izteikti, izmantojot attiecīgā sociālā tīklā pieejamos komunikācijas instrumentus. Identitāšu konstruēšana norit aktīvā komunikācijā, satura radīšanā un reaģēšanā uz citu virtuālās kopienas dalībnieku komunikāciju. Virtuālajā vidē indivīdiem ir daudzveidīgas iespējas konstruēt dažādas identitātes, veikt eksperimentus un izdzīvot identitātes, kas nav realizējušās reālajā vidē, pieņemot, ka reālā vide patiesi eksistē, nevis tiek radīta vai izdomāta. Un arī šīs iedomātās identitātes kļūst par sociālo tīklu kā identitātes glabātuves sastāvdaļām, ja vien pārējie indivīdi tās ir pieņēmuši. Identitāte tādā vai citādā formā visbiežāk nav indivīda, bet gan sabiedrības un citu ārējo faktoru radīts produkts, kas tiek komunicēts ar dažādu instrumentu palīdzību. Reālajā vidē eksistējošās kultūras tradīcijas un normas nosaka indivīda darbību rāmējumu. Arī virtuālajā vidē, kurā indivīda interesēs ir prezentēt sevi kā par savu uzvedību atbildīgu personu, visdrīzāk rīcība būs saskaņā ar gaidām, kādas ir identificējamai virtuālai videi. Savukārt neatkarīgi no tā, vai vide ir reāla vai virtuāla, neidentificējami indivīdi rīkosies, kā tie vēlas, ignorējot normatīvos ierobežojumus.

Piemēram, Facebook sociālais tīkls ir viena no tām vidēm, kuras lietošanas noteikumi pieprasa atklāt indivīda īsto vārdu, kas nosaka situāciju, ka tā nebūs vieta, kur indivīds gribēs izpaust savu slēptāko būtību. (Cinnirella & Green, 2007). Savukārt tiem indivīdiem, kam virtuālās un reālās identitātes neatšķiras, to savstarpējā koordinācija ir kā izaicinājums, lai uzturētu līdzvērtīgu interesi par sevi kā par personu gan reālajā, gan virtuālajā sabiedrībā. Personas dažādo identitāšu veidošanās un to kolektīvās izpausmes. Virtuālā sabiedrība neliedz un neierobežo, lai ikvienam būtu vairākas – pat savstarpēji konkurējošas identitātes, kas indivīdam dažkārt liek veikt sarežģītu izvēli par labu kādai no tām. Konkurējošas identitātes, saskaņā ar Antoniju Gidensu (Anthony Giddens) (Giddens, 1991, 5),rodas tradīciju zuduma rezultātā, kur būtiska loma ir lokālā un globālā mijiedarbībai, kā rezultātā indivīdam ir jāizvēlas savai dzīvei piemērotākais no daudz un dažādām iespējām. Viens no vairāku konkurējošu identitāšu rašanās cēloņiem ir multikulturālisms, kas sakņojas identitātēs, kuru pamatā ir ielikts konflikts (Wrong, 2000). Ideoloģijas, kuras pamatā ir citādā atzīšana un respektēšana, dažu desmitu gadu laikā, kopš šis jēdziens kļuvis par modernās sabiedrības neatņemamu sastāvdaļu, ir veicinājis arī pārmaiņas nacionālās identitātes jēdziena izpratnē. Tāpēc identitātes iegūšana un tās uzturēšana kļūst vitāli svarīga un arī problemātiska (Bendle, 2002). Identitātes veidošanās tieši nav atkarīga nedz no reālās, nedz virtuālās vides. Skots Lašs (Scott Lash) (Lash, 1999, 3), saka, ka „identitātes tiek veidotas pragmatiski, izmantojot jebkādu materiālu, kas ir pieejams. Tā vietā, lai identitāte būtu kaut kas patstāvīgs, iepriekšnoteikts un uzturēts, tā kļūst par projektu, kas atrodas pārmaiņu, attīstības un veidošanas stadijā.” Viņš uzsver, ka ir aizvien mazāk iepriekš noteiktu likumu, samazinās institucionāli noteikto lomunozīme un indivīdam pašam ir jāatrod likumi, kā rīkoties šādā situācijā.

Mervins Bendle (Mervyn Bendle) (Bendle, 2002, 3), apkopojot dažādās pieejas identitātes pētījumiem un definējumiem sociālajās zinātnēs, identitāti, kuru indivīds var realizēt, iezīmējot tās potenciālos darbības laukus, klasificē šādi:

1) kopīgais un atšķirīgais, ietverot sociālo, rases, etnisko un dzimuma kategorijas;

2) sociālā situācija, kas nodrošina pieredzes dažādību;

3)kultūras kategorijas, kas atspoguļo laikmetīgās identitātes izpratnes;

4) subjektīva sevis izpratne,
kas sakņojas personības iekšējā pasaulē;

5) personības sociālā pašizpausme;

6) stāsti, kas veidotino priekšstatiem par personu.

Sociālo tīklu daudzveidība pēc to satura, formas un funkcionalitātes indivīdam ļauj izpausties jebkurā no M.Bendles klasificētiem iedalījumiem. Daudzveidība var nozīmēt, no vienas puses, indivīda identitātes sadrumstalotību, bet, no otras, indivīds netiek
ierobežots un tam pašam ir jāizvēlas sev piemērotākais identitātes pielietojums. Vajadzība pēc jebkādas identitātes izpausmēm nav nepārtraukta. Identitātes teorija norāda, ka tai ir „klusuma periodi” un tā tiek aktivizēta saskaņā ar situāciju (Stryker, 1980), un
indivīds identitātes konstrukcijas procesā iemieso sociālās kopienas identitātes prototipu, „pēc kura notiek identitātes kopienu kategorizācija” (Šķilters, 2011, 7). Identitātes sarežģītību un mainīgumu pastiprina tās veidošanās semantiskās telpas trīs dimensiju mijiedarbībā – saturs kā pamatkomponents, savienotība kā vienprātība ar kopienu veidojošiem indivīdiem un — visbeidzot – formāts/reprezentācija (Šķilters, 2011). Ja kāda no šiem faktoriem trūkst vai mazinās tā nozīme, identitātes kontekstā rodas traucējumi un ir iespējas identitātes pārskatīšanai.

Kā norāda Makdonalds (Macdonald, 1999, 203), daudzu jaunu cilvēku identitātes darbina pretrunīgas nepieciešamības, kas var sagraut personības vienotumu. Lai gan personas identitāte sākas ar indivīda pašdefinīciju „kas es esmu”, veidojoties paškategorizācijas procesā, kas sociālās identitātes teorijā ir zemākais līmenis (Brewer, 1991, Hogg & Abrams, 1988), savā turpmākā attīstībā personas identitāte kopā ar sociālo identitāti rada nepieciešamību izpausties kādās noteiktās grupās. Klasiskā izpratnē tā ir piederība kādai
teritorijai, kopīgi mīti, vēsturiskā atmiņa, kultūra (Smith, 1993), kas saistās ar kādu nāciju, neatkarīgi no pilsonības, taču globālās un tīkla sabiedrības kontekstā, kad personai ir vairākas savstarpēji konkurējošas identitātes, piederības kritēji veidojas, balstoties uz S.Laša pieminētiem pragmatiskiem faktoriem, proti, identitāte kā projekts, kas pielāgojas nepieciešamai situācijai. Nacionālā identitāte stabilā politiskā sistēmā ir uztverta kā relatīvi nemainīgs raksturlielums (Rusciano, 2003, 361). Viens no galvenajiem virzītājspēkiem nacionālās identitātes apziņas attīstībā līdz šim ir bijusi valsts. Tās viens no pamatuzdevumiem ir apvienot nācijas pārstāvjus
un veicināt viņu nacionālo apziņu. Līdz šim tie ir bijuši klasiskie instrumenti — sociālas un morālas vērtības, tradīcijas, reliģija un kultūra reālajā pasaulē, ar kuru palīdzību šie uzdevumi tika veikti. Taču pēdējās desmitgadēs, kad aizvien būtiskāku lomu ieņem virtuālā vide un dažādi sociālie tīkli, institucionāliem aktoriem ir radies jauns izaicinājums un plašas iespējas, kā savus uzdevumus veikt arī virtuālajā pasaulē.

