© Media Watch 6 (3) 273-285, 2015
ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818
Cultivating Connections in 140 Characters: A Case Study of Twitter Relationship Building
JESSICA D. BERTAPELLE & DEBORAH BALLARD-REISCH
Wichita State University, USA
Social media use is ubiquitous in the United States. Not surprisingly, an academic debate has emerged about whether or not computer-mediated communication facilitates or hurts interpersonal relationships. This exploratory case study adds to the conversation by assessing how Twitter users in the Wichita, Kansas community view the impact of Twitter on their social lives, specifically, communication and relationships. Using a grounded theory approach and inductive thematic analysis, this paper analyzed data from a two-phase study involving key informant interviews (N=15) and six focus groups (N = 32). Three themes emerged: Twitter and professional relationships; Twitter and personal relationships, and Twitter and community. Analysis indicated that Twitter is a robust tool used to build and maintain interpersonal and community relationships that range from shallow and impersonal to deep and meaningful, depending on the desires of users, all in 140 characters or less.
Keywords: Twitter, personal relationships, community, social media
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Dr. Jessica Bertapelle is an assistant professor of communication at Wichita State University, USA. Her research interests include the communication in and around romantic relationships, online social support communities, and communication dynamics in grandparent-headed households.
Dr. Deborah Ballard-Reisch is the Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Chair in Strategic Communication and a professor at Wichita State University, USA.