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Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review

Fazida karim.

1 Psychology, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology, Fairfield, USA

2 Business & Management, University Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu, MYS

Azeezat A Oyewande

3 Family Medicine, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology, Fairfield, USA

4 Family Medicine, Lagos State Health Service Commission/Alimosho General Hospital, Lagos, NGA

Lamis F Abdalla

5 Internal Medicine, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology, Fairfield, USA

Reem Chaudhry Ehsanullah

Safeera khan.

Social media are responsible for aggravating mental health problems. This systematic study summarizes the effects of social network usage on mental health. Fifty papers were shortlisted from google scholar databases, and after the application of various inclusion and exclusion criteria, 16 papers were chosen and all papers were evaluated for quality. Eight papers were cross-sectional studies, three were longitudinal studies, two were qualitative studies, and others were systematic reviews. Findings were classified into two outcomes of mental health: anxiety and depression. Social media activity such as time spent to have a positive effect on the mental health domain. However, due to the cross-sectional design and methodological limitations of sampling, there are considerable differences. The structure of social media influences on mental health needs to be further analyzed through qualitative research and vertical cohort studies.

Introduction and background

Human beings are social creatures that require the companionship of others to make progress in life. Thus, being socially connected with other people can relieve stress, anxiety, and sadness, but lack of social connection can pose serious risks to mental health [ 1 ].

Social media

Social media has recently become part of people's daily activities; many of them spend hours each day on Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, and other popular social media. Thus, many researchers and scholars study the impact of social media and applications on various aspects of people’s lives [ 2 ]. Moreover, the number of social media users worldwide in 2019 is 3.484 billion, up 9% year-on-year [ 3 - 5 ]. A statistic in Figure  1  shows the gender distribution of social media audiences worldwide as of January 2020, sorted by platform. It was found that only 38% of Twitter users were male but 61% were using Snapchat. In contrast, females were more likely to use LinkedIn and Facebook. There is no denying that social media has now become an important part of many people's lives. Social media has many positive and enjoyable benefits, but it can also lead to mental health problems. Previous research found that age did not have an effect but gender did; females were much more likely to experience mental health than males [ 6 , 7 ].

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is cureus-0012-00000008627-i01.jpg

Impact on mental health

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which people understand their abilities, solve everyday life problems, work well, and make a significant contribution to the lives of their communities [ 8 ]. There is debated presently going on regarding the benefits and negative impacts of social media on mental health [ 9 , 10 ]. Social networking is a crucial element in protecting our mental health. Both the quantity and quality of social relationships affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk [ 9 ]. The Displaced Behavior Theory may help explain why social media shows a connection with mental health. According to the theory, people who spend more time in sedentary behaviors such as social media use have less time for face-to-face social interaction, both of which have been proven to be protective against mental disorders [ 11 , 12 ]. On the other hand, social theories found how social media use affects mental health by influencing how people view, maintain, and interact with their social network [ 13 ]. A number of studies have been conducted on the impacts of social media, and it has been indicated that the prolonged use of social media platforms such as Facebook may be related to negative signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress [ 10 - 15 ]. Furthermore, social media can create a lot of pressure to create the stereotype that others want to see and also being as popular as others.

The need for a systematic review

Systematic studies can quantitatively and qualitatively identify, aggregate, and evaluate all accessible data to generate a warm and accurate response to the research questions involved [ 4 ]. In addition, many existing systematic studies related to mental health studies have been conducted worldwide. However, only a limited number of studies are integrated with social media and conducted in the context of social science because the available literature heavily focused on medical science [ 6 ]. Because social media is a relatively new phenomenon, the potential links between their use and mental health have not been widely investigated.

This paper attempt to systematically review all the relevant literature with the aim of filling the gap by examining social media impact on mental health, which is sedentary behavior, which, if in excess, raises the risk of health problems [ 7 , 9 , 12 ]. This study is important because it provides information on the extent of the focus of peer review literature, which can assist the researchers in delivering a prospect with the aim of understanding the future attention related to climate change strategies that require scholarly attention. This study is very useful because it provides information on the extent to which peer review literature can assist researchers in presenting prospects with a view to understanding future concerns related to mental health strategies that require scientific attention. The development of the current systematic review is based on the main research question: how does social media affect mental health?

Research strategy

The research was conducted to identify studies analyzing the role of social media on mental health. Google Scholar was used as our main database to find the relevant articles. Keywords that were used for the search were: (1) “social media”, (2) “mental health”, (3) “social media” AND “mental health”, (4) “social networking” AND “mental health”, and (5) “social networking” OR “social media” AND “mental health” (Table  1 ).

Out of the results in Table  1 , a total of 50 articles relevant to the research question were selected. After applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, duplicate papers were removed, and, finally, a total of 28 articles were selected for review (Figure  2 ).

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PRISMA, Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Peer-reviewed, full-text research papers from the past five years were included in the review. All selected articles were in English language and any non-peer-reviewed and duplicate papers were excluded from finally selected articles.

Of the 16 selected research papers, there were a research focus on adults, gender, and preadolescents [ 10 - 19 ]. In the design, there were qualitative and quantitative studies [ 15 , 16 ]. There were three systematic reviews and one thematic analysis that explored the better or worse of using social media among adolescents [ 20 - 23 ]. In addition, eight were cross-sectional studies and only three were longitudinal studies [ 24 - 29 ].The meta-analyses included studies published beyond the last five years in this population. Table  2  presents a selection of studies from the review.

IGU, internet gaming disorder; PSMU, problematic social media use

This study has attempted to systematically analyze the existing literature on the effect of social media use on mental health. Although the results of the study were not completely consistent, this review found a general association between social media use and mental health issues. Although there is positive evidence for a link between social media and mental health, the opposite has been reported.

For example, a previous study found no relationship between the amount of time spent on social media and depression or between social media-related activities, such as the number of online friends and the number of “selfies”, and depression [ 29 ]. Similarly, Neira and Barber found that while higher investment in social media (e.g. active social media use) predicted adolescents’ depressive symptoms, no relationship was found between the frequency of social media use and depressed mood [ 28 ].

In the 16 studies, anxiety and depression were the most commonly measured outcome. The prominent risk factors for anxiety and depression emerging from this study comprised time spent, activity, and addiction to social media. In today's world, anxiety is one of the basic mental health problems. People liked and commented on their uploaded photos and videos. In today's age, everyone is immune to the social media context. Some teens experience anxiety from social media related to fear of loss, which causes teens to try to respond and check all their friends' messages and messages on a regular basis.

On the contrary, depression is one of the unintended significances of unnecessary use of social media. In detail, depression is limited not only to Facebooks but also to other social networking sites, which causes psychological problems. A new study found that individuals who are involved in social media, games, texts, mobile phones, etc. are more likely to experience depression.

The previous study found a 70% increase in self-reported depressive symptoms among the group using social media. The other social media influence that causes depression is sexual fun [ 12 ]. The intimacy fun happens when social media promotes putting on a facade that highlights the fun and excitement but does not tell us much about where we are struggling in our daily lives at a deeper level [ 28 ]. Another study revealed that depression and time spent on Facebook by adolescents are positively correlated [ 22 ]. More importantly, symptoms of major depression have been found among the individuals who spent most of their time in online activities and performing image management on social networking sites [ 14 ].

Another study assessed gender differences in associations between social media use and mental health. Females were found to be more addicted to social media as compared with males [ 26 ]. Passive activity in social media use such as reading posts is more strongly associated with depression than doing active use like making posts [ 23 ]. Other important findings of this review suggest that other factors such as interpersonal trust and family functioning may have a greater influence on the symptoms of depression than the frequency of social media use [ 28 , 29 ].

