Building news media’s online audience community
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The purpose of this study was to explore the values of operating online user-generated content projects for legacy media organizations. This study proposed two overarching research questions, which were: 1) what are the relationships between audiences’ contribution motives and contribution behaviors? And 2) how do audiences’ participation in online UGC activities affect their relationships with the media organizations? By using a mixed design, this study identified five major motives for content contribution. They were personal expression motive, personal agency gratifications motive, social motive, news agenda motive, and brand motive. This study also found that contributors’ motives for personal function encouraged them to contribute more original content to the community, and their social motives positively predicted their comment -posting behavior. The strength of motives was also important in affecting users’ contribution behavior. Meanwhile, this study also found that a media organization’s UGC site included multiple clusters, and contributors within these clusters tended to identify the UGC site as different types of online communities. In addition, the mechanisms of how contributors’ sense of communities formed were examined. Contributors with different motives tended to have slight differences in how their sense of communities was formed. This study also confirmed that contributors’ sense of community and perceived gratifications obtained from community engagement could generate positive value for the media brand and also encourage users to have consistent contributions in their UGC communities. In conclusion, this study bridged the gap of research on media organizations’ UGC adoption, and also made theoretical contribution to the research areas of new media’s uses & gratifications, social identity theories, online communities, and brand-consumer relationships theories. The findings from this study will benefit both legacy and non-traditional media organizations in terms of building consistent online UGC initiatives and stronger media-audience relationships.