Šajā kontekstā būtisks nacionālās identitātes uzdevums ir — iedvesmot indivīdus, rādot tiem spēcīgas nācijas idealizētu versiju, lai veidotu lepnuma un prieka izjūtu par piederību noteiktai kopienai. No vienas puses, nacionālā identitāte, kas sakņojas indivīdu priekšstatos, praksē un institucionālās struktūrās, ir tā, kas veido valstī politiskos procesus, taču, no otras puses, identitātes izpratni vajadzētu konstruēt pašai sabiedrībai, nevis tās politiķiem un elitei (Parekh, 2000). Tā kā valsts politiskā sistēma ir pārāk mainīga un atkarīga no ārējiem un iekšējiem situācijas faktoriem, nacionālā identitāte ir daudz stabilāks, ilglaicīgāks un noturīgāks jēdziens,
kam nepieciešama regulāra uzmanība. Nacionālās identitātes koncepts ir daudzšķautnains, to var aplūkot no dažādiem aspektiem, taču tieši kolektīvās identitātes izpratnē tam ir nozīmīga loma nācijas pastāvēšanā.

Nacionālās identitātes veidošanās konstrukcijas ir meklējamas ne vien laikā, bet arī atšķirībās starp etnisko un pilsonisko identifikāciju. Raugoties uz šo aspektu, ar etnisko modeli tiek saprasta indivīda pieķeršanās savai dzimtajai kopienai, lai arī kur tas vēlākā laika periodā atrastos. Savukārt pilsoniskās identifikācijas saknes ir rodamas Rietumeiropā, kur nozīmīgāka loma ir kopīgām institūcijām, tiesībām un pienākumiem noteiktā teritorijā, kur indivīds atrodas (Smith, 1991). Šajā aspektā būtisks kritērijs, kāds modelis valstī ir aktuāls, nācijai ir valsts pastāvēšana. Lielās Eiropas valstis, kur valstiskums nav bijis apdraudēts vai pārtraukts un tā vēsture sniedzas
vairāku simtu gadu pagātnē, ir orientētas uz pilsonisko modeli, jo teritoriālais faktors šajā gadījumā ir dominējošais. Savukārt, valstīm kā Latvijai, kuras ir saskārušās ar okupāciju un būtisku tās iedzīvotāju daļas emigrāciju, dominējošā ir etniskā pieeja identitātes veidošanā.

Virtuālajā vidē, kur identitāte konstruējas pēc citiem principiem, indivīda izvēli par labu vienam vai otram identifikācijas modelim nosaka nevis vide, bet paškategorizācija. Identitātes būtiska iezīme ir identitātes grupas veidošanas rezultātā tās nošķirtās sociālās
kopienas, kas ir ārpus/aiz identitātes kopienas, kurai pieder indivīds (Šķilters, 2011). Diskusija šajā aspektā rodas dažādā izpratnē par robežlīniju, kas nosaka savējos un svešos. Sociālajos tīklos to rakstītie vai nerakstītie noteikumi paredz pieņemtās uzmanības normas, taču tajos nav noteiktu robežu kādu identitāšu izpausmēm. M.Kastels (Castells, 1997) uzskata, ka tehnoloģiju revolūcijas rezultātā radītā tīkla sabiedrībā savstarpējā konfliktā atrodas globalizācija un identitāte, taču tai pašā laikā kolektīvajām identitātes izpausmēm tiek piešķirts jauns spēks, neatkarīgi no tā, vai identitātes pamatā ir dzimums, reliģija, nacionālais, etniskais faktors, teritoriālā vai sociāli bioloģiskā identitāte. Lielas indivīdu masas, kas apvienojušās grupās, izmantojot kādu no M.Kastela minētajiem identitātes kritērijiem, sociālajos tīklos veido kopumu, kura vidū ir iespējams identificēt varas attiecības, kas, M.Kastela izpratnē, var izpausties „1) leģitimizējošā identitātē, kas atbalsta dominējošas sistēmas; 2) pretošanās identitātē, kas atspoguļo to viedokli, kuri zaudējuši savu nozīmīgumu dominējošo sistēmu rezultātā; 3) projekta identitātē, kas nozīmē jaunas identitātes veidošanu, ietverot visas sociālās struktūras transformāciju” (Castells, 1997, 7). Kolektīvās identitātes nepieciešamības aspekts ir piederības izjūta kādai noteiktai grupai, ar kuru indivīds sevi identificē. Deniss Vrongs (Dennis Wrong) (Wrong, 2000) uzskata, ka, raugoties no socioloģijas viedokļa, „identitāte atspoguļo brīvību un mobilitāti, kas iespējama modernitātes apstākļos, sniedzot indivīdam plašu iespēju spektru.” Viņš arī norāda, ka tā ir ne tikai izvēle, bet arī atbildība par veikto izvēli, kas „neizbēgamo noved pie neskaidrības, nožēlas, ilūzijas par sasniegumu vai tiešas atsvešināšanās.”

Šajā kontekstā nacionālā identitāte ir viens no identitātes veidiem, kuriem ir dziļākas saknes un plašāks kritēriju kopums, kāpēc indivīds sevi identificē tieši ar noteiktu nacionālo piederību. Nacionālā identitāte ir sociāli veidota mentāla struktūra, kas raksturo kādu komunikācijas kopienu (Šķilters, 2011). Šī kopiena var pastāvēt gan reālajā, gan virtuālajā vidē, un piederība tai indivīdam ir svarīga.

Tā kā virtuālo kopienu darbības laiks vēl ir mērojams tikai desmitgadē, šodien var norādīt vien indikatorus, kas nosaka indivīda identitāti konstruējošos elementus virtuālajā vidē, un diskutēt, vai esošā identitāte var pastāvēt, ja tā pārnesta no reālās uz virtuālo vidi. Nacionālā identitāte vēl pirms dažām desmitgadēm eksistēja indivīda apziņā, drukātos materiālos, mutvārdu daiļradē un dažādās kultūras formās, taču tehnoloģiju attīstība un nozīmīgas indivīda dzīves daļas pārvietošanās uz virtuālo pasauli ir ieviesusi korekcijas arī nacionālās identitātes jautājumā.

Šodien šī jēdziena izpratnei ir jābūt atvērtai ierosinājumiem, kritikai un papildinājumiem, tai ir nepieciešama virzība nākotnes dimensijā, jākļūst par sava veida tiltu, lai nācija būtu gatava nākotnes izaicinājumiem, neiestiegot pagātnē, kad identitātei bija tikai viena – reālās vides dimensija. A.Gidensa apskatītajā modernisma laikmetā, izveidojoties tīkla sabiedrībai, nacionālās identitātes jautājums virtuālajā vidē kļūst aktuāls, jo būtiska daļa no indivīda komunikācijas ir pārnesta uz turieni. Sociālie tīkli kļūst par vietu, kur indivīdam ir iespējas akcentēt vienu no savām identitātēm, proti, nacionālo. Ņemot vērā, ka identifikācija saskaņā ar valodu, kādu noteiktu ģeogrāfisku vietu un tajā dzīvojošās tautas kultūru ir piederības izteikšana grupai, arī sociālajos tīklos indivīdam šī grupa ir jāatrod un ar kādiem izteiksmes līdzekļiem jāizrāda tai piederība. Tieši šim laikmetam ir raksturīgi, ka piederība noteiktai grupai virtuālā pasaulē iegūstama salīdzinoši vienkāršāk nekā reālajā.

Globālisma laikmetā radušās izmaiņas ir kļuvušas par cēloni identitātes krīzei individuālā un kolektīvā līmenī (Woodward, 1997). Indivīdiem ir jauni izaicinājumi, lai izvērtētu savu piederību ne vien ģeogrāfiskās lokācijas pārmaiņu rezultātam reālajā pasaulē, bet arī pieaugošo virtuālās vides nozīmīgumu un savu vietu tajā. Savukārt valstīm ir jāprot tikt galā ar jautājumiem, kas saistās ar šo procesu radītām sekām šodienas un vēsturiskā kontekstā, kā arī nākotnes dimensijā.

