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Can Social Media Balance Free Speech With Accountability?

review of literature on social media

From dawn until dusk, many of us sneak moments here and there checking our socials. Refreshing our feeds on social media platforms may be the first thing we do in the morning and the last thing we do at night. And it all adds up: On average, according to data from Statista , most people in the United States spend over two hours a day scrolling, liking and perusing. Those two (or more) hours open all of us up to a lot of fun content, sure, but they also expose us to out-of-control amounts of viral headlines, “fake news” and other questionable content that can be surprisingly — and dangerously — influential.

The growing prevalence of fake news on various social media platforms is no secret — nearly a quarter of people in the United States rarely trust the news and other information they read on social media, another Statista survey reveals. But what about the other three-quarters who may put themselves and others at risk by trusting everything they read? This proliferation of harmful fake news is raising the question of how social media platforms can tackle the balance between free speech and false information — and whether those platforms are obligated to do so at all.

The nation is more divided than ever, and it’s largely up to the media to find a way to regulate disinformation. But does doing so run contrary to our free speech rights? To better assess this dilemma, it’s essential to look at how fake news really spreads and affects people, along with whether governments and platforms should mitigate the escalation.

How Does Fake News Actually Spread?

“Spreading like wildfire” is a term that perfectly describes the sharing of fake news once it goes viral. But first it has to gain steam among everyday social media users. Typically, fake news stories start out as deliberate misinformation or as accidentally inaccurate information that someone didn’t fact-check before reposting.

review of literature on social media

The first type often involves information that purposefully promotes a certain point of view or a person and omits any negative facts, similar to propaganda meant to change the way people think about a subject. The second is often a result of misinterpreted satire or even a snippet of a parody or a joke that people unintentionally take seriously. The difference lies in intent, too: The first type is meant to deceive, and the second is meant to entertain. But both can have similar effects.

Normally, the sharing of fake news starts among smaller groups before reaching increasingly wider audiences on social media. The news first spreads among groups of people with similar interests or among close friends. They repost something on their social media feeds when they find it interesting or shocking or when it reinforces their points of view. Then, curious people and friends of friends may start to repost it to their circles, the members of which then share the news further. Soon, the inaccurate piece of information has reached the masses before it’s been properly fact-checked (or questioned at all).

At this stage, the fake news might go viral. According to Oxford University and the Reuters Institute , social media personalities with large followings are often the culprits. They’re considered “super-spreaders” who can very easily share inaccurate information with their impressionable followers (whom they tend to have a lot of). If you have an extremely active network, you might also frequently come across false information shared between your own friends and family.

How Serious Is the Fake News Problem on Social Media?

To evaluate how powerful fake news is, it helps to look at some examples of incidents when viral news turned out to be complete misinformation. The majority of many of these recent “facts” tend to focus on the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 election; however, fake news can encompass just about any topic. Below are two examples of viral news that turned out to be factually false.

review of literature on social media

The Original Claim: An NPR study revealed that 25 million votes cast for Hillary Clinton in 2016 were fake.

The Breakdown: These claims originally came from a website called YourNewsWire, which stated that the report was made by the Pew Research Center — an organization that’s generally regarded as one of the most credible, unbiased polling centers in the United States — with statements cited from an InfoWars article. The source of this information was twisted to fit a narrative trying to invalidate Clinton’s popular-vote victory. It turned out that the original report the fake news was based on was actually made in 2012 and stated that 24 million voter registrations were no longer valid due to deaths or were inaccurate due to voters moving to other states, not that they had voted fraudulently. It had nothing to do with the results of the 2016 election.

The Original Claim: Page 132 of a mysterious Pfizer “vaccine report” stated the vaccine could cause birth defects via genetic manipulation.

The Breakdown: A viral photo shared on social media stated that page 132 of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine safety instructions revealed that the vaccine may lead to birth defects. It was accompanied by a link that took users to the alleged instructions. However, this link only led to documentation from a publicly available Pfizer clinical trial rather than the official government document. Furthermore, page 132 outlined abbreviations, not fertility impact information. Another page contained a brief mention that trial patients should avoid getting pregnant for 28 days after receiving the last dose of the vaccine — common pharmaceutical advice for all vaccines in relation to pregnancies.

There are costs to this type of fake news; when people believe it and spread it, it can put others in danger. For example, in the case of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation — and fake news about the virus itself — consequences can be dire. BBC reports that, in addition to an unchecked increase in the spread of the novel coronavirus because fake news led people to believe the virus was a hoax, people put their own and others’ lives at risk in various ways as a result of “facts” they learned about COVID-19 on social media. Arson, assaults, attacks and other notable acts of violence occurred, all of which pose “potential health threat[s]” both to believers of the fake news and those who speak out against those who believe it.

What Role Does Freedom of Speech Play?

Fake news clearly has the potential to cause harm. But does that mean the social media platforms where it spreads are obligated to take steps to reduce users’ exposure to potentially harmful information? Many people cite the First Amendment in justifying the argument that social media sites shouldn’t be held accountable for the damaging fake news that proliferates on them.

review of literature on social media

The First Amendment is a section of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights that protects, among other things, freedom of speech — our right to express ourselves, our ideas and our opinions without being punished for doing so. This makes content regulation a much harder task online. Unless misinformation presents serious harm, the content of fake news is generally protected by the First Amendment. And some people argue it should remain protected because censorship would be a form of oppression and a violation of human rights.

In contrast, those who argue freedom of expression doesn’t fully apply to fake news note that the First Amendment doesn’t necessarily protect an individual’s right to lie or to “intentionally mislead an audience and sway public opinion for political gain,” according to the Center on Human Rights Education . In addition, according to Dr. John L. Vile, the dean of political science at Middle Tennessee State University, “the First Amendment is designed to further the pursuit of truth, [but] it may not protect individuals who…display actual malice by knowingly publishing false information or publishing information ‘with reckless disregard for the truth.'”

While it’s valid to point out the dangers of government censorship, it’s equally important to acknowledge the dangers of spreading false information and to demand change.

What Can Be Done to Regulate Fake News?

It’s clear that fake news can spread quickly — so quickly that it may appear nearly impossible to contain. So what can be done to balance free speech with accountability and potentially stem the flow of all the fakeness? It’s relatively easy, at least on a personal level, to create new consumption habits by making a concerted effort to seek out fact-checking websites — two reliable choices are Snopes and FactCheck.org — and verify a claim’s veracity. But that alone doesn’t stop fake news from spreading.

review of literature on social media

While social media platforms may not be legally obligated to protect users from fake news, they may be morally compelled to do so. If they can recognize that their platforms, by design, are contributing to the dissemination of harmful media, they should take it upon themselves to place limits on that information. It may not be possible for governments to step in and levy restrictions without compromising or violating freedom of speech — and it may not be their place to do so. “In that case,” states the Center on Human Rights Education , “the onus to address this issue should not rest solely on the government. Corporations such as Facebook and Google should ensure that the entities responsible for creating inaccurate content are regulated appropriately.”

