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How are social network sites embedded in the web? An exploratory link analysis

AuthorsThelwall, Mike
KeywordsSocial networking
Link analysis
Information behaviour
Issue Date2008
PublisherEditorial CSIC
CitationCybermetrics 12(1): Paper 1 (2008)
AbstractSocial networking sites like MySpace represent a new and powerful communication technology, rivalling even commercial search engines in terms of total visits. There is hence a need to understand how these sites relate to the rest of the Web. For this study, links to the U.S. top twenty social network sites were gathered from commercial search engines and investigated using an information science link analysis. Quantitative methods were used to compare counts of links to the sites, associated top-level domains, and common sources and types of links. The results showed that social network sites were embedded significantly differently in the Web in terms of national and education-related profiles of links in the Web as well as the total number of links. Although only 13% of links targeted useful information or discussion, this still represents a large number of information-related links. Social networks also attracted marketing attention from the entertainment industry, with links to fan sites and groups being common, and commercial links representing about a third of all links. In conclusion, although often designed primarily for socialising, social network sites are a complex and evolving phenomenon that support information provision to some extent, and can support new forms of discussion, marketing and customer connections
Appears in Collections:(CINDOC) Cybermetrics: International Journal of Scientometrics, Informetrics and Bibliometrics
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