Pasakot, kas „mēs esam”, un iedvesmojot indivīdus, rodas identitātes idealizēta versija, lai veidotu lepnuma un prieka izjūtas par piederību noteiktai kopienai. Ja indivīds noticēs reālajā dzīvē konstruētai nacionālai identitātei un tā nostiprināsies apziņā, ir liela varbūtība, ka šīs sajūtas tiks projicētas arī virtuālajā vidē. Piemēram, 2011. gada valsts svētku nedēļā daļa Latvijas Twitter lietotāju savu profilu izrotāja ar Latvijas karoga lentīti. Šis simbols ir identitātes tiešā pārnese, jo nedēļā starp Lācplēša dienu un Valsts proklamēšanas dienu reālajā vidē ikviens sabiedrības pārstāvis tika aicināts izmantot šo lentīti, lai veicinātu patriotismu un radītu valsts svētku izjūtu. Minētais piemērs apstiprina spriedumu, ka, no vienas puses, nacionālā identitāte, kas sakņojas indivīdu priekšstatos, praksē un institucionālās struktūrās, ir tā, kas ietekmē politiskos procesus, taču, no otras puses, identitātes izpratni vajadzētu konstruēt pašai sabiedrībai, nevis tās politiķiem un elitei (Parekh, 2000). Lai gan nacionālā identitāte kā sociāli veidota mentālā struktūra ir ieguvusi pragmatisku raksturu, taču, konstruējot to mainīgos apstākļos, pieaugošā fragmentācijā un viļņveida pieprasījumā un vajadzībās pēc identitātes manifestācijas, nevar paļauties, ka reālās vides identitāti ir iespējams tieši pārnest uz virtuālo vidi. Katrai videi ir savas savstarpēji atšķirīgas identitātes konstrukcijas formas. Ja reālajā vidē instrumentu identitātes konstruēšanai ir daudz, tad virtuālajā vidē nacionālā, reliģiskā vai jebkura cita identitāte pati ir aplūkojama kā instruments kādu mērķu, ideju, interešu vai kā cita realizācijai, kam nepieciešams kāds tīkla dots atbalsts (diskusija, līdzdalība lēmumu pieņemšanā, rīcība un tml.).

Nacionālās identitātes konstruēšana sociālajos tīklos
Lielākajā daļā tīklu to konstrukcijas galvenais elements ir personas vai uzņēmuma reprezentācija — vizītkarte (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter), kas ir kā pašidentifikācija, kurai seko komunikācija tīkla ietvaros. 2010. gadā veiktais sociālā tīkla Twitter Latvijas vides lietotāju pētījums parādīja, ka 87% no aptaujātajiem uzskata, ka visefektīvākā ir komunikācija, kas veikta no privātpersonas profila, un 67% no tīkla aptaujātajiem lietotājiem labprātāk komunicē ar pazīstamām personām. Šie fakti liecina, ka komunikāciju indivīdam ir patīkami uzturēt ar personām, kuras var identificēt un kam ir līdzīgas intereses un uztvere, kas savukārt stiprina sociālo tīklu nozīmību (Bērziņa & Stibe, 2010).

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn globālo sociālo tīklu formāts, uzbūve un nemitīgi pilnveidotās tehnoloģiju iespējas ar video, audio, vizuāliem un komunikācijas instrumentiem sniedz plašas iespējas indivīda izpausmēm. Tādējādi virtuālā vide indivīdos vairo identitāšu konstruēšanas iespējas atbilstīgi viņu interesēm un vajadzībām, lai turpmāk varētu realizēt kādu no Jana van Daika definētajām sociālo attiecību dimensijām. Tieši individuālās intereses ir tas dzinējspēks, kas liek veidoties kopienām, kurās indivīds jūtas komfortabli. Mazinoties savienotības un vienprātības dimensijai, rodas identitātes fragmentētība. Būtiski, ka viens no fragmentētības veicinošiem faktoriem ir „dažādās identitātes projekcijas, ko veido politiskās elites, mediji un ikdienas diskursi” gan virtuālajā, gan reālajā vidē (Cillia, Reisigl, & Wodak, 1999).

Sociālos tīklus var iedalīt divās lielās grupās: globālie – tādi kā Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, kas apvieno indivīdus no visas pasaules un kur komunikācija norit teju visās pasaules valodās, un lokālajos – tādos kā,,, kas apvieno galvenokārt indivīdus, kas komunicē vienā valodā un kas ir piederīgi vienai nācijai, kaut arī, iespējams, teritoriāli ir šķirti. Tādējādi sociālajos tīklos piederība kādai noteiktai grupai pēc nacionāliem principiem var pastāvēt kā lokālos, tā arī globālos tīklos, ja indivīda nacionālo identitāti veidojošie atribūti sakrīt ar tīkla atribūtiem – lietoto valodu, vērtībām utt. Dalībnieku ģeogrāfiskā atrašanās vieta kā kritērijs, lai noteiktu, vai tīkls ir lokāls vai globāls, ir zaudējusi nozīmi.

Indivīda vēlme apzināties un realizēt savu nacionālo identitāti var izpausties, gan dzīvojot teritorijā un valstī, kur ir šīs identitātes saknes, gan atrodoties attālināti. Globalizācijas laikmetā plašās mobilitātes iespējas ir veicinājušas migrācijas procesus, kuru rezultātā vienas nācijas pārstāvju nozīmīga daļa atrodas citās valstīs, taču joprojām vēlas uzturēt to savu nacionālo identitāti, kāda tiem ir bijusi pirms emigrācijas. Sociālie tīkli emigrantiem ir instruments, kā uzturēt saikni ar etnisko dzimteni indivīda un grupas līmenī. Martas Marčevas (Marta Marcheva) (Marcheva, 2011) pētījums par Bulgārijas emigrantu komunikāciju Facebook, atklāj e-diasporas pastāvēšanu. Autore, izmantojot Mihaela Hercfelda (Michael Herzfeld) (Herzfeld, 2008) identitātes stratēģijas, norāda, ka noteiktas kopienas virtuālā teritorijā var realizēt kultūras intimitāti, vairojot pašas kopienas locekļu radītos stereotipus, strukturālo nostaļģiju, apcerot laiku, kad bija labāk, un, pievēršoties sociālai poētikai, mēģināt atrast kādu noteiktu priekšrocību un pārvērst to patstāvīgā stāvoklī. Sava pētījuma ietvaros M.Marčeva secina, ka šai nacionālajai grupai, kuras komunikācija notiek, izmantojot kirilicas rakstību, ir divi galvenie komunikācijas aspekti — kā uzturēt kontaktus, virtuāli piedalīties savu radinieku, draugu dzīvēs no attāluma, jūsmot par mājās pavadītām brīvdienām un arī integrēties jaunajā sabiedrībā. Šis pētījums apstiprina faktu, ka viens no pasaulē populārākajiem sociālajiem tīkliem Facebook ir radījis virtuālu teritoriju bez robežām, taču, pateicoties dažādām sociālām
un nacionālām piederībām, neved pie kultūru saplūšanas, bet gan dažādības un plurālisma (Marcheva, 2011). Līdzīga rakstura pētījums ir par Austrijā dzīvojošiem turku jauniešiem, kas interneta vidē sociālos tīklos un tērzētavās, veidojot savu profilu, iekļauj vārdus vai simbolus, kas norāda viņu nacionālo identitāti (Meinsah, 2011), un arī tas liek secināt, ka sociālie tīkli ir labvēlīga vide
identitātes apzināšanai un demonstrēšanai, lai saglabātu un turpinātu savas nācijas tradīcijas.

Sociālo tīklu instrumentu plašais pielietojuma spektrs piedāvā arī pretēju iespēju nacionālās identitātes saglabāšanai, proti, iekļaušanos citā nācijā, kura ir kļuvusi svarīga indivīda migrācijas rezultātā. Piemēram, filipīniešu izcelsmes Norvēģijas jaunieši lokālā sociālā tīklā „Biip” konstruē un reprezentē savu identitāti tā, lai norādītu piederības un kultūras identitātes daudzveidību, neslēpjot savu neeiropeisko izcelšanos (Lanza, Svendsen, 2007).

