Portraits of Participation: Exploring the Relationship between Social Motivators and Facets of Participation in a Twitter-based Community

Gilbert, Sarah
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Twitter is a platform where people can coalesce around a common interest, signaled by a hashtag, and form a community of practice. As with all online initiatives, questions remain about what motivates people to follow and contribute to communities, and why they participate in varying degrees. This paper explores social motivations for participation in the Twitter-based community of practice, #hcsmca (Healthcare Social Media Canada), formed in 2010 to discuss issues in healthcare within a Canadian context. Analysis of 24 semi-structured interviews identified three important social motivations: tapping into a social network of people with a common interest, developing personal and professional relationships, and the community ethos. Portraits of participation based on three facets of participation, length of time as a community member, depth of engagement in the community, and frequency of participation, were developed to describe community members’ motivations at varying levels of participation. \
Motivation, Online communities, Participation, Twitter
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