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SCB U24036 University of Portsmouth Indeogogo Virtual Community Analysis

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Social Computing
for Business
First Hour:
Coursework 1: Review
Second Hour:
Coursework 1: Exercise
Research Report (60% of Unit Mark)
You must research one virtual community, and write about it in depth. Feel
free to add screen shots and annotated images to make your work
more detailed.
In this unit you are encouraged to be as creative as possible and
explore the tools extensively. This narrative must contain, but is not limited
to, the following items:
– A critical review of the virtual environment type, its application and
target audience.
– A related description comparing the environment to theoretical
material discussed in class and in the readings.
– Your own views of the tools and usability aspects.
– A detailed review of its money generating potential. Including how it
makes money and its underlying business model.
– Links and references to referenced and related materials.
Due Date: Sunday 20th January 2019, by 23.55.
Research Report
Social Computing
for Business
Coursework 1 Review: Introduction
Why Analyse a Virtual Community?
• You are telling me about a virtual community,
not a single social media tool
– i.e. don’t research YouTube. I want to know about
a community which uses YouTube, for example.
– One virtual community could use multiple tools
such as Facebook, Twitter, an external website. If
so, tell me, using both graphics and words.
• So tell me about the entire
environment (see next slides)
Virtual Community
Start with thinking about the community, then think about the tool(s)…
Tool 1
e.g. Flickr, Website, Bulletin Board
Tool 2
e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Discussion Forum…
Virtual Environment
• Who participates in the virtual community?
• Why do they get involved? (e.g Kickstarter)
• What tools do they use?
– e.g. a community in World of Warcraft may also
have a Facebook page and a website with
discussion forums
• Examine the sample courseworks on Moodle
– How have those authors structured their work?
– How have they illustrated the use of SM tools?
How do you discover a community?
• By doing field work:
– Join the community!
– Observe or participate in the community…
– Take notes about your observations/participation
• By doing research:
– Relate your findings back to theoretical material
from class, readings, and your own research
– Remember the ‘Readings’ section of Moodle gives
you access to a good selection of relevant papers,
but use of others will help you write in depth
Social Computing
for Business
Coursework 1: Review: Theories
Community Social Media Action Plan
1. Think about your chosen organisation’s
business/benefit community objectives
2. Then work out how it might use social
networks to meet its objectives
3. The community may well use one social
network for a variety of purposes: e.g.
Facebook may be used for customer service
and corporate and social responsibility; or it
may use more than one Facebook page.
Community Social Media Action Plan
4. Compile a grid showing the different social
media channels on one axis and the various
ways that they are used for your chosen
community. This will help you to see where
they fit in that organisation.
5. How mature is the community? Does it use
social media extensively? For what purposes?
6. Is it evident that the community keeps its
social media and other channels updated to
stay ahead of the game?
What are the related texts/theories?
• Virtual Community Classifications:
– Typology of Virtual Communities
– The 5 ‘P’s Model
• Business Models
– There are more business models than taught in class.
• Social Capital
• You can use other texts/theories you might find
Social Computing for Business
‘Virtual Communities’
A Typology of Virtual Communities: A Multi‐Disciplinary Foundation for Future Research
The proposed typology of virtual communities includes two first-level categories: Member-initiated and Organization-sponsored (see Figure 1).
Member-initiated communities are those where the community was established by, and remains managed by, members. Organization-sponsored
communities are communities that are sponsored by either commercial or non-commercial (e.g. government, non-profit) organizations (see Lauden
& Traver, 2003). Sponsoring organizations have key stakeholders and/or beneficiaries (e.g. customers) that are an inherent part of the sponsoring
organization’s mission and goals.
At the second level of the typology, virtual communities are categorized based on the general relationship orientation of the community. Relationship
orientation refers to the type of relationship fostered among members of the community. Member-initiated communities foster either social or
professional relationships among members. Organization-sponsored communities foster relationships both among members (e.g., customers,
employees) and between individual members and the sponsoring organization.
Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication
Volume 10, Issue 1, pages 00-00, 23 JUN 2006 DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2004.tb00228.x
Social Computing for Business
A Typology of Virtual Communities: A Multi‐Disciplinary Foundation for Future Research:
The 5 ‘P’s of Virtual Communities
Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication
Volume 10, Issue 1, pages 00-00, 23 JUN 2006 DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2004.tb00228.x
Nine Key Elements of a Business Model
Value proposition(s)
Revenue streams
Market opportunity
Competitive environment
Competitive advantage
Market strategy
Organizational development
Management team
Partners and other stakeholders
Business Model Mapping to Canvas
Business Model
Element 4
Business Model
Element 5
Business Model
Element 1
Business Model
Element 9
Business Model
Element 7 & 8
Business Model
Element 2
Business Model
Element 3
Business Model
Element 6
Business Model
Element 2
Business Model Mapping to Canvas
Business Model Mapping (HBR)
The Nespresso Success Story Mapped onto the Business Model Canvas

Discussion Points…
You might also consider if
the virtual community is
extended to real world
communities. We looked
at Kickstarter in LM5…
Other Communities like Kickstarter
Social Computing
for Business
Coursework 1 Review: Structure of Your Report
The Structure of Your Report
• Title Page
• Introduction
• Main body of text
– You can structure this however you want.