Fortunately, it appears that some sites are working towards this. NBC News reported that, during the second quarter of 2020, Facebook removed 22.5 million posts containing hate speech and 7 million posts “sharing false information about the novel coronavirus, including content that promoted fake preventative measures and exaggerated cures.” This is a step in the right direction, to be sure, but Facebook, other platforms and even media outlets will need to increase these efforts if real change is to be achieved.


review of literature on social media

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Social Media and Higher Education: A Literature Review

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  • Gabriele Meiselwitz 14  
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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNISA,volume 9182)

This paper presents a literature review of empirical research related to the use and effects of social media in higher education settings. The adoption of social media has been steadily increasing. However, a majority of the research reported focuses on students’ perception on the effects of social media in learning. The research on the effects of social media on student learning and faculty perspectives are still limited. This literature review focused on the empirical studies that involved the use of social media in higher education in the computing field. Recommendations for future research directions were presented as the result of this literature review.

  • Social media
  • Higher education
  • Student learning

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1 Introduction

The popularity of social media sites has been steadily increasing over the last few years, and over 70 % of online adults are now using a social networking site of some kind. Many users of social networking sites have more than one account, and check these accounts several times daily [ 6 ]. But even as social media has been widely adopted by many users, its use for higher education has also been questioned by educators. Although faculty in higher education often utilizes social networking sites in a professional context, many are reluctant to use social networking sites for teaching and learning. Moreover, even though computing faculty members may have more experience with the technology, their adoption of social media for teaching purpose has been at a lower rate comparing to faculty in other fields such as Humanities and Arts, Professions and Applied Sciences, and Social Sciences [ 6 , 20 ].

Web 2.0 (often referred to as the “social web”), with its many benefits such as social networking and user-generated content, has drawn much attention for teaching and learning [ 2 ]. Learning paradigms have shifted over the last decades from a traditional classroom setting to include online learning, e-learning, collaborative learning, and many hybrid forms. This shift indicates a move from instructor-led and instructor-centered learning environments to learner-centered environments, which focus on knowledge creation and building rather than knowledge transmission [ 3 , 5 ]. At first glance, Web 2.0 applications such as social networks, wikis, blogging, and micro blogging seem to be well suited for learner-centered environments, but a closer look reveals that the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies and applications in higher education learning is lagging behind the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies overall. Although roughly 90 % of young adults (18-29 years old) use some social network site, many faculty members also see limitations and potential problems with the use of online and interactive technologies in higher education [ 6 , 20 ]. In a survey, 56 % of faculty members stated that they see online and mobile technologies as more distracting than helpful to students for academic work [ 20 ].

Several studies have investigated the use of social media in higher education, many concentrating on the use of Facebook in their courses. Facebook still dominates the social media landscape, and is popular across a diverse mix of demographic profiles, but other sites have gained popularity and many users now participate in multiple networks [ 20 ]. However, the popularity of Facebook has prompted many educators to integrate some elements into their learning environments.

Some studies point out that it is an obligation to prepare students for what they will encounter once they graduate from college and enter the workplace [ 1 , 5 ]. Other studies examine the connection between social networking and informal and formal learning. Learning in a constructivist environment focuses on the individual learner and the situational context in which learning occurs, and the variety of options and tools that are available through social networking could support this type of situational learning. Students with different backgrounds, learning styles, and preferences can choose which tools they prefer for their individual learning process [ 19 ]. In addition, these technologies may create a higher level of student engagement that will build and support a community of scholars [ 9 , 12 , 23 ].

The majority of studies are experimental studies investigating specific social networking tools (e.g. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter) in specific settings (Business education, communication, medical school), and several studies focusing on pedagogy, learning outcomes, or teaching styles are emerging [ 19 ]. There is little discussion to date about some practical concerns for educators when integrating this technology into the higher education learning process. The fast pace in which technology changes, privacy and security concerns, intellectual property, accessibility for students with disabilities, or the increased workload for instructors have not received much attention [ 19 , 20 ]. Many educators are concerned about the short lifespan of certain applications. MySpace, for example, once the top site for young adults, is practically non-existent in the list of social networks used by this age group [ 6 ]. Moreover, it recently resorted to mass-mailing its former users to convince them to reactivate their still existing accounts [ 25 ]. Many young adults also have moved on from Facebook to other social networking sites, are participating in several sites, and check only their preferred site frequently [ 6 ].

The purpose of this paper is to review existing literature related to the use of social media in computing education at higher education level, the effects of social media on learning, and the concerns of adopting social media in learning. Empirical studies that focused on the use of social media for computer education in colleges, the effects of social media on student learning, and potential barriers of the social media adoption are presented in this paper. This literature review attempts to answer the following research questions:

Does social media lead to any improvement in higher education for learning computing related subjects?

What are the general objective benefits associated to the use of social media in higher education for learning computing related subjects?

What are the perceived benefits associated to the use of social media in higher education for learning computing related subjects?

What are the barriers or concerns that computer faculties have toward the use of social media in higher education for learning computing related subjects?

Literature focusing on the use of social media in higher education for computing subjects was collected and reviewed. The following online databases were utilized for the literature search: EBSCO, IEEE, ACM digital library.

The focus of the search was to gather full-text articles presenting empirical studies which involve the use of social media in higher education setting, especially the ones used for computing related subjects. To manage the scope and the comprehensiveness of the study, the following criteria were used to determine the inclusion of the paper for the review:

The study involved social media tools.

The study investigated the effects of the social media to students’ learning performance and behavior, the effects of the social media to students’ perception of learning process, the perception of the faculty members related to the use of social media.

The study focused on higher education preferably in computing related field. Therefore, studies conducted at K-12 level were excluded from this review.

The study must include a clear discussion on the research method utilized.

The study must be published between 2010 and 2014.

The paper must be written in English.

This section discusses the findings of this literature research. The findings are organized based on the key perspectives of the study.

3.1 Student Perspectives

Majority of the studies reviewed are focused on students’ perspectives of the social media use for instructional purpose, using various social media tools, such as Facebook, Blog, Wiki, and in-house social network tools, etc. Facebook has been the most frequently used site for the studies. This is consistent with the findings reported by Pearson’s social media for teaching and learning survey [ 20 ]. Based on a survey to 191 students in the use of Facebook for a closed group discussion, Gonzalez-Ramirez, Gasco, and Taverner [ 7 ] reported that students’ perceived weaknesses of Facebook in teaching included privacy issues, time required, and technological deficit; while the potential strengths that students predict include performance, communication, participation, and motivation. Students’ perceived usefulness of the tool and students’ learning achievements were the most frequently studied factors.

