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Social Exchange and Social Media

The social exchange theory describes the social dynamics within a group and how they can be modeled by the power imbalances of the interactions within the group’s social network. The person with the most power in the relationship gets the majority of the value. The purpose of this theory, according to this article, is to maximize benefits and also to minimize costs. They define cost as time, money, and effort needed for a relationship. Benefits, on the other hand, are the companionship and support derived from the relationship. Social exchange involves looking at each relationship and weighing the costs and benefits of each one. A person weighs the costs and benefits by comparing one relationship with another and seeing if there are any better alternatives. The article uses the honeymoon phase of a relationship to show when the social exchange within the relationship is ignored and the costs and benefits are slowly revealed after this period is over.

Although this article uses relationships as an example of the social exchange theory, social media is also another example of this theory in place. There is a cost and benefit exchange when liking or commenting a post on Facebook or Instagram. There is little cost to like or comment on a post that someone has posted and the benefit of being able to be a part of an experience is large. The benefit of the poster is the ability to share their day-to-day life and to connect to others while doing so. On the other hand, the cost is the time it takes to write the post or to take and post the picture. The poster, in extreme cases, gets the most power from this relationship. There exists a lot of social media influencers that get money from advertisers from posts with a lot of likes and comments. These influencers obtain advertisers because they have a large following. Therefore, when someone likes or comments on these posts then the poster receives the benefit of money from this action.

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-social-exchange-theory-2795882#targetText=Social%20exchange%20theory%20suggests%20that,are%20greater%20than%20the%20benefits.

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