Exploring online social platform affordances for digital creators: a multi-method approach using qualitative and configurational analysis

Seoyoun Lee, Younghoon Chang, One-Ki Daniel Lee, Sunghan Ryu, Qiuju Yin

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


This study explores the key platform affordances that online social platform providers need to offer digital creators to strengthen the creator ecosystem, one of the leading accelerators for platform growth. Specifically, it aims to investigate how these affordances make the dynamic combinations for high platform quality across diverse platform types and demographic characteristics of digital creators.

This study adopts a multi-method approach. Drawing upon the affordance theory, Study 1 aims to identify the key affordances of online social platforms based on relevant literature and the qualitative interview data collected from 22 digital creators, thereby constructing a conceptual framework of key platform affordances for digital creators. Building on the findings of Study 1, Study 2 explores the dynamic combinations of these platform affordances that contribute to platform quality using a configurational approach. Data from online surveys of 185 digital creators were analyzed using fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA).

The results of Study 1 identified key online social platform affordances for digital creators, including Storytelling, Socialization, Design, Development, Promotion, and Protection affordance. Study 2 showed that the combinations of these platform affordances for digital creators are diverse according to the types of platforms, creators’ gender, and their professionality.

Research limitations/implications
Like many studies, this research also has several limitations. One limitation of the research is the potential constraint of the extent of how well the data samples represent the group of creators who are actively producing digital content. Despite the addition of screening questions and meticulous data filtering, it is possible that we did not secure sufficient data from creators who are actively engaged in creative activities. In future research, it is worth contemplating the acquisition of data from actual groups of creators, such as creator communities. Future researchers anticipate obtaining more in-depth and accurate data by directly involving and collaborating with creators.

Practical implications
This study highlights the need for online social platforms to enhance features for storytelling, socializing, design, development, promotion, and protection, fostering a robust digital creator ecosystem. It emphasizes clear communication of these affordances, ensuring creators can effectively utilize them. Importantly, platforms should adapt these features to accommodate diverse creator profiles, considering differences in gender and expertise levels, especially in emerging spaces like the Metaverse. This approach ensures an equitable and enriching experience for all users and creators, underlining the importance of dynamic interaction and inclusivity in platform development and creator support strategies.

Social implications
This study underscores the social implications of evolving digital creator ecosystems on online platforms. Identifying six key affordances essential for digital creators highlights the need for platforms to enhance storytelling, socializing, design, development, promotion, and product protection. Crucially, it emphasizes inclusivity, urging platforms to consider diverse creator profiles, including gender and expertise differences, particularly in transitioning from traditional social media to the Metaverse. This approach nurtures a more robust creator ecosystem and fosters an equitable and enriching experience for all users. It signals a shift towards more dynamic, adaptive online environments catering to diverse creators and audiences.

For academics, this study builds the conceptual framework of online social platform affordances for digital creators. Using the configurational approach, this study identified various interdependent relationships among the affordances, which are nuanced by specific contexts, and suggested novel insights for future studies. For practices, the findings specified by creators and platform types are expected to guide platform providers in developing strategies to support digital creators and contribute to platform growth.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial Management & Data Systems
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2024


  • Platform affordance
  • Multi-method approach
  • Fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA)
  • Digital creator
  • Creator ecosystem
  • Affordance theory


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