– STRONG SUGGESTION: Use sub headings
• Conclusion
• Reference List
– STRONG SUGGESTION : Use EndNote (or other
referencing tool) – saves a lot of time in the end!
How do you write your Report?
Consider this approach…
• For each paragraph you write consider this
• Some text about the community or something
you observed.
• Relate what you observed to theoretical
material (ref).
• Compare against other theoretical materials
(reference, reference).
How much Literature?
• A reference list of >15 articles is satisfactory.
• Majority of references from books/journals.
– Websites/newspapers ok but kept to minimum
• Avoid citing the same paper more than once
within a paragraph.
• Try to have at least one citation per paragraph.
• The point is to use the literature to be critical
about your observations/participation
What is a Critical Review?
• At university, to be critical does not mean to
criticise in a negative manner.
• Rather it requires you to question the
information and opinions discovered and then
to present your own evaluation or judgement.
• To do this well, you should attempt to
understand the topic from different
perspectives (i.e. read related texts) and in
relation to the theories, approaches and
frameworks discussed in class.
Use of Images
• Please add to your report a decent quantity of
images/screenshots of the virtual community.
• This helps me to get a full understanding of
what you are doing.
• And it makes it more interesting to read ☺
Word Count
• 1,500 words (+/– 10%)
• Exclusions from word count:
– Title page and headings
– Text in tables
– Table and Figure captions
– Introduction
– Conclusion
– Reference list
– State your final word count without these items
Marking Criteria
• The marking grid will be used within the
context of the specs from the unit handbook.
Social Computing
for Business
Coursework 1 Review: Referencing Links
Referencing Tools: Library Links
Click this link to access Endnote Basic home page. Then
click the link on that page to sign up for a basic account…
Referencing Tools: EndNote
Referencing Tools: EndNote basic
Social Computing
for Business
Coursework 1: Tips & Tricks
General Tips
• Don’t explain the theory – apply it!
• There is no need to show the original 5‘P’s
model – it is better to show your own version.
• If you are using the 5‘P’s – include the results
in a summary table (of your findings)
• You won’t get marks for making observations
that are not connected to any theory.
• Use the correct citations….
Further Suggestions
• Don’t use (n.d.) – use the date you accessed it
• Don’t reference an online journal as a website,
but as a journal! ([email protected])
• All journals are online!!!
• Use the APA style – use a citation tool!
• Increase readability with the use of headings
and subheadings
• Proof read your work!
– Use PBS Study Support if you need assistance
Typologies of Virtual Community
• Indicate on the model where your VC is using
a drawn loop (in green)
Using the 5‘P’s: For your community
This side of the
5‘P’s is about a
specific VC, so do
not include it in
your report.
Tabulate your own!
Social Computing
for Business
Coursework 1: Exercises
Coursework Exercises (Singles/Pairs)
Choose one of the Virtual Communities in ‘The VC List’ (overleaf) and then
make an analysis of them including the following in your analysis…
1. Compile a grid showing the different social media channels on one axis
and the various ways that they are used, for your chosen community.
2. Describe who the participants are in your chosen virtual community, and
say how/why they are involved.
3. Define a Typology for your chosen Virtual Community, and draw it,
indicating where your community is on the standard tree.
4. Prepare a tabulated 5 ‘P’s Model for your chosen community – don’t
include the sample communities (PalmOne for example).
5. Briefly describe the business model of your chosen community
6. Identify & tabulate examples of social capital for your chosen community:
1. ‘Bridging’ (a gap in network links) or ‘Bonding’ (already solid networks)
2. ‘Explicit’ (friend of) and ‘Implicit’ (potential, unactivated)
3. Strong and weak links, thick or thin trust.
The VC List (1)
The VC List (2)
Key Terms in SCB Part 1

Social Media
Social Networks
Virtual Community
Typology of Virtual Community
For Profit or ‘Benefit Community’
Charity or ‘Not For Profit’ (NFP)
The 5‘P’s of Virtual Communities
The Nine Elements of a Business Model
Business Models
Business Model Canvas
‘Bridging’ (a gap in network links) or ‘Bonding’ (already solid networks)
‘Explicit’ (friend of) and ‘Implicit’ (potential, un-activated)
Strong and weak links,
Thick or thin trust.
‘The strength of weak links’
Social Computing
for Business
End of Assignment 1
‘Aviation Photographers’ – An Analysis
of a Virtual Community
Joshua Pye
UP 742897
Word Count: 1,531
Photographs taken by author
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Virtual Communities have enjoyed growth since the rise of the web 2.0, allowing the free flow of rich
digital content and interactive experiences that transcend traditional boundaries of geography and
culture. Despite being a recent phenomenon, the behaviour of virtual community members is
explainable using well understood social theories. In the case of the ‘Aviation Photographers’
community these are Uses and Gratifications, Social Capital and the Theory of Reasoned Action.
