Introduction main uses of social media by employees

Introduction of the issue

Social media is a phenomenon that has transformed the
interaction and communication of individuals throughout the world (Edomswan et
al., 2011). Social media websites are forms of electronic communication “that
build upon … the technological foundations of the internet and allow the
creation and exchange of user-generated content” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The main uses of social media by employees are: blogs, social
networking sites, wikis and video-or content sharing sites. (Piskorki &
McCall, 2010; Vaast, Davidson, &
Mattson, forth coming).It is seen by many as having a positive impact on
business due to being easily accessible and providing new ways of connecting
with customers (Cisco, 2010; Dunn, 2010; Wilson, Guinan, Parise, & Weinberg, 2011). However, social
media presents both challenges as well as opportunities for organisations. Employees
are able to attempt new ideas and are able to make sure that ideas are executed
relatively quickly (Vaast, 2010). This allows organisations to make themselves more
agile and are able to respond to the demands of customers, who are also
equipped with large platforms on social media and who’s opinion can gravitate
large numbers of new customers towards the business (Gallaugher &
Ransbotham, 2010). It is for these reasons that it is imperative that
businesses make sure that the online presence is not negatively affected,
however, resulting in the loss of some of managements traditional control over
what IT initiatives and applications are being implemented and used within the
organisation itself (Kane, Fichman, Gallaugher, & Glaser, 2009; Safko &
Brake, 2009; Stolley, 2009).

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Employee use of social media may have diverse impacts upon organisations,
both internally (e.g. related to culture, innovation processes; McAfee, 2006)
as well as externally (e.g. what organisational image employees might project
on public social networking sites; Kane et al., 2009). Organisations, on their own
accord, may seek to encourage certain uses of social media and limit others,
which justifies the need for governance. In this regard, organisational
policies constitute one of the main vehicles for social media governance
available to organisations. Throughout this report, corporate control and the
outlying reach of employers over employees’ social media presence will be examined.

 

Theories from the literature

There are many
different, sometimes contradictory theories relating to the topic of social
media governance by different corporations. The first theory I will mention is
a theory which is called the amplification hypothesis, which states then when
certainty is expressed, the attitude of the person is fixed.

Another theory
relating to corporate governance of employee social media is conversion theory
which means that the minority In a group can have a disproportionate effect on
influencing those in the majority (). This is particularly important if businesses
have a disgruntled employee who vents their frustration on social media and
this can then lead to other employees shifting their viewpoints to matching
those of the disgruntled employee which can have a snowballing effect meaning
that swathes of employees can become demotivated relatively quickly.

A third theory
relating to corporate governance of social media is reciprocity norm which is
defined by ipfs as “the expectation
that people will respond favourably to each other by returning benefits for
benefits, and responding with either indifference or hostility to harms.”
(). This is particularly relevant to issue at hand as perceived organisational
support (POS) is one of two ways in which reciprocity norm is measured. POS is
the amount of which employees believe that the company that they work for
values the contributions that they themselves make towards the company and
cares about the employees’ general wellbeing.

Real life examples

It is argued by
SOMEONE that the link between organisations and their participation and
attitudes towards social media is incredibly important as Ineffective social
media policies can lead to negative publicity and result in diminished company
performance (). It can also lead to employees having motivational issues. It is
for these reasons that it is imperative that organisations have effective social
media policies. Organisational policies reveal
and reflect the attitudes held by high level decision makers of the companies (Bassellier,
Reich, & Benbazat, 2001;
Merand, 2006).

In the following section you will find a sample of social
media policies to deepen our understanding of the affordances of social
media in the workplace and of organisational governance associated with these
affordances.

Adidas

The first example of how companies
respond to the contemporary issue of the governance of social media in the
workplace is Adidas. Adidas is an incredibly large company with offices and
employees situated in many different locations and they manage their employees’
social media ventures by taking an incredibly strict, yet transparent approach
when it comes to the company’s’ Social Media Guidelines. Below is an excerpt of
Adidas’ policy towards social media ():

Employees
are allowed to associate themselves with the company when posting but they
must clearly brand their online posts as personal and purely their own.
The company should not be held liable for any repercussions the employees’
content may generate.
Content
pertaining to sensitive company information (particularly those found
within Adidas internal networks) should not be shared to the outside
online community. Divulging information like the company’s design plans,
internal operations and legal matters are prohibited.
Proper
copyright and reference laws should be observed by employees when posting
online.

This is a very good way tp respond to govern social media in the
workplace as it provides a clear outline or which behaviours are expected and allowed
(or not allowed) by the organisation and easily available to each member of the
company meaning if an employee is in violation of one of the rules then it is not
the company’s fault.

