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Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Jul;17(7):460-5. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2013.0530. Epub 2014 Apr 1.

Building a sense of virtual community: the role of the features of social networking sites.

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  • 11 Department of Computer Information Systems, Baruch College, City University of New York , New York.


In recent years, social networking sites have received increased attention because of the potential of this medium to transform business by building virtual communities. However, theoretical and empirical studies investigating how specific features of social networking sites contribute to building a sense of virtual community (SOVC)-an important dimension of a successful virtual community-are rare. Furthermore, SOVC scales have been developed, and research on this issue has been called for, but few studies have heeded this call. On the basis of prior literature, this study proposes that perceptions of the three most salient features of social networking sites-system quality (SQ), information quality (IQ), and social information exchange (SIE)-play a key role in fostering SOVC. In particular, SQ is proposed to increase IQ and SIE, and SIE is proposed to enhance IQ, both of which thereafter build SOVC. The research model was examined in the context of Facebook, one of the most popular social networking sites in the world. We adopted Blanchard's scales to measure SOVC. Data gathered using a Web-based questionnaire, and analyzed with partial least squares, were utilized to test the model. The results demonstrate that SIE, SQ, and IQ are the factors that form SOVC. The findings also suggest that SQ plays a fundamental role in supporting SIE and IQ in social networking sites. Implications for theory, practice, and future research directions are discussed.

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