Multiple attempts at classifications for Virtual Communities have been made, Porter’s is found to be
the most exhaustive. Aviation Photographers exists as a media sharing, not for profit community that
can be classified as a content and community provider in terms of Business Model.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3
‘Aviation Photographers’ – Virtual Community Classified …………………………………………………………… 4
The Classification of Virtual Communities ………………………………………………………………………….. 4
Aviation Photographers – a typology ………………………………………………………………………………… 5
How the Community Functions ………………………………………………………………………………………… 6
Further Rules and Enforcement in the Community …………………………………………………………….. 7
Theoretical Explanations to Member’s Contributions ………………………………………………………………. 10
Uses and Gratification Theory ………………………………………………………………………………………… 10
Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) and the ‘like’ Button ……………………………………………………… 12
Social Capital Theory …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 12
Nostalgia on Aviation Photographers………………………………………………………………………………. 14
Business Models of Virtual Communities ………………………………………………………………………………… 15
Aviation Photographers Business Model …………………………………………………………………………. 15
Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 17
References………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Virtual communities (VCs) have enjoyed continuous growth and popularity since the spread of the
internet in the early 1990’s. Previously limited to government, military and university research
purposes (Lazar & Preece, 1998), VCs enable the connection of millions of people around a shared
interest (Gupta & Kim, 2004).
Web 2.0 paved the foundations for a whole new experience on the internet. The term, popularised
by Tim O’Reilly, promised a new platform for software to be built upon and hosted; content was to
become dynamic, user generated and rich (O’Reilly, 2007). This new two-way flow of information
presented new, exciting and immersive online experiences in which VCs flourished (Thackeray,
Neiger, Hanson, & Mckenzie, 2008). One such example of a successful web 2.0 platform is Facebook,
upon which the ‘Aviation Photographers’ VC exists, a photograph sharing group with almost 4,000
members established July 17th 2014. The group consists of a range of abilities in terms of
photography, from amateurs just starting out to professionals who fly with various Air Forces. The
common interest in the group is a passion for aviation photography in all forms with interactions
occurring around shared photographs.
This paper provides insight to the world of the virtual communities through the study of Aviation
Photographers, it is broken into three sections. Section one deals with the classification and various
attempted typologies of VC, including the chosen community. The functionality of the group is
examined along with the rules that have to be enforced by the admin team as the community
expands on a daily basis. The second section draws on the widely available literature on VCs to
explain the behaviour of members documented. Finally, the third section presents various views on
E-Business models, how they relate to virtual communities and specifically the model of Aviation
Joshua Pye – UP742897
‘Aviation Photographers’ – Virtual Community Classified
The Classification of Virtual Communities
Typologies of virtual communities have been attempted several times. In early studies, Armstrong
and Hagel established four types of community, communications of transaction, interest, fantasy
and relationship (Armstrong & Hagel, 1996). Building upon this it was found “virtual communities
should be classified by attributes, supporting software, relationships to physical communities and
the sociological concept of boundedness” (Lazar & Preece, 1998). A common theme seen in research
and various attempts at classification is the inclusion of people, a shared purpose, policies, a social
or economic exchange and bonding (Gupta & Kim, 2004). By way of consolidation and noting the
continued lack of definitive typologies for virtual communities, a model was created (Porter, 2004).
Figure 1. Typology of a virtual community as proposed by (Porter, 2004), circles indicate Aviation
Photographers classification.
Figure 1 shows Porter’s model classifying virtual communities firstly by their establishment and
secondly by relationship orientation. Furthermore, attributes of virtual communities were established
by Porter to create a ‘5 Ps model’, shown in table 1 below with the attributes of the studied community
Population Interaction Structure
Profit Model
Aviation Photographers (non-profit)
Media sharing – photographs
Online – virtual internet community
Facebook – Closed group page
Weak ties, sometimes stressful – posts on
wall, discussions in comments, questions
Non-Revenue-Generating, member initiated
Table 1. ‘Five Ps’ of virtual communities, adapted from (Porter, 2004).
Critically it must be noted these classifications were made before the major rise of social networks as
they exist today, nonetheless the theory remains relevant and these classifications are still used today
(Wirtz, Schilke, & Ullrich, 2010). Further theories are discussed later in this paper
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Aviation Photographers – a Typology
Aviation Photographers is a closed Facebook group that was started by an aviation enthusiast and
amateur photographer on 17th July 2014. The group was established to share aviation photographs
taken by members, following Porter’s typology we can establish the purpose of this group as media
sharing as described in table 1. The group is also member initiated with a social orientation.
Figure 2. Screenshot of the Aviation Photographers page, showing the ‘coveted’ admin chosen
banner photo and number of members as of 14/01/16.
The community exists on a Facebook page, with interactions within the group limited primarily to
online only. Nonetheless, there are members that meet in person at popular spotting locations, an
example of this is shown in figure 3.
Figure 3. Example of members meeting in person, post taken from the Facebook wall.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
How the Community Functions
Content of the group is completely user generated and posted on the ‘wall’, a feature of Facebook.