Limitation and suggestion

The limitations and suggestions were identified by the evidence involved in the study and review process. Previously, 7 of the 16 studies were cross-sectional and slightly failed to determine the causal relationship between the variables of interest. Given the evidence from cross-sectional studies, it is not possible to conclude that the use of social networks causes mental health problems. Only three longitudinal studies examined the causal relationship between social media and mental health, which is hard to examine if the mental health problem appeared more pronounced in those who use social media more compared with those who use it less or do not use at all [ 19 , 20 , 24 ]. Next, despite the fact that the proposed relationship between social media and mental health is complex, a few studies investigated mediating factors that may contribute or exacerbate this relationship. Further investigations are required to clarify the underlying factors that help examine why social media has a negative impact on some peoples’ mental health, whereas it has no or positive effect on others’ mental health.

Conclusions

Social media is a new study that is rapidly growing and gaining popularity. Thus, there are many unexplored and unexpected constructive answers associated with it. Lately, studies have found that using social media platforms can have a detrimental effect on the psychological health of its users. However, the extent to which the use of social media impacts the public is yet to be determined. This systematic review has found that social media envy can affect the level of anxiety and depression in individuals. In addition, other potential causes of anxiety and depression have been identified, which require further exploration.

The importance of such findings is to facilitate further research on social media and mental health. In addition, the information obtained from this study can be helpful not only to medical professionals but also to social science research. The findings of this study suggest that potential causal factors from social media can be considered when cooperating with patients who have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Also, if the results from this study were used to explore more relationships with another construct, this could potentially enhance the findings to reduce anxiety and depression rates and prevent suicide rates from occurring.

The content published in Cureus is the result of clinical experience and/or research by independent individuals or organizations. Cureus is not responsible for the scientific accuracy or reliability of data or conclusions published herein. All content published within Cureus is intended only for educational, research and reference purposes. Additionally, articles published within Cureus should not be deemed a suitable substitute for the advice of a qualified health care professional. Do not disregard or avoid professional medical advice due to content published within Cureus.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Conceptualising and measuring social media engagement: A systematic literature review

  • Review Article
  • Open access
  • Published: 11 August 2021
  • Volume 2021 , pages 267–292, ( 2021 )

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dissertation on social media and

  • Mariapina Trunfio 1 &
  • Simona Rossi   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4384-0002 1  

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The spread of social media platforms enhanced academic and professional debate on social media engagement that attempted to better understand its theoretical foundations and measurements. This paper aims to systematically contribute to this academic debate by analysing, discussing, and synthesising social media engagement literature in the perspective of social media metrics. Adopting a systematic literature review, the research provides an overarching picture of what has already been investigated and the existing gaps that need further research. The paper confirms the polysemic and multidimensional nature of social media engagement. It identifies the behavioural dimension as the most used proxy for users' level of engagement suggesting the COBRA model as a conceptual tool to classify and interpret the construct. Four categories of metrics emerged: quantitative metrics, normalised indexes, set of indexes, qualitative metrics. It also offers insights and guidance to practitioners on modelling and managing social media engagement.

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1 Introduction

Over the last decade, customer engagement has received increasing attention in academic and professional debate (Hollebeek, 2019 ; Kumar et al., 2019 ; Marketing Science Institute, 2020 ; Peltier et al., 2020 ; Rather et al., 2019 ; Rossmann et al., 2016 ). It can be considered a “consumer’s positively brand-related cognitive, emotional and behavioural activity during, or related to, focal consumer/brand interactions” (Hollebeek, 2014 , p.149). Engaged customers display greater brand loyalty and satisfaction (Bowden, 2009 ; Jaakkola & Alexander, 2014 ) and are more likely to contribute to new product development (Haumann et al., 2015 ), service innovation (Kumar et al., 2010 ), and viral marketing activity spread by word of mouth (Wu et al., 2018 ). Customer engagement can also be linked with important brand performance indicators, including sales growth, feedback, and referrals (Van Doorn et al., 2010 ).

Acknowledging the potential of ICTs, scholars and practitioners are experimenting with new ways to capitalise on customer engagement and adapt to the new challenges of digital platforms (Barger et al., 2016 ; Peltier et al., 2020 ). Social media platforms reshaped the dyadic interaction between customers and organisations, creating spaces for digital sharing and engagement. By enabling users to comment, review, create, and share content across online networks, social media provide direct access to brands and allow co-creation processes. As such, the pervasive character of social media with its potential for engaging with customers and building relationships generated much interest in the concept of social media engagement (Barger et al., 2016 ; Hallock et al., 2019 ; Oviedo-García et al., 2014 ; Peltier et al., 2020 ; Schivinski et al., 2016 ). Engaging with customers in real-time and managing many incoming customers’ big data interested academic investigation and opened opportunities for marketers to enhance social media marketing success (Liu et al., 2019 ).

Understanding, monitoring, and measuring social media engagement are key aspects that interest scholars and practitioners who proposed diverse conceptualisations, several indicators and KPIs. With the spread of social media analytics, social networking platforms, digital service providers, marketers, and freelancers developed their metrics to measure engagement with brand-related social media contents and advertising campaigns. At the same time, scholars have pointed out various metrics and procedures that contribute to evaluating social media engagement in different fields (Mariani et al., 2018 ; Muñoz-Expósito et al., 2017 ; Trunfio & Della Lucia, 2019 ). Nevertheless, many of these studies offer a partial perspective of analysis that does not allow the phenomenon to be represented in diverse aspects (Oviedo-García et al., 2014 ). As a result, social media engagement remains an enigma wrapped in a riddle for many executives (McKinsey, 2012 ). How communities across an ever-growing variety of platforms, new forms of customer-brand interactions, different dimensions and cultural differences impact social media engagement measurement represents one of the main challenges (Peltier et al., 2020 ).

Although social media engagement represented a key topic in marketing research (Barger et al., 2016 ; Peltier et al., 2020 ), an overarching perspective of the existing knowledge can drive the investigation of the state of the field, including the study of the research streams, and the analysis of the measurement tools. This paper aims to systematically contribute to the academic debate by analysing, discussing, and synthesising social media engagement literature from the social media metrics perspective. A systematic literature review approach provides an overarching picture of what has already been investigated and the existing gaps that need further research. It contributes towards a systematic advancement of knowledge in the field and offers insights and guidance to practitioners on modelling and managing social media engagement (Tranfield et al., 2003 ).

The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. Section  2 presents the theoretical background of the study on customer engagement and social media engagement. Section  3 describes the methodology used for conducting the systematic literature review (Pickering & Byrne, 2014 ; Tranfield et al., 2003 ). Section  4 presents the bibliometric analysis results, including the year in which research began, the journals that publish most research, and the most relevant authors with publications on the topic. Then, Sect.  5 classifies these studies in terms of four macro-themes, conceptualisations, platforms, measurement, and behaviours and describes the key results available in the literature. Section  6 provides a critical discussion of the findings from the literature review and highlights its key contributions. Lastly, Sect.  7 concludes the study by highlighting its limitations and proposing directions for future research.

2 Theoretical background

2.1 customer engagement.

Although customer engagement research has increased theoretical and managerial relevance (Brodie et al., 2011 ; Hollebeek et al., 2016 , 2019 ; Kumar et al., 2019 ; Vivek et al., 2012 ), to date, there is still no consensus on its definition due to its multidimensional, multidisciplinary and polysemic nature.

Several customer engagement conceptualisations have been proposed in the literature, drawing on various theoretical backgrounds, particularly service-dominant logic, and relationship marketing. From a psychological perspective, one of the first definitions of customer engagement is the one of Bowden ( 2009 ) that conceptualises it as a psychological process that drives customer loyalty. Similarly, Brodie et al. ( 2011 ) define customer engagement as a psychological state that occurs by interactive, co-creative customer experiences with a focal object. Later, focusing on the behavioural aspects, it has been described as the intensity of an individual’s participation in an organisation’s offerings or organisational activities (Vivek et al., 2012 ). More recently, from a value-based perspective, customer engagement has been defined as the mechanics that customers use to add value to the firm (Kumar et al., 2019 ).

