Design for social presence in online communities: a multidimensional approach
The design of online communities that promotes user participation is critical to the community’s success in fostering new ideas and innovations, building knowledge competencies, and strengthening customer relations. Social presence has been considered as a major design principle and important concept in explaining the relationship between online community artifacts and online user behavior. While most prior IS research adopts a unidimensional conceptualization of social presence and focuses on its effects on user attitude and/or behavior, this research employs a multidimensional conceptualization and demonstrates its suitability for understanding the effects of online community artifacts on social presence. More specifically, this research examines the effects of three categories of design artifacts (artifacts supporting self-presentation, deep profiling, and virtual co-presence) on three social presence dimensions (awareness, affective social presence and cognitive social presence). To validate the research model, a survey was conducted with four online communities. Different social presence dimensions were found to carry different weights in forming the overall sense of social presence and the effects of perceived usage of various online community artifacts varied for different social presence dimensions.