Šādi gadījumi, kad ar virtuālās vides instrumentiem, izmantojot nacionālās identitātes kontekstu, tiek risināts valstiski svarīgs uzdevums — labprātīga migrantu iekļaušanās sabiedrībā, ir apliecinājums sociālo tīklu nozīmībai mūsdienu procesos, jo „dažādām sabiedrības demogrāfiskām grupām ir jārod vieta sociālā procesā, kopienas un semantisko nozīmju tīkla sarežģītajā un pretrunīgajā telpā, savietojoties ar to” (Lasmane, 2011). Ja agrāk viena no aktualitātēm bija stabilas un stingras identitātes konstrukcija, tad šodienas vērtība ir spēja pielāgoties un transformēt identitātes nākotnes perspektīvā. Līdzīgus secinājumus par vēlmi izmantot kolektīvās identitātes instrumentus, lai iekļautos pamatnācijā, sniedz arī pētījums par ķīniešu izcelsmes imigrantiem, kuri savu piederību definē kā „ķīniešu amerikānis” vai ķīnietis Amerikā. Analizējot abas šīs grupas, pētījuma autori secina, ka tie imigranti, kas, akceptējot mītnes zemes kultūru kā savu identitātes daļu, akceptē arī šo kultūru sociālajos tīklos – viņiem ir daudz draugu ārpus ķīniešu kopienas, kurai jau ir sekundāra loma. Savukārt ķīniešu nacionalitātes sekundārās lomas apzināšanā būtiska nozīme ir sociālajiem tīkliem, kas kalpo kā integrācijas instruments vietējā sabiedrībā (Mok, Morris, Benet-Martinez, & Karakitapoglu – Aygun, 2007).

Ņemot vērā Skota Laša (Lash, 1999) pausto domu, ka identitātes veidošanai virtuālajā vidē indivīds pragmatiski izvēlas jebkādu materiālu, tam nav nepieciešami visi tie instrumenti, kas pieejami reālajā vidē. Sociālie tīkli ir tikai vide, kas var būt paredzama dažādiem konstrukciju veidiem, ja vien indivīdam ir šāda nepieciešamība. Virtuālajos sociālajos tīklos indivīdi ir
ierobežoti tieši demonstrēt nacionālo identitāti, izmantojot simbolus vai kādus citus atribūtus, kas ir nozīmīgi reālajā vidē. Pati identitāte virtuālajā pasaulē ir atspulgs tām nozīmēm, kas jau ir piešķirtas reālajā vidē. Tā kā nacionālās identitātes jautājums kļūst aktuāls brīžos, kad tiek diskutēti šīs tēmas aspekti, indivīdam rodas nepieciešamība pielietot nacionālās identitātes
apziņu, kas nav tikai kā viena nacionālā identitāte, bet gan dažādas identitātes, kas izgaismojas dažādos brīžos un sociālos kontekstos, to dinamisma, ievainojamības un trausluma dēļ. Savukārt izšķirīgos brīžos personas identitāte ir ietekmīgāka un noteicošāka hierarhijā pār kopienu un nacionālo identitāti (Šķilters, 2011). Tāpēc indivīdam pašam ir jāizvēlas tie instrumenti un iespēju kopums, ar kuru tas realizēs savu identificēšanos. Iepriekšminētie faktori un pētījumu rezultāti ļauj secināt, ka sociālie tīkli nedz veido, nedz ierobežo dažādas — tai skaitā nacionālo identitāšu, izpausmes. Un tikai cilvēki paši var lemt, kādus instrumentus kādās situācijāsizmantot, lai demonstrētu savu nacionālo piederību.

Nacionālās identitātes apzināšanās un transformācija ir nebeidzams process. Tāpēc diskusijā par nacionālo identitāti kā viena no būtiskām tendencēm jāatzīst „pieprasījums pēc jauniem jēdzieniem, ar kuriem varētu aizstāt un papildināt vēsturiski veidojušos nācijas un nacionālisma izziņu” (Lasmane, 2011, 21), īpašu uzmanību pievēršot nacionālās identitātes konstrukcijām virtuālajā vidē. Identitātes pārnešana no reālās uz virtuālo vidi, izmantojot tehnoloģiskos risinājumus, drīzāk projicē reālajā vidē jau iegūtās piederības, nevis rada jaunas konstrukcijas. Nacionālā, reliģiskā vai jebkura cita identitāte sociālajos tīklos ir aplūkojama kā instruments kādu mērķu, ideju, interešu vai kā cita realizācijai, kam nepieciešams tīkla dots atbalsts, kas iespējams, ja tīkla dalībniekus vieno kopīgas intereses, kas var rezultēties diskusijā, līdzdalībā, kopīgā lēmumu pieņemšanā, kam var sekot rīcība. Lai arī instrumentu kopums pieļauj konstruēt iedomātās indivīda identitātes, raugoties no identitātes pielietojamības iespējām, tikai tām
identitātēm, kuras pietuvinātas realitātei, ir nozīme to indivīdu dzīvēs, kas tās ir veidojuši. Tas nozīmē, ka gan virtuālajai, gan reālajai videi nozīmīgie identitātes konstrukciju ietekmējošie faktori atrodas balansā. Virtuālajai videi piemītošo instrumentu kopums ir pietiekams, lai indivīds varētu dot atbildes uz jautājumu „kas es esmu”. Tādējādi arī virtuālajā vidē var uzturēt un attīstīt indivīda nacionālo identitāti.

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Incremental Persuasion through Microblogging: A Survey of Twitter Users in Latvia

Agnis Stibe1, Harri Oinas-Kukkonen1, Ilze Bērziņa2, Seppo Pahnila1

1 University of Oulu
Department of Information Processing Science
P.O. Box 3000, FIN-90014 Oulu, Finland
Tel: +358 8 553 1900

{Agnis.Stibe, Harri.Oinas-Kukkonen, Seppo.Pahnila}

2 School of Business Administration “Turība”
Department of Communication
Graudu 68, LV-1058 Rīga, Latvia
Tel: +371 2 654 3234


Emerging socio-technical environments facilitate the advancement of existing social activities and creation of innovative forms of online social influence. Social networks and microblogging services are few of the most frequently used forms of online interaction.  These channels provide means for intensive communication embodying persuasion in one way or the other. This paper presents features of Twitter to uncover inbuilt persuasion patterns that influence users’ behaviors and attitudes. An online survey of Twitter users in Latvia was carried out receiving 403 valid responses for quantitative data analysis. Recent frameworks for designing persuasive systems and measuring the success of Behavior Change Support Systems (BCSSs) were applied in the evaluation process. The main findings from this study relate to incremental behavior and attitude change among Twitter users. Other results magnify the understanding of social influence patterns amongst Twitter users. These findings could be used for further research focused on the persuasive potential of Twitter.

Categories and Subject Descriptors

H.1.2 [Information Systems]: User/Machine Systems – human factors, software psychology. H.3.4 [Information Systems]: Systems and Software – information networks. J.4 [Computer Application]: Social and Behavioral Sciences – sociology.

General Terms

Human Factors, Measurement, Design


Twitter, social influence, behavioral patterns, incremental, attitude change, persuasive systems design, microblogging

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Novel information and communication technologies continuously affect many aspects of modern life. Global use of the Internet has created a substantial shift in communication both at local and international stages. More than a decade ago, the definition of “timeless time” emerged [1], a phenomenon created by hypertext and other new multimedia features, such as hyperlinks, message permutations, and image manipulations, which ended what was historically perceived as the natural sequence and time ordering of events. These communication forms altered the way people, organizations, and the rest of the world was experienced. Messages of all kinds become enclosed in the medium because it became so comprehensive, diversified, malleable, that it absorbed the entire of human experience i.e. past, present, and future in the same multimedia text.

Digitalization has enabled new forms for social activities in the virtual world. Interpersonal and mass communication is widely and actively used through social networks, blogs, e-mails, text messages, online games, and other means of social interaction, all of which are referred as social web. Previous research emphasized the significance of social networks, their structure and development [2], as well as their impact on individuals and organizations [3]. In addition, social networks have become a rapidly growing research area for computer science and information systems (ISs) scholars [4]. Academics and industry experts have acknowledged social networks as a key element of the next-generation web [5]. Some practitioners claim that no matter what type of web site or service is being developed, social interaction among the users will be critical to the site or service’s success [6].

Interest in microblogging, posting reflections on personal blogs, particularly by using instant messaging or mobile phones, has gained momentum recently. Twitter ( is an online service that combines social networking and microblogging, thereby creating a universal environment for active users of digital communication channels. At the same time, there are people who do not see any value in using Twitter and consider it time-consuming, while others think it is quite addictive. Varying types of user groups inhabit Twitter. There is a certain group of Twitter users that refer to this service as a website about nothing while on the other hand, Twitter transmits dozens of messages per day from socially hyperactive users who need instant connectivity and cannot seem to stop themselves from posting [7].

