Unconscious division

Unconscious division

Online social networks are broadly researched the last few years because of their gained popularity worldwide. These social networks are services that are online on the web that allow people to create a personal profile they display publicly or semi-public to the people they give access by adding them to their ‘friendslist’. People then can upload content on their wall and others can view, react, like and repost the content. Most of the people use multiple online social networks next to each other and they all fulfill the need of people to belong to a certain community and stay in contact with people. A good example of two online social networks are Instagram and Pintrest, they look the same but are used very differently. Instagram is based on placing homemade pictures that can be edited before putting online and Pintrest is more a pinboard-wall that people can use to collect and organize their found pictures on the internet and share with others

We see two online social networks that are based on sharing photo’s to an online community where the user is the creative designer of his or her personal wall and by that their online identity. The sharing, reacting, hash tagging and liking of content is also integrated in both of the networks. In both cases people upload content that is viewed by others, these others tend to fulfill the roll of peers and provide feedback by liking and reacting for the one who uploaded his or her content.

What is quite striking actually is the fact that both networks are used in a very different way. Instagram is based on the connection people already have in the offline world and Pintrest is more based on the connection people create in the online world which means that they don’t actually have to know each other in the offline world. People seem to structure this unconsciously by dividing their content, in this case photos, to two different social networks. They unconsciously know that certain content belongs more to Instagram than Pintrest. This indicates that people have different communication networks which they use in their daily life. This is also what Borgatti, Mehra, Brass and Labianca show in their research to offline networks between people (2009). Researchers discovered that in social groups different kinds of networks exist which are responsible for the kind of contact that people have with each other and the way that they communicate. We can assume that this also is the case for the online world of networks.

I personally also use different kinds of online social networks like Facebook and Instagram and I don’t use hem in the same way. Some content I place on Facebook while other content I only place on Instagram. Quite funny when I think of it, because I really didn’t realized that. I am very curious if you use your multiple online social networks in the same way or that you also unconsciously divide content between different types of online social networks.


Boyd, D.M., and Ellison, N.B. (2007), Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13(1) 210–230.

Borgatti, S.P., Mehra, A., Brass, D.J., and Labianca, G. (2009), Network analysis in the social sciences. Science 323(5916) 892-895.

Kauffman, R.J., Li, T., and Heck, E. (2010), Business network-based value creation in electronic commerce. International Journal of Electronic Commerce 15(1) 111-142


One thought on “Unconscious division

  1. I use only LinkedIn and Facebook. And probably as most people, I use them in total different ways. LinkedIn is clearly for me a platform for business connections; I just upload information about myself, which are important for my future career. So I don´t share holiday pictures etc. I use Facebook on the other hand for exactly this reasons. It is more a private life platform. I have to say that I am in general a quite passiv person when it comes to social media. And although I like the idea of Instagram and Pinterest, I don´t use them because I rarely take pictures.

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