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Setting The Stage For Empirical Research In Virtual Social Networks

Setting The Stage For Empirical Research In Virtual Social Networks

This work sets the theoretical stage for future empirical investigations of the socio-economic dynamics in virtual social networks (VSN), at member and network entrepreneur levels. In so doing, I start by identifying the empirical loci, Flickr and LinkedIn, justify and describe the choices. A model of the utility function of the generic VSN member is followed by descriptions of the value dynamics for each VSN, which in turn create the premise for an economic model of VSN as platforms for multi-sided markets. The model is built by considering several theoretical angles from the perspectives of microeconomics and sociology of networks. The contribution is in extending theoretical and empirical insights across disciplines and fields with the idea of exploring and understanding the emerging VSN-phenomenon.

This work sets the theoretical stage for future empirical investigations of the socio-economic dynamics in virtual social networks (VSN), at member and network entrepreneur levels. In so doing, I start by identifying the empirical loci, Flickr and LinkedIn, justify and describe the choices. A model of the utility function of the generic VSN member is followed by descriptions of the value dynamics for each VSN, which in turn create the premise for an economic model of VSN as platforms for multi-sided markets. The model is built by considering several theoretical angles from the perspectives of microeconomics and sociology of networks. The contribution is in extending theoretical and empirical insights across disciplines and fields with the idea of exploring and understanding the emerging VSN-phenomenon.

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Setting The Stage For Empirical Research In Virtual Social Networks

  1. 1. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks Introduction This work sets the theoretical stage for future empirical investigations of the socio- economic dynamics in virtual social networks (VSN), at member and network entrepreneur levels. In so doing, I start by identifying the empirical loci, Flickr and LinkedIn, justify and describe the choices. A model of the utility function of the generic VSN member is followed by descriptions of the value dynamics for each VSN, which in turn create the premise for an economic model of VSN as platforms for multi-sided markets. The model is built by considering several theoretical angles from the perspectives of microeconomics and sociology of networks. The contribution is in extending theoretical and empirical insights across disciplines and fields with the idea of exploring and understanding the emerging VSN-phenomenon. Empirical Loci Wikipedia defines a virtual community as “a social network of individuals who interact through specific media, potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests or goals. One of the most pervasive types of virtual community includes social networking services, which consist of various online communities.1” The empirical lens is applied to Flickr and LinkedIn, which are social networking services, or virtual social networks (VSN) whose themes are photo-sharing and professional networking, respectively.2 The VSN choice was made for analytical simplicity, for these two networks are monothematic, and illustrate supply or network- side similarities, and demand or member-side contrasts. On the supply side, these networks are platforms for multi-sided markets, whereas on the demand side they represent, let us say, types of utility realization. Flickr stands in for networks whose members satisfy utility in the present; LinkedIn is a case of network whose members’ utility satisfaction is deferred. This is to say that, a) Flickr members get satisfaction at the time of browsing, and b) LinkedIn members get deferred satisfaction, upon landing a new job. Before a model for the member’s utility function is advanced, we should also note that Flickr and LinkedIn are the most prominent VSN in their niches, which is to say that demand-side economies of scale appear to have selected each as the leader. 1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_community 2 The official description of each VSN is in Annex 1. 1 of13
  2. 2. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks Modeling the VSN Members’ Utility Function Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. 3 The number of members a VSN can theoretically have is the whole internet population, for the same individual can belong to more VSN at once. In practice, all kinds of limits are present, e.g., time, language, theme interest, etc. The two types of resources VSN need are the technology infrastructure and membership. Holding the cost of the infrastructure constant regardless of the membership size, for now, a VSN can be in competition for members’ attention across different niches.4 From a microeconomics perspective, the empirical opportunity is to model and test a network member’s utility-maximization as a function of intertemporal choices (Nicholson et al.). If the member’s constraint is given by the amount of socializing time on the networks (Y), the task is to find the optimal allocation between the times spent on each network. If the choices are between spending time on Flickr (C0), and LinkedIn (C1), then Y = C0 + C1. Taking the average time one spends on LinkedIn to get a job to be 1/r, we can say that there is deferred utility associated with C1, which is satisfied only after an average period of time of (1/r).5 Below, there is the graphical illustration of the utility functions Ui, associated with the intertemporal time constraint and choices, adapted from Nicholson and Snyder (2010: 409-10). If C1 = 0, the member chooses to spend all the time on Flickr, or C0 = Y, and there is no time spent on LinkedIn. On the other hand, if all the time is spent on LinkedIn, C0 = 0, and C1 = (1+r)*Y. 3 Jeremy Bentham, 1789, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; http://www.econlib.org/library/Bentham/bnthPMLCover.html 4 This creates the possibility for a given VSN to extend by adopting a theme from a competitor’s niche. Facebook appears to have embraced this path to growth. 5 To be more accurate, r should be a probability following a certain probability distribution. 2 of13
