How do social networks motivate people to connect not only to their previously existing friends but also to novel or blind new contacts? We report the results of an experiment to identify the value that participants give to alternative network characteristics when deciding to connect to a social network. We focus on network tie characteristics because they represent information that potentially can be automated and provided without compromising privacy policies. Our experiment employed q-methodology to capture participants’ subjective values as they evaluated potential connections described by their tie strength, variety, and quantity, three important tie characteristics. We identify four distinct groups of individuals in terms of value. Our findings suggest social networks should include network characteristics to encourage joining and blind ties. They also suggest that current social network interfaces and research need to be augmented to address network tie characteristics.
Thomas, Dominic; Bendoly, Elliot; and Capra, Monica, "Tie Me Up!: An Empirical Investigation of Perceived Tie Characteristics on Prospective Connections" (2009). AMCIS 2009 Proceedings. 358.