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Social Media from the Perspective of Diffusion of Innovation Approach

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In parallel with the developments in information and communication technologies, diversifying social media emerges as platforms that almost everyone becomes familiar with. It is possible to associate the widespread use of social media platforms with the diversity of alternatives that meet individual needs such as entertainment, information, self-expression, and interaction. Social media, which has leaked and become a part of our daily lives, is considered as relatively new technology when compared to traditional media. It is also considered that the widespread use of social media is a result of a decision process like all technology-based applications. It is possible to associate this decision, approval, and expansion process with the diffusion of innovation approach. The Decision-making process of innovation is described in five basic stages like knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation. In this study, the features and processes within the scope of diffusion of innovation have been associated with the emergence and spread of social media. Keywords: Social media, diffusion of innovation, decision-making process
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N. Gizem KOÇAK, Seçil KAYA, Evrim EROL, The Macrotheme Review 2(3), Spring 2013
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The Macrotheme Review
A multidisciplinary journal of global macro trends
Social Media from the Perspective of Diffusion of Innovation
Approach
N. Gizem KOÇAK*, Seçil KAYA*, Evrim EROL**
Anadolu University Open Education Faculty, Turkey*
Dumlupınar University Educational Sciences Faculty, Turkey**
ngkocak@anadolu.edu.tr
Abstract
In parallel with the developments in information and communication technologies,
diversifying social media emerges as platforms that almost everyone become familiar
with. It is possible to associate the widespread use of social media platforms with the
diversity of alternatives that meet individual needs such as entertainment, information,
self-expression and interaction. Social media, which has leaked and become a part of our
daily lives, is considered as a relatively new technology when compared to traditional
media. It is also considered that the widespread use of social media is a result of a
decision process like all technology-based applications. It is possible to associate this
decision, approval, and expansion process with the diffusion of innovation approach.
Decision-making process of innovation is described in five basic stages like knowledge,
persuasion, decision, implementation and confirmation. In this study, the features and
processes within the scope of diffusion of innovation has been associated with the
emergence and spread of social media.
Keywords: Social media, diffusion of innovation, decision-making process
1. Introduction
Nowadays one of the most important developments in new media is Web 2.0 applications.
Web 2.0 provided an interactive platform with its opportunity to enable create and share content
by users. It has changed users’ role from passive audience to active participants. Web 2.0
provides great opportunities for individuals by enabling them to produce and share their own
contents (Koren, 2010, p.2). Technological infrastructure of Web 2.0 applications made social
media platforms available and these platforms gained a huge popularity. The most prominent
factor that made social media such a popular platform is its simple and user-friendly nature. This
feature made social media accessible and usable not only for professionals as in the past; but also
for anyone who doesn’t have any web design skills.
Social media can be defined as online platforms that people use to share opinions and
experiences including photos, videos, music, insides and perceptions with each other (Lai and
Turban, 2008, p.389). Social media platforms are categorized in eight main titles: (1) social
networking sites, (2) blogs, (3) microblogs, (4) content sharing sites, (5) wikis, (6) social
bookmarking sites, (7) podcasts and (8) forums (Constantinides, 2009; Richardson, 2009).
N. Gizem KOÇAK, Seçil KAYA, Evrim EROL, The Macrotheme Review 2(3), Spring 2013
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Social media, which has leaked and become a part of our daily lives, is considered as a
relatively new technology when compared to traditional media. Also the widespread use of social
media can be considered as a result of a decision-making process like all technology-based
applications. It is possible to associate this decision, approval, and expansion process with the
diffusion of innovation approach.
2. Decision making process of innovation
Diffusion is the process by which an innovation communicated through certain channels
over time among the members of a social system. Diffusion is special type of communication in
which the massages are about a new idea (Rogers, 1995, p.5-6). Diffusion is also defined as the
process by which an innovation is adopted and gained acceptance by members of a certain
community. There are some major factors that influence the diffusion process like the innovation
itself, how information about the innovation is communicated, time, and the nature of the social
system into which the innovation is being introduced (Folorunso et. al., 2009, p.362).
Decision-making process of innovation is described in five basic stages like knowledge,
persuasion, decision, implementation and confirmation. These stages which are laid down by
Rogers (1995, s.163-190) are given in Figure 1.