Research argues that the strength and survival of virtual communities relies upon value co-creation,
in this case the posting of photographs by members (Chou, Lin, & Huang, 2016). Due to the groups
popularity, posts often disappear in less than an hour and as such members may only post five times
per day, this is identified as a possible issue with the chosen platform of the community. It is
possible that the scale of the group may not have been considered when choosing Facebook, or that
it remains popular due to its ubiquity and familiarity. Finding a post from a week or even a day
earlier is also challenging due to the large number of posts, as evidenced in figure 4.
Figure 4. Admin post regarding the five photos (posts) per day rule, taken from the wall.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Rules and Enforcement in the Community
Figure 5. Description of the Aviation Photographers page stipulating rules.
The group has grown in size exponentially containing over 3,500 members to date and growing
every day. Members may only be added by existing members at present and there are rules to
follow when posting in the group that are shown in figure 5. Due to the rapid expansion of the page,
there are now six admins monitoring the community.
Any negative behaviour is categorised as a ‘stressful tie’, online these involve any kind of antisocial
behaviour such as ‘flaming’ or ‘trolling’ (Porter, 2004). These are not tolerated on the group
whatsoever, however this occurs at times and the updated and repeated admin posts reflect this.
Examples have included unwarranted advice on taking and editing photos as well as arguments
about the best equipment. Despite this, conversations within the community remain friendly and
positive most of the time, these are discussed later in the paper. Though mostly followed, the rules
have been broken in the past, leading to admin responses as seen in figures 6-8 with some
member’s posts being removed or sometimes the member banned completely.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Figure 6. Updated pinned post from top of group page, addressing rule breaking.
Figure 7. Post from admin team showing rules being broken and actions taken.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Figure 8. Admin post to new members reminding them of the rules, these posts are seen daily on
the group’s wall.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Theoretical Explanations to Member’s Contributions
Uses and Gratification Theory
The sharing of photos on Facebook has received academic attention, with researchers pointing to Uses
and Gratification (U&G) theory to explain the reasons for this (Malik, Dhir, & Nieminen, 2016). U&G
theory has a history beginning with radio that remains relevant and updated today for virtual
communities using social media (Dywer, Hiltz, & Passerini, 2007). The theory attempts to discover why
people use certain types of media to satisfy specific needs (Katz, 1959).
As seen in figures 9 and 10, many positive comments and replies are left under a particular
photograph, a regular occurrence on the page. Researchers suggest users will wish to maintain
friendships and look for entertainment (Clark, Lee, & Boyer, 2007; Zhang, Tang, & Leung, 2011) whilst
others list photograph sharing as a specific type of gratification (Raacke & Bonds-Raacke, 2008;
Joinson, 2008).
Figure 9. Screenshot of positive comments on a photo posted, typical of the community.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Figure 10. Picture and comments received on personal contributions to the community, taken from
Facebook (photograph taken and uploaded by author).
Photographs uploaded may be selected to be the banner photo, typically staying for two-three days.
This is seen as a great honour amongst the community, each post will often gain almost 100 likes
and receive many positive comments. An example of this is shown below in figure 11, with admin
giving a short message announcing the choosing of the photo. The sharing of photos and being
chosen for the banner photo satisfies intrinsic, extrinsic and social interaction needs (Malik, Dhir, &
Nieminen, 2016).
Figure 11. Example of a chosen banner photo, F15E flying through the ‘mach-loop’ in Wales, with a
friendly navigator.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) and the ‘like’ Button
The ubiquitous ‘like’ button allows members to express their appreciation of member photographs
easily, with the option to add comments for richer interactions. A member’s choice of clicking the ‘like’
button will often relate to their own social norms and is explainable with the Theory of Reasoned
Action (TRA) (Lee, Hansen, & Lee, 2016; Fishbein, 1975). Aditionally, people will click this button either
to please others or as a sign of appreciation, dependant upon personality type, self esteem and in
relation to TRA theory.
Social Capital Theory
Although growing daily, Aviation Photographers remains a small and niche group. The common
shared link between all members is the sharing and appreciation of aviation photographs, an
interest that transcends traditional cultural boundaries. Social Capital is a well-known theory that
describes social network norms in terms of trustworthiness and reciprocity (Putnam, 2000).
A key distinction is made between bridging and bonding Social Capital by Putnam, whilst Aviation
Photographers is made up of a diverse range of cultures from various locations, they bond on a
special interest in aviation photography. Ties in the community are considered weak, with a casual
nature to interactions. However, these weak ties are noted for their strength and usefulness in
sharing information (Granovetter, 1973; 1983). More recent research asserts that most ties on
Facebook are weak under traditional theory, however also proposes a redefinition of strong and
weak ties based upon community membership. Strong ties would exist between those within the
same community and weak or bridge ties linking those external to a community (De Meo, Ferrara,
Fiumara, & Provetti, 2014). In this sense the ties can be considered strong. In the same way, trust
may be thick or thin, within the community this would be thin but develop over time between
members following interactive episodes (Zhao, Lu, Wang, Chau, & Zhang, 2012), as evidenced in
comments on photographs and when members meet at airfields and air shows.
