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"You Are Not Alone”: Effects of Highlighting Social Aspects on Responsiveness, Joining, and Profile Information Sharing in an Information Portal

Brian Butler, Nikhil Sharma, Jeannie Irwin and Heiko Spallek

(Submission #209)


Many information portals are adding social features to enable benefits of Web 2.0. Such additions are undertaken with hopes of increasing the usefulness of the information and enhancing the overall user experience. Invitations and welcome pages that highlight these social features are expected to encourage use and participation. We studied the effects of emphasizing social features on users’ responses to invitations, decisions to join, and willingness to provide profile information. The results of a quasi-experiment found no effect of social emphasis in invitations on receiver responsiveness. However, subjects receiving invitations highlighting social benefits were less likely to join and provide profile information. Social emphasis in the initial welcome page for the site was also found to have a significant effect on whether individuals joined and how much profile information they provided and shared. Unexpectedly, subjects who were welcomed in a social manner were less likely to join and provided less profile information. This suggests that even in online contexts where social activity is an increasingly important factor, highlighting the presence of social features may not always be the optimal presentation strategy.


Program Track:  Track 3 - Information Systems, Interactivity and Design
Submission Type:  Research Paper

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