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Abstract

This paper describes the design and evaluation of NFriendConnector, a prototype application that allows for better integration between online and offline social networks. Online social networks are currently used to maintain and strengthen existing real-life social connections, rather than establishing ties that exist only online. However, users incur significant time and search related costs in replicating a naturally occurring social interaction using a social networking site (SNS). Therefore, there exists a gap between initiating social contact in real-life versus initiating social contact via an online social network. Using the design science paradigm, our research addresses this gap by introducing NFriendConnector. This application allows users to map their offline interactions, as and when they take place, onto their SNS presence, therefore making it possible to complement offline social interactions with SNS profile information. The prototype is implemented using Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled mobile phones and Facebook. We evaluate the prototype in an experimental setting using expectation confirmation theory (ECT) as the theoretical framework. Findings show that NFriendConnector was able to satisfy users, therefore indicating a successful design exercise. We discuss the implications of this research in the context of current developments in online social networking.

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