An alternative definition of Social Capital refers to goodwill, where individuals and groups interact
for the sake of helping, being kind and the associated positive feelings these induce as seen in figure
12 (Kwon & Adler, 2014).
Figure 12. Facebook post from member, an example of information sharing and goodwill shown on
the group.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Figure 13. Examples of information seeking/sharing in the community from two member’s posts.
Figure 13 shows examples of information seeking in the community, people asking for advice on
certain cameras and ‘setups’. This is common in the community and a good example of bridging,
taking advantage of the low entry costs to the community to access broad stores of knowledge of
the community members (Lee, Kim, & Ahn, 2014). Researchers argue that generally, if a community
member thinks sharing information will be beneficial to another, they will do so (Pi, Chou, & Liao,
2013), this is evidenced in the community.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Nostalgia on Aviation Photographers
Figure 14. Example of nostalgic post, common theme within the group.
A large proportion of the group have an emotional connection to aircraft, be it from a relative who
was a pilot, or an air traffic controller etc. In fact, without emotional attachment the community
would just be a communications tool for people with a shared interest (Zhao, Lu, Wang, Chau, &
Zhang, 2012). As seen in figure 14, nostalgic posts are seen daily in the community. Research shows
that many Facebook group interactions are driven by nostalgia, such is the nature of rich content
sharing platforms (Davalos, Merchan, Rose, Lessley, & Teredesai, 2015). This nostalgia extends
beyond the photo sharing aspect of the community, the sense of belonging and community alone is
very much motivation to join and post photographs (Malik, Dhir, & Nieminen, 2016).
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Business Models of Virtual Communities
Many business models exist and indeed most models will be a hybrid of multiple models (source).
There is also a distinction made between B2B (business to business), B2C (Business to Consumer)
and C2C (Consumer to Consumer) types (Laudon & Traver, 2014). A typology exists that attempts to
encompass all various models, see figure 14 below.
Figure 15. Typology of E-Business models (Wirtz, Schilke, & Ullrich, 2010).
Aviation Photographers Business Model
The Aviation Photographers community is a member initiated group and also strictly not for profit.
Several members have had posts removed or been banned for attempting to sell photographs.
Therefore, it is unfit to classify the community as a C2C market hub. Using figure 15, we can establish
the model as a ‘content’ type, bringing together people with photographs to share with each other,
though all content is user generated (Wirtz, Schilke, & Ullrich, 2010). The group could also be
considered a connection type as it creates a virtual network of like-minded individuals who can share
Using the taxonomy of E-business models in table 2, the group would be a content/community
provider. The creators of the group provide a community where people are able to share and enjoy
user generated content (photographs) (Laudon & Traver, 2014). As seen in the models, if the group
were revenue generating it would most likely come from advertising or affiliate referrals, as the
Joshua Pye – UP742897
group is hosted on Facebook and as such subscriptions would not be easily enforceable. However,
photography equipment could be advertised on the group and would be aimed at a targeted
audience having identified a specialised market segment (Armstrong & Hagel, 1996). Virtual
Communities present great benefit to firms including increased sales, invaluable word of mouth
recommendations, research market data and feedback (Porter, 2004).
Critically, it has been said that the vast categorisation attempts of business models are overly
complex, yet still they do not encompass all possible models. (Lambert, 2006) Most business models
will in fact be a hybrid of two or more models (Wirtz, Schilke, & Ullrich, 2010).
Aggregation of content and services,
search tools. Either general or
Online equivalent of traditional
Digital content generated – either
entertainment or informational
Content Provider
Transaction Broker
Market Creator
Revenue Generation
transaction fees,
Traditional sales
subscription, affiliate
referral fee
Transaction fees
Transaction fees
Processes online transactions/sales
Use of E-Commerce to bring together
buyers and sellers
Service Provider
Offer online services
Sales of services
Community Provider
Brings together individuals with similar Advertising, referral
interests for information sharing and
fees, subscriptions
Table 2. Taxonomy of E-Business models – (Laudon & Traver, 2014; USA Information Resources
Management Association, 2011).
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Online social networks mimic offline community behaviour as evidenced through the discussed
theories of Uses and Gratification, Social Capital and the Theory of Reasoned Action within the
Aviation Photographers community. These theories also explain decisions to join and participate in
this community. Research agrees that the sharing of digital content, such as photographers, is
central to the functionality of these social networks and virtual communities (Malik, Dhir, &
Nieminen, 2016; Karnik, Oakley, Venkatanathan, Spiliotopoulos, & Nisi, 2013).
Aviation Photographers currently exists only on Facebook, whilst this may be a limitation to the
community in terms of functionality, in terms of theory this does not limit the analysis of the
community at all due to the ubiquity of Facebook (Lee, Hansen, & Lee, 2016). The community was
easy to join and participate in and therefore study was not limited by difficulties in accessing
information or observing behaviour.