  3. 3. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks Utility maximization is achieved at (C0*, C1*), at which point the marginal rate of substitution (MRS) between C0 and C1 is equal to (1 + r).6 It should also be observed that r measures the opportunity cost that the member incurs when choosing to satisfy utility at the present time rather than at some point (1/r) in the future.7 If this is a model for the utility function on the demand side, the open question now becomes the extent to which network effects can explain the behavior of VSN after the network reaches the dominant position. To be able to address this question, from the supply side, next we examine the value dynamics for all network participants: members, advertisers and entrepreneurs or owners. Value Dynamics in Two Types of VSN It should be noted from the outset that a way of representing structure related value- dynamics in social networks is by virtue of structural holes. Burt defined them as characteristic of any social structure in the following terms: Players [network members] are connected to certain others, trusting of certain others, obligated to support certain others, dependent on exchange with certain others. Push here and someone over there moves. […] The holes in social structure, or, more simply, structural holes, are disconnections or nonequivalencies between players in the arena. Structural holes are entrepreneurial opportunities for information access, timing, referrals, and control (1992). Gaps between clusters [members or member communities in the network] are holes in the structure of information flow, or more simply, structural holes. A structural hole between two groups need not mean that people in the groups are unaware of one another. It means only that the people are focused on their own activities such that they do not attend to the activities of people in the other group. Holes are buffers, like an insulator in an electric circuit. People on either side of a structural hole circulate in different flows of information. Structural holes are the empty spaces in social structure. The value-potential of structural holes is that they separate nonredundant sources of information, sources that are more additive than overlapping (2005). It follows that the members in VSN look to bridge structural holes, defined in the largest sense of the concept, and the network itself is the broker between members or member communities across different structural holes. A structural hole can be taken as a fraction denoting the inverse of the strength of the relationship between two agents, or as Burt re-frames it, the entrepreneurial opportunity and motivation (1992). In Burt’s model, the size of the entrepreneurial opportunity is directly related to the structural 6 C0 and C1 are being assumed as modeling substitutes. This is an assumption consistent with the member’s already having a job. Otherwise, they would be more like complements where 1 ≤ C1 and 0 ≤ C0. 7 Moreover, by changing r, we could model various utilities associated with future job changes, which reflect substitution and income effects. If r = 0, we notice that the choice of time spent on socializing in two virtual networks turns the model in that of maximizing utilities between simple substitutes within a budgetary constraint, without intertemporal differentiations. 3 of13
  4. 4. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks hole, or weaker ties between agents make for better entrepreneurial opportunities. As well, the physical network acts as broker on behalf of the network entrepreneur. First, we look at the value dynamics of Flickr, as two-sided platform enabled by the network entrepreneur for the member and advertiser communities, respectively. Second, we look at the value dynamics of LinkedIn, a three-sided platform for member, employer, and advertiser communities. At this point, it is useful to have a look at Annex 2 to learn about the main types of actions the members of Flickr and LinkedIn can undertake. Flickr, 2-sided value dynamics Flickr is a web service for hosting, sharing and managing image-, and video-content, and online community. It offers two types of accounts: Free and Pro. Free account users are allowed to upload 300 MB of images a month and 2 videos. Also, if a free user has more than 200 photos on the site, they will only be able to see the most recent 200 in their photostream. Pro accounts allow users to upload an unlimited number of images and videos every month and receive unlimited bandwidth and storage. 