Figure 1
Decision-making process of innovation
Source: Rogers, 1995, p.163
N. Gizem KOÇAK, Seçil KAYA, Evrim EROL, The Macrotheme Review 2(3), Spring 2013
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Decision-making process for innovation starts with being familiar with the innovation and
continues until the stage of attitude development or confirmation related to innovation (Çakmak
and Ocak, 2008, p.306). Each consecutive stage in Figure 1 is a prerequisite for the next stage.
For example “persuasion” follows the “knowledge” stage; because individuals shape his or her
attitude toward the innovation after he or she knows about the innovation. While the knowledge
stage depends on knowing, the persuasion stage depends on feeling. Then in the decision stage,
individuals choose to adopt or reject the innovation. The implementation stage follows the
decision stage and in this stage individuals put innovation into practice. Although the innovation-
decision already has been made, individuals look for support for his or her decision at the
confirmation stage (Şahin, 2006, p.15-17). But it is possible to change the decisions of
acceptance or rejection in implementation stage.
In the case of innovation, first of all within the knowledge stage, adopters must
understand what quantity of an innovation to secure, how to use it correctly and so on. In
persuasion stage, an individual usually wants to know the answers to such questions as what are
the innovations’ consequences?” and what will its advantages and disadvantages be in my
situation?”. In this context, it can be said that the individual becomes more psychologically
involved with the innovation at the persuasion stage. After knowledge and persuasion stages, the
individual faces with adoption or rejection of innovation. As adoption is a decision to make full
use of an innovation as the best course of action available; rejection is a decision not to adapt to
an innovation (Rogers, 1995, p.165-171).
Implementation follows the decision stage and it occurs when an individual puts an
innovation into use. Rogers (1995, p.172-173) stated that until the implementation stage, the
innovation decision process has been strictly mental exercises and he emphasized that a certain
degree of uncertainty about the expected consequences of the innovation still exists for the
individual at the implementation stage; even though the decision to adopt has been made
previously. Also he specifies the questions that an individual particularly wants to know as
“where do I obtain the innovation?”, how do I use it?”, “how does it work?”, what operational
problems am I likely to encounter, and how can I solve them?”. Finally at the confirmation stage,
the individual seeks reinforcement of the innovation decision already made or reverses a previous
decision to adopt or reject the innovation if exposed to conflicting messages about the innovation
(Rogers, 1995, p.181).
In summary, the innovation decision process is the process through which an individual
passes from first knowledge of an innovation, to forming an attitude toward the innovation, to a
decision to adopt or reject, to implementation of the new idea, and to confirmation of this
decision (Rogers, 1995, p.163).
3. Perceived characteristics of innovation
Widespread use of new technologies is associated with the four basic features within the
Rogers' innovation diffusion model. Understanding these features will enable a more effective
and efficient use of new technologies (Çakmak and Ocak, 2008, p.305). These features are;
compatibility, complexity, trialability, observability and the relative benefit (Rogers, 1995, p.224-
244). These features can be explained as below (Rogers, 1995, p.212-244):
Compatibility: Compatibility is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as
consistent with the existing value, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters. An
N. Gizem KOÇAK, Seçil KAYA, Evrim EROL, The Macrotheme Review 2(3), Spring 2013
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idea that is more compatible is less uncertain to the potential adopters, and fits more
closely to the individual’s life situation. Such compatibility helps the individual give
meaning to the new idea so that is regarded as familiar.
Complexity: Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively
difficult to understand and use. The complexity of an innovation is negatively related to
its rate of adoption.
Trialability: Trialability is the degree to which an innovation is may be experimented
with on a limited basis. The personal trying-out of is a way to give meaning to an
innovation, to find out how it works under one’s own conditions. This trial is a means to
dispel uncertainty about the new idea.
Observability: Observability is the degree to which the results of innovation are visible
to others. The results of some ideas are easily observed and communicated to others,
whereas some innovations are difficult to observe or to describe to others. Observability
of an innovation, as perceived by members of a social system, is positively related to its
rate of adoption.
Relative Advantage: Relative advantage is the degree to which an innovation is
perceived as being better than the idea it supersedes. The degree of relative advantage is
often expressed as economic profitability, social prestige, or other benefits. The greater
relative benefit means a high rate of adaptation.