Despite its age, Porter’s 2004 typology of virtual communities remains relevant and useful,
identifying the community as a non-profit media sharing group. Furthermore, the business model
classifications showed the group to be a content/community provider with the addition of creating a
virtual network of photographers able to share images (Wirtz, Schilke, & Ullrich, 2010; Laudon &
Traver, 2014). With communities based on web 2.0 platforms such as Facebook, these models
remain relevant however an interesting direction for future research would be studying virtual
communities in a web 3.0 environment.
Joshua Pye – UP742897
Armstrong, A., & Hagel, L. (1996). The Real Value of On-Line Communities. Harvard Business Review,
Chou, E.-Y., Lin, C.-Y., & Huang, H.-C. (2016). Fairness and devotion go far: Integrating online justice
and value co-creation in virtual communities. International Journal of Information
Management, 60-72.
Clark, N., Lee, S., & Boyer, L. (2007). A place of their own: An exploratory study of college students’
uses of Facebook. Proceedings from the international communication association annual
meeting. San Fransisco: District of Columbia.
Davalos, S., Merchan, A., Rose, G. M., Lessley, B. J., & Teredesai, A. M. (2015). ‘The good old days’:
An examination of nostalgia in Facebook posts. Internation Journal of Human-Computer
Studies, 83-93.
De Meo, P., Ferrara, E., Fiumara, G., & Provetti, A. (2014). On Facebook, Most Ties Are Weak.
Communications of the ACM, 78-84.
Dywer, C., Hiltz, S. R., & Passerini, K. (2007). Trust and privacy concern within social networking sites:
A comparison of Facebook and MySpace. AMCIS 2007 Proceedings (pp. 339-348). Keystone:
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Joshua Pye – UP742897
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Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature
Members Only
Jordan Naylor
14th January 2016
1411 Words
Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only ………………………………………………………………… 3
The Audience …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
Tools, Usability and Services ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5
Porter’s 5 P’s …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7
Porter’s Typology …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8
Social Capital Theory ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 8
Opinions of Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only ………………………………………………. 9
Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 10
References ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
According to Gupta et al., (2004), a virtual community is a place on the internet where people can
electronically “talk” to others with similar interests. Virtual communities have existed in some form
or other for around 30 years (Ridings, Gefen, & Arinze, 2002). Virtual communities are emergent, they
arise as a natural consequence of people coming together to discuss a common hobby, medical
affliction, personal experience, or even develop relationships (Ridings, Gefen, & Arinze, 2002). The
name of the virtual community that will be discussed in this paper is the ‘Gillingham FC Fans Forum
for Mature Members Only’. This is a football Facebook page for fans of football and/or Gillingham
Football Club to discuss topics surrounding the club and the world of football.
Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only
The Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only was created in 2014 by a fan called Warren
Lightfoot. Figure 1 below shows the Facebook page and as shown the page has 1486 members at the
time of writing this paper (January 2016). It is a virtual community which does not create any revenue.
The page is based around the football club Gillingham FC, located in the Medway Towns area of Kent.
The club was created in May 1893. The share capital was set at £1,500 and a plot of land, subsequently
to become known as Priestfield Stadium, was purchased for £600 (Gillingham Football Club, 2016).
Figure 1.
(Gillingham Football Club, 2016)
Following the theories of Armstrong, A., & Hagel III, J., (1996) that communities have a need and
purpose, this virtual community is part of the ‘communities of interest’. This brings together
participants who interact extensively with one another and usually involve a higher degree of
interpersonal communication (Armstrong & Hagel III, 1996).
In the forum title, it states that it is for ‘mature members only’. The creator of the community made
several rules as seen in Figure 1 as a pinned post which backs up Preece, (2000) who states that virtual
communities must consist of policies and rules. In these rules, it states that swearing is not allowed,
otherwise the post will be deleted and possibly even the member will be removed. Abusive personal
attacks (including race, sexuality and opinions) are also not permitted.
The group is a closed group which means that individuals who wish to join the group have to request
to join and get accepted by one of the existing members. One of my own observations when joining
the group that being accepted into the forum was relatively rapid as the group has 17 assigned
administrators at the time of writing this paper.
The Audience
The target audience for this group varies. Observing the members of the community demonstrates
that it consists of a wide age range, both male and female and also from various locations. Figure 2
and 3 below highlights that members of this community are from all around the world. This backs
Barnatt (1998), who believed that geographical location, physical interaction or ethnic origin do not
impose any constraints for the formation of the community. Many virtual communities accommodate
individuals from different backgrounds, interests and ideas (Kardaras, Karakostas, & Papathanassiou,
2003). People join this community for many reasons. As figure 2 shows, the member was not able to
reach games due to where the member was located. This supports the observation that many people
join for different reasons. Furthermore, Figure 4 below shows that a member joined because of an
arrangement with some friends at work.