1.a) The network value from the perspective of the members comes through their observable network actions: Creation, Exploration, Socialization, Negative externalities, and Buying. Creation: Members post photos or videos with captions. Here, the user’s objective is to post as many photos as possible so that the Socialization objective is achieved. The limits or costs are: time, skill, location, equipment, level of membership (paid or free), the contribution inducing urge elicited by the results of exploration, and the amount of social recognition garnered (Hertel et al. 2003; Davidovici-Nora 2009). The objective is to contribute those photos that will get the most social recognition—however, some, may even target licensing deals, or straight sales. Exploration: Members find photos from across structural holes spanning location, time, skill, equipment, etc. The limits here are: time to browse. Here, the user’s objective is maximizing the finds over the search-time unit. The network entrepreneur helps by providing random and social means to minimize costs: featured photos from members, and the social mechanisms (homophily based exploration: the preferences of my friends/preferred authors are more likely to become my preferences.) Socialization: This consists of members’ commenting on photos, marking other photos as favorite, creating, joining, and leaving groups/communities, adding one as contact of friend—which automatically displays their latest photos on one’s homepage. The objective here is to interact and lower exploration costs. The costs here are time, 4 of13
  5. 5. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks and emotional. The network entrepreneur creates all kinds of levels of socialization— one may choose to keep oneself anonymous from others’ searches, or to regulate the levels of access to one’s photos. The identity of the individuals is a matter left at the discretion of the surfer. Negative externalities: Members can download and use photos without, or against, explicit permission from the author/owner. This is an activity yet unspoken of in the context of VSN. However, it is real, and the network entrepreneur has all incentives to discourage and downplay its incidence, for it has the potential to take the network down. The users themselves seldom get to see their photos stolen or misused, yet it happens every so often.8 The other type of negative activity is flaming—and this has been documented since the early days of the online newsgroups. The solution here is on a case-by-case basis—one can simply delete a comment, or ban another user altogether— e.g., the White House photostream has suspended the capability of users’ commenting on the individual photos. The lowest type of value negative externality is the presences of free riders—users who only surf, yet don’t post either photos or comments. Given the richness of the environment, and the low marginal cost on the part of the network entrepreneur to serve these users, their effect is yet to be quantified. On the other hand, they are most likely consumers of advertising, so they generate a modicum of overall value—each photo has displayed the number of viewers and public comments; if one subtracts from the number of visits the number of favorites and comments, one gets the upper bound of free ridership for each photo. The beneficiaries of all types of negative activity are those who break the written and unwritten VSN rules. The costs for the community are born by the individual contributors, yet considering the richness of the whole space, it must have been a manageable quantity. Buy: Members either buy pro-accounts, or have free membership and are advertised to. The latter make buy decisions based on the ads they are exposed to. It should be observed that the free members enjoy all the socializing facilities of the paying users, yet their cost is regulated by strict limits on how many photos they can post. This means that they are very well characterized by their social activities, e.g., a membership in a Leica cameras group makes one a good target for sellers of Leica equipment and accessories. 2.a) The network value from the perspective of the advertisers comes in the form of goods and services sold, and/or increased brand awareness. 8 From the author’s +90 contacts, over 3 years, two have complained about their photos’ being stolen and/or misused. Their solutions consisted in one case in restricting access to family photos only to those in the Friends List, whereas the other has started watermarking his photos. It should be mentioned that these are two of the highest contributors, in terms of number of photos and/or quality, in the author’s Contacts List. 5 of13
  6. 6. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks Advertisers benefit from being able to target very well segmented audiences. The socializing activities of the network members should characterize very well the audiences, that is, the network members. 3.a) The value dynamics perspective of the network entrepreneur is realized in terms of advertising revenue, and paid membership. The Flickr network entrepreneur is Yahoo as owner and operator of the physical network. From the structural holes perspective of VSN, Fickr is the platform brokering across structural holes between users, and/or users and advertisers. Flickr’s economic model is subjected to scale economies and diseconomies. Its objective is to generate revenue, from paid membership and brokerage fees from advertisers, at a marginal rate above or equal to the marginal cost of operating the network. The objectives for the network entrepreneur are: 1) to span as many and wide structural holes as possible, 2) to qualify very well the users in terms actionable by the advertisers, 3) to reduce negative externalities, especially through the members’ own actions or automated mechanisms. For example, Flickr reduces the effects of the free riders by suspending memberships inactive for 90 days. In other words, the value for them is in qualifying audiences for advertisers. LinkedIn, 3-sided value dynamics Applying for jobs online has been a game changer. The candidates’ cost of applying for a job decreased to the time it takes to submit a resume and fill in an online form. The employers’ cost of processing the job applications grew as candidates could broadcast their resumes to many more employers than before. Moreover, the risk of mismatch due to noisy signaling or depreciated information processing capacity grew rapidly once job applications moved online. LinkedIn, a platform for managing professional profiles and matching job applicants with employers, has gone into addressing the shortcomings of the online job application process. LinkedIn is a web service for hosting professional profiles and member communities. It offers two types of accounts: Free and Premium, and the employers are charged for posting jobs. Free account users are allowed limited capabilities in comparison to premium accounts that allow members, for example, to connect and contact directly with any other network member. In addition, those members who post jobs, employers or recruiters, have to pay for each posting. 