Although the perspectives may vary, common elements can be identified in various conceptualisations. Literature generally understands customer engagement as a highly experiential, subjective, and context-dependent construct (Brodie et al., 2011 ) based on customer-brand interactions (Hollebeek, 2018 ). Moreover, scholars agree on its multidimensional nature (Brodie et al., 2013 ; Hollebeek et al., 2016 ; So et al., 2016 ; Vivek et al., 2012 ) encompassing cognitive (customer focus and interest in a brand), emotional (feelings of inspiration or pride caused by a brand), and behavioural (customer effort and energy necessary for interaction with a brand) dimensions. Also, researchers have proposed that customer engagement affects different marketing constructs (Brodie et al., 2011 ; Van Doorn et al., 2010 ). For example, in Bowden’s research (2009), there is evidence to support that customer engagement is a predictor of loyalty. Brodie et al. ( 2011 ) explore its effects on customer satisfaction, empowerment, trust, and affective commitment towards the members of a community. Van Doorn et al. ( 2010 ) propose customer-based drivers, including attitudinal factors such as satisfaction, brand commitment and trust, as well as customer goals, resources, and value perceptions.

2.2 Social media engagement: The academic perspective

Social media engagement has also been investigated as brand-user interaction on social media platforms (Barger et al., 2016 ; De Vries & Carlson, 2014 ; Hallock et al., 2019 ; Oviedo-García et al., 2014 ; Peltier et al., 2020 ; Schivinski et al., 2016 ). However, while conceptual discussions appear to dominate the existing customer engagement literature, research results fragmented when moving to the online context. Scholars agree that social media engagement is a context-specific occurrence of customer engagement (Brodie et al., 2013 ) that reflects customers’ individual positive dispositions towards the community or a focal brand (Dessart, 2017 ). Social media engagement can emerge with respect to different objects: the community, representing other customers in the network, and the brand (Dessart, 2017 ). Furthermore, antecedents and consequences of social media engagement have been identified to understand why customers interact on social media and the possible outcomes (Barger et al., 2016 ), such as loyalty, satisfaction, trust, and commitment (Van Doorn et al., 2010 ).

In continuity with literature on customer engagement, also social media engagement can be traced back to affective, cognitive, and behavioural dimensions (Van Doorn et al., 2010 ). Most of the literature focuses on the behavioural dimension as it can be expressed through actions such as liking, commenting, sharing, and viewing contents from a brand (Barger et al., 2016 ; Muntinga et al., 2011 ; Oh et al., 2017 ; Oviedo-García et al., 2014 ; Peltier et al., 2020 ; Rietveld et al., 2020 ; Schivinski et al., 2016 ). It is worth pointing out that not all these actions determine the same level of engagement. Schivinski et al. ( 2016 ) in the COBRA (Consumer Online Brand Related Activities) Model differentiate between three levels of social media engagement: consumption, contribution, and creation. Consumption constitutes the minimum level of engagement and is the most common brand-related activity among customers (e.g., viewing brand-related audio, video, or pictures). Contribution denotes the response in peer-to-peer interactions related to brands (e.g., liking, sharing, commenting on brand-related contents). Creation is the most substantial level of the online brand-related activities that occur when customers spontaneously participate in customising the brand experiences (e.g., publishing brand-related content, uploading brand-related video, pictures, audio or writing brand-related articles). Starting from these social media actions, scholars attempted to measure social media engagement in several ways developing scales, indexes, and metrics (Harrigan et al., 2017 ; Oviedo-García et al., 2014 ; Schivinski et al., 2016 ; Trunfio & Della Lucia, 2019 ). Nevertheless, many of these studies offer a partial perspective of analysis that does not allow the phenomenon to be represented in its diverse aspects (Oviedo-García et al., 2014 ). Researchers have also examined emotional and cognitive dimensions (Dessart, 2017 ) as essential components of social media engagement that lead to positive brand outcomes (Loureiro et al., 2017 ).

2.3 Social media engagement: The practitioners’ perspective

In business practice, the concept of customer engagement appeared for the first time in 2006 when the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), in conjunction with the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers, defined it as a turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context (ARF, 2006 ) . Later, several consulting firms tried to give their definition emphasising different aspects and perspectives. For example, in 2008, Forrester Consulting, an American market research company, defined customer engagement as a way to create ‘deep connections with customers that drive purchase decisions, interaction, and participation over time’ (Forrester Consulting, 2008 , p.4). Gallup Consulting identified four levels of customer engagement and defined it as an emotional connection between customers and companies (Gallup Consulting, 2009 ). Similarly, the famous American software provider Hubspot ( 2014 ) identified social media engagement as ‘ the ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer’ (Hubspot, 2014 , p.1).

With the increasing spread of social networks and their exploitation as an important marketing tool, practitioners recognised a clear linkage between customer engagement and the metrics to assess digital strategy success. Over time, social networking platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube, developed their metrics to measure engagement with brand-related social media contents and advertising campaigns (Table 1 ).

With the spread of social media analytics, platforms and digital service providers developed dashboards and analytical indicators to assess, measure and monitor the engagement generated by social media marketing activities (Table 2 ). At the same time, many bloggers, marketers, and freelancers have weighed in on the topic, enriching the debate with new contributions.

As a result, while scholars still have to agree upon a shared definition of social media engagement, marketers have recognised it as one of the most important online outcome companies need to deliver with social media and a key metric to assess social media strategy success . Despite the growing interest in business practice and its solid traditional theoretical roots, most of the existing literature on social media engagement offers only conceptual guidelines (Barger et al., 2016 ; Peltier et al., 2020 ). The measurement of engagement in social media and its financial impact remains an enigma wrapped in a riddle for many executives (McKinsey, 2012 ) and requires further investigations. Mainly, how new and emerging platforms, new forms of customer-brand interactions, different dimensions, and cultural differences impact social media engagement measurement remains an understudied phenomenon (Peltier et al., 2020 ).

3 Methodology

The literature review is one of the most appropriate research methods, which aims to map the relevant literature identifying the potential research gaps that need further research to contribute towards a systematic advancement of new knowledge in the field (Tranfield et al., 2003 ). This research is built upon the rigorous, transparent, and reproducible protocol of the systematic literature review as a scientific and transparent process that reduces the selection bias through an exhaustive literature search (Pencarelli & Mele, 2019 ; Pickering & Byrne, 2014 ; Tranfield et al., 2003 ). Building on recent studies (Inamdar et al., 2020 ; Linnenluecke et al., 2020 ; Phulwani et al., 2020 ), in addition to the systematic literature review, a bibliometric analysis (Li et al., 2017 ) was also performed to provide greater comprehensions into the field's current state and highlight the future research directions.

3.1 Database, keywords, inclusion, and exclusion criteria

To conduct a literature review, quality journals are considered the basis for selecting quality publications (Wallace & Wray, 2016 ). Therefore, the database Scopus, run by Elsevier Publishing, was considered to search for relevant literature, being the most significant abstract and citation source database used in recent reviews.

When conducting a literature review, a fundamental issue is determining the keywords that allow identifying the papers (Aveyard, 2007 ). To address it, the most frequently used keywords in peer-reviewed literature have been under investigation. As such, the following research chain was used: “Social media” “Engagement” AND “metric*”, searching under title, abstract, and keywords.

The systematic literature review protocol (Fig.  1 ) has been conducted on the 26 th of March 2020. The study considers an open starting time to trace back to the origin of social media engagement metrics research up to late March 2020. The initial search attempts identified 259 documents.

figure 1

The systematic literature review protocol

After the articles’ identification, criteria for inclusion and exclusion were adopted. First, the 259 articles were screened, considering English-language articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals to safeguard the quality and effectiveness of the review. Due to variability in the peer-review process and their limited availability, book reviews, editorials, and papers from conference proceedings were excluded from this research. After the screening, a sample of 157 papers was obtained.