Twitter use has changed and still affects users and their behaviors and attitudes. Important characteristics to understand are the principles and features underlying Twitter, which facilitate the aforementioned changes. A key element in behavior and attitude change is persuasion, which is also described as a social influence mechanism [8] or a form of interaction that aims at changing the way people think or behave. Hereof, the research question for this study was posed as follows:

RQ: What kinds of inherent persuasion patterns exist in Twitter that can change users’ behaviors and/or attitudes?

In order to answer this research question, a quantitative online survey was designed and carried out in Latvia between July 19 and July 28, 2010. In all, 403 valid responses were statistically analyzed. Recent frameworks for designing persuasive systems, Behavior Change Support Systems (BCSSs) [9], and measuring the success of persuasive technology applications were applied during the evaluation.

The paper is structured as follows: Section 2 presents related research, Section 3 explains main concepts of recent frameworks for designing persuasive systems and BCSSs, Section 4 describes the research setting and survey elements, Section 5 outlines the statistical data analysis and results, Section 6 opens up discussion, and Section 7 draws conclusions based on the earlier sections.


Digital environments such as social web, mobile platforms, and other technological innovations, have rapidly expanded over last decades. The emergence of the socio-technical systems has created opportunities for scholars from various disciplines to perform advanced research in their fields. Further, software developers and the general audience should be aware of various approaches how people might be, are being, and will be influenced through information technology designs [9].

The related research discusses three main dimensions relevant to this paper: persuasion, online social networks, and Twitter as a microblogging service. Persuasion refers to an active attempt to influence peoples’ actions or beliefs with an apparent appeal to reason or emotion [10], or communication intended to influence choice [11]. Since beliefs are the ultimate determinants of behavior, to influence an intention or the corresponding behavior, it is essential to change the underlying beliefs. Persuasion has been shown to be one of the most important strategies for influencing beliefs and behaviors [12].

The beginning of studies related to online social networks was determined by the emergence of computing networks and development of online interconnectivity. When a computer network connects people or organizations, it is a social network [13]. Further studies have described the evolution of online social networks with more detailed characterization of their structures and, consequently, a simple network growth model that also captures these aspects of the component structure [2]. Following that model, users of online social networks can be characterized as either passive members, “inviters” who encourage offline friends and acquaintances to come online, or “linkers” who fully participate in the social evolution of the network. Furthermore, several studies related to persuasion in online social networks have been conducted. As a result, a new phenomenon of mass interpersonal persuasion has been introduced that describes the options for individuals to change attitudes and behaviors on a mass scale [14]. Next, patterns of persuasion in online social networks have been defined, suggesting that persuasion happens in predictable ways [15]. One of the recent developments is to study persuasion patterns in ISs underlying the social web, such as Facebook, but a relatively minor effort has yet to be directed towards investigating the persuasiveness of ISs designed for microblogging, such as Twitter.

Twitter as a web-based service was launched on July 15, 2006, and since then the number of users and posts has grown rapidly. At the same time, practitioners and scholars started to produce research-based scientific papers aimed at discussing Twitter, its use, to define its impact on people, organizations, and societies. Soon after Twitter emerged, researchers tackled the core question i.e. why people “tweet” to obtain deeper understanding of the microblogging phenomenon. They found that Twitter users’ intentions comprised of regular chatting, conversing, sharing information, and reporting news [16]. Another study identified distinct classes of Twitter users, such as broadcasters, acquaintances, miscreants, or evangelists, and their corresponding behaviors [17].

Investigating Twitter, researchers found that the linked structures of social networks do not reveal actual interactions among people. Studying social interactions within Twitter revealed that the driver of usage is a sparse and hidden network of connections underlying the declared set of friends and followers [18]. The first quantitative study on the entire Twitter sphere and information diffusion on it studied the topological characteristics of Twitter and its power as a new medium of information sharing, which marked a deviation from known characteristics of human social networks [19]. However, efforts to investigate Twitter were mainly aimed at studying the components of the Twitter service rather than exploring its persuasiveness and inherent social influence patterns.


Scholars and practitioners see online social networks as a representation of social interactions that can be used to study the propagation of ideas, social bond dynamics, behavior, and attitude change, among others. Studies related to attitudes and behaviors of users have a fairly long history in ISs research [9]. The theories for understanding attitudes and behaviors related to ISs and their use are taken from various areas, such as social psychology [20], cognitive psychology [21, 22], and related theories, such as the focus theory of normative conduct [23], and others.

A key element in behavior and attitude change is persuasion. Research on persuasive technology has been introduced relatively recently [24], focusing on how interactive technologies may be used to create, maintain, or change human thought and behavior. This combines well-established research methods and traditions from epistemology, rhetoric, social psychology, communication, and information science with contemporary technologies. Persuasive systems may be defined as computerized software or ISs designed to reinforce, change, or shape attitudes, or behaviors, or both without using coercion or deception [25].

Elaborate conceptual and design frameworks for ISs have been suggested recently, such as the Persuasive Systems Design (PSD) model [26] and a BCSS [9]. To carry out research on BCSSs, a five-step process model has been suggested: select the theoretical basis for research, analyze the intent through what is known as the O/C Design Matrix (Outcome/Change Design Matrix), analyze the BCSS through the PSD model, measure the behavior change, and explain the change with theories, the O/C Design Matrix, and the PSD model [27]. The PSD model is designed as a meta-level model to be used with fitting theories. The PSD model has been applied in several studies to evaluate the persuasiveness of computerized ISs in different areas, for example, in the health domain to evaluate weight loss and maintenance web sites [28], and in software development to evaluate software design specifications for a mobile Internet device [29].

The PSD model defines seven postulates that need to be addressed when designing and evaluating persuasive systems [26]: information technology is never neutral, people like their views about the world to be organized and consistent, direct and indirect routes are key persuasion strategies, persuasion is often incremental, persuasion through persuasive systems should always be open, persuasive systems should aim at unobtrusiveness, and persuasive systems should aim at being useful and easy to use.

Furthermore, the PSD model suggests four categories of persuasive features: primary task support, computer-human dialogue support, system credibility support, and social influence support. The social influence category, which is the most appropriate for studying social web services, such as Twitter, includes persuasive features such as social learning, social comparison, normative influence, social facilitation, cooperation, competition, and recognition [26].

In this research, the abovementioned frameworks were applied for the evaluation of findings from quantitative data analysis to explore aspects of social influence and patterns of behavioral and attitudinal changes among Twitter users.


Microblog is a relatively new phenomenon that provides additional communication opportunities for people to share information that they most likely would not distribute otherwise through existing channels, such as e-mail, phone, etc. Channels of this type handle intensive communications that embody persuasion in a one-way or the other. Previous research within this discourse focuses mostly on studying either different components of the social web [e.g., 2, 30] or persuasion in online social networks [e.g., 14, 31], leaving microblogging aside. Although a few studies have examined persuasion through microblogging, for example, to motivate teenagers to exercise [32], this area of research focus has, in general, been studied very little. Therefore, this research investigated persuasion through microblogging, particularly with Twitter.

Twitter is a microblogging service where users send tweets from a variety of devices to a network of followers. Unlike most online social networks, the relationship of “following” and “being followed by” in Twitter requires no reciprocation. The users following one are called followers, but those who are followed are called followees. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters. Each user has a Twitter page where all his or her updates are aggregated into a single list, but they can also be delivered directly to followers via instant messaging, short message service, really simple syndication, e-mail, or other social networking services. The retweet option in Twitter means forwarding of any received tweet to one’s followers; thus, this mechanism empowers users to spread information of their choice beyond the reach of the original tweet’s followers.

Launched in the summer of 2006, Twitter rapidly attracted users, reaching 190 million users globally ( within four years. In August 2010, more than 30 000 people were identified as Twitter users in Latvia ( Twitter lacks definite means for defining the affiliation of a Twitter user; consequently, the number of Twitter users in Latvia was acquired by considering two main criteria: Latvian as the language of communication and the location provided in Twitter profiles. The number of users may be even larger due to filtering off of Russian-speakers who type their posts in Russian and spend online time in social networks established in Russia.