4. Diffusion of innovation and social media
Internet based applications has gained a great popularity in the last ten years with millions
of users. As a consequence of expansion and diversification of the Internet applications, it
becomes a part of individuals’ daily lives. Today, people are so familiar with the Internet and the
Internet based applications. Social media, which is the final step in the evaluation process of the
Internet, can be considered as a great innovation. It is possible to associate the diffusion and
widespread use of social media in the context of decision-making process for innovation.
When the social media is considered as an innovation, prior conditions like previous
practices, individual needs, innovativeness and norms of the social system can also be associated
with the social media usage. The huge expansion of new media and growing chance to
experience these new and exciting platforms make people to wonder more about social media. As
a result, individuals feel the need of using social media as a form of communication and start to
get knowledge about these online platforms. Within the knowledge stage, in accordance with
these prior conditions people met with various social media platforms. At the second step called
persuasion, individual becomes more psychologically involved with the social media platforms.
Individuals make an evaluation about the advantages and disadvantages of the social media and
prepare themselves to make a decision about using or not using such platforms. In this step,
characteristics like compatibility, complexity, trialability, observability and the relative benefit
are important for persuasion. It is possible to handle these characteristics in terms of social media
platforms.
When characteristics that affect the persuasion process are considered within the social
media, it can be said that these characteristics refers the features of social media that separate it
from the previous Internet based applications and traditional media. For example, user generated
N. Gizem KOÇAK, Seçil KAYA, Evrim EROL, The Macrotheme Review 2(3), Spring 2013
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and user-friendly structure of social media; also ease of use and open access to these platforms
can be considered as factors affecting the process of persuasion. In the context of compatibility,
having an Internet experience and being familiar with the Internet based applications before the
existence of social media, provide the necessary conditions for the acceptance and widespread
use of these platforms.
Complexity is another effective feature that affects the acceptability of social media.
Rogers (1995) stated that an innovation, which doesn’t require specific and complicated skills
and understandings, will have the tendency to get a higher rate of adoption. Because of the simple
and easy structure of social media, people don’t need any complex technological skills. So this
feature decreases the complexity level of this innovation and encourages people to try social
media. In social media case, complexity and triability features have close relationship to each
other. Namely, having low complexity level make people more enthusiastic to try these new
platforms. Also anyone who has a desire about social media can easily access these platforms
without any prerequisites and this open access nature of social media is also important for the
triability.
Observability, that means “the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to
others” (Rogers, 1995, p.244) is another perceived characteristic of innovation. Today people
face with social media in every part of their daily life even if they don’t use. Users of social
media are increasing day by day; so social media become more visible in individuals’ social
environments. On the other hand, the other feature of social media that makes it more visible is
the tendency of social media’s integration with the traditional media. The widespread use of
social media can be associated with the difficulty to ignore its existence.
Finally, relative advantage as economic profitability, social prestige, or other benefits is
also very determinative for the persuasion process. Open and free access to social media
platforms provides an economical advantage in terms of communication and interaction among
people. Also these platforms facilitate easy, quick and free access to information which can be
considered as another economic profitability. On the other hand, social media give people a
chance to express themselves in various ways and it can be said that as a consequence of this
expression they found a new way to satisfy their self-actualization needs. Also people become
connected with each other more than ever before by using social media. It can be said that
existing in social media, being followed and liked by others can make people feel more self-
confident. All of these feelings can be considered as social prestige advantages of social media.
In summary, compatibility, complexity, trialability, observability and the relative benefit
have important impacts on persuasion process as explained above. In diffusion of innovation
approach, decision step follows the persuasion process. Within the decision process, individuals
can provide adaptation or rejection decision after a pre-application meeting period. Muntinga et.
al. (2011, p.19) mentioned that social interaction is one of the important motivation for the use of
social media and in this context, the authors stated that people can use social media for
conversation, interaction, and to feel part of a group. In this sense, individuals can prefer to use
social media for its communication, socialization and self-expression benefits. Also
entertainment can be considered as another feature that motivates individuals to use social media.