Student Perceived Learning Experience. In order to study the impact of social media in higher education setting, many researchers conducted explorative studies to investigate the students’ perceived learning experience [ 4 , 7 , 12 , 17 , 21 – 23 ]. Veletsianos and Navarrete [ 24 ] conducted a case study utilizing Elgg as the online social network in an online course, and investigated students’ perceived learning experience. The students reported to have overall enjoyed the experience. When being asked to compare the experience of using social network site (SNS) for class purpose to their previous experience of using traditional learning management systems (LMS), most students preferred SNS over LMS. However, when investigating further in terms of how students were using the tool, they noticed that there was limited participation to course related and graded activities, and little use for social networking and sharing purpose. In addition, students requested more support in managing the amount of information offered in SNS showing the potential of information overload by using SNS. While SNS provide more ways of communication and have the potential of accessing more resources, some students reported to have lacked the ability to effectively find and categorize content for future retrieval. However, all the findings from their study was based on students’ self-reported usage and perception. No investigation in terms of students’ actual usage of the site was done.

Li, Ganeshan and Xu [ 12 ] conducted an online survey to 300 students and a follow-up interview with nine of the respondents to investigate students’ preference of the communication tools and social networking sites. They reported that the students preferred Facebook in general. However, when it is time to discuss course related topics, Facebook is much less preferred than email. Some of the factors that affected the use of SNS for learning purpose included network speed, security and privacy.

Ozmen and Atici [ 17 ] conducted semi-structured interviews with 15 students in the use of LMS supported by SNS. They’ve incorporated Ning to support a Blackboard site. When being asked the overall perception of their learning experience, students responded that although Ning may have the potential to enhance the communication by using the chat tool, the overuse of chat actually lead to more distraction than to help them learn. Therefore, it is suggested that more pedagogical considerations need to be taken when incorporating SNS to the class environment. Finding the appropriate level of integration with the existing LMS and identify the appropriate activities may be the key to improve perceived learning experience.

In addition to general learning experience and preferences, several studies focused on the specific elements that may have the potential of affecting students learning by incorporating SNS to their classes. One of the common studied effect was the social support provided by SNS. For example, DeAndrea, Ellison, LaRose, Steinfield, and Fiore [ 4 ] presented an experiment they conducted that involved first year college students utilizing SpartanConnect, a social media site they designed, to study the effect of SNS in enhancing students’ perceptions of social support. Students were asked to create an account on the site before the semester started. The researchers then distributed pre-test survey after the first two weeks of classes to all first year students, and a post-test survey after using the site for the semester. Out of 1616 first year students who completed post-test survey, 265 students filled out both surveys. Higher level of perceived social support was reported after the use of the site.

Thoms, Eryilmaz and Gerbino [ 22 ] conducted a quasi-experiment in which students were asked to use an in-house online social network (OSN) to receive peer support recommendation. They also found that the use of OSN has improved students’ perceived level of course interaction and peer support, which in turn may lead to better learning.

Taylor [ 21 ] conducted a case study that investigated the possible effect of SNS on students’ retention rate in lower level computing class. The author reported to have seen an increased retention rate after the use of Facebook in CS1 class.

Unfortunately, although much previous research [ 21 , 22 ] reported improvements in students’ perceived learning experience and social support, there are also negative impacts reported. For example, Junco [ 9 ] conducted a survey to investigate the relationship between the use of Facebook and students’ engagement in learning. A negative relationship was reported between the self-reported frequency of Facebook use and students’ engagement. Based on the self-reported data, it shows a negative relationship between the frequency of engaging in Facebook chat and time spent preparing for class as well. This finding seems to be consistent with the study reported by Ozmen and Atici [ 17 ] that overuse of chat can become a distraction for learning since chat takes away the time that initially should have been allocated for study.

Student Learning Achievements. Unlike the studies of the impact on students’ perceived learning experience, the actual learning achievements were not investigated as heavily. Laru, Naykki, Jarvela [ 11 ] conducted a case study that involved 21 students work in groups of four to five for 12 weeks to complete a wiki project. A number of social media tools were introduced to the students, such as ShoZu, Flickr, Google Reader Mobile, Wordpress.com, Wikispaces, FeedBlendr, and FeedBurner RSS. Data was captured by using video recordings, social software usage activity and pre-and post-tests of students’ conceptual understanding of the materials. The comparison between the pre- and post- conceptual knowledge test showed an improvement in test scores received. Looking into more detail in terms of the relationship between the actual activities and the learning outcome, the researchers reported that the higher level of wiki-related activities was an indicator for determining the students improved scores.

Hernandez et al. [ 8 ] conducted an experiment to investigate the impact of different tools supporting students’ learning and perception of interaction. The students were assigned into groups that used Facebook with wiki-style document creation and wall/comment feature, Google Docs, or LMS discussion forum. After comparing the level of activities in each group setting and their final product, it was reported that the number of messages posted was higher in SNS compared to those using traditional LMS forum, time between messages posted was shorter in Facebook compared to other groups, and groups using Facebook also reported higher level of perceived interaction. However, the final result was the same among all groups. No effect in the learning outcome was reported when comparing groups using different tools for group communication.

Instead of an objective measure of the students’ learning achievement while SNS was used, many studies either overlooked the impact of SNS for learning outcomes or used only students’ self-reported data for this purpose [ 9 , 11 ]. More research is needed to look into the impact of SNS on student learning in addition to the impact on student learning experience.

Student SNS Usage Pattern. In addition to the potential impact of SNS for learning, the patterns of the posts in different tools were also investigated. Maleko et al. [ 13 ] reported their findings based on a case study conducted that compares Facebook and Blackboard usage by the students. They reported that posts in Facebook were unique in that they were concentrated in the expression of dissatisfaction, course admin, encouragement, discussions outside programming, and general advice; while the posts in Blackboard tend to be more for the purpose of community building and question to the lecturer. In addition, students reported to have preferred the use of Facebook for learning support where no authoritative figure was present.

Kear et al. [ 10 ] conducted a survey after students were asked to use an in-house wiki to co-edit a document after completing an online tutorial of how the wiki can be used. They collected data about students’ use of wiki over time. The authors reported decreased use overtime although students learned how to use wiki. After further investigation through the survey instrument, they found that the students were unhappy about editing other students’ work. When being asked to compare wiki and traditional discussion forum for this kind of collaborative activities, students preferred forum over wiki.

3.2 Faculty Perspectives

Unlike the studies focused on students’ perspectives, only a handful of studies that we investigated looked into the SNS use from faculty members’ perspectives.

Faculty Perception. Faculty perception of the SNS use for learning purpose has been mixed comparing to students perception. The survey conducted by Pearson [ 20 ] indicated that one of the reasons for faculty members not incorporating SNS in their teaching was because they consider the use of SNS as a distraction. Roblyer et al. [ 18 ] reported different perceptions of the faculty members compared to students. They found that students are more open to use Facebook when comparing to email for the communication purpose. Faculty members were more prone to traditional technologies, such as email. Brown also did a survey and a follow-up more in depth interview with the faculty members regarding the use of Web 2.0 technologies for learning purposes. The responses received from the faculty members indicated that promoting active student participation, enhancing distribution of and access to tutor-selected or generated learning content are the potential benefits indicated.

