Veronika Karnowski / Teresa K. Naab / Daniela Schlütz

On the Challenges of Measuring Mobile Social Media Use: Explaining Differences Between Data from Surveys and Mobile Experience Sampling

Quantifying media use is a challenge in communication research. Standardized retrospective surveys demand a great deal of respondents, especially regarding their ability to remember and generalize media behavior. One possibility to address this shortcoming is the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) that repeatedly collects in-situ data from participants at multiple points in time. In this chapter, we first outline causes of measurement errors in retrospective self-reports. We then introduce the mobile version of ESM, its benefits to measuring mobile social media use and its potential to overcome deficits of retrospective self-reports while also presenting its own challenges. Based on this, we deduce potential factors explaining differences between data obtained by retrospective surveys and MESM, respectively. These factors are then brought to a test in an empirical study of YouTube, Facebook, and WhatsApp usage episodes comparing retrospective and in-situ measures.