1.b) The network value from the perspective of the job-seekers comes through their observable network actions: Profile creation and management, Re-Socialization, Learning, and Buying. 6 of13
  7. 7. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks Profile creation and management: The job seeker, current or future, is creating a profile that is much richer in content and specifications than the regular job application. In addition to the information contained by the regular resume, the job applicant can add several other dimensions to her professional profile. These are usually reflections of the candidate’ prior socializing, in real life or on LinkedIn, and are likely to provide the potential employer with a much richer signal than the resume alone. The objective of the candidate is to build an image of a professional who is well respected for her technical and individual qualities. In other words, the job seeker wants to signal professional competence and personal integrity, or that the job seeker has social and intellectual capital vetted by the members of some professional community, even if only virtual. The limit here is imposed by the amount of socialization. Re-socialization: This consists of getting endorsements and recommendations from the larger community of professionals in a group, or from colleagues and supervisors in past and current positions. Additionally, people are active in the professional specialized communities in LinkedIn with the idea of generating new business opportunities, learning, or simply having fun while investing in long term payout relationships. The job seeker is socializing or re-socializing to increase her social and professional recognition and learn about job opportunities from professionals other than the recruiting managers who add an extra processing step to the whole application —thus increasing the chance for signal misjudgment. The limit here is the knowledge and time of the job seeker. Making a fool of oneself can backfire, or getting too many low quality endorsements (e.g., from people in low positions) can also be detrimental. So, a job seeker ought to be careful in how she allocates her time and intellectual capital on socializing activities. Also, when socializing in a professional group that is not necessarily prompted by a job application, the job seeker is likely to reveal more facets of her personality; good candidates would want to come across as they are, and employers are likely to seek out such information. The many ways in which job seekers are building social and intellectual capital are subject to inputs and feedback with increased variety and objectivity—or at least, the outside observer can assess the objectivity and variety of links and endorsements. Learning domain knowledge and job/business opportunities: These are the effects of the members’ actions, which can be also expressed in term of investments in intellectual and social types of capital. This is an ongoing type of exploratory activity whereby the job seeker learns new professional insights as well as opportunities. This is construed in terms of a diffused benefit, knowledge building, and a potential benefit of finding about and applying to a job opportunity before others. The clear limitation here is the time required to scan the environment since the payouts are deferred and random, respectively. Another cost here is the type of account a job seeker has. Professional 7 of13
  8. 8. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks accounts offer job seekers higher levels of direct access to other network members. Free account job seekers do not have these abilities, which automatically restricts the scope of their search, in addition to adding the cost of taking advertising. 2.b) The value dynamics perspective of the employer is about sourcing for applications for job openings and environment scanning. Sourcing for applications: Employers, or recruiters, need to fill the open positions with qualified candidates who match the functional requirements. Their objective is to reduce the processing time by being able to filter out mismatches, on any one dimension of a job seeker application. For example, a recruiter can automatically disqualify applications of those job seekers who do not have at least three recommendations from supervisors. Once several automatic filtering criteria are employed and the pool of candidates is reduced to a manageable size, the recruiter can go on with a process of manual sorting of the remaining applications. The limitation here is the reliability of the socialization process on the job-seeker side, yet the recruiter can always find out additional triangulation heuristics. There is also a cost incurred by posting a job opening with LinkedIn. We should observe at this time that the value perspectives of the LinkedIn-advertisers, and -entrepreneur are identical, in general terms, to those on Flickr, respectively. The implication of this observation is that the