Afterwards, the full text of these papers was reviewed to assess eligible articles. As a result, 116 articles were excluded because their subject matter was not closely related to the topic of social media engagement metrics. In detail, papers were excluded when: 1) they mainly focused on social media engagement but superficially touched the metrics or 2) they mainly focused on metrics but superficially touched on social media engagement. In the end, 41 eligible articles were identified.

3.2 Analysis tools

The relevant data of the 41 documents in the final sample were saved and organised in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to include all the essential paper information such as paper title, authors’ names, and affiliations, abstract, keywords and references. Then, adopting the bibliometrics analysis method (Aria & Cuccurullo, 2017 ), the R-Tool ‘Biblioshiny for Bibliometrix’ was used to perform a comprehensive bibliometric analysis. Bibliometrix is a recent R-package that facilitates a more complete bibliometric analysis, employing specific tools for both bibliometric and scientometric quantitative research (Aria & Cuccurullo, 2017 ; Dervis, 2019 ; Jalal, 2019 ).

4 An overview of social media engagement metrics research.

The bibliometric analysis provided information on the 41 articles, allowing to highlight the significance of the topic.

4.1 Publication trend

The number of annual publications shows a rollercoaster trend (Fig.  2 ). Although the first relevant paper was published in 2013, only since 2016 publications begun to increase significantly with a slight decrease in 2018. This renders social media engagement metrics a relatively young research field.

figure 2

Timeline of the studies (January 2013- March 2020)

It is worth pointing out that the articles extraction was done in March 2020: this explains the low number of articles published in 2020.

4.2 Most relevant sources

When looking at the Journal sources overview, the analysis revealed 34 journals covering different fields, including marketing, management, economics, tourism and hospitality, engineering, communication, and technology. As shown in Fig.  3 , only four journals have more than two publications: Internet Research , Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences , International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship. and Online Information Review .

figure 3

Most relevant sources

4.3 Seminal papers

Interesting findings emerged considering the most global cited documents that allow identifying the seminal articles in according to the timeliness, utility and quality, expressed by the scientific community (Okubo, 1997 ). The number of citations an article receives, and the studies cited in an article are two of the most popular bibliometric indicators used to determine the popularity of a publication.

Figure  4 shows the number of author citations for each article, identifying as seminal works: Malthouse’s (2013) paper ‘ Managing Customer Relationships in the Social Media Era: Introducing the Social CRM House’ with 278 global citations; Sabate’s (2014) paper ‘Factors influencing popularity of branded content in Facebook fan pages’ with 145 global citations; Mariani’s (2016) paper ‘ Facebook as a destination marketing tool: Evidence from Italian regional Destination Management Organizations ’ with 104 global citations; Oh’s (2017) paper ‘ Beyond likes and tweets: Consumer engagement behavior and movie box office in social media ’ with 54 global citations; Colicev’s (2018)’ Improving consumer mindset metrics and shareholder value through social media: The different roles of owned and earned media ’ with 39 global citations; Rossmann’s (2016) ‘ Drivers of user engagement in eWoM communication ’ with 35 global citations; Oviedo-Garcia’s (2014) ‘ Metric proposal for customer engagement in Facebook’ with 33 global citations .

figure 4

Most cited articles

The analysis of the papers reviewed revealed that the theme of social media engagement metrics turns out to be a hot topic and a newly emerging stream of research.

5 Social media engagement: areas of investigation

In recent years social media engagement has gained relevance in academic research, and many scholars have questioned its measurement, intensifying the academic debate with ever new contributions. Following previous studies, a comprehensive analysis allows framing the following categories of broad research subjects, used to conduct the subsequent systematic literature review (Fig.  5 ): (1) conceptualisation, (2) platforms, (3) measurement and (4) behaviours. All 41 articles were analysed according to the proposed scheme.

figure 5

Areas of investigation

5.1 Investigating social media engagement

What emerges from the analysis of the 41 papers is that scholars used different approaches and methodologies to conceptualise and measure engagement in the digital context of social media.

As shown in Fig.  6 , most studies (66%) employ quantitative methodologies. For instance, Yoon et al. ( 2018 ) explored the relationship between digital engagement metrics and financial performance in terms of company revenue, confirming that customer engagement on a company’s Facebook fan page can influence revenue. Colicev et al. ( 2018 ) developed three social media metrics, including engagement, to study the effects of earned social media and owned social media on brand awareness, purchase intention, and customer satisfaction. In comparison, Wang and Kubickova ( 2017 ) examined factors affecting the engagement metrics of Facebook fan pages in the Northeast America hotel industry, factors such as time-of-day, day-of-week, age, gender and distance between the hotel and users’ origin of residence. They also analysed the impact of Facebook engagement on electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), to better understand the importance of the engagement metrics within the hospitality context.

figure 6

Classification of the 41 articles based on the methodology applied

From a qualitative point of view (17% of the papers), Hallock et al. ( 2019 ) used a case study approach to understand the firm perspective on social media engagement metrics, shedding light on how companies view engagement with social media as measurable metrics of customer interactions with the platform. Conversely, Michopoulou and Moisa ( 2019 ) used the same approach to investigate the use of social media marketing metrics and practices in the U.K. hotel industry.

Only a small part of the studies analysed (10% of the papers) explores social media engagement from a purely conceptual perspective. In this sense, Oviedo-Garcìa et al. ( 2014 ) and Muñoz-Expósito et al. ( 2017 ) directly identified social media engagement metrics for Facebook and Twitter, providing fascinating insights for scholars and practitioners.

Finally, among the papers analysed, only three studies (7% of the papers) use mixed methodologies to explore the phenomenon from qualitative and quantitative perspectives.

5.2 Defining social media engagement

Researchers identified 30 unique definitions of engagement applied to the social media context. Multiple definitions used several terms when defining engagement on social media. They were not singular and straightforward but were interspersed with various key terms and overlapping concepts, as presented in Table 3 .

The presence of synonymous terms directly addresses the lack of a standard definition and the challenges that this presents to researchers and practitioners in the field (Table 4 ).

As a relevant result, most authors focus on its behavioural manifestation (22% of the studies) resulting from motivational drivers when defining social media engagement. It is considered as the active behavioural efforts that both existing and potential customers exert toward online brand-related content (Yoon et al., 2018 ). It involves various activities that range from consuming content, participating in discussions, and interacting with other customers to digital buying (Oh et al., 2017 ; Yoon et al., 2018 ). Similarly, in addition to the behavioural manifestations, other scholars (12%) focus on the emotional connection expressed through the intensity of interactions and their implications, toward the offers and activities of a brand, product, or firm, regardless of whether it is initiated by the individual or by the firm (Muñoz-Expósito et al., 2017 ).

Shifting the observation lens from the customers to the firms, another group of scholars (10% of the studies) define social media engagement as the non-monetary return that derives from the online marketing strategies of brands (Khan, 2017 ; Medjani et al., 2019 ; Michopoulou & Moisa, 2019 ). In this case, engagement is viewed exclusively as a non-financial metric and as a measure of the performance of social media marketing activities.

Lastly, a small percentage of studies (10% of the studies) considers engagement as the number of people who acknowledge agreement or preference for content, who participate in creating, sharing and using content (Colicev et al., 2018 ; Li et al., 2019 ; Rahman et al., 2017 ).

5.3 Social Media Platforms

In a total of 41 articles reviewed, 85% of studies mention the platforms analysed, as shown in Table 5 . Facebook is the most popular platform analysed, followed by Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram. These results were rather expected, given the fact that Facebook, with 2.6 billion monthly active users (Facebook, May 2020), is the most popular social media platform worldwide.

An interesting finding is that there are several articles (15% of the studies) which do not refer to a specific platform or that consider all the platforms together, when measuring social media engagement (e.g., Hallock et al., 2019 ; Medjani et al., 2019 ). This is interesting, given that each social network has different features that make the engagement measurement unique and not replicable.

