February 18, 2014

Help is on the Way: Patterns of Responses to Resource Requests on Facebook

ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW)

By: Cliff Lampe, Rebecca Gray, Andrew Tresolini Fiore, Nicole Ellison

Abstract

Research suggests that social network sites can support social capital exchanges, which are often triggered by requests for assistance, such as seeking recommendations or asking for favors. Responsiveness to these requests for help is important to study because these interactions have the potential to affect users’ overall satisfaction with the experience of using SNSs, signal social grooming functions that are an essential part of relationship maintenance, and affect social capital processes.

In this paper, we study a corpus of public status updates posted to Facebook (N=7,466) in order to identify the pattern of responses to status updates that attempt to mobilize resources from the poster’s Facebook network.

Findings suggest that mobilization requests are treated differently than other kinds of posts; posts that attempt to mobilize help receive more comments than non-mobilization attempts. Additionally, responses occur more quickly and are shaped by the type of support requested (e.g., a recommendation vs. a favor). These findings help us better understand the role of help-seeking behaviors in the social capital conversion process as it unfolds via social media.