Faculty Concerns. The hesitance of faculty members regarding the use of SNS in classrooms may be explained by the concerns identified by previous studies. For example, Brown [ 2 ] reported that misalignments between the increasing amount of collaborative group work expected and continuing individual assessment, no “added value” to teaching, and too many constraints (because of the university policy) are the major concerns from faculty members. Kear et al. [ 10 ] reported that, in addition to the above mentioned concerns, performance of the SNS used, the difficulties in marking and monitoring students’ work, workload issues are also among the concerns raised by the teaching staff members.

4 Discussion

The literature review has shown some empirical findings that this paper attempted to investigate. In terms of the question regarding whether social media lead to any improvement in higher education for learning computing related subjects, the literature shows some evidence of improvement. Although the empirical study is extremely limited in gathering objective performance data to showcase the improvement of learning, the student self-reported data shows promising potential of the effectiveness of SNS use in higher education. In addition, literature indicated that careful pedagogical consideration needs to be made in order to ensure the effective use of SNS. However, more investigation is definitely needed.

The general objective benefits associated to the use of social media in higher education for learning computing related subjects has been identified by case studies and survey data. The identified benefits included improved social support, improved retention rate through peer support, and improved perceived interaction. However, the empirical study also showed that there can be negative impact of the use of SNS to the students’ engagement in learning.

When answering the perceived benefits associated with the use of social media in higher education for learning computing related subjects, the answers from students and faculty members are similar. Students tend to enjoy the activities using SNS considering it to help improve the interaction, and motivation to learning. In addition to the benefits identified by students, faculty members value the possibility of enhancing distribution of and access to tutor-selected or generated learning content through the use of SNS.

The specific concerns from computer faculty members were not identified from the literature review. However, the investigation of the literature shows that there is a list of potential concerns that are common for most of the faculty members. In general, faculty members share similar concerns as the students which include security, privacy and performance of the site/tool being used. In addition, faculty members are also concerned about the work load issue, the difficulty of performance evaluation and monitoring, and need for careful pedagogical design when it comes to the use of SNS for learning. Faculty members in computing field may be more concerned about the potential distraction of SNS and its security issues because of their familiarity of the technology. However, this was not identified in the literature and further investigation is definitely needed.

5 Recommendations and Future Research

Even though the literature review shows potential of social media usage for learning purpose, the use of the technology is still limited and not many controlled evaluations and in-depth studies in higher education settings have been conducted. First, more empirical study is needed to investigate the actual “added” benefits of SNS comparing to the use of traditional LMS. One of the major limitations of current literature is that most of the studies focused on self-report data to study the effect of the technology. Therefore, the actual usage and learning outcome should be addressed and investigated in more depth.

Although computing faculty members may know the technology better than faculty members in other field, their adoption of SNS is lagging behind. Is there any specific reason? Is it because of the nature of the topic that is sometimes hard to describe in texts? Is it because of the higher security concern from the faculty members? More investigation is needed to address this issue.

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Wang, Y., Meiselwitz, G. (2015). Social Media and Higher Education: A Literature Review. In: Meiselwitz, G. (eds) Social Computing and Social Media. SCSM 2015. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 9182. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20367-6_11

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7 This chapter presents an overview of social media, based pri- marily on findings from the literature review. It includes a brief description of social media, highlights how government uses social media, presents the demographics of social media users, and describes approaches to measuring the impacts of these applications. What are Social Media? Social media is a term that refers to a number of web-based applications through which users interact with one another. Interactivity is what distinguishes social networking sites from traditional (or “static”) websites. Social media applica- tions encourage users to share their experiences, opinions, knowledge, and sometimes their locations. These connections can contribute to a sense of engagement or loyalty among social media users. Figure 2 compares the characteristics of traditional media and social media. As the figure shows, traditional media approaches are centralized and focus on delivering one or more messages to customers. Social media methods are collaborative and rely on sharing information and soliciting feedback for their effectiveness. Using traditional media—distributing press releases, granting interviews, etc.— the organization tries to control the message. Using social media, such as YouTube and Twitter, organizations can post information that individuals can share, comment on, and sometimes modify (1). Following are examples of social media platforms commonly used by transit agencies. All quotations from social media sites were accessed from public posts between July 2010 and June 2011. Sources include www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com, and www.youtube.com. Spelling and typographical errors were corrected. • Blogs, or web logs, where individuals or organizations post commentary or news, frequently on a particular topic, and often invite comments and feedback. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Author- ity (LA Metro) publishes a daily blog called The Source to provide news and stories of interest to its riders; El Pasajero is the agency’s companion Spanish-language blog. • Social and professional networking sites that encour- age members to connect with one another, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and GovLoop. Many transit properties maintain a Facebook page to provide service information and updates, including LANTA, DART, and Community Transit in Everett, Washington. • Micro-blogging sites, primarily Twitter, which allow users to post comments and web links in a format limited to 140 characters. Some transit agencies, such as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Author- ity (WMATA), find Twitter especially well suited for providing real-time service updates, while Vancouver’s TransLink uses the platform to provide customer service. • Media- and document-sharing sites where members post and share video clips (YouTube), documents (Scribd), and photographs (Flickr). DART makes exten- sive use of YouTube to build community support for its services, whereas MTA maintains an image library on Flickr for media use. LA Metro’s Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archive maintains a collec- tion of historic planning documents on Scribd. • Geolocation applications, such as Foursquare, enable users to share their location with other members of their social network and to earn virtual “badges” for checking into sites. Both BART and TransLink have collaborated with Foursquare to develop transit-specific badges for their riders. A glossary of social media terms can be found at the end of this report. GovernMent USe of Social Media Transit agencies are not alone in their use of social media. Agencies and officials at all levels of government, from city hall to the White House, use social media. According to the Human Capital Institute, 66% of government agencies used some form of social networking in 2009, and 65% of those used more than one tool. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter were the most commonly used web-based tools among these agencies (2). The Urban Transportation Monitor surveyed transporta- tion organizations about their use of social media (3). Asked what social media platforms they used, about half of the UTM respondents named Facebook (54%) and Twitter (51%); 37% used YouTube. Just over half (51%) said they used another application. Twitter was most commonly used for brief communications and service updates. Facebook was used for announcements and service updates, but also for meet- ing notices, community-building, and branding. YouTube videos covered a wide range of topics, including how-to-ride chapter two literatUre revieW: overvieW of Social Media

