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Over the years, the use of social media networks has evolved from being merely a social platform for connecting with lifelong friends to an essential part of everyday activities. Nowadays, social media networks help to make relevant connections for specific purposes (Valenzuela, Namsu, and Kee 875). The guideline on a focus group for social media use, on which this research is based, provides insight into a student’s experience with the use of social media for social networking.
It also shows the nature of the relationship between various tools of social media and individuals (Valenzuela et al. 890). This guideline explains how a focus group should test out ideas through obtaining relevant feedback and exploring social media areas of interest of the student population. This guideline is found suitable for the topic of the present research.
Focus Group Overview: Purpose, Goals, and Objectives
The purpose of this focus group is to gather information from the student population, mainly regarding their preferences and opinions on the use of social media. The identified social networks used by the student population include Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The goal of this focus group is to find out current social media trends, gather information on the trending conversations and topics in various social networks, and understand how students react to them.
The additional purpose of the focus group is to find out the preferences of the students and their feelings about the use of social media (Roblyer, McDaniel, Webb, Herman, and Witty 137). The focus group will shed light on the current competition between social media networks and the content strategies, which they employ to make students prefer a certain social media network. Apart from that, this focus group will help to work out a student’s wish list that social media networks need to introduce to enhance their further popularity. The key objective of this focus group is to determine how the use of social media networks influences the experiences and self-identity of students; it also determines students’ behavioral patterns for social media activity (Kaplan and Haenlein 60).
Description of Participants
Ten students from the student population are selected to participate in this focus group. The sample group is suitable since it allows a researcher to employ the technique of snowball sampling (Stewart and Shamdasani 50). After confirming the attendance of one participant, a researcher asks them to look for other individuals interested in participating in a focus group. The activity takes at least 60 minutes.
The focus group should emphasize the issues related to the use of social media networks. A self-assessment survey should be held to record the activities and the reported data. It is essential to consider a situation where there may be no-shows to find a solution to the problem of low attendance. Inviting a bigger number of participants than was planned can solve this problem (Stewart and Shamdasani 72).
The activity of the participants is performed by selecting one participant randomly from the target group to evoke responses. The moderator of the focus group should have a plan for tallying responses, and he or she should also ensure that all the students participating have time and an opportunity to answer at least one question. Incentives offered to the participants, who confirm their attendance, should increase effectiveness. The incentives should motivate participants to complete a questionnaire on social media and make them attend a 60-minute focus group. An important problem for the focus group is the space set-up.
The event can be held in a place with a round table or with chairs set up in a circle, depending on the number of participants. It is important for each participant to sign-in when they arrive, and this is considered informed consent to participate in the focus group. Check and ensure that all the equipment is put in its place and functions. The equipment includes writing materials, surveys, recording devices, and informed consent. For a moderator, it is important to take notes on each participant’s thoughts and record observations from the responses.
Churchill and Iacobucci (58) state that the topics relevant to this focus group revolve around the usage of social media networks by the student participants. The line of questioning and the received responses mostly reflect various strategies used by social networks for improving their users’ experience. Among the questions listed in the survey are: how participants use social media network platforms, how they use instant messaging networks, and how they utilize social media products and services. The use of social networking by students and the evoked responses from the topics vary because the identified social media networks have shortcomings in the products and services they currently offer.
Social Media Networks Usage
The relevant questions, which the participants are required to answer, should be formulated in such a way, which makes them debatable. The participants are asked to identify the social media networks, which they have been using for communication with their friends and family members within the last two weeks. The social media methods they can select include phone calls, text messages, social networking platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and e-mail. The participants are also asked to name the social networking website that they have been visiting frequently in the past week; the options include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Orkut, and LinkedIn.
The participants are asked to give their preferred social media website and state how frequently they access it. The options for the answers include multiple times a day, once a week, a few times a week, about once a week, and about once a day.
Specific Use of Social Media Networks
The participants are questioned about each of the identified social media networks they selected and the frequency of usage. They are asked about the content that they have posted on Facebook for the past week. This includes sharing personal photos and posting content on Facebook pages and groups.
The participants are also given questions about the instant messaging services that they have been using for the past one week. They are questioned about their experience with the use of Facebook instant messaging and asked how frequently they share their photos through Instagram or Snapchat. The participants are also allowed to give a review on the type of content they have been frequently searching via social media networks for the past one month.
The options for the possible answers include products or services, news, medical information, places, events, travel ideas, and other people. The moderator will be writing down all the responses evoked and the observations made by the participants (Churchill and Iacobucci 36). All the activities are recorded for further analysis of the usage of social media by students (DeAndrea, Ellison, LaRose, Steinfield, and Fiore 17).
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Churchill, Gilbert A., and Dawn Iacobucci. Marketing Research: Methodological Foundations. Cincinnati, Ohio: South-Western College Pub, 2010. Print.
DeAndrea, David C., Nicole B.Ellison, Robert LaRose, Charles Steinfield and Andrew Fiore. “Serious Social Media: On the Use of Social Media for Improving Students’ Adjustment to College.” The Internet and Higher Education 15.1 (2012): 15-23. Print.
Kaplan, Andreas M., and Michael Haenlein. “Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media.” Business Horizons 53.1 (2010): 59-68. Print.
Roblyer, M.D., Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman and James V. Witty. “Findings on Facebook in Higher Education: a Comparison of College Faculty and Student Uses and Perceptions of Social Networking Sites.” The Internet and Higher Education 13.3 (2010): 134-140. Print.
Stewart, David W., and Prem N. Shamdasani. Focus Groups: Theory and Practice. Vol. 20. New York City, New York: Sage Publications, 2014. Print.
Valenzuela, Sebastián, Namsu Park and Kerk F. Kee. “Is There Social Capital in a Social Network Site? Facebook Use and College Students’ Life Satisfaction, Trust, and Participation.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 14.4 (2009): 875-901. Print.