The Complexities of Digital Participation

Do you remember the days when profiling usage of media technologies was about viewing or readership behaviour – who watched or read what? How long they spent doing this and the differential between media types (broadcast, print), channels, and vehicles. Media viewing behaviour was somewhat complicated, but it was far from the complexity we see today when trying to navigate the ubiquitous and complex world of digital and social media.Considering this change, I’ve often wondered what are the elements managers of digital media channels – be it marketers, communicators, digital media designers or even the owner of a small business or not for profit – consider when evaluating digital media for their brand or media channels and social communities.

My coauthor, Professor Mark Uncles (UNSW), and I have for a long time been interested in how we consider and regard usage of digital media, wherein penetration, access, usage and engagement strongly differ and also have parallels. We have also been interested in how those with and without website design experience differ in their perceptions of what is and isn’t digital media participation and what is of value in its consideration. We developed a paper exploring these issues. In this we consider how the professional context within which we work, shapes and guides our understanding of digital media participation and our own participation. This lends insight to the importance of decision making teams drawing from differing backgrounds in digital decision making – that is, creatives, digital designers, marketers/communications personnel, community members/audiences and other stakeholders. We have written a paper on the subject, that is currently in-review. The abstract is provided below.

The Complexities of : Abstract

Digital media participation is central to the process of marketing communications planning and digital media management. In this paper we discuss the characteristics and dimensions of digital media participation, differentiate it from digital media penetration and as an example, specifically examine the influence of two user characteristics on digital web participation. In this example, we examine the effect that user web site design experience and perceptions of web usability has on digital web participation. Hypotheses are tested on two web user segments: web users with (n=1177) and without (n=900) web site design experience. Findings show that perceptions of web usability has a significant impact on digital web participation, but these effects vary depending on: 1) how digital web participation is defined and measured; and 2) if a user has or has not got past web site design experience. The findings help in our understanding of the complexity of digital media participation and the usage-context within which it is socially constructed. The characteristics and dimensions discussed in this paper are important bases for understanding users across differing categories of digital media participation and differing digital media contexts.

Source: Page, K. L. and Uncles, M. D. (Under Review). The Complexities of Digital Media Participation.

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