8 Officials from the 43 organizations responding to the UTM survey cited multiple reasons for using social media. Survey responses included: (1) engaging customers at a low cost to the agency; (2) keeping stakeholders up to date about service issues, planning, and other time-sensitive informa- tion; (3) allowing customers to bypass agency bureaucracy; (4) making the agency appear more “hip” when communicat- ing with a large student population; and (5) reaching people where they are already communicating rather than requiring them to visit the agency website for information. Among transit agencies, reasons for using social media typically fall into five broad categories, which are summarized here. Figure 3 illustrates some examples. timely Updates Social media provide agencies with an unparalleled oppor- tunity to share information with their customers, often in real-time. Twitter is exceptionally well suited to providing service alerts, and many transit operators use it for this purpose. Blogs and Facebook also allow organizations to update readers about a board meeting, a fare increase, or a new route. For example, the Toronto Transit Commission uses Twitter to relay service updates, whereas MTA uses Twitter to remind the public about scheduled board meetings and to direct them to a live webcast. Public information Many transit organizations use social media to provide general information about services, fares, and long-range planning projects. For example, the Regional Transportation Commis- sion of Southern Nevada posted a YouTube video to showcase the features of its new fleet of double-decker buses, and the Utah Transit Authority is one of several agencies to use social media to highlight local destinations and events that can be reached by transit. At the federal level, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood uses Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and his Fast Lane blog to provide information about department initiatives; periodically he answers constituent questions about federal transportation policy through YouTube. LA Metro sets up Facebook pages for specific long-range projects and sends out live tweets during public meetings. citizen engagement Transportation organizations have taken advantage of the interactive aspects of social media to connect with their cus- tomers in an informal way. These connections can take many forms, but the goals are the same: to reach out to riders and stakeholders and to build support. For example, TransLink ini- tially used Facebook to engage its riders in a contest to name the agency’s new fare card, and Metro Transit St. Louis posts photographs of community events, such as a bus-painting day at a local elementary school, on its Flickr page. information, project updates, agency promotions, and agency stories and testimonials. Organizations used blogs to promote more in-depth discussion, while LinkedIn was used for net- working and recruiting purposes. Why USe Social Media? HCI reports that government agencies at the state, federal, and local levels use social networking for a wide range of pur- poses, including employee learning and development (44%), communications and public relations (44%), recruiting (38%), and support functions such as human relations, training, and finance (35%). The National Association of State Chief Infor- mation Officers (NASCIO) surveyed U.S. states and territo- ries about their use of social media (4). Among 43 agencies responding to the survey, the primary reasons for using social media cited include citizen engagement (98%) and public information and outreach (93%). More than half of the agen- cies responding also selected open government (67%) and business engagement (54%) as important goals. NASCIO’s survey indicated that many government organizations rou- tinely use social media for public safety and emergency noti- fications, although the survey did not specifically cover this application. A survey conducted for FHWA had similar find- ings (5). State departments of transportation reported using Web 2.0 technologies to provide information and to build communities around transportation issues. A few agencies also used collaborative Web 2.0 apps such as mashups, wikis, Sharepoint sites, Google groups, and Google documents for planning and administration. FIGURE 2 Comparison of traditional media and social media. Source: Funk/Levis & Associates.

9 employee recognition Some organizations use social networking for recognizing employees and recruiting new hires. In Virginia, Hampton Roads Transit set up a LinkedIn site that allows current employees to connect with one another and enables potential employees to learn more about the organization, whereas Tulsa Transit has used Twitter to announce job openings. In Texas, the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Author- ity used Facebook to recognize a long-time employee on his retirement, and DART has created a series of videos for its YouTube channel that feature interviews with agency staff. entertainment Lastly, social media can be fun. Agencies often use social media to put a human face on what can sometimes seem like an impenetrable bureaucracy, and they entertain their riders through songs, videos, and contests. New York’s Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), among other agencies, uses YouTube to share safety information. LIRR’s The Gap Rap is a music video starring in-house talent and local fifth-graders that reminds rid- ers to “Watch the gap” when boarding or alighting trains; in a similar vein, the Transit Authority of River City posted a rap video to show Louisville bus riders how to use a bicycle rack. FIGURE 3 Examples of transit-related social media sites.

10 characteriSticS of Social Media USerS The characteristics of social media users are not yet well docu- mented and questions remain about whether social media plat- forms can bridge the digital divide, or the gap between people who have access to information technology (IT) and those who do not. Although not conclusive, research suggests that social media attract users from multiple demographic categories, as summarized here. age and Gender In 2010, 61% of online Americans used social networking sites (e.g., Facebook and LinkedIn)—up from 46% just the year before—and 17% used Twitter. Although the vast major- ity of adults aged 18 to 29 were social networkers (86%), so were nearly half of those aged 50 to 64 (47%) and one-quarter of those 65 and over (26%). Moreover, older users are out- pacing younger adults in their adoption of social media. The number of Internet users aged 50 to 64 who used a social net- working site grew 88% between 2009 and 2010, and the num- ber of users aged 65 or over doubled. In contrast, the growth rate for those aged 18 to 29 was 13% (6). Although part of the rapid growth rate for older users can be attributed to their smaller representation in the social space, this trend is still noteworthy. Consistent with these findings, nearly half of Americans maintained a personal profile on at least one social networking site in 2010, which was double the proportion recorded just two years earlier. More than three of four teenagers and adults aged 18 to 24 had an online personal profile in 2010, as did 13% of those aged 65 and over (7) (see Figure 4). Based on statistics compiled for 19 social networking sites, the average social networker is 37 years old; adults aged 35 to 44 make up the single largest group of social networkers (25% of site visitors). Adults 45 to 54 and 25 to 34 are also major online networkers, comprising 19% and 18% of site visitors, respec- tively (see Figure 5). Age distribution varies by site and tends to reflect each platform’s target market. The average Facebook user is said to be 38 years old and the average Twitter user is 39 years old. Business-oriented LinkedIn attracts older users, with an average age of 44, and sites such as MySpace appeal to younger visitors (average age is 31 years old) (8). Most social networking sites have more female users than male users. Based on the same 19 social networking sites, the audience is 53% female and 47% male. On average, Twitter has 59% female users and Facebook has 57% (9). However, it should be noted that these estimates are based on proprietary sources and no information is available about the methodology used. Because social media sites do not generally require proof of identity beyond a valid e-mail address, account holders may not always be truthful about characteristics such as age and gender. Indeed, they may not be persons at all. As social media use expands to advocacy, FIGURE 4 Percent by age group with a profile on a social networking site, 2008–2010 (7 ).

