Social media research: Theories, constructs, and conceptual frameworks

Wai Ting Ngai, Spencer S.C. Tao, Karen K.L. Moon

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

502 Citations (Scopus)


In just one decade, social media have revolutionized the life of many people and thus attracted much attention, not only from industry, but also academia. To understand how researchers have adopted theories, used research constructs, and developed conceptual frameworks in their studies, a systematic and structured literature review based on five leading online academic databases was conducted. A total of 46 articles on social media research were consolidated and analyzed, including empirical studies spanning from 2002 to 2011. A collection of theories/models and constructs/attributes adopted in these articles is summarized and tabulated for easy reference and comprehension of extant research results. A causal-chain framework was developed based on the input-moderator-mediator-output model to illustrate the causality between the research constructs used and the conceptualization of theoretical models/theories proposed by previous researchers. Because social media cover a wide range of research topics, the literature review may not be exhaustive. However, the proposed causal-chain framework and suggested research directions may be regarded as representative references for future research in the subject area. This is believed to be the first comprehensive literature review of social media research, and it contributes to a better understanding of the causes and effects of the adoption and usage of social media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Information Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Causal-chain framework
  • Literature review
  • Research constructs
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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