The online survey of Twitter users in Latvia was carried out between July 19 and July 28, 2010. The survey was published online through, an online database designed to manage various forms and collect data, and received 411 responses, out of which 403 were valid for further analysis. The number of respondents who answered 37 survey questions was generated out of seven tweets from the survey authors and 37 retweets from other Twitter users and a technology blogger article about the survey.

The survey questions were designed to determine the role of Twitter in the virtual space, to understand the habits, thoughts, behaviors and attitudes of Twitter users, to uncover hidden communication networks, groups of interests, the drives for using Twitter, and to get demographic data about Twitter users. Findings of previous research reveal that a link between any two people in social networks does not necessarily imply an interaction between the two [18]. Most of the links declared within Twitter are meaningless from an interaction point of view. Thus, there is the need to find the hidden social influence patterns, the essential ones that matter when targeting to persuade people.

Some of the questions were constructed to reveal potential persuasion patterns within Twitter, as follows:

–     How long have you been using Twitter?

–     How often do you tweet?

–     Do there exist some communication and/or behavioral rules on Twitter, which are created by its users that need to be considered?

–     Do you consider yourself in Twitter a reader, retweeter, responder, or content generator?

–     Do you think that Twitter is a powerful tool to call for action outside the virtual world?

–     What is the level of credibility on Twitter?


The survey generated 403 valid responses that represented a wide sample of population in terms of gender, age, education, and the period of use, as presented in Table 1. The percentage distribution between men and women is very similar: 48.1% (n=194) of respondents are male, and 51.9% (n=209) are female. The largest group of respondents (37.5%, n=151) is between 20 and 24 years of age, followed by the group of respondents between 25 and 29 years of age (25.1%, n=101). These groups form the majority of respondents (63.6%, n=252), representing the most active group of Twitter users in Latvia. In addition, 44.4% (n=179) of the respondents had a bachelor’s degree, but 65.7% (n=265) of the respondents have higher education. Respondents are almost equally distributed regarding length of Twitter use: 49.9% (n=201) of respondents have used Twitter less than a year, and 50.1% (n=202) of respondents have used Twitter more than a year. The length of Twitter use for the largest group of respondents (42.2%, n=170) is between 1 and 2 years, and the second largest group (34.5%, n=139) with experience in using Twitter is between 6 months and 1 year.

Table 1. Profile of the respondents

The total number of respondents: N=403













Less than 20 years



20-24 years



25-29 years



30 years or more




Studies in school



Secondary school












The length of Twitter use

Less than 6 months



6 months to 1 year



1 to 2 years



2 years or more



The aim of the research is to analyze and evaluate the survey data looking for evidence of Twitter users’ behavior changes by applying frameworks of evaluating persuasive systems [26, 27] and measuring the success of BCSSs [9] described in section 3. Behavior change may occur when one is being persuaded. Therefore, the intention is to look for inherent persuasion patterns in Twitter that persuade people to change their behavior, attitude, or both. Because behavior change takes time, the focus of the data analysis is to study relationships between the length of use of Twitter and responses to other survey questions. The survey results sufficiently cover all categories of users by their length of use of Twitter. See Table 1.

5.1     Followees and Followers

The results of the initial analysis validated existence of a relationship between Twitter users’ period of use and their behavior change in several questions. The participants were asked about the number of people they followed and how many followers they had. The collected numbers were grouped according to the four types of users by their length of use. Table 2 shows the average number for each group that was calculated. The survey results show that the average number of followees and followers columns grows over time, but only their proportions change. The average number of followees (n=78) is larger than the number of followers (n=53) for less experienced users (less than 6 months). Slightly more experienced users (6 months to 1 year) on average have almost equal number of followees (n=155) and followers (n=160). The most experienced Twitter users (2 years or more) have half as many followees (n=296) as followers (n=590). The average number of a user’s followees and followers increases over time incrementally.

Table 2. The relationship between the length of use and the average number of followees and followers

The length of use of Twitter

The average number of:



Less than 6 months



6 months to 1 year



1 to 2 years



2 years or more



Additional sophisticated data analysis was carried out with the SPSS software, which is one of the most widely used computer programs for statistical analysis in social sciences. Descriptive statistics were used, especially cross-tabulation, which is very popular in research related to surveys and represent the process of creating a contingency table from the multivariate frequency distribution of statistical variables.

5.2     Frequency of Tweeting

As one of the aspects that might contribute to behavior change while using Twitter is the frequency of posting tweets, it was studied with the following question, which starts with “You tweet…” and using a five-point scale, with the options “Do not tweet,” “Once in several months,” “Sometimes during the month,” “Several times per week” and “Every day.” Only 4.0% (n=16) of the responses were in the first two categories; therefore, the first three categories were combined under “Sometimes during the month and less.” Consequently, the distribution of responses is located in cross-tabulation, where four rows represent the length of use starting with less experienced people and three columns representing their responses about the intensity of their tweeting starting with less intensive tweeters. The Pearson chi-square test was then used to assess the dependence of the column and row variables. The null hypothesis states there is no dependence between the length of use and the intensity of tweeting. According to cross-tabulation followed by a Pearson chi-square test, quite expectedly, there is a dependence showing that the amount of tweeting increases over time (χ2(6)=18.059, p=0.006).

This provides support for the presumption that experienced users tweet more than new users and this behavior develops incrementally. Especially, the growth in the percentage of respondents tweeting every day from each category of users by their length of use of Twitter: 27.4% (n=17) of new users (less than 6 months), 36.0% (n=50) of users using Twitter for more than 6 months and less than 1 year, 50.6% (n=86) of users with between 1 and 2 years of Twitter experience, and 59.4% (n=19) of the most experienced users (2 years or more) tweet every day. This example obviously shows the incremental nature of this process. It might seem obvious that the longer one has used Twitter the more often he or she tweets, but on the other hand, users may not increase their frequency of tweeting if Twitter was not constructed to be useful and easy to use. This reflects the main idea of the seventh postulate behind persuasive systems [26].

5.3     Content Generation

The results of the statistical analysis provide support for the existence of significant relationships between the duration of Twitter use and the behavior and/or attitude change of Twitter users in several questions. Content generation and management is one of the most interesting, because it may uncover how it changes the attitudes and behaviors of Twitter users while their experience of using Twitter is extended over a longer period. Respondents in relation to content generation and management were studied with the question that starts, “As a Twitter user, do you consider yourself a…” and using a four-point scale, with the options “Reader,” “Retweeter” (reader, who also retweets), “Responder” (retweeter, who also replies and comments), and “Creator” (responder, who also generates new content). See Table 3 for cross-tabulation of the associated data.

Table 3. The relationship between the length of use and content generation in Twitter

How long have you been using Twitter?

As a Twitter user, you consider yourself a:





Less than 6 months









6 months to 1 year









1 to 2 years









2 years or more









As previously, the Pearson chi-square test was used to assess the dependence of the column and row variables. According to the cross-tabulation followed by a Pearson chi-square test, there is a dependence showing very clearly that experienced users generate more content than new users (χ2(9)=29.789, p=0.000). Especially remarkable is the growth in the percentage of creators from each category of users by their length of use of Twitter. There are only 19.4% (n=12) creators among new users (less than 6 months), 33.8% (n=47) creators within users using Twitter more than 6 months and less than 1 year, 38.8% (n=66) creators of users with between 1 and 2 years of Twitter experience, and reaching 62.5% (n=20) creators among the most experienced users (2 years or more). To conclude, the results provide support for the assumption that the longer one uses Twitter, the more one’s behavior regarding content generation changes. Persuaded incrementally, Twitter users become more responsive and more ready to generate new content.

Supplementary analysis was conducted to recognize the role of retweeters. Their character includes the activity of retweeting, which differentiates them from the passive group of users who only read. At the same time, retweeting does not generate any new content as well. The same content is just spread to a larger audience. In the first round, the relationship between readers and all other groups (retweeters, responders, creators) was investigated. According to cross-tabulation followed by a Pearson chi-square test, there is a relationship between readers and all other groups (χ2(3)=9.541, p=0.023). In the second round, the relationship between the united group of readers and retweeters together and the united group of responders and creators together was studied. According to cross-tabulation followed by a Pearson chi-square test, there is a relationship between the group of readers and retweeters and the group of responders and creators (χ2(3)=16.497, p=0.001). The p-value in the second round of analysis was noticeably smaller than in the first round. Thus, support is provided for the assumption that retweeters are much closer in their use behavior to readers than to responders or creators. Even though that retweet, as a mechanism, requires an action from the user, this activity may not contribute enough to content generation to be considered significant. The other assumption supported was that responders and creators might have similar characters. The only difference between creators and responders most likely is in creating new content instead of commenting and complementing the content received.