11 marketing, and entertainment, account holders may include organizations, family pets, and automated spambots. race and ethnicity A recent study from the Pew Research Center looked at Internet access by race and ethnicity (10). According to the study, 59% of Americans now use wireless technology such as a laptop or cell phone to access the Internet, up from 51% a year before, and minority Americans (defined by Pew Center researchers as African–Americans and English-speaking Hispanics) are outpacing Caucasian Americans in their mobile access. As Table 1 shows, nearly two-thirds of African–Americans (64%) and Hispanics (63%) are wireless Internet users, and minority Americans are more likely to own a cell phone than their white counterparts (87% of blacks and Hispanics own a cell phone, compared with 80% of whites). Additionally, black and Hispanic cell phone owners take advantage of a much wider array of their phones’ data functions compared FIGURE 5 Age distribution across 19 social networking sites, 2010 (8). TABLE 1 USE OF MOBILE DATA APPLICATIONS BY POPULATION GROUP, 2010 Source: Smith (10). Activity A ll Adults White, Non- Hispanic A frican– American, Non-Hispanic Hispanic (English- speaking) Own a Cell Phone 82% 80% 87% 87% Activities among Adults with a Cell Phone: Take a picture 76% 75% 76% 83% Send/receive text messages 72% 68% 79% 83% Access the Internet 38% 33% 46% 51% Send/receive email 34% 30% 41% 47% Play a game 34% 29% 51% 46% Record a video 34% 29% 48% 45% Play music 33% 26% 52% 49% Send/receive instant messages 30% 23% 44% 49% Use a social networking site 23% 19% 33% 36% Watch a video 20% 15% 27% 33% Post a photo or video online 15% 13% 20% 25% Purchase a product 11% 10% 13% 18% Use a status update service 10% 8% 13% 15% M ean number of cell phone activities 4.3 3.8 5.4 5.8

12 with white cell phone owners. Although cell phone use is not by itself an indicator of social media use, both African– Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to use cell phones to access the Internet, send and receive text messages, and access a social networking website (10). Less information is available about other demographic groups. For example, the Pew Center does not include Asians and Pacific Islanders in its standard demographic breakdowns because of their smaller representation in the U.S. popula- tion and, in some cases, the language barriers associated with interviewing these individuals (11). While this information suggests that most U.S. adults have access to the Internet, it also highlights a new potential issue for public agencies. While smart phones have made the Internet more accessible, and some even offer integration with social media applications, they pose their own usability challenges. When users access the Internet exclusively by cell phone, no matter how smart or sophisticated the device, they may not have access to all features of a website or application. Another Pew study focuses on use of government social media sites (12). Although the proportion of Americans who interact with government agencies using social media sites is small, there is little difference among the three major ethnic and racial groups. Despite similar levels of activity, however, minority Americans are more likely than white Americans to believe that government use of electronic communications helps keep citizens informed and makes agencies more accessible. There was an especially large gap in attitudes toward government use of social media. Only 17% of white Americans said it was “very important” for government agencies to post information and alerts on social networks, compared to 31% of blacks and 33% of Hispanics (see Figure 6). education and income The same Pew study also showed that individuals with more education and higher household incomes were more likely to use online government services. Although the study did not highlight social media specifically, it did ask respondents whether they used tools such as blogs, e-mails, or text messages to obtain government information. Some 24% of respondents with an annual household income under $50,000 used these tools, compared with 39% of those with higher incomes. Similarly, 21% of those with a high school degree or less education accessed government information with these tools, compared to 36% of those who attended at least some college. At a minimum, these findings suggest the need for additional research on the correlation between social networking and factors such as wealth and education (12). Social Media MetricS The science of measuring social media use is still evolv- ing. Many platforms provide some level of built-in statis- tics. For example, Facebook counts “friends” and “likes,” FIGURE 6 Percentage within each group saying it is “very important” for government agencies to do the above by ethnic group (12).

13 Twitter tracks followers and “tweets,” blogging software can count subscribers and impressions, and media-sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr track views. These applications also provide account holders with additional tools for more detailed analysis, such as Facebook Insights and YouTube Insight. For example, Facebook Insights tracks the number of views for a post. By comparing impressions for each post, users can learn which topics resonate with their Facebook followers. In addition to these prepackaged statistics, numer- ous free and fee-based third-party applications are available for gaining additional insight into the effectiveness of social media activities. Google Analytics, for example, is primarily used for analyzing website visits; however, this free tool also enables agencies to analyze how visitors navigate to their website (including referrals from one or more social media platforms) and what kind of information they are looking for (through search-engine keywords). By drilling down a little further into the collected statistics, agencies can learn what pages on their website are most popular among these visitors, where these readers live (city, state, and country), length of visit, and other useful characteristics. Especially common for use with Twitter, where the length of posts is constrained, link shorteners take a long web address and condense it into a short version for easier posting and forwarding. Many of these services allow users to track the number of times read- ers click on the shortened link, which allows organizations to determine what links are popular and which are not. Finally, Klout is one of several applications that calculate a compos- ite score to represent a user’s social media influence, based on metrics compiled for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (13, 14). Some industry experts call for more sophisticated analy- sis, but this can require an investment in analytic software. Owyang and Lovett argue that simply collecting data without further analysis does not allow organizations to draw mean- ingful conclusions (15). For example, they say that it is not enough to track number of blog comments. Instead, orga- nizations could track “audience engagement,” which they define as the ratio of total comments, shares, and trackbacks to total views. In other words, what percentage of viewers is taking some kind of action—either commenting on an online post, forwarding it to someone else (“shares”), or provid- ing a link back to the post from their own social media site (“trackbacks”)? Although the advice is geared toward private businesses that have the resources to purchase sophisticated software, the message applies to transit organizations as well. Counting without context does not create a complete picture of social media effectiveness. Most of the agencies surveyed for this study reported attempting in some way to analyze the effectiveness of their social media strategies. Most relied on informal feedback (94% of reporting agencies) or tracked the number of fol- lowers using built-in application statistics (91%). Just over half (56%) used third-party statistical applications such as Google Analytics and about 10% conducted surveys.

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 99: Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation explores the use of social media among transit agencies and documents successful practices in the United States and Canada.

For the purposes of the report, social media are defined as a group of web-based applications that encourage users to interact with one another, such as blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare, and MySpace.

An eReader friendly PDF version of TCRP Synthesis 99 is also available.

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The conceptual study is to demonstrate the progress of the discussions between performance expectancy, social influence, facilitating condition, propensity to sharing information, viral marketing expectancy and fear of pandemic as influencing factors toward social media usage among entrepreneurs. Social media usage becomes the focus of researchers and organization, because of the effectiveness and efficiency of social media as a marketing tool in the business environment. Logically, variables (performance expectancy, social influence, facilitating condition, propensity to sharing information, viral marketing expectancy and fear of pandemic) may influence social media usage as a marketing tool to help entrepreneurs gain competitive edges, build relationship with customers and build business presence in the market . Howe ver, previous studies on the relationship between performance expectancy, social influence, facilitating condition, propensity to sharing information, viral marketing expectancy and fear of pandemic and social media usage as a marketing tool are very limited. This preliminary study aims to answer what factors may influence the entrepreneur’s social media usage and find the most significant factors that can contribute towards the usage of social media as marketing tool in Malaysia.