Figure 2. (Gillingham Football Club, 2016)
Figure 3. (Gillingham Football Club, 2016)
Figure 4. (Gillingham Football Club, 2016)
Therefore, as previously stated people join the community for many reasons. Humans have a need to
belong, (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). They can join for the love of the football club, join to express and
hear opinions regarding the club and matters around football and the desire to learn more about
Gillingham Football Club.
Tools, Usability and Services
The community has many services to the members. Members post about a wide range of football
related news via Facebook, which backs up the point made by Mazman & Usluel, (2011) who state
that people post news on Facebook. For matches, there are regular updates regarding how to obtain
tickets, and when they are becoming available. Furthermore, travel arrangements for away matches
are also present within this community. Figure 5 below shows a member sharing arrangements for
Figure 5. (Gillingham Football Club, 2016)
Within Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only, the discussion focuses on upcoming
transfer gossip, on what is believed will happen, and what the fans would like to happen. The
community keeps the members up to date on news when Gillingham FC sign or sell a player. Figure 6
highlights a member discussing transfer gossip and what might happen with one of Gillingham FC’s
key players, Bradley Dack.
Figure 6. (Gillingham Football Club, 2016)
The only tool that the community uses is Facebook. They do not have any Twitter or YouTube
accounts. However, as it is a football related page, they have a real world presence as members of
the group may see other members at football games.
Facebook is widely adopted by many virtual communities, which means usability is relatively simple.
Facebook allows members to post, comment on existing posts and share posts from other pages
(Smock, Ellison, Lampe, & Wohn, 2011). This is how members participate within the virtual
community. Furthermore, they can share photos of themselves at the games (Figure 7), and events
of the games to see which other members are attending.
Figure 7. (Gillingham Football Club, 2016)
Porter’s 5 P’s
Porter’s five P’s aimed to give attributes to the virtual community to demonstrate the differences and
how they work. Table 1 below displays how Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only fits
into Porter’s classification.
Gillingham FC Fans Forum
for Mature Members Only
The purpose of this virtual community is to share opinions,
experiences and news related to Gillingham Football Club.
The virtual community exists on Facebook, however as it is football
related, members may see other members at games.
The virtual community consists of both synchronous communication
and asynchronous communication. This is because you are able to
comment on Facebook posts, visible to other members, and privately
message other members also.
Population Interaction
This virtual community is considered a small group with strong ties.
This is due to the amount of members this community has, and the
level of interaction between members.
Profit Model
This virtual community is non-revenue generating.
Table 1. (Porter, 2004)
Porter’s Typology
Porter also devised the classification of the different types of virtual communities with two layers.
Figure 8 below uses Porter’s classification and highlights how Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature
Members links to it. The establishment is ‘member initiated’, as individuals who wish to join, request
the page to join and then are accepted by an assigned administrator. In addition, the page is managed
by the members with the assigned administrators after being created by a member. Additionally, the
relationship orientation is ’social’ as members of the group are part of the community socially, as the
mutual reason they join is for football and/or Gillingham FC. (Porter, 2004)
Figure 8. (Porter, 2004)
Social Capital Theory
The Social Capital Theory suggests that social capital, the network of relationships possessed by an
individual or a social network and the set of resources embedded within it, strongly influence the
extent to which interpersonal knowledge sharing occurs (Chiu, Hsu, & Wang, 2006). Putnam, (2000)
however suggested that usage of and interaction through the internet decreases social capital. In
spite of this, Wellman, Haase, Witte, & Hampton, (2001) indicated that use of the internet
supplemented social capital by extending the existing levels of face-to-face and telephone contacts.
Bonding social capital occurs among homogeneous populations and is believed to be valuable for
these marginalised members of the community in supporting their collective needs (Panth, 2010). It
is often seen contextually as parochial and with only benefits gained by those with internet access
(Leonard, 2004). Granovetter’s work, (1973) in contrast, suggested that bridging is more likely to
consist of less close relationships but having common purposes and pursuits.
Trust is considered to be a social phenomenon that can be described as an interpersonal relationship
that has an influence over the behaviour of individuals, (Rompf, 2015). Trust makes it possible
therefore to maintain peaceful and stable social relations that are the basis for collective behaviour
and productive cooperation, (Newton, 2001). Thick trust represents close bonds with a few members
of the neighbourhood, whilst thin trust refers to the general trust amongst the community (Harpham,
Grant, & Rodriguez, 2004).
Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only would be perceived to have thin trust. This would
be created by giving opinions with backed up arguments that people within the group agree with. If
opinions are different, the opinion is still respected due to the policies of the virtual community. The
thin trust is maintained by giving opinions on games, transfers and other football related topics.
Opinions of Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only
After being a member of Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only virtual community for
a few months, insight into the virtual community has grown dramatically. The collective knowledge
of the football club is greatly enhanced. One thing that really stood out, is how friendly all of the
members are to each other despite possibly having a difference of opinions. This might be due to the
rules that are in place for this virtual community, but either way, it was pleasant to see everyone
demonstrating mutual respect. Another aspect that is admired was how frequent and active a lot of
the members are within the virtual community.
