Research on the discontinuous usage intention of strong-tie social media from the perspective of anxiety: Taking WeChat Friends Circle as an example



With the in-depth development of the mobile Internet era, social media as the platform of self-expression and interactive sharing has become the center of users’ daily life in the new media era (Vannucci, Flannery, & Ohannessian, 2017). However, while users experience fast communication and free expression, problems such as information redundancy and social congestion are more and more prominent, which bring a certain psychological burden and negative emotion to users, and stimulate the discontinuous use intention(DUI). According to Pew Research Center, 49% of smartphone users are getting away from social media (Li, Liu, & Zhang, 2018). The excessive use of social media occupies a lot of time or energy of users, and negative emotions such as anxiety, disappointment and loneliness are generated, which even affect users’ real life status (Liang & Gan, 2017).

Different social media have different influences on users. Among them, the strong-tie social media established by offline acquaintances has brought the greatest impact on users. Granovetter’s theory of social relations points out that strong ties are a stable network of relationships, with strong homogeneity between individuals and frequent interactions based on emotions (Granovetter, 1977). Therefore, Chinese WeChat platform based on the offline address book belongs to the strong-tie social media. According to the latest China Internet statistics report(CNNIC), as of December 2018, the usage rate of WeChat friends circle was 83.4%, indicating an obvious decrease of 3.9 percentage points from the end of 2017 (CNNIC, 2019). According to the 2018 China Social Media Impact Report, the social media usage satisfaction index continued to decline from 2014 to 2016 (73.4%, 68%, 67%), and the negative impact of social media on users has increased from 89% to 93% (Guo, 2018).Besides, there is a significant increase in users’ social anxiety and stress, such as “have to do something on social media that I don’t want to do,” “others’ happy posts affect my mentality”. 

2.Literature review and hypothesis

This article takes the strong-tie social media WeChat as the research platform, from the perspective of anxiety, we try to explore the impact of social media anxiety on users’ discontinuous usage intention. Five hypotheses were proposed after the literature review of social media use and social anxiety, social anxiety and the discontinuous usage intention, and then established the research model (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. The Research Model.


This study applied online survey to collect data and tested hypotheses through structural equations to explore the relationship between social anxiety and the discontinuous usage intention of strong-tie platform represented by WeChat friends circle. The hypothesis was tested by Partial Least Squares (PLS) Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) through SmartPLS2.0 software. The path coefficients and significance between the variables are shown in Fig. 2.

***p<0.001, ns non-significant

Fig. 2. Results of Hypothesis Testing.


This study has important theoretical and practical significance for understanding the user psychology and behavioral trends in the mobile social era, and also provides reference for social media operation services and healthy development under the context of Chinese users.