analytical models of the two kinds of networks are more or less identical when describing the economic model of the entrepreneur. In effect, as suggested by the structural holes theory, the entrepreneur creates a platform to enable autonomous interactions between network members across structural holes. It so happens that the members’ value dynamic in each type of network, i.e. present of future satisfaction of utility, segments the membership in groups that not only the members themselves, but also advertisers and recruiters find valuable. In conclusion, so far we have created several empirical opportunities and laid the premise for a unified economic model of the network entrepreneur. An Economic Model of the Network Entrepreneur: Multi-sided Markets The network effect, or demand-side economies of scale, goes back in time to the early days of telephony and has stipulated ever since that the value of a network grows much faster than the linear progression of adding a new member.9 Prompted among others by the hardware-software markets, Katz and Shapiro revived the classic network effect story and showed that demand-side economies of scale cause growth in an existing stock of consumer utility as new consumers join in the consumption of given goods (1985). 9 There is an assertion, known as Metcalf’s Law, suggesting that the value of a network with N members is N2. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe's_law 8 of13
  9. 9. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks With the advent of the internet, the network effect has become a prominent feature of the new medium reflected in many an academic work about the value of the virtual networks enabled by the internet. A special case of network effects is the so-called multi-sided network or market, in which an increase in one kind of membership increases the value of a complementary product to another distinct kind of membership—this being a reflexive relation. Rochet and Tirole are among the first to have studied two-sided markets by looking at the credit card two-sided network of buyers and sellers and showing that an optimal pricing strategy subsidizes one side of the market, as in increased adoption and growth in use by buyers, by increased revenue from the other side of the market, as in sellers accepting credit card payments (2003). The strategic tradeoff is which side of the network to subsidize. The following figure, adapted from Wikipedia, illustrates the contrast between charging each side of the platform vs. subsidizing on side of it with increased revenue from the other side.10 Flickr and LinkedIn, by subsidizing the more price sensitive side of the network whose size increases as result, i.e., photo-enthusiasts, job-seekers, can generate more revenue from the advertisers, and advertisers and/or recruiters, respectively. That is illustrated in the above figure by comparing the blue box, which is lost revenue from regular network members, to the red box, which is the increased revenue from advertisers and recruiters. The condition here is for the red area on the right side figure to be greater than the light-blue area on the left side figure. Moreover, this has been shown to increase indeed the network size (Parker et al. 2005). A second insight yielded by the analysis of two-sided networks is that the entrepreneur ought to subsidize the side that adds network value. Parker and Van Alstyne show that “at a high level of externality benefit, the market that contributes more to demand for its complement is the market to provide with a free good” (2005).11 The following figure, adapted from Wikipedia, illustrates this insight. 10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-sided_market 9 of13
  10. 10. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks It is therefore that network members add value to Flickr and LinkedIn, so they get to be subsidized. The explicitly higher value for the paying side in the network is precisely the result of the autonomous segmentation network members do. In conclusion, VSN such as Flickr and LinkedIn enjoy the economies of multi-sided platforms (Rochet et al. 2003). These are coordinators of demands from various types of customers. Discussion and Future Research We have seen that VSN, an emerging socio-economic phenomenon, can be well characterized in microeconomics, and micro–social terms in order arrive at an overall network economic model starting from individuals’ behaviors. For example, in the case of Flickr, photography enthusiasts seek each other continuously through the tools made available by the platform, e.g., posting photos, commenting on others’ photos, creating or joining groups dedicated to particular topics, etc. The matching process between users, or between users and objects of interest in the network, allows the network entrepreneur to qualify the network population in segments that may be relevant for each other, and/or for advertisers. The theory of multi-sided platforms shows that the network entrepreneur is better off subsidizing one side of the platform (i.e. network members) to grow the size of the network and its value for the other side of the platform. The entrepreneur is thus able to generate more revenue from the other side (i.e. advertisers) due to an overall larger and better-segmented network. 11 They also show that “At lower levels, firms may charge positive prices in both markets but keep one price artificially low” (ibid.). 10 of13
