School Papers

Introduction 2009; Stolley, 2009). Employee use of social

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, particularly relating to culture, innovation processes (McAfee,
2006) as well as what organisational image employees project on 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.

The theory of
social influence is another theory which is incredibly important to companies’
attitudes towards the governance of employees’ social media. The theory of
social influence states that we are strongly influenced by external people
based upon the perception of the persons relationship towards the influencer
(). By an extension of logic this means that the employer must have a close
relationship with the employee as this means that the employee will conform and
comply to the culture of the organisation. This can be used as a tool by the
organisations which are able to influence the attitudes of the employee, improving
employee motivation ().

Another theory
which is linked to the social media governance in the workplace is called
ultimate terms. The ultimate terms theory means that certain words carry more
persuasive power that other words. If used correctly in a negative way it can
mean a damage to the organisations reputation and as such employers would want
to take steps in order to prevent the public perception of the company turning
negative. A way that they can do this is the limiting of certain posts by employees
to social media. This theory can also be employed by the organisation itself in
an effort to convince people of the quality of the company which strengthens
the company’s reputation, this is achieved through the use of “charismatic”
terns ().

Maslow’s hierarchy
of needs pyramid shows the scale of needs required by individuals. The scale
increases from basic needs on the bottom, to psychological needs in the middle
and self-fulfilment needs on the top. The pyramid itself is not directly linked
towards organisational control of social media, however, employers can use it
in order to tailor direct messages towards their employees which, when used in tandem
with the reciprocity norm mentioned above can mean that employees believe that
the company that they work for values the contributions of the employee. This
will then mean that the employee is more motivated and a better worker.

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 two real world examples of social media
policies to deepen the understanding we have of the employers’ attitudes
towards social media in the workplace reflected in the policies that these
organisations create and of organisational governance associated with these
policies.

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 to 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.

Organisational theory ties into Adidas’ response to the management issue
as employees’ will be affected by the reciprocity norm and will influence the thinking
of employees’ meaning that they will be both encouraged and motivated, which
will have a positive impact upon the organisation.

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. This
negative publicity is linked to conversion theory which I mentioned before, as
this negative publicity would then affect the publics perception of what it is
like to work inside the organisation and in turn, the organisation itself.

The complete
lack of any publication of what CNN does or does not allow employees to write can
also be linked back towards reciprocity norm where people respond in a hostile
manner towards harms which will mean that other employees and even the consumer
base would start to think negatively about the company.

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 fantastic example of how
management should deal with corporate governance of employees’ social media.
Unfortunately, CNNs response to the same 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.

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