 

CNN

For the second
example I will look at CNNs response to the issue of the governance of social
media in the workplace. In 2008, CNN fired a man named Cesare Pazienza for
maintaining a personal blog (). The termination of Pazienzas’ employment led
CNN to receive some negative media attention from other outlets and in an attempt
to clarify the company’s position on the governing of social media, Barbara
Levin, a spokeswoman for the news network proclaimed that “CNN has a policy
that says employees must first get permission to write for a non-CNN outlet.”
() CNN also sent an email to Pazienza outlining the company’s policy on social media
(). Some argued that the case highlighted an as-yet
unsolved challenge created by the mash-up of traditional media with social
media: how to maintain a corporate appearance of objectivity while allowing
individual corporate reporters unfettered expressions of subjectivity.

It can be perceived
that the failure lies with the managers within the organisation because they
were not transparent with the publication of company policy.

Contrasting the two examples

By picking
a positive and a negative application of social media governance carried out by
the two organisations it is possible to compare the examples previously stated and
to compare them against each other and analyse the different ways the companies
have failed or succeeded and if there is any way that both of these companies
behave with relation to social media governance.

 

A notable
trend between both Adidas and CNN had to do with both of these organisations’
growing recognition of social media and professionalisation of their response
to them. For example, the policies enacted as mentioned earlier often provided
statements explicitly defining their scope and detailing the activities and
tools the policy covered, however in CNNs case it was far detailed far too late
and only upon receiving negative publicity. In this sense, both of the earlier
policies included an opening paragraph defining and Describing Social Media applications.

 

In addition to delimiting the
perimeter of their authority, these definitions and descriptions of social
media offered a pedagogical dimension as they informed employees about social
media, suggesting an acknowledgement of the new, and still rather unknown,
character of social media in the organizational context.

Our analysis revealed that the sampled policy
documents contained elements representative of organizations’ perceptions of
social media affordances as well as of the governance principles put forth by
organizations in response to these affordances. Overall, the organizations did
indeed acknowledge the four affordances of visibility, persistence,
editability, and association in the policies. Yet, they placed uneven emphasis
on different affordances as well as highlighted certain unanticipated facets
for some of the affordances. Our analyses also unexpectedly found relationships
among the four affordances as well as between affordances and governance
principles.

Examples of responses to the issue

Overall, Adidas’
response to the issue of social media governance in the workplace is outstanding.
On their specific website, they show the policy in it’s entirety (), which
makes the employees in no doubt at all how they should act. The policy is also
entirely reasonable without being too restrictive upon the employees’ speech.

By contrast,
CNN handled this contemporary issue poorly. The managers of the company had not
made the rules of the company well known at all and only released them when
prompted by an ex-employee whose employment was terminated because of
violations of a rule which he was not aware of. As a result of poor management
of this issue negative press was created by other news networks, damaging the company’s
reputation, which is critically important for a news organisation, as they rely
on members of the public trusting the source of the organisation in question.

After analysing
the two, it is evident that Adidas sets out a perfect example of how management
should deal with corporate governance of employees’ social media. Unfortunately,
CNNs response to the same contemporary management issue damaged the reputation
through the leaked email they sent to the employee after they had been fired
and by not making the employees of the news network aware of the standards and
guidelines (). Upon reflection, the manager of CNN should have reemployed the
worker who was fired and made the standards and guidelines for social media
posts available to all employees through publication of the rules onto the
internet.

Reflection

A year ago, I
worked for as an office administrator for a local cleaning company, APM
cleaning and during my time working there one of the other members of staff,
working as a cleaner was removed from their position for posting inappropriate
comments on the social media platform, Facebook. The comments were then reported
to the manager of the business and he was promptly removed from his position
and replaced. The company has a clear social media policy located on a pin-up
board in the entrance of the workplace. If I were the manager of APM cleaning I
would have responded in the same way but in the future, make it abundantly
clear to any new employees joining the company and outlining the policy on the
website of the company which would also increase the transparency of the company
making the employees know for absolute certain what is and is not allowed to be
posted on social media.

Whilst in the
process of researching social media governance in the workplace, I was shocked
to find out how some managers and corporate higher-ups of successful companies,
such as CNN have little to no transparency on the organisational policies of
social media governance within their company. I was also disappointed to find out
that many companies do not make their policies easily accessible for lower-level
employees to view. Before conducting my research, I was expecting to find far
more examples of companies being to draconian with their attitudes towards
social media posts, however during my research, I found it to be to the contrary
and that many companies are realising the importance of online presence and as
such in an effort to stimulate online discussion about their organisations are loosening
the amount of governance placed upon the employees.

Throughout the research
and writing of this report I have found many approaches which has greatly
helped me as this now means that if I encounter any similar situations as to
the ones that I have researched I will able to solve the problems in a more
effective way.