Social network site skills for communication professionals: Conceptualization, operationalization, and an empirical Investigation

Alexander Johannes Aloysius Maria van Deursen (Corresponding Author), Carla Verlage, Ester van Laar

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Abstract

Background: The primary goal of the current study was to conceptualize and operationalize social networking sites (SNS) skills for communication professionals. Literature review: The development of the definition and measurement instrument began with a critical look at internet skills literature. We propose a three-fold instrument for measuring SNS skills: communication, content creation, and strategic SNS skills. Research questions: 1. Which skills do communication professionals need to effectively use SNS? 2. Which SNS use-related factors contribute to the level of SNS skills? Method: We ensured that the proposed measures reflected typical SNS uses for communication professionals. All items in the instrument used a scale that contained statements about SNS skills, with answer formats that ranged from “Not at all true of me” to “Very true of me.” After the development of a first survey instrument, we conducted cognitive interviews that resulted in some amendments to the proposed skill items to improve clarity. The SNS skill scales and their characteristics were then tested in a pilot study. Results: The resulting instrument was refined in the final study among 203 German communication professionals. Conclusion: The findings suggest a recommendation for the use of a 15-item survey measure for communication, content creation, and strategic SNS skills in professional contexts. Our findings furthermore suggest that communication and content creation SNS skills are better developed than strategic SNS skills. Finally, several SNS use variables were identified as predictors of SNS skills.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE transactions on professional communication
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018

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Communication
Social networks
Professional communication
Empirical investigation
Conceptualization
Operationalization
Social networking sites
Internet

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title = "Social network site skills for communication professionals: Conceptualization, operationalization, and an empirical Investigation",
abstract = "Background: The primary goal of the current study was to conceptualize and operationalize social networking sites (SNS) skills for communication professionals. Literature review: The development of the definition and measurement instrument began with a critical look at internet skills literature. We propose a three-fold instrument for measuring SNS skills: communication, content creation, and strategic SNS skills. Research questions: 1. Which skills do communication professionals need to effectively use SNS? 2. Which SNS use-related factors contribute to the level of SNS skills? Method: We ensured that the proposed measures reflected typical SNS uses for communication professionals. All items in the instrument used a scale that contained statements about SNS skills, with answer formats that ranged from “Not at all true of me” to “Very true of me.” After the development of a first survey instrument, we conducted cognitive interviews that resulted in some amendments to the proposed skill items to improve clarity. The SNS skill scales and their characteristics were then tested in a pilot study. Results: The resulting instrument was refined in the final study among 203 German communication professionals. Conclusion: The findings suggest a recommendation for the use of a 15-item survey measure for communication, content creation, and strategic SNS skills in professional contexts. Our findings furthermore suggest that communication and content creation SNS skills are better developed than strategic SNS skills. Finally, several SNS use variables were identified as predictors of SNS skills.",
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