5.4 Measuring social media engagement

The systematic literature review confirms that there is no theoretical certainty or solid consensus among scholars about measuring engagement on social media.

As can be seen from Table 6 , studies on social media engagement metrics can be grouped and classified into four macro-categories. The first group of studies, namely ‘quantitative metrics’, which is also the most numerous (66% of the studies), attempts to propose a simplistic assessment of the impact of social media engagement, based on the number of comments, likes, shares, followers etc. (Khan et al., 2019 ; Medjani et al., 2019 ; Yoon et al., 2018 ).

The second group of studies (17% of the studies), namely ‘normalised indexes’, provide a quantitative evaluation of the engagement a content generates in relation to the number of people to whom that content has been displayed. In this way, it is possible to obtain an average measure of the users’ engagement, dividing the total actions of interest by the total number of posts (Osokin, 2019 ; Zanini et al., 2019 ), the number of followers (Vlachvei & Kyparissi, 2017 ) or the number of people reached by a post (Muñoz-Expósito et al., 2017 ; Rossmann et al., 2016 ).

In a more complex and detailed way, studies from the third group (10% of the studies) identify social media engagement metrics developing ‘set of indexes’. For example, Li et al. ( 2019 ) use three social media metrics to measure engagement in the casual-dining restaurant setting: rates of conversation, amplification, and applause. In detail, conversation rate measures the number of comments or reviews in response to a post, amplification rate measures how much online content is shared, and applause rate measures the number of positive reactions on posts. Similarly, drawing from previous literature, Mariani et al. ( 2018 ) develop three social media metrics, namely generic engagement, brand engagement, and user engagement. Authors calculated these metrics by assessing different weights to different interaction actions, to emphasise the degree of users’ involvement implied by the underlying activities of respectively liking, sharing, or commenting.

Despite their great diffusion among academics and practitioners, some scholars (7% of the studies) argue that quantitative metrics are not enough to appreciate the real value of customer engagement on social media, and a qualitative approach is more suitable. For example, Abuljadail and Ha ( 2019 ) conducted an online survey of 576 Facebook users in Saudi Arabia to examine customer engagement on Facebook. Rogers ( 2018 ) critiques contemporary social media metrics considered ‘vanity metrics’ and repurpose alt metrics scores and other engagement measures for social research—namely dominant voice, concern, commitment, positioning, and alignment—to measure the ‘otherwise engaged’.

5.5 Social media engagement brand-related activities

When measuring social media engagement, scholars dealt with different social media actions that can be classified (Table 7 ) according to the three dimensions of the COBRA model (Consumer Online Brand Related Activities): consumption, contribution, or creation (Schivinski et al., 2016 ).

In a total of 41 articles reviewed, the most investigated dimension by researchers is contribution, i.e. when a customer comments, shares, likes a form of pre-existing brand content (e.g., Buffard et al., 2020 ; Khan et al., 2019 ). Its popularity among the studies may be due to its interactive nature of “liking” and “commenting”, which can be said to be the most common behaviour exhibited across social media platforms and often one of the most manageable interactions to obtain data. Additionally, studies that include creation in the measurement of social media engagement consider posting/publishing brand-related content, uploading brand-related video, pictures, audio or writing brand-related articles (e.g., Zanini et al., 2019 ). Among the sampled papers, the least investigated dimension of the COBRA model is consumption, considered by only seven studies (e.g., Colicev et al., 2018 ; Oh et al., 2017 ). It considers viewing brand-related audio, video, and pictures, following threads on online brand community forums or downloading branded widgets.

Dimensions have been investigated individually, for example, just considering the number of likes or comments (Khan et al., 2019 ; Yoon et al., 2018 ), or jointly using composite indicators, as in the case of Oviedo-Oviedo-García et al., 2014 ).

6 Discussion

This research presents fresh knowledge in the academic debate by providing an overarching picture of social media engagement, framing the phenomenon conceptually and offering a lens to interpret platforms and measuring tools. Conceptual and empirical studies tried to define, conceptualise, and measure social media engagement in diverse ways from different fields of research. They increased the gap between academia and managerial practice, where the topic of social media engagement metrics seems to be much more consolidated. The paper contributes to the academic debate on social media engagement, presenting continuity and discontinuity elements between different fields of enquiry. It also offers avenues for future research that both academics and marketers should explore. It also provides insights and guidance to practitioners on modelling and managing social media engagement.

6.1 Theoretical contribution

The article offers some theoretical contributions to this relatively young research field through the systematic literature review approach.

Firstly, the paper confirms the multidimensional and polysemic nature of engagement, even in the specific context of social media platforms, in continuity with the academic customer engagement research (Brodie et al., 2013 ; Hollebeek et al., 2016 ; So et al., 2016 ; Vivek et al., 2012 ). The concept of social media engagement can be traced back to three dimensions of analysis (Van Doorn, 2010 )—affective, cognitive, and behavioural—and some empirical studies measure it as such (Dessart, 2017 ; Vivek et al., 2014 ). However, the behavioural dimension is still the most used proxy to measure users’ level of engagement. Similarly, marketers and social media platforms have focused on behavioural interactions associated with likes, comments and sharing when reporting engagement metric (Peltier et al., 2020 ). What is worth pointing out is that emotional and cognitive dimensions are also essential components of social media engagement and should be adequately addressed by future research.

Secondly, strictly related to the first point, the paper suggests the COBRA model (Schivinski, 2016 ) as a conceptual tool to classify and interpret social media engagement from the behavioural perspective. Social media engagement can be manifested symbolically through actions (Barger et al., 2016 ; Oh et al., 2017 ; Van Doorn et al., 2010 ) that can be traced back to the three dimensions of consumption, contribution and creation (Schivinski et al., 2016 ). However, it is worth pointing out that not all these actions determine the same level of engagement. When measuring social media engagement, researchers should pay attention not only to ‘contribution’ but also to ‘consumption’ and ‘creation’, which are important indicators of the attention a post receives (Oviedo-Garcìa, 2014 ; Schivinski et al., 2016 ), giving them a different weight. It becomes even more important if considering that the same social networks provide different weights to users' actions. For example, in several countries, Instagram has tested removing the like feature on content posted by others, although users can still see the number of likes on their posts. YouTube has also decided to stop showing precise subscriber counts and Facebook is experimenting with hiding like counts, similar to Instagram.

Thirdly, the paper presents some of the key metrics used to evaluate social media engagement identifying quantitative metrics, normalised indexes, set of indexes and qualitative metrics. Although all indicators are based on the interaction between the user and the brand, as the literature suggests (Barger et al., 2016 ; Oviedo-Garcìa, 2014 ; Vivek et al., 2014 ), the paper argues that different metrics measure diverse aspects of social media engagement and should be used carefully by researchers. Despite the conceptual and qualitative research on the topic, even the most recent metrics offer measurements that do not allow engagement to be widely represented in its multidimensional and polysemic nature (Oviedo-García et al., 2014 ; Peltier et al., 2020 ). To get a deeper understanding of the construct, researchers should also consider some of the most recent advances in business practice. As an example, more and more practitioners have the chance to measure engagement by tracking the time spent on content and web pages to blend the different types of material, such as pictures, text, or even videos. Also, cursor movements, which are known to correlate with visual attention, and eye-tracking, can provide insights into the within-content engagement.

6.2 Managerial implications

Even if the topic of social media engagement seems to be more consolidated in business practice, this study also provides valuable implications for practitioners. Particularly, the findings shed light on the nature of social media engagement construct and on how metrics can be an extremely useful tool to evaluate, monitor, and interpret the effectiveness of social media strategies and campaigns.

This research offers a strategic-operational guide to the measurement of social media engagement, helping marketers understand what engagement is and choose the most effective and suitable KPIs to assess the performance and success of their marketing efforts. In this sense, marketers should accompany traditional metrics, such as likes, comments and shares, with new metrics capable of better capturing user behaviours.