There are multiple posts per hour which really makes an individual feel part of the community. Being
part of the virtual community increased the interest for Gillingham FC. This was mainly due to how
frequent members posted. This is an advantage to the virtual community, as it will continue to grow
as the members continue to contribute significantly. If a member did post, they would feel included
in the discussion as opinions are not really deemed as not valid, it creates a certain bond within the
virtual community which links back to the Social Capital Theory as discussed above.
Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only is a great virtual community to be part of. Passion
and interest for the topic was a motivator to be part of the virtual community (Hall & Graham, 2004).
The virtual community allowed opinions to be expressed, in an environment that allowed members
to feel valued. Virtual communities are becoming ever more present in the world today (BoydThomas, Okleshen-Peters, & Tolson, 2007). Gillingham FC Fans Forum for Mature Members Only will
continue to grow without a doubt, due to the fact the forum is well run and Gillingham FC are
challenging for promotion.
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Community What are Consumers Saying about Fashion? Journal of Fashion
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Communities: An Integration of Social Capital and Social Cognitive Theories. Decision
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Football Club:
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Gupta, S., & Kim, H.-W. (2004). Virtual Community: Concepts, Implications and Future Research
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Social Science and Medicine, 2267-2277.
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Work. British Journal of Social Work, 353-370.
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Research. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 00.
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Supplement Social Capital. American Behavioural Scientist, 436-455.
1. Introduction
You are asked to write an analysis of one virtual community that you choose in terms of the social
constructs covered on the SCB course in the first six modules. You should write about your
community in depth, within the limit of around 1500 words. Relate your work to the visionaries in
the field (some of whom are listed and their materials provided for you in the ‘Readings’ section of
the SCB Moodle site). Also consider the material taught in class, and you own thoughts and
experiences with social media tools.
2. Theoretical Constructs
a) Web 1.0 to Web 3.0
What features of the web have been added since web pages were uni-directional in content
delivery? How have blogs, wikis, social media been applied in virtual communities? How is the
web continuing to develop to support virtual communities?
b) Social Media Content
What content is useful and appropriate for virtual communities? How does your chosen community
use different social media? How effective is it in doing so?
c) The Typology of a Virtual Community
What classifies your chosen community? Where does your virtual community sit on the typology,
and what shortcomings might you be able to identify in the existing theory around typologies? For
example, is it a member-initiated community that grew to have a commercial underpinning, which
cannot be reflected easily in the typology? How would you change the typology?
d) The Five 5Ps
Where is the community located? How do users communicate? etc. Analyse your community in
terms of purpose, place, platform, population and profit model.
e) Elements of a Business Model
How does your virtual community make a profit, or is it not for profit? Evaluate its business model
using the ‘Nine Key Elements of a Business Model’ (tabulate your observations), and ALSO using
the Business Model Canvas (ensure you think about both resources and costs). Examine the
‘Nespresso’ Case Study and video to gain a good understanding of the business model canvas
method. It is a great way to analyse a community or business without lots of words.
f) Social Capital
Analyse levels of trust, strong and weak ties, elements of bonding and bridging social capital,
public and private regard and formal and informal relationships within your virtual community.
3.0 Research Methods
Remember to research properly, and be able to reference a good spread of papers, journals,
books etc. in your APA format References List. It is insufficient to use less than fifteen
references (you will lose marks), as a good starting point for your research is provided in the
‘Readings’ section of the SCB Moodle site. You may wish to join your chosen virtual community
and to analyse it from within. Make sure you screen dump suitable sections or images, as this can
go a long way to illustrate elements of a virtual community, while keeping the words written down.
4.0 Things to Remember
Don’t assume that because your community is not for profit, and just sustains itself by covering
costs, or that is formed as a member-initiated community, that it should not or cannot be analysed
using the business model canvas or nine elements, as it almost certainly can be. Don’t omit
elements of the analysis unless you are not worried about losing marks.
5.0 Submission Format
Make sure you put your research through Turnitin, and embed a screen dump of the Turnitin
Similarity Report as Appendix 1 to your assignment document. (This will not count in the word
count). Note that the assignment submission link is via a Turnitin Dropbox.
Ensure you provide for your report…

A List of Contents
An Abstract of up to 250 words summarising the aims and findings of your work*
A Cover Page with the following on it:

Your student number
Your full name
The unit name and number: ‘Social Computing for Business (U24036)’
The assignment title: ‘Assignment 1 – Title…’
Page numbers on all but the title page (centred in the footer of each page)
Your student number in the header of each page
The Word Count of your report
* The Abstract should be written after you have completed your analysis, and should not be
included in the Word Count. The references do not count in the Word Count either.
6.0 Submission Draft Assessment
As stated in lectures, you can submit a final draft of your Assignment 1 analysis to me for a
formative assessment before you submit your work by the assignment link on Moodle. I will review
your work, and give you any ideas for improving it that I think appropriate. Often this might be to
point out a missing section, or to comment that your references are insufficient.
7.0 Assessment Deadline
You should submit your work via the Moodle ‘Coursework 1 Submission Link’ no later than…
Sunday January 20th 2019, by 23.55.
[email protected]

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