5.4     Credibility on Twitter

The credibility of web services is becoming an increasingly important area to understand [33]. Moreover, the credibility level of information in Twitter and overall trust in this service are essential for persuasion. The PSD model describes design principles for system credibility support, stating that the more credible systems are, the more persuasive they may become [26]. In this survey, the credibility was studied with the question, “In your opinion, what is the level of credibility on Twitter?” and using a five-point scale, with the options “No credibility,” “Low,” “Medium,” “Medium high,” and “High.” Only 4.0% (n=16) of the responses were in the first two categories; therefore, the first two categories were combined under “Low.” See Table 4.

Table 4. The relationship between the length of use and credibility on Twitter

How long have you been using Twitter?

In your opinion, what is the level of credibility on Twitter?



Medium high


Less than 6 months









6 months to 1 year









1 to 2 years









2 years or more









The results from Pearson chi-square test uncover that the longer one has used Twitter the higher the user’s trust (χ2(9)=21.130, p=0.012). This provides support for the assumption that experienced users trust Twitter more than new users; thus, credibility is built incrementally. However, in future studies more attention should be paid to experienced users, such as those with at least 2 years’ experience in this study, and also perhaps to even more experienced users as time goes on. The current data indicates a decrease in trust from 15.6% (n=15) who answered “Low” to 6.3% (n=2) who answered “High.” This deviation from overall tendency might be because of the comparably small total number of respondents in this group (2 years or more), which is 7.9% (n=32) out of all respondents (N=403), but at the same time this low proportion does not affect the overall dependency that was uncovered.

5.5     “Unwritten” Behavioral Rules

Another aspect of Twitter is simplicity in its structure compared to conventional online social networks, such as Facebook. The latter has a well-defined structure of elements that can be used and organized, and a set of rules that works throughout the service. In contrast, Twitter embodies a comparably small number of different options to be performed through the service. Therefore, it is interesting to investigate the following question: “Do there exist some communication and/or behavioral rules on Twitter, which are created by its users that need to be considered?” A three-point scale was used for answers: “No,” “Hard to say,” and “Yes.” See Table 5 for cross-tabulation of the data.

Table 5. The relationship between the length of use and belief that there are “unwritten” communication and/or behavioral rules on Twitter

How long have you been using Twitter?

Do there exist some communication and/or behavioral rules on Twitter, which are created by its users that need to be considered?


Hard to say


Less than 6 months







6 months to 1 year







1 to 2 years







2 years or more







In this case, the Pearson chi-square test results reveal that users learn over time “unwritten” communication and/or behavioral rules on Twitter (χ2(6)=19.064, p=0.004). The tendency can be noted even by observing the growth in the percentage of “Yes” responses from each category of users by their length of use: only 19.4% (n=12) of new users (less than 6 months), 28.1% (n=39) of users with experience of more than 6 months and less than 1 year, 39.4% (n=67) of users with between 1 and 2 years of Twitter experience, and 53.1% (n=17) of the most experienced users (2 years or more).

These results provide support for the assumption that experienced users are more aware of the existence of communication and/or behavioral rules on Twitter, which are created by the users and need to be considered in such type of interaction. Most likely this starts with recognizing the rules, complying them with beliefs, changing one’s behavior by following the rules, and finally appreciating them. A more detailed investigation of these persuasion patterns is a subject to further studies.

5.6     Call for Action Outside the Virtual World

The borderlines between virtual and real worlds are continuously converging, thus marking an important area for research. To investigate this interplay, the following question was asked: “Do you think Twitter is a powerful tool to call for action outside the virtual world?” A three-point scale was used for answers: “No,” “Hard to say,” and “Yes.” See Table 6 for data cross-tabulation.

Table 6. The relationship between the length of use and the responses about the power of Twitter to call for action outside the virtual world

How long have you been using Twitter?

Do you think Twitter is a powerful tool to call for action outside the virtual world?


Hard to say


Less than 6 months







6 months to 1 year







1 to 2 years







2 years or more







From analysis of this question, the Pearson chi-square test results reveal that Twitter is also powerful tool to call for action offline, i.e., outside the virtual world, and that experienced users are more ready to take action based on their communication via Twitter (χ2(6)=18.551, p=0.005). This provides support for the assumption that experienced users are more responsive to taking actions in the real world after a call received on Twitter. The analysis seems to demonstrate that this change in attitude and behavior of Twitter users happens incrementally over time depending on the length of use. Twitter also provides a convenient mechanism for spreading the calls to action via retweeting.


The results from statistical analysis provide support that the behavior and attitude changes of Twitter users occur incrementally. The initial data analysis highlighted patterns of behavior change depending on how long Twitter was used, such as an increase in the average number of one’s followees and followers, and the intensity of tweeting. Later, sophisticated data analysis revealed advanced patterns of behavior and attitude changes among Twitter users. To summarize key findings, the following general patterns can be observed from the survey responses: the longer Twitter is used, the more its users become content generators, the more they trust information on Twitter, the more they recognize “unwritten” communication and/or behavioral rules, and the more they consider Twitter a powerful tool to call for action outside the virtual world.

Theories from social and cognitive psychology may partially explain and support the findings of this study. For example, one reason Twitter users over time become more active content generators may be supported by the human capability for vicarious learning [34]. This implies that individuals learn not only from their own experience but also by observing the behaviors of others. In this case, less experienced Twitter users may observe others posting tweets and learn from that. The corresponding design principle or persuasive software feature in this case is social learning [26] that belongs to the social influence category of the PSD model.

At the same time, social facilitation [26], another persuasive software feature from the same social influence category, may play a significant role in changing users’ behavior toward more active content generation, because social facilitation examines behavior when it occurs in the presence of other people also engaged in the same activity [35]. The very same principle may well provide also support for the increased frequency of tweeting that was found to be more inherent for users with a longer experience in Twitter.

The finding about changes of more experienced users’ attitudes toward increasing recognition of the existence of “unwritten” communication and/or behavior rules on Twitter might be supported by human capability for self-regulation [36]. This implies that people observe their own behavior, compare it with standards or norms, and then punish or reward themselves depending on the performance. Furthermore, in the focus theory of normative conduct [23], it has been emphasized that social norms play significant role in determination of human behavior. In this study, the results demonstrate that more experienced users have greater awareness of the norms that should be followed on Twitter. For such situation, the PSD model proposes a relevant design principle, namely, normative influence [26]. Previous research suggests that normative influence has a significant effect on people’s attitudes [8]. Accordingly, this persuasive software feature may also underpin other altitudinal changes discovered with this survey, i.e., more experienced Twitter users have higher trust in information on Twitter and they consider Twitter a powerful tool to call for action outside the virtual world.

The remaining findings about increasing number of followees and followers for users with longer experience in Twitter at first may seem to be very obvious, but on the other hand this pattern may be a consequence of several social influence features inherent to Twitter service. Two counters representing a quantity of followees and followers for each user are displayed at their account. This provides opportunity for Twitter users to observe these counters, to compare them with counters of others, to seek for norms in such way, and to compete with others by boosting these counters. The aforementioned are reflections of four social influence features from the PSD model: social learning, social comparison, normative influence, and competition [26], accordingly. Earlier research on competition has distinguished it as one of influential intrinsic motivators that has persuasive powers to change people’s behaviors and attitudes [37].


The main results from this study relate to incremental behavior changes among Twitter users. Findings revealed interrelationships among seven responses, thus providing support for the hypothesis that users are persuaded to change their behavior or attitude while using Twitter. The in-depth analysis of data unfolded six patterns of behavioral and attitudinal changes that occur in Twitter over time. These findings deliver the main idea of the fourth postulate of the PSD framework, which states that persuasion is often incremental. It implies that a persuasive system should enable making incremental steps toward the target behavior, and Twitter seems to follow this model in the areas covered in this survey.