Marketers also need to realise that engagement is a complex construct that goes beyond the simple behavioural dimension, encompassing cognitive and emotional traits. As a result, in some cases, the so-called “vanity metrics” could fail in fully representing all the aspects of social media engagement. In these cases, it should be accompanied by qualitative insights to analyse what users like to share or talk about and not merely look at likes, comments, and shares counts.

7 Limitations and future research

This research is not without limitations. First, the systematic literature review only includes English articles published in Journals. As social media engagement and engagement metrics are emerging research topics, conference proceedings and book chapters could also be included to deepen the understanding of the subject. Second, this research was conducted on the database Scopus of Elsevier for the keywords “social media engagement metrics”. Researchers could use a combination of different databases and keywords to search for new contributions and insights. Third, although the paper is based on a systematic literature review, this methodology reveals the subjectivity in the social sciences.

As this is a relatively young field of research, a further academic investigation is needed to overcome the limitations of the study and outline new scenarios and directions for future research. In addition, considering the growing importance of social media, there is value in broadening the analysis through additional studies. Future marketing research could use mixed approaches to integrate the three dimensions of social media engagement, linking qualitative and quantitative data. Advanced sentiment web mining techniques could be applied to allow researchers to analyse what users like to share or talk about and not merely look at likes, comments, and shares as the only metrics (Peltier et al., 2020 ).

Although Facebook and Twitter are the most used social network by brands, and the most significant part of the literature focuses on these two platforms, researchers should not forget that there are new and emerging social media in different countries (e.g., TikTok, Clubhouse). They already represent a hot topic for practitioners and are calling scholars to define new metrics to measure engagement. Additionally, as the use of social media increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, future research should take this into account to better understand social media engagement across different social media platforms.

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Trunfio, M., Rossi, S. Conceptualising and measuring social media engagement: A systematic literature review. Ital. J. Mark. 2021 , 267–292 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s43039-021-00035-8

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Dissertation Topics Focused on Social Media and Young People

Social media has become firmly rooted within the lives of young people and is now one of the core barometers of their sense of self-worth. Here we have five custom topics that examine various differing issues surrounding young people’s interaction with social networking.

1) The interconnected social lives of social-media-savvy teens

Social media has never been so diverse in its offer to young people – there is now a greater variety of platforms open to young people than ever before. What functions do these differing platforms play in the social lives of teens, and do different platforms serve different social functions? Reference: Boyd, D., 2014. It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens. Yale University Press.

2) Online ‘thinspiration’ and ‘pro-ana’ groups – social media and mental illness

Social networking – especially visual platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat – can significantly influence young people’s sense of body image and body dissatisfaction. Online groups which use ‘thinspiration’ to encourage the use of extreme dieting behaviours have been linked to increased severity of eating disorders. Pro-anorexia groups also encourage those already suffering from an eating disorder to not seek help and to actively become more ill. How and why are these groups accessed and how do members interact with each other in them? Reference: Homewood, J. and Melkonian, M., 2015. ‘What factors account for internalisation of the content of pro-ana websites’. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, 86(9), pp.e3-e3.

3) 5 more minutes…is social media addictive and what are the effects of this?

Young people turn to, and become strongly invested in any platform that enables them to link with peers and fit in with their sub-group. It is widely accepted that social networking can be an arena in which young people are compulsively checking in on, and interacting with. At what stage does this compulsion become addiction, how does this addiction manifest itself and what are the effects? Reference: Hawi, N.S. and Samaha, M., 2016. ‘The relations among social media addiction, self-esteem, and life satisfaction in university students’. Social Science Computer Review, p.0894439316660340.

4) What does young people’s use of social media tell us about their politics?

Increasingly political parties are becoming more aware of the importance of engaging young adults (18+) with their policies through social networking. In the UK 2017 general election, for example, the mobilisation of the youth vote via social media channels was attributed to the surprise result. How, then, do young people engage in politics through the channels of social media and what effect does this engagement have on voting behaviours? Reference: Loader, B.D., Vromen, A. and Xenos, M.A., 2014. The networked young citizen: social media, political participation and civic engagement. Routledge.

5) Building resilience in young people – the surprising protective role of social media

Despite the plethora of negative attention paid to the dangers of young people’s use of social media, there is a view that moderate use of social networking can help build resilience and wellbeing in young people. However – what does ‘moderate use’ constitute, and how is this achieved? Moreover, are their certain populations of young people – those with mental health problems, LGBT individuals, for example – who are more likely to benefit from moderate social networking use? Reference: Chong, E.S., Zhang, Y., Mak, W.W. and Pang, I.H., 2015. ‘Social Media as Social Capital of LGB Individuals in Hong Kong: Its Relations with Group Membership, Stigma, and Mental Well‐Being’. American journal of community psychology, 55(1-2), pp.228-238.

6) Connective journalism: how social media can cause problems.

Connective journalism is concerned with how problems arise through social networking where young people learn of different opinions to their own immediate experiences. The news arises increasingly from interactions on social media and networking rather than being produced and edited by a team of professionals. Can this process cause problems? Reference: Clark, L. S., and Marchi, R., 2017. Young People and the Future of News: Social Media and the Rise of Connective Journalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

7) Is the student/teacher relationship changing due to social media?

The question as to whether it is appropriate for teachers to communicate through social media with their students and if so, what are the boundaries are questions that arise during this investigation of social media. Who and how are these interactions monitored by and are there any feedback systems for either the teachers or the students? Reference: Miller, D., Costa, E., Haynes, N., McDonald, T., Nicolescu, R., Sinanan, J., Spyer, J., Venkatraman, S., and Wang, X., 2016. How the World Changed Social Media. London: UCL Press.

8) How citizenship education can positively embrace social media.

This topic involves an exploration of national identity and roots, through social networking, with regards to citizenship education and young people. Such areas as individuals in poorer countries possibly being disadvantaged by the lack of access to social media technology could be considered, along with an examination of citizenship education itself. Reference: Elinor L., Brown,Anna Krasteva, and Maria Ranieri, (eds). 2016. ELearning and Social Media: Education and Citizenship for the Digital 21st Century. Charlotte, N.C: Information Age Publishing.

9) Collaborative learning through social media connections.

This topic investigates the ways in which social media could be examined so as to understand the growth of collaborative learning and cultures within a community. It acknowledges the constant information seeking from learners together with the possibility of sharing information and that they should be considered more as possible co-producers of content rather than simply consumers. Reference: Sharratt, L., and Planche, B., 2016. Leading Collaborative Learning: Empowering Excellence. Corwin: Thousand Oaks, California.

10) Youth education and social media’s conveyance of true stories.

The effects of social media as an educational tool to convey real life stories and events to young people needs to be carefully examined, in that there are both advantages and disadvantages in the actions of social media. What is truth? What is a true story? Who decides it is true and is it helpful? Are all questions that could arise from studying this topic. Reference: Pickard, V., and Yang, G., (eds)., 2017. Media Activism in the Digital Age. London: Routledge.

11) Young people and social media-Are young people shunning the mainstream media?

The rise of social media has completely transformed the way that people get their news. Social networking creates a more fluid concept of information and a horizontal distribution of knowledge about the world. Are young people are shunning the mainstream media, preferring instead to get the news about the world from social networking? How is this phenomenon impacting on the lives of young people? Reference: Humphreys, A. (2016) Social Media-Enduring Principles, Oxford University Press, Oxford

12) Does the spread of “fake news” affect usage of social media by young people?

In recent times, social networking has been blamed for the spread of “fake news.” Social networking enables people to say what they want. This means that there is a lot of information that circulates on the social networking that cannot possibly be verified. Has the use of social networking by young people been affected by the spread of “fake news”? Is this a phenomenon that worries young people? Reference: Brake, D. (2016) Sharing our Lives Online: Risks and Exposure in Social Media, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke and New York

13) Has social media become a learning tool for young people in the Western world?

