Kadushin, in Chapter 5: Psychological foundations of social networking, shows three motivations that are always present in social networking: safety, effectance and status.
Dense, cohesive networks can provide the support that is the motivation for safety. I would consider an online support group providing safety to its community. Trust is placed in the community or site as a whole, and participants or members may receive what they need not just from the group leader, but from other members or nodes (p.61).
Effectance is about being motivated to reach out and connect outside one’s comfort zone. Raul Pacheco-Vega could be considered what Kadushin refers to as a “highly expert network specialist” or broker – “…a professional manipulator of people and information who brings about communication for profit” (p.57). By helping his online social networking friends, and friends of friends, he builds trust and stability of his online reputation within his community. The benefits include collecting a variety of ‘credits’ for brokering, and new ideas that are available to the group, but it comes at a cost. This effort of brokering requires personality attributes that are entrepreneurial, not always “nice,” and comfortable with aggressively reaching out (pp.63-63). Pacheco-Vega wisely responds to everyone who tweets him first, before generally tweeting to everyone else, while being generous with his support.
Status or rank refer to using the social network or reaching out to “keep up with the Joneses” or for social climbing. Sharing and creating content, increasing online followers, tweets, and retweets are ways to improve one’s status within an online network.
Kadushin sums up that these motivations “seem affected by cultural and social context” (p. 73).