Sociometric Attractiveness on Facebook

Author(s): Kate M. Stam1, Glen T. Cameron2, Antonie Stam

facebookAdvertisers are keen on finding ways to leverage social network sites (SNS) such as Facebook, one of the premier SNS today, to improve their image, the perception of their products and sales revenue. Facebook facilitates social interaction online, and therefore develops a better understanding of the effect of impression management and social attractiveness on SNS. We focus on the impact of two prominent features of a Facebook profile, number of friends and number of photos that the user is tagged in, on user’s perceived social attractiveness. Some SNS user profiles are perceived as more socially attractive than others. Presumably, a Facebook profile with a higher degree of social attractiveness will enhance the image of the organization, through positive association. In an experiment involving both graduate and undergraduate university students, almost all of them familiar with Facebook navigation, we find that, indeed, having more Facebook friends enhances social attractiveness, but likely only to a point. Having too many Facebook friends may have an adverse effect on social attractiveness. We also find that the number of photos that one is tagged in is an important determinant of social attractiveness, but only when considering alongside the number of friends. These findings suggest that we may have identified a conceptual SNS based advertising and PR design strategy with the potential to enhance perceived social attractiveness of the message. Through a carefully designed Facebook profile with the right balance between the number of friends and number of photos tagged, the profile’s attractiveness may in turn inspire the customer to view the products or services offered in a more favorable light. Our results also suggest that other features of an SNS user profile—such as the profile picture, friend network and profile content—have the potential to affect social attractiveness. Interestingly and perhaps unexpectedly, in our study we also find that gender influences social attractiveness scores, with women perceived as more socially attractive when they have more friends, and men perceived as more socially attractive when they have fewer friends. One potential explanation for this gender-related finding is that a gender double standard may exist in the judgment of social attractiveness on Facebook. This issue suggests a need for further research on the gender issue. An extension of our social attractiveness study to other SNS such as Twitter is welcome as well.


Journal: iBusiness
DOI: 10.4236/ib.2014.64018 (PDF)
Paper Id: 52052 (metadata)

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