Economic profitability and open access to information as explained within the relative advantage
also can be a reason for individuals to use social media. Additionally, following the new trends
can also be the main reason in itself. If individuals make their decision as adaptation based on
those or other reasons, they become the users of the social media platforms. This is considered as
N. Gizem KOÇAK, Seçil KAYA, Evrim EROL, The Macrotheme Review 2(3), Spring 2013
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implementation step. If individuals cannot exactly meet their expectations during the
implementation process, they can change their minds and can quit using social media platforms.
This reversal of opinion is called discontinuance. The reason for discontinuance can be related
with the negative experiences like abuse of private life, safety problems and information overload
that individuals faced during the implementation process. In parallel, Mavnacıoğlu (2009, p.71)
stated that social media is mainly based on conversation and gossip due to its nature and this can
cause unethical behaviors between individuals even if they don’t realized. Also, Babacan et. al.
(2011, p.88) mentioned that social media is a platform that people share their thoughts, feelings
and sometimes their private lives; and the authors focus on the privacy risks related to these
issues. Otherwise, if individuals feel satisfied about the innovation they continue to use the social
media platforms and this is called as continued adoption.
On the other hand, individuals can refuse to use social media platforms at the decision step
and provide rejection at first. People can consider social media usage as waste of time or a kind
of addiction, and so they may reject to use these platforms. Also lack of technological abilities or
prejudices can affect the rejection decision of individuals. In addition, individuals may not feel a
need for using social media. If this rejection continues this is called as continued rejection. But
because of social media’s popularity and widespread use, people may feel lack of it and as a
result they may demonstrate adaptation behavior which is called as later adoption.
5. Conclusion
Social media which is one of the most striking innovations of today has extremely fast and
efficient diffusion power with its various platforms and millions of users all around the world.
According to diffusion of innovation approach, the factors as compability, complexity, trability,
observability and relative advantage have impacts on the decision and as a result the diffusion
process of the innovation. In this sense, it is obvious that social media facilitates this diffusion
with its dynamic, interactive, user-centered, user-friendly nature and with its opportunities that
provides individuals more control over the contents and that enables users to become producers
as well.
Social media -perhaps for the first time in media history- gave users a chance to choose
their relation type with the media. In other words, in today’s media, users can just be the
audiences of contents if they want, or they can be the participants too, or even they can be the
content creators personally. It is clear that social media empowered the user and the user found a
chance to have different roles in his/her relation with the media, even he/she can play all these
roles at the same time. In this respect, this important emphasis on the individual can be
considered as another crucial side for this rapid diffusion. Social media provides important
opportunities to people by offering a chance to express themselves in a democratic and free
environment. Being also a publisher of their own contents, every user of social media become an
actor and has their own followers. Quick access to information and the social interaction chance
offered by social media can be seen as other key elements for its successful diffusion.
On the other hand, Rogers (1995, p.252) stated that, in a social system, it is not possible for
everyone to adopt an innovation at the same time. He mentioned that it is possible to categorize
the people according to their acceptance rank as from the ones who implement the innovation
first and to the ones who accept the innovation over the time. According to Rogers, at this point,
the thing that gains importance is the innovativeness and the individual’s adaptation degree to the
new ideas when comparing to the other members of a system. Wissema (2009, p.232) stated that,
N. Gizem KOÇAK, Seçil KAYA, Evrim EROL, The Macrotheme Review 2(3), Spring 2013
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new applications or technologies provide the leadership position to the individuals who firstly
adopt and implement the innovations while the others follow the leader and try to develop their
technological and organizational superiorities. In this manner, in adaptation and diffusion process
of an innovation, the characteristics of adopters or rejecters are also important as well as the
characteristics of the innovation itself.
In this study, a theoretical framework that explains social media from the perspective of
diffusion of innovation approach is tried to reveal. For future research, to determine the factors
that affect the adoption or rejection decision for social media and identify the characteristics of
early/late adopters or rejecters will be more illuminative to get a more comprehensive viewpoint.
Hence, this kind of a research will provide important clues about social media’s positive and
negative perceptions that affect the adoption process and also will be helpful to understand the
individual side that faces with the innovation as well.