Performance Expectancy , Social Influence , Facilitating Condition , Propensity to Sharing Information , Viral Marketing Expectancy , Fear of Pandemic , Social Media Usage

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1. Introduction

Social media usage as a marketing tool has allowed entrepreneurs immediate interaction and customer feedback (Camilleri, 2019; Durgam, 2015; Eid, Abdelmoety, & Agag, 2019; Lin, Li, Yan, & Turel, 2018) . Social media usage is crucial and receives a lot of attention because it involves an economic cost to the entrepreneur and its business by Armesh et al. (2010) , Nadaraja & Yazdanifard (2013) , and Vedenhaupt (2016) . Generally, the factors that influence actual usage are influenced by performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence and facilitating condition (Venkatesh et al., 2003) . Moreover, other factors such as attitude and belief (propensity to sharing information, viral marketing expectancy and fear of pandemic) can also influence entrepreneur actual adoption of system usage.

As the pandemic occurs, entrepreneurs suffer problems such as layoffs of employees, financial crunch, employees’ health issues, fall in sales and turnover, and customer demands (Kumar & Ayedee, 2021) . However, with potential customers’ availability on the internet, it is expected that this is the time for entrepreneurs to take serious action in using social media as their marketing tool. Even Effendi, Sugandini, and Istanto (2020) study found that SMEs affected by the pandemic crisis have a great perception of social media usage and have a high intention to embrace social media as a method to promote their products and link with their customers. In other words, the spreading of pandemic has become a pushing factor for entrepreneurs to embrace e-commerce and social media usage for their business survival (Cheng, 2020) .

The definition of social media is networking of like-minded individuals who form a community to be able to communicate with each other on the internet by sharing information and comments between each other. The social media backdrop is a procedure that requires numerous functions consisting of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, to name a few. The preliminary study aims to develop a theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between performance expectancy, social influence, facilitating condition, propensity to sharing information, viral marketing expectancy and fear of pandemic toward the social media usage as a marketing tool. It is expected that this study could provide more understanding on elements that could influence entrepreneurs to make use of social media as their marketing tool.

2. Literature Review

The Internet is a driver for e-commerce in the world nowadays. Surely, one of the most major changes in this decade is the revolution in communication technology and its effect on the way users now relate with companies and with each other (Elawadi, 2016) ; (Hassan, Shiratuddin, & Abdul Salam, 2015) . There are several advantages to using social media as a marketing tool for entrepreneurs. Edosomwan et al. (2011) suggest that Facebook and Twitter grow to be fully assimilated into our life, becoming an indispensable part of our lifestyles and a norm of activities to do. Fortin and Uncles (2011) postulate that the pace and ease at which information now spreads and goes viral has resulted in better consumer empowerment.

According to the (Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission, 2018) , internet users continue to rise to 28.7 million users. Overall, users spent 6.6 hours online in a day. Visiting social networking platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook are the most popular activities among Internet users. The main explanation with regards to these changes in users’ behaviour is the volume of content shared among online consumers.

Despite the importance of social media and the promising capability of social media as a marketing tool, scant research has been conducted on this topic. Existing social media research for a business purpose has primarily been conducted at the big firm rather than focusing on the adoption of social media for entrepreneurs especially in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The current level, patterns, and factors influencing the adoption of social media as a marketing tool are still unknown, especially from Malaysia’s perspective.

2.1. Social Media Usage

The issues of entrepreneurs’ social media usage have been discussed among scholars, and it is still developing (Camilleri, 2019; Cheng, Liu, & Li, 2020; Liu & Bakici, 2019; Serben, 2014; Turan & Kara, 2018) . Scholars have suggested performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence and facilitating conditions could influence social media usage (Serben, 2014; Teresa & Ceyrat 2017; Thomas, Singh, & Aulia 2017) . Besides, such study in Malaysia is still in its infancy, and empirical studies on these issues are highly scarce in Malaysia (Dai et al., 2020; Hassan, Shiratuddin, & Abdul Salam, 2015; Turner & Akinremi, 2020) .

2.2. Performance Expectancy

Performance expectancy refers to “the degree to which an individual perceives that using a system will help him or her to attain a gain in job performance” (Venkatesh et al., 2003) . Previous research by (Chua, Rezaei, Gu, Oh, & Jambulingam, 2018) on performance expectancy as a determinant variable showed that performance expectancy can influence users’ intention to use social networking apps in Malaysia.

2.3. Social Influence

Social influence is “the degree to which an individual perceives the importance of others believing he or she should use the new system” (Venkatesh et al., 2003) . The entrepreneurs would decide to use social media when spouse, sibling, mentor, influencers, and business competitors make him or her believe the importance of using social media in the business. Even more, there are possibilities that customers’ influence could be a reason the entrepreneur uses social media (Pentina, Koh, & Le, 2012) . Consumers and entrepreneurs have different sets of people that can influence them to use social networking apps. Previous research by (Chua et al., 2018) on sets of people that can influence consumers to upload and use social networking apps are friends, family and a colleague. However, for an entrepreneur the sets of people that can influence them are broader and include family, sibling, mentor (Venkatesh et al., 2003) , customers, competitors (Matikiti, Mpinganjira, & Roberts-Lombard, 2018) and influencers (Fadhila, 2018) .

2.4. Facilitating Condition

Facilitating conditions is “the degree to which an individual believes that an organizational and technical infrastructure exists to support use of the system” (Venkatesh et al., 2003) . An adequate infrastructure, appropriate skills, and enough resources will influence the entrepreneur and ease the business activities using social media as a marketing tool (Rahman et al., 2020) . Previous research by (Tan, 2013) shows that facilitating conditions directly influence the uses of e-learning websites in Taiwan.

2.5. Propensity to Sharing Information

The propensity to share information can be one factor that influences entrepreneurs to utilize social media in their industry. Without the tendency to share information, the entrepreneurs will miss out on an opportunity to build their online presence and cannot reach a vast potential customer that readily exists on social media platforms. The more an entrepreneur inclines to post and share it post on social media (comment, product review, upload video, etc.), the more propensity that the entrepreneur will use social media as a marketing tool (Rode, 2016) . Previous research by Jarvenpaa and Staples (2000) finds that feelings of sharing information were associated with the actual use of media for information sharing activities among university staff.

2.6. Viral Marketing Expectancy

Viral marketing can destroy a business or can push word-of-mouth advertising on social networks and boost product and service sales (Rollins, Anitsal, & Anitsal, 2014; Hakimey & Yazdanifard 2014) . The use of technology in viral marketing made interaction between entrepreneurs and customers more engaging; thus, this will help spread the viral message to other potential customers (Larson, 2009) . Previous research by Isa and Nordin (2018) about viral marketing studied how social media advertising uses viral marketing to promote brands and products. in Malaysia. The researcher studied several popular social media sites in Malaysia and found that viral marketing is positively accepted both by entrepreneurs and consumers. However, viral marketing expectancy variables have never been studied before on its influence towards actual use of social media as a marketing tool.

2.7. Fear of Pandemic

Fear of pandemic has altered how people learn, work and live today. Donthu and Gustafsson (2020) stress that with COVID-19 still arising globally, the fear of the pandemic will affect how a business does its activities. Moreover, Effendi et al. (2020) suggest using technology and adopting social media as a crucial tool in helping entrepreneurs deal with fear of COVID-19 pandemic to raise for adversity in their business activities. Alqahtani and Rajkhan (2020) in their research about factors that make e-learning success found that lecturers and students’ readiness to adopt e-learning is crucial to be successful. However, the fear of pandemic is not yet studied with regards to the actual uses of social media as a marketing tool.