Social scientists argue that social networking has the potential to become a valuable learning tool. What is the rate of adoption of this methodology amongst young people? Have young people have adopted social networking as a learning tool? Has adoption of social networking become a learning tool that enhances the learning experience for young people? Reference: Wu, T. (2011) The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Vintage, London

14) Is social media responsible for the rise in mental illness amongst young people?

In recent times, there has been a significant increase in mental illness amongst young people, particularly in North America and Western Europe. Is there an established a link between the rise in mental illness amongst young people and the increased use of social networking? In which way is the increased use of social networking impacting on the mental health of young people? Reference: O’Reilly, T. (2017) WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us, Harper Business, London

15) Has social media been a factor for a renewed interest in politics amongst young people?

The recent elections that took place in the United States and Western Europe show the importance of social networking as an instrument for political debate. However, is social networking a medium for polarisation in the political realm? How is this phenomenon affecting young people? Has social networking become an instrument for the renewed interest in politics amongst young people, as seen in the wave of support for progressive movements across Western Europe and North America? Reference: Greenfield, A. (2017) Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life, Verso, London

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272 Media Dissertation Topics For Excellent Scores

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Social Media Marketing Dissertation

If you are more interested in writing about something related to marketing, our ENL writers have put together a list of awesome social media marketing dissertation ideas:

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Freedom of expression is an integral part of media in the United States and the United Kingdom. Check out our list of free freedom of expression ideas:

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Complex Media Dissertation Ideas

If you want to impress your professor, you can choose a relatively difficult topic (it also means more work, remember). Here are some complex media dissertation ideas for you:

  • The role of mass media during the COVID-19 pandemic
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  • Media people safety in war zones
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Topics About Cinema

Would you like to research something related to cinema? It is, after all, a part of media. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of original topics about cinema:

  • Censorship in China cinemas
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Dissertation Topics in Media and Communication

Here are the best dissertation topics in media and communication that our experts came up with (you can use any of them for free, of course):

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  • News literacy in media communication
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  • Communication psychology: an in-depth look

Media Dissertation Titles

Perhaps you are just looking for some interesting media dissertation titles to get you started. Check out these titles and pick the one you like:

  • An individual’s right to free press
  • An in-depth look at Iran’s censorship program
  • The moral right to present the truth
  • Censorship and its effects on creative works in China
  • Regulating cyberviolence in Europe
  • Intellectual property issues in the media
  • X-Factor: a case study
  • Protecting our children from inappropriate content
  • Cross-cultural media: a means of advancing tolerance
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  • The cultural shift caused by new media in the US
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Social Media and Mental Health Dissertation Topics

Yes, it has been proven that social media can affect mental health. So, why not choose one of our excellent social media and mental health dissertation topics:

  • Social media negative mental health effects
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  • Twitter: Trending Topics
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  • Social media friends are not really friends

Digital Media Dissertation Topics

Are you interested in digital media? Who can blame you! Here are some exceptional (and 100% original) digital media dissertation topics that you can use right now:

  • Definition digital media
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  • Discuss the digital revolution
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  • The work of engineer Vannevar Bush
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Topics About Films

You can, of course, write about movies. They are a part of media, after all. To help students out, we have compiled a list of the best topics about films:

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  • Fake news on TV news programs

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Interested in sociology? No problem! Our experienced writers managed to create a unique list of sociology media dissertation topics. Pick the one you like today:

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Social Media and Consumer Behavior Dissertation

Did you know that social media has been shown to affect consumer behavior? Check out these social media and consumer behavior dissertation ideas:

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This is a very interesting topic for a dissertation. Discussing media effects on children can make your dissertation stand out from the rest. Here are some examples:

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  • Mass media effects on youth in the United States
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Discussing journalism and privacy issues will surely make your dissertation stand out. Here are our best and most interesting journalism and privacy ideas:

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  • Copyright problems in mass media
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  • An in-depth look at privacy of journalists in war zones

Topics About Newspapers

Newspapers are not dead. In fact, many of them are thriving. Here are some of the best topics about newspapers that you can use for your dissertation:

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  • Newspaper censorship in China
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  • Promoting extremist theories in newspapers in Iran

Interesting Social Media Trending Topics

New and exciting things are happening every day on social media. Why not write about them? Check out these interesting social media trending topics and pick the one you like:

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  • Social media versus social commerce in the United States
  • The rise of video content on social media platforms
  • Live streaming quickly becoming the new norm
  • Virtual reality will become the new standard in social media
  • Stories are the new content format on social media
  • The latest social media trend: augmented reality
  • Inclusivity and how brands are using social media to achieve it
  • Authenticity of brands on social media
  • Chatbots and their importance for social media in 2023

Media and Culture Topics

Studies have shown that media and culture are dependent on one another. This is why you should definitely pick one of our awesome media and culture topics:

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  • How mass media is influencing our culture
  • An in-depth look at popular culture in the media
  • Media culture in the United States versus the UK

Easy Dissertation on Social Media Topics

We’ve left the best for last. If you don’t want to spend too much time working on your dissertation, you should choose one of these easy dissertation on social media topics:

  • Discuss the impact of online news outlets on the public in the United States
  • Social media and the way it promoted tolerance and diversity
  • Cultural benefits of social media in African countries
  • How social media is improving communication among teens in the UK
  • Most notable social media censorship cases
  • Is social media really helping us make new friends?
  • Most important trends in social media in 2023
  • Governments accessing the personal information of individuals on social media
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Home > Andrew Young School of Policy Studies > Dissertations > 67

AYSPS Dissertations

Essays on the rationality of online romance scammers.

Fangzhou Wang , Georgia State University Follow

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6212-3047

Date of Award

Degree type.

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Criminal Justice

First Advisor

David Maimon

Second Advisor

Volkan Topalli

Third Advisor

Eirc Sevigny

Fourth Advisor

Timothy Dickinson

The rapid development of the internet has served an essential role in providing communication platforms for people to choose to have personal interactions. One manifestation is using social media platforms and dating services to establish social relationships. The use of online platforms has also provided unscrupulous individuals with malicious intent the ability to target vulnerable victims using bogus romantic intent to obtain money from them. This type of newly evolved cybercrime is called an online romance scamming. To date, online romance scams have spread to every part of the world (i.e., mainly in the United States, China, Canada, Australia, and the UK) and caused considerable financial and emotional damage to victims.

Prior research on online romance fraudsters provides a preliminary understanding of the operational features (stages and persuasive techniques) and their modus operandi. However, the objectivity and relevance of the victimization data in explaining offenders' behaviors may render those studies may represent significant drawbacks. To overcome the limitations, it is important to use actual offender data to generate meaningful analyses of romance fraudsters' behaviors. Consequently, this dissertation aims to use experimental data similar to that applied in my previous work (Wang et al., 2021), combined with existing criminological and communication theories, to promote a better understanding of romance fraudsters' behaviors in the online world.

This dissertation begins with a scoping review of the current online romance scam literature, intending to use a scientific strategy to address the existing scholarly gap in this field of research. Derived from rational choice theory, the criminal events perspective, interpersonal deception theory, and neutralization theory, the second and third paper uses an experimental approach to assess the influence of rewards on romance fraudsters' behaviors. The three papers' results demonstrate the rationality of online romance fraudsters when facing rewards. Moreover, such rationality can be explicitly seen from their uses of different linguistic cues. Finally, the outcomes provided in the current project also provide policymakers the information about the rationality and modus operandi of fraudsters which can be used to identify the behavioral patterns at an early phase to prevent significant harm to the victim.

https://doi.org/10.57709/35293647

Recommended Citation

Wang, Fangzhou, "Essays on the Rationality of Online Romance Scammers." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2023. doi: https://doi.org/10.57709/35293647

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Highfill defends dissertation on military domestic abuse policies

Thursday, May 16, 2024 • Jaelon Jackson :

By Jaelon Jackson School of Social Work

Christine Highfill, PhD Graduate

In her remarkable academic journey at The University of Texas at Arlington, Christine Highfill was supported by a dedicated team of mentors and collaborators. 

