This paper aims to examine social media communication that may consist of a database for online research and may create an online imagined community that follows special language symbols and shares common beliefs in a similar way to Anderson’s imagined communities.
Well-known databases were searched in the available literature for specific keywords which were associated with the imagined community, and methodological tools such as online interviews, content analysis, archival analysis and social media.
The paper discusses the use of multiple measures, such as document and archival analysis, online interviews and content analysis, which may derive from the online imagined community that social media create. Social media may in fact provide useful data that are available for research, yet are relatively understudied and not fully used in communication research, not to mention in archival services. Comparison takes place between online community’s characteristics and traditional communication research. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social media’s use of special language requirements may categorise discussion of these potential data, based on specific symbols, topical threads, purposeful samples and catering for longitudinal studies.
Social media have not been fully implemented for online communication research yet. Online communication may offer significant implications for marketers, advertisers of a company or for an organisation to do research on or for their target groups. The role of libraries and information professionals can be significant in data gathering and the dissemination of such information using ICTs and renegotiating their role.
The theoretical contribution of this paper is the examination of the creation of belonging in an online community, which may offer data that can be further examined and has all the credentials to do so, towards the enhancement of online communication research. The applications of social media to research and the use by and for information professionals and marketers may in fact contribute to the management of an online community with people sharing similar ideas. The connection of the online imagined community with social media for research has not been studied, and it would further enhance understanding from organisations or marketers.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 3rd International Conference on Integrated Information, IC-ININFO, held in Prague, Czech Republic, from 5th to 9th September, 2013, http://history.icininfo.net/2013/
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