Further, all of the main findings seem to demonstrate a presence of one or more social influence aspects in Twitter. Besides social learning that is enabled by the overall design of Twitter service, two findings on behavioral change have indicated a potential presence of social facilitation, then three findings on attitudinal change have indicated a potential presence of normative influence, and then the remaining finding have shown additional potential to comprise social comparison and competition aspects. It is important to investigate how social influence features form and alter user behaviors, because it helps advancing the design of future ISs.

The generalizability of the results is limited because the data was gathered in one country with a comparatively small population and a certain culture. Consequently, further research should examine the revealed persuasion patterns in other countries with different cultural settings or the study can be repeated after some time to test the reliability of current findings.


The study was partly supported by the Someletti research project on Social Media in Public Space, grant 1362/31/2010, and the SalWe Research Program for Mind and Body, grant 1104/10, both provided by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.


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#lvtwitter aptaujas rezultāti

Aptaujas mērķis

Uzturoties Twitter vidē un arī reālajā pasaulē, diezgan bieži izskan jautājums par to, kas “dzīvo” Twitter, kam tas domāts, vai šai komunikācijai ir kāda jēga, vai tas ir tikai labs laika kavēšanas instruments. Līdz ar to, visupirms, apņemšanās šajā Twitter aptaujā bija noskaidrot to, kas ir Twitter lietotāji, kādi ir to paradumi šajā vidē, un ko paši lietotāji domā par Twitter, kā arī, kādi ir galvenie ieguvumi to lietotājiem un potenciāli sabiedrībai.

Otrs aptaujas mērķis ir saistīts ar manu pētījumu jomu, proti, interneta pārvaldību ( internet governance). Interneta pārvaldība Latvijā ir maz zināma tēma, taču pasaules līmenī tas ir issue, arī dažādu Eiropas un pasaules institūciju līmenī tiek domāts, kā šo vidi varētu pārvaldīt, jo tās regulācija nav iespējama. Vispārinot šīs tēmas galveno ideju, lai pārvadītu interneta vidi, ir nepieciešams, lai visas iesaistītās puses (valsts institūcijas, privātais sektors & sabiedrība) spētu sarunāties, apmainīties ar idejām, labas prakses piemēriem un vienotos globālā līmenī par vispārpieņemtiem spēles noteikumiem. Tā kā šie spēlētāji ir izkaisīti pa visu pasauli, ir nepieciešamas diskusiju & informācijas platformas, kur notiek viedokļu apmaiņa un formēšanās.  Latvijas Twitter vides pētījuma mērķis šajā kontekstā ir noskaidrot, vai šāda sociālā tīkla vide būtu piemērota kļūt par informācijas apmaiņas platformu, vai šajā vidē ir izveidojušās kādas grupas, kāda ir to darbība, kādiem mērķiem tās tiek izmantotas.

Aptaujas norise

Kā rezultāts izsludinātai idejai šajā blogā par vēlmi veidot Latvijas Twitter aptauju, radās tandēms Ilze Bērziņa & Agnis Stibe.

Aptauja, izmantojot Panda Form interneta vietni,  notika laika posmā no 2010. gada 19. jūlija līdz 2010. gada 28. jūlijam. Tajā piedalījās 411 respondenti, no kuriem 403 respondentu atbildes varēja izmantot datu apstrādei. Šāds aptaujāto skaits tika sasniegts, aptaujas autoriem izplatot 7 twītus par aptauju, kas ģenerēja 37 retwītus, kā arī bija 2 ieraksti blogos.

Aptaujas rezultātu kopsavilkums

Twitter lietotājs – sieviete (52%)  & vīrietis ( 48%), dzīvojošs Rīgā un tās tuvumā (81%), ar augstāko izglītību (65%), sociāli aktīvs (84%), kas Twitter lieto vairāk kā gadu (50%) un uztur savu personīgo profilu (72%), kam pašam ir savs blogs.  85% no šiem lietotājiem twīto katru dienu vai vairākas reizes nedēļā, sekojot tikai tiem profiliem, kas tos interesē (86%) un komunicējot ar tiem, kurus pazīst (67%), atzīstot, ka var optimāli komunikāciju uzturēt ar 20 cilvēkiem.  Respondentiem (73%)  nav svarīgi, vai viņu viedoklis saskan ar citu izteiktajiem viedokļiem. Viss daudzskaitlīgākā grupa ar ko sevi identificē respondenti, ir studenti, IT& telekomunikācijas, marketings & reklāma & PR & komunikācija. Lielu daļu respondentu veido “citu” profesiju pārstāvji, kas netika identificēti aptaujas variantos. 36% n0 lietotājiem uzskata sevi par satura radītājiem,  43% par aktīviem reaģētājiem uz saturu.

Twitter pielietojums – visvairāk lietotāju Twitter uztver šo vietni kā informācijas avotu, iespēju paust savu viedokli un komunicēt. Kā arī daļai Twitter aizstāj citus medijus ( TV, radio, avīzes). Twitter vidē paustai informācijai ir vidēji augsta ticamība, un Twitter var būt vide, kurā paustās idejas dzīvo arī ārpus, aicinot uz konkrētām darbībām (76%). Vislabāk Twitter vidē ir komunicēt kā privātpersonai (87%), savā interešu grupā (63%). No 1 interese Twitter vidē  ir politika, kam seko draugi un fani. Taču galvenokārt interese lietotājam ir vairāk ap kādu konkrētu gadījumu/notikumu/tēmu, nevis sfēru kopumā.

Vairāk un detalizētāk ar pētījuma rezultātiem var iepazīties  šajā prezentācijā:

Datu interpretācijas un autoru skatījums atrodams šī bloga sadaļā Publikācijas.

Vēlreiz liels paldies visiem, kas piedalījās  pētījumā par lvtwitter vidi.

Kas notiek Latvijas Twitter vidē? Aptauja Twitter lietotājiem.

Twitter vide ir ļoti atvērta un tajā var komunicēt ikviens. Katru mēnesi šai komunikācijas formai pievienojas vairāki tūkstoši cilvēku. Šobrīd speciālisti lēš, ka Latvijas Twitter vide varētu būt ap 30 000 lietotāju.  Laiku pa laikam izskan viedoklis, ka nav īsti skaidrs, kas ir Twitter lietotājs un vēl jo mazāk, kāpēc viņš lieto šo saziņas formu. Lai sīkāk izpētītu Twitter vidi un iedziļinātos, ko par to domā paši tā lietotāji, ir izveidota aptauja, kurā ir aicināts piedalīties ikviens Twitter lietotājs.

Spiežot uz šo saiti, nonāksi aptaujas anketā.

Anketas dati tiks izmantoti doktordarbā par interneta pārvaldību.

Šī pētījuma dati tiks prezentēti  2010. gada 21. augustā starptautiskā zinātniskā konferencē  EUKO 2010 „Local Aspects of European Business Communication”

Apkopoti anketas rezultāti un to analīze būs pieejami šajā emuārā 21. augustā.

7 minūtes Jūsu laika būs neatsverams ieguldījums Latvijas twitter vides izpētē! Būšu pateicīga, ja šo aptaujas linku pārsūtīsi arī citiem Twitter lietotājiem, kurus pazīsti.

Jau iepriekš – visiem liels paldies!

Nike ar Ambush mārketingu pārspēj futbola čempionāta oficiālo sponsoru Adidas

Šī nav pirmā reize, kad Nike nebūdams kādu sacensību oficiālais sponsors “norauj visu banku.” Tā arī ir noticis šogad futbolā. Nielsen veiktā analīze liecina, ka Nike buzz angliski runājošos sociālajos tīklos, blogos, ziņojuma dēļos ap šo čempionātu ir krietni vien pamanāmāks kā oficiālā sacensība sponsora Adidas buzz. Šogad Nike apģērbā uz laukuma nāk 9 no 32 komandām, pretēji 12 no 32, kas ir ģērbtas adidas tērpos. Ja ieskatamies skaitļos, cik cilvēku ir noskatījušies viena un otra zīmola video rullīšus, statistika ir nepārspējama. Šorīt Nike bija 15090685 pretēji Adidas 3086799.

Statistiskie mērījumi par online Buzz šī futbola čempionāta saistībā izskatās šādi