Her dissertation committee, chaired by Social Work Associate Professor Dr. Rachel Voth Schrag and Social Work Assistant Professor Dr. Donna Schuman, provided invaluable guidance and expertise throughout her research process. Other esteemed members of her committee included Social Work Assistant Professor Dr. Rebecca Mauldin, Social Work Associate Professor Dr. Ling Xu, and Sociology and Anthropology Professor Dr. Beth Anne Shelton.

Highfill's dissertation, under the guidance of her committee, examines the historical changes in laws regarding domestic violence, particularly within the military context. She investigates the current policies within the military and their real-world impact on individuals and families affected by domestic abuse. 

Drawing from her own experiences surviving domestic abuse within the military, Highfill's research is deeply personal and driven by a passion to make a difference in the lives of others facing similar challenges.

"Dr. Highfill's work highlights the importance of considering the unique needs of military families in domestic violence research. She is working to translate what we have learned in civilian survivorship research into the context of military connected families. 

“Her approach can serve as a crucial foundation to build and tailor effective interventions for military connected survivors of intimate partner violence in both civilian and military contexts," Voth Schrag said.

Her dedication to research is evident in her extensive publication record. Highfill has authored 11 articles and two reports, with one article recently accepted for publication and four others currently under review. 

Highfill has also registered six scoping review protocols and is contracted with Oxford Press to write the Encyclopedia of Social Work entry on scoping reviews—a methodology she has mastered to systematically analyze literature on diverse topics.

In addition to her academic pursuits, Highfill is a Licensed Master Social Worker actively engaged in community service. She serves as the data and evaluation coordinator for a local nonprofit agency, facilitating communication between the agency and a national program evaluation firm. 

Moreover, Highfill provides mental health therapy services to community members in North Texas, contributing to the well-being of those she serves.

Highfill reflects on her journey. 

She said Antwan Williams, the School of Social Work’s assistant director of communications, marketing and recruiting and an adjunct assistant professor, was the first person she talked to when looking at if social work was right for her before deciding to start the Master of Social Work program here at UTA. Now she has not only earned her MSW degree but also a Ph.D. in Social Work from UTA.

“You start as one person and end up changed, with the Ph.D. title it represents not just academic success but personal growth," Highfill said.

Schuman says she has worked with Highfill on several research projects focused on improving health and well-being outcomes in military-connected populations. 

“She is a dedicated and intrepid researcher whose passion and commitment to her work shine through in every project she tackles. 

“I look forward to the next chapter of her professional journey and the outstanding contributions she will make toward improving the lives of our military and veteran families," Schuman said.

Highfill's expertise in military-connected domestic violence and abuse has earned her national recognition from The Institute for Military and Veteran Family Wellness. Her commitment to improving policies and support systems for survivors underscores her dedication to creating positive change in both academic and real-world contexts.

In addition to earning her MSW and PhD in Social Work degrees from UTA, Highfill received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southwest Baptist University majoring in psychology, and a master's degree in human services counseling: military resilience cognate from Liberty University.

Dr. Highfill officially graduated on May 10, marking the culmination of her academic journey and the next step of what surely will be an impactful career.

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I know how the caged bird jams

via Nautilus

Dec. 14, 2023

  • Rebecca Kleinberger Former Postdoctoral Associate
  • Media Lab Research Theme: Cultivating Creativity

Share this article

By Elena Kazamia

In a modest rectangular enclosure surrounded by sparse green shrubbery, just past the main gate of San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a middle-aged hyacinth macaw blasts Daft Punk on his bespoke boombox. His name is Sampson and he likes to dance.

Sampson can operate the boombox, aptly named  JoyBranch , by biting or holding on to a kind of joystick made to look like a slice of log with a twig protruding from it. Motion sensors (called BobTrigger) keep the music going as long as he bobs and nods, dipping his head in rhythm. Within weeks of its installation, the boombox changed the dynamics of Sampson’s interactions with visitors. To draw them in, he could rock out. When he tired of entertaining, he could stop dancing to switch off the music. More often than not, when the show was over, his visitors moved on.

JoyBranch is one of a number of sound projects at San Diego Zoo and other zoos around the country that aim to give captive animals more agency over their environments. The boombox came into being after Sampson’s caretakers noticed how much the bird enjoyed grooving to the rhythms wafting from an iPhone during care sessions. (The BobTrigger was added when they realized he couldn’t press play on the JoyBranch and dance at the same time.)

The project was led by Rébecca Kleinberger, a digital technology, cognition, and sound researcher trained in MIT’s Media Lab who now runs her own research group at Northeastern University in Boston. When Kleinberger walks through a zoo, she doesn’t just look, she listens. Here is the cackle of families laughing and talking as they walk by, a gasp of excitement as an animal turns to face them, a child’s piercing cry for attention. Then the sound wave of human noise retreats as the crowd moves on, and she can suddenly detect the roar of a male lion in the distance. It is a deep, penetrating, regal growl that visitors delight in. But how does it make the gazelle standing just a few feet away from her behind the slim barrier feel? The animal is evolved to feel fear. 

Rébecca Kleinberger, From DJ Macaw to Video-Flocking: Leveraging audio technology for animal’s social and cognitive enrichment

Alum Rébecca Kleinberger discusses her work at the intersection of new technology, animal-computer interaction, and the sonic environment.

dissertation on social media and

Interspecies Interactions Mediated by Technology: An Avian Case Study at the Zoo

Kleinberger, Rébecca, et al. "Interspecies Interactions Mediated by Technology: An Avian Case Study at the Zoo." ACM CHI 2020 Conference (April 2020).

Meet the Labbers: Rébecca Kleinberger

"I like to think of the voice and all the sound from our bodies as some kind of rhythm of life and music of life."

Rébecca Kleinberger Dissertation Defense

Vocal Connection: Rethinking the voice as a medium for personal, interpersonal, and interspecies understanding

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Friday, May 17, 2024, 1:00 p.m. IU School of Nursing Nursing Science J'Andra L Antisdel Data mining teen narratives on Reddit: Revealing insights in cyber victimization experiences NU 135 Chair: Wendy Miller, Ph.D., 812-797-4646

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Thursday, May 30, 2024, 10:00 a.m. IU School of Philanthropy Philanthropic Studies Dana R.H. Doan Experiencing nonprofits in Vietnam: What matters most to the people nonprofits aim to serve Virtual Chair: Lehn M. Benjamin, Ph.D., 317-278-8906

Thursday, June 6, 2024, 2:00 p.m. IU School of Medicine Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Sukrati Kanojia Investigating the impact of SND1 and CHD3 as PDX1 interacting partners on B cell function Walther Hall-Lecture Hall Auditorium R3 C203 Co-chair: Jason Spaeth, Ph.D., 317-274-8986; Co-chair: Carmella Evans Molina, Ph.D., 317-278-3177

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  24. Essays on the Rationality of Online Romance Scammers

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  25. Highfill defends dissertation on military domestic abuse policies

    School of Social Work Box 19129 501 W. Mitchell Street Arlington, TX 76019-0129. Phone (Local): 817-272-3181 | (Toll Free): 866-272-3181 Fax: 817-272-5229. The School of Social Work Admissions office is located in Suite 203 in the Social Work and Smart Hospital Building (501 W. Mitchell Street, Arlington, TX 76019).

  26. I know how the caged bird jams

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  27. IU Dissertation Defense Announcements: Defense: Theses & Dissertations

    Upcoming Announcements. This list of scheduled Ph.D. dissertation defenses is posted so that faculty and others may attend the defense. If you wish to attend, please contact the committee chair in advance as a courtesy.