2.8. Performance Expectancy, Social Influence, Facilitating Condition, Propensity to Sharing Information, Viral Marketing Expectancy, Fear of Pandemic and Social Media Usage

Centred on the early study on social media adoption and entrepreneurs, the notion is there was inadequate study about Malaysian entrepreneur’s social media adoption and use in Malaysia. Previous study results revealed that entrepreneurs in Malaysia are influenced to use internet marketing based on performance expectancy and facilitating conditions (Tan, Chong, & Lin, 2013) . Moreover, Malaysian entrepreneur’s familiarity and decision making about social media acceptance is founded on the individual understanding of the business holder, being as a social media user and as an administrator.

Previous research by (Ali, Nair, & Hussain, 2016) on performance expectancy of students towards usage of computer supported collaborative classrooms showed a positive significant influence on usage. This also is a finding by (Chua et al., 2018) on the behavioural intention as the most influential factor of use behaviour because of greater beta values. However a research done by (Thomas et al., 2017) showed there is no significant influence between performance expectancy and social media usage in the banking sector in Oman.

Therefore, performance expectancy is of direct relevance to the use of social media for a marketing tool by entrepreneurs in Malaysia. This is because entrepreneurs rely on the use of social media to market their product and service. Owing to the feature of being able to market their products and services in limitless locations, social media enables entrepreneurs to use it to reach its customers in a vast market. Thus, if an entrepreneur perceives that the use of social media for digital marketing will contribute meaningfully to enhancing his or her business performance, he or she may be favourably disposed to use it in their marketing activities.

Previous research by Ahmad, Hassan, Mohd Tajuddin, and Wimpi (2018) shows that the university students have high usage of social media with an average of three social media accounts for each student. A research by (Nawi, Mamun, Nasir, & Muniady, 2019) noted that social influence acts as moderator between facilitating the actual use of social media among students in Malaysia. If the social influence is high the impact of facilitating conditions is also high towards usage of social media. Moreover, social influence variable has a positive and significant relationship towards actual use of social media among Turkish entrepreneurs (Turan & Kara, 2018) . For competitors’ dimension in social influence, researcher Schillewaert, Ahearne, Frambach, and Moenaert (2005) found that competitors (sales-force from other companies) as a second most important factor that may influence sales persons in their adoption of technology. However, for customer dimension in social influence, researcher Matikiti, Mpinganjira, & Roberts-Lombard (2018) studied customer pressure as one of the established factors that influence attitude towards the use of social media in South Africa. The finding shows that customers are one of the factors that influence the tourism industry to adopt social media for marketing purposes. Previous research by (Khalid, Jayasainan, & Hassim, 2018) about influencers that use social networking sites (SNS) found that the influencer can influence social networking sites usage. The study found that the influencer enhances cultural awareness and consumption among youth SNS users in Malaysia.

Previous research by (Serben, 2014) shows that facilitating conditions has a significant relationship with actual use of social media and are moderated by age and gender. The younger the entrepreneurs are, the more they believe using social media will ease their business activities. Also, a male got more support to use social media in their business.

Social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, is a key platform to build relationships with consumers and for consumers to get information about a brand and its products. Smith (2014) believes that users of social media believe information posted by entrepreneurs and other users in social media are trustworthy and reliable. Hepziba and John (2017) in their research finds out that the goal of social media is to produce content that users will share in social networks known as customer engagement. The opinion of customers on the products, services, and brands can be shared to others via comment and share button.

Previous research by Liu, Shao, Tang, and Fan (2019) studied whether and how factors for social media continuance behaviours work differently between social networking sites and microblogging. In their research, they found that users in social network media found satisfaction in social interaction while sharing information in social media. Research by Nabil Iblasi, Bader, and Ahmad Al-Qreini (2016) study the impact of social media as a marketing tool toward purchasing decisions. In their case study, the researcher posits that social media is an important communication tool that people use to connect to other people or organizations. To this end the finding shows consumers spending a lot of time on social media websites. This is concurring with the idea that social media websites are impactful in influencing consumer purchasing behaviour.

Furthermore, Hepziba and John (2017) suggests that viral marketing involves consumers passing along a company’s marketing message to their friends, family, and colleagues with the emotion of surprise often at work, and resembles that of word-of-mouth marketing. Previous research on viral marketing by Zernigah and Sohail (2012) studied consumers’ attitude towards viral marketing in Pakistan. The findings show that consumers attitude towards viral marketing is positive and believe the information in the viral massage will be forwarded to others if the massage deems trustworthy. Hakimey and Yazdanifard (2014) posit that viral marketing can built a company or also can destroys it. The viral massage is so impactful that the good viral massage will strengthen and build company quickly and vice versa.

The fear of COVID-19 has evolved into a health, socioeconomic and humanitarian crises of unprecedented scale and impact in Malaysia (Lim, 2020) . Furthermore, due to fear of COVID-19, the conventional face-to-face selling products and services have shifted to online settings. On the economic front, the lockdown is turning into an economic knockout. The economy is nose diving with intensifying negative impacts on jobs, incomes, and livelihoods, disrupting supply chains and upending businesses (Lim, 2020) .

3. Proposed Theoretical Framework

In this preliminary study, the conceptual model of the relationship of performance expectancy, social influence, facilitating condition, propensity to sharing information, viral marketing expectancy, and fear of pandemic toward social media usage is illustrated in Figure 1 .

The proposed theoretical framework in Figure 1 reveals that performance expectancy, social influence, facilitating condition, propensity to sharing information, viral marketing expectancy, and fear of pandemic have an influence towards the social media usage Venkatesh et al. (2003) . Researchers suggest that several variables such as propensity to sharing information, viral marketing

Figure 1 . Proposed theoretical framework. Adapted from Venkatesh et al. (2003) .

expectancy, and fear of pandemic are added to measured social media usage. Previously, performance expectancy, social influence, facilitating condition were measured but for variables of propensity to sharing information, viral marketing expectancy, and fear of pandemic there are limited studies done.

4. Limitation of the Study and Recommendation for Future Research

This study is limited as there is no mediating or moderating variable included. Future research should include entrepreneurs’ intention as mediating variable and gender, age and experience as moderating variable to enhance the findings on the factors that influence social media usage and to improve the possibility of generalization.

5. Conclusion

This study attempts to develop a theoretical framework for the relationship between performance expectancy, social influence, facilitating condition, propensity to sharing information, viral marketing expectancy and fear of pandemic towards social media usage as a marketing tool. This study will be conducted among entrepreneurs in Malaysia. Based on the preliminary findings, it can be concluded that studying social media usage as a marketing tool can help entrepreneurs gain competitive edges, build relationship with customers and build business presence in the market.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.

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