  11. 11. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks Future research In order to empirically test the above theoretically driven statements, we can think of deploying software agents, designed specifically for the Flickr and LinkedIn’s application programming interfaces (APIs), with the idea of collecting network data showing the actual behavior of the members. As far as the methodology goes, there could be two directions. The first one is the more traditional one relying on inferential statistics. The second one, which I will sketch next, considers VSN as complex adaptive systems, and could yield insights about the organizational structure and its evolution. I should say that the microeconomics insights should be the first candidates for exampling the individual behavior of network members, and if successful such enterprise can extend the usefulness of the complex systems paradigm beyond its currently metaphorical position. To think of a mechanism accounting for the evolution of mature VSN, I should observe that they are open systems, characterized by simple structures relative to their size, and consist of large numbers of agents, connected into subsystems, and potentially interconnectable at multi-level and in any combination possible. In the view of organization theory, such structure is complex and characterized by hard to predict behavior, due to its nonlinearity associated with feedback loops (Anderson 1999). In conclusion, successful VSN appear to behave like complex adaptive systems (CAS) in that they self-organize while continuing to import energy. In reviewing the literature on complexity and organizations, Anderson indicates that CAS“-models represent a genuinely new way of simplifying the complex. They are characterized by four key elements: agents with schemata, self-organizing networks sustained by importing energy, coevolution to the edge of chaos, and system evolution based on recombination,” (Anderson 1999).12 The agents with schemata are the network members, and the energy importation mechanism can be explained in microeconomics and micro-social terms. The potential for contribution would be to go beyond static models of economics into showing the evolution of VSN in time. 12 Anderson also makes the point that CAS informed models help organization science by “merging empirical observation with computational agent-based simulation.” As there has been scant empirical evidence of actual complex adaptive systems, framing virtual social networks in CAS terms should encourage more realistic experimentation and simulation. It should also be noted that the author also indicates that the “CAS perspective opens up exploration into how ideas, initiatives, and interpretations form an internal ecology within an organization,” (ibid. p. 221). 11 of13
  12. 12. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson, P. (1999). "Complexity Theory and Organization Science." Organization Science 10(3): 216-232. Burt, R. S. (1992). Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition, Harvard University Press. Burt, R. S. (2005). Brokerage and Closure. New York, Oxford University press. Davidovici-Nora, M. (2009). "The Dynamics of Co-creation in the Video Game Industry: The Case of World of Warcraft." Communications and Strategies(73): 43-66. Hertel, G., S. Niedner and S. Herrmann (2003). "Motivation of software developers in Open Source projects: an Internet-based survey of contributors to the Linux kernel." Research Policy 32(7): 1159-1177. Katz, M. L. and C. Shapiro (1985). "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility." The American Economic Review 75(3): 424-440. Nicholson, W. and C. Snyder Intermediate Microeconomis and Its Applications, South-Western Cengage Learning. Parker, G. G. and M. W. Van Alstyne (2005). "Two-sided network effects: A theory of information product design." Management Science 51(10): 1494-1504. Rochet, J.-C. and J. Tirole (2003). "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets." Journal of the European Economic Association 1(4): 990-1029. Annex 1: VSN Descriptions Flickr LinkedIn “Flickr - almost certainly the best online photo “Your professional network of trusted contacts gives management and sharing application in the world - you an advantage in your career, and is one of your has two main goals: most valuable assets. LinkedIn exists to help you make better use of your professional network and 1. We want to help people make their photos help the people you trust in return. Our mission is to available to the people who matter to them. connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. We believe that in 2. We want to enable new ways of organizing a global connected economy, your success as a photos and video.”13 professional and your competitiveness as a company depends upon faster access to insight and resources you can trust.“14 Annex 2: VSN Members Actions Flickr LinkedIn Join the overall network at no-charge or Join the overall network at no-charge or 13 http://www.flickr.com/about/ 14 http://press.linkedin.com/about 12 of13
  13. 13. via fCh Setting the Stage for Empirical Research in Virtual Social Networks premium level premium level Social Join a group Join a group Create a group (open or with rules) Create a group (open or with rules) Connect with a member Connect with a member Mark a member as a friend Mark a member as a colleague Post a comment/mark as favorite Post a question/reply Add a member to your network Add a member to your network Write/accept a reference about/from a Write/accept/request a reference about/from a connection connection Communicate with a member Communicate with a connection Undo any of the above Undo any of the above Recommend a photo to a connection Introduce a connection to a job Control Manage presence levels Manage presence levels Report abuse/flag inappropriate Report abuse/flag inappropriate Thematic Browse/search photos Browse/search job postings Browse/search members Browse/search members Post a photo Post a resume/job Download a photo Apply for a job 13 of13

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