At the same time, how the diffusion curve of social media will continue over the time is
another topic of interest. Will it continue its rapid diffusion with its different platforms and
obtains a permanent place to itself? Will this common usage enforce the late adopters or rejecters
to learn how to use social media and how to integrate it to their lives more or less? Will it be an
inevitable part of everyday life and a victory of such a diffusion of innovation? As long as the
enormous developments of new communication technologies continues, such questions can be
handled as new subjects for future researches.
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... Specifically, faculty teaching online courses with practical or applied concepts, such as those under the umbrella of agricultural sciences, may rely on social media to provide tangible examples and visuals that accompany other course content. Social media adoption within the context of the DOI model has been discussed (Gizem Koçak et al., 2013) but not explored in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. ...
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Getting an innovation adopted is difficult; a common problem is increasing the rate of its diffusion. Diffusion is the communication of an innovation through certain channels over time among members of a social system. It is a communication whose messages are concerned with new ideas; it is a process where participants create and share information to achieve a mutual understanding. Initial chapters of the book discuss the history of diffusion research, some major criticisms of diffusion research, and the meta-research procedures used in the book. This text is the third edition of this well-respected work. The first edition was published in 1962, and the fifth edition in 2003. The book's theoretical framework relies on the concepts of information and uncertainty. Uncertainty is the degree to which alternatives are perceived with respect to an event and the relative probabilities of these alternatives; uncertainty implies a lack of predictability and motivates an individual to seek information. A technological innovation embodies information, thus reducing uncertainty. Information affects uncertainty in a situation where a choice exists among alternatives; information about a technological innovation can be software information or innovation-evaluation information. An innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or an other unit of adoption; innovation presents an individual or organization with a new alternative(s) or new means of solving problems. Whether new alternatives are superior is not precisely known by problem solvers. Thus people seek new information. Information about new ideas is exchanged through a process of convergence involving interpersonal networks. Thus, diffusion of innovations is a social process that communicates perceived information about a new idea; it produces an alteration in the structure and function of a social system, producing social consequences. Diffusion has four elements: (1) an innovation that is perceived as new, (2) communication channels, (3) time, and (4) a social system (members jointly solving to accomplish a common goal). Diffusion systems can be centralized or decentralized. The innovation-development process has five steps passing from recognition of a need, through R&D, commercialization, diffusions and adoption, to consequences. Time enters the diffusion process in three ways: (1) innovation-decision process, (2) innovativeness, and (3) rate of the innovation's adoption. The innovation-decision process is an information-seeking and information-processing activity that motivates an individual to reduce uncertainty about the (dis)advantages of the innovation. There are five steps in the process: (1) knowledge for an adoption/rejection/implementation decision; (2) persuasion to form an attitude, (3) decision, (4) implementation, and (5) confirmation (reinforcement or rejection). Innovations can also be re-invented (changed or modified) by the user. The innovation-decision period is the time required to pass through the innovation-decision process. Rates of adoption of an innovation depend on (and can be predicted by) how its characteristics are perceived in terms of relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability. The diffusion effect is the increasing, cumulative pressure from interpersonal networks to adopt (or reject) an innovation. Overadoption is an innovation's adoption when experts suggest its rejection. Diffusion networks convey innovation-evaluation information to decrease uncertainty about an idea's use. The heart of the diffusion process is the modeling and imitation by potential adopters of their network partners who have adopted already. Change agents influence innovation decisions in a direction deemed desirable. Opinion leadership is the degree individuals influence others' attitudes
Sosyal medya ve arap baharı
  • M E Babacan
  • İ Haşlak
  • İ Hira
Babacan, M. E., Haşlak, İ. And Hira, İ., 2011. Sosyal medya ve arap baharı. Akademik İncelemeler Dergisi, 6(2), p.63-92
Yayılma ve adaptasyon
  • E K Çakmak
  • M A Ocak
Çakmak, E. K. and Ocak, M. A., 2008. Yayılma ve adaptasyon. In: H. İ. Yalın, ed. 2008. Internet temelli eğitim. Ankara: Nobel Yayınları.
Working within the boundaries of intellectual property
  • N E Koren
Koren, N. E., 2010. User-generated platforms. In: R. Dreyfus, D. L. Zimmerman and H. First, ed. 2010. Working within the boundaries of intellectual property. Oxford: Oxford University Press.