What’s at Stake? An Analysis of Employee Social Media Engagement

Author(s), Title and Publication
Smith, B. G., Stumberger, N., Guild, J., & Dugan, A. (2017). What’s at stake? An analysis of employee social media engagement and the influence of power and social stake. Public Relations Review. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2017.04.010

Summary
Whereas most research on employee engagement considers employees’ internal connection to their organization, this research explored the external manifestation of their internal connection: social media engagement regarding the organization. The authors of this study examined two components of an employee’s online content generation: power and stake. Previous research has argued that social media behavior targeted at an organization is mitigated by one’s sense of power and the resources to enact that power, a concept that has been termed “social stake.” The authors of this study conducted 15 in-depth qualitative interviews with employees of various organizations in the United States to study employee social media engagement regarding their employers.

The findings showed that participants’ consideration