Who uses Facebook?
Research has shown that people use Facebook especially to keep in touch with their existing networks rather than to meet new people. This makes sense since the site – another structural feature – organizes people and one’s connections according to one’s existing offline networks. Again, especially in the beginning, what mattered most was a user’s school affiliation. If your friends who graduated from high school a year or two ago didn’t go to college then they probably didn’t join Facebook so if you want to keep in touch with them, that’s not the network where you’ll be able to do it best.
If people’s online networks mirror their offline networks and constraints placed on people in their everyday lives are reflected in their online interactions then that means that there is a limit – for some more than others – to what different people can get out of their online activities and interactions.
[excerpt from James Joyner article, November 21, 2007]
Adam N. Johnson:
“The main use of Facebook is the recreation of social connections between people who had, or still have, a connection in their everyday lives. So, people mainly used Facebook to reconnect with people they went to school with, worked with, or friends they lost touch with. But, the key question is ‘what do people do once they have created this network?’ The results of the research suggest that this can be divided into four main activities – they can use applications within the site to interact with their network, they can browse their friends’ friends and learn more about them, they can join groups and express their identity via shared social experiences, or they can use the site to inform others of their news, and keep up to date with others’ actions.”
. . .“The issue is what do these sites provide once you have built your network. If they do not provide additional activities or social networking resources, the danger is that they become nothing more than a glorified contacts database. Two uses – photographs and people’s news – came out clearly as possible motivators of repeat visits to the site. If they want to remain central to people’s online lives, social network sites need to find ways to encourage people to use them to not only make contact with others, but also to keep that contact alive.”