How to Compare Different Social Media: A Conceptual and Technical Framework

Social media research has gained traction during the last 10 years within
Internet research and digital sociology. However, due to methodological
and technical difficulties studies have mainly focused on analyzing only
one platform per study (often Twitter or Facebook), especially when the
study involves analysis of large public or private data streams. The fact
that such data streams are accessed through different application
programming interfaces (APIs) that have their own different logics
means that complexity increases at a technical level.
However, this chapter argues that addressing such technical
complexities also requires looking at issues at the sociological and
conceptual level. How do different social media, for instance, Facebook,
Twitter, and Instagram, fundamentally differ? By addressing not only the
different social and relational logics but also linking them to processes of
data retrieval and analysis, the chapter aims to contribute with new
insights into the fundamental character of two seemingly related social
network services and address questions which need to be posed in order to
make solid and comparative academic analyses in the future.
More specifically, we develop a framework for the analysis of use and
relations across social media, combining a theoretical, a conceptual, a
methodological, and a technical approach. We identify challenges and
suggest a specific technical implementation that we in the end evaluate.
Technically, we focus on Facebook, Instagram, and to a certain extent
Twitter, but we argue that our framework can be easily expanded to
encompass other social media. The main argument in the chapter is that
bridging is not an easy task as several challenges occur on different levels
that the researchers need to account for in greater details. First, in the
technical infrastructure and/or database structure relations are simple but
represent many different complex sociological relationships and
interaction types. Second, the elements of social media as accounted for
need to be translated socially. Third, when we study user-centric social
media use, we increase complexity in at least two different dimensions,
we propose a mixed method design and we propose a cross-service
Flere informationer

TitelSecond International Handbook of Internet Research
RedaktørerJeremy Hunsinger, Matthew Allen, Lisbeth Klastrup
Antal sider18
ISBN (Trykt)978-94-024-1553-7
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-94-024-1555-1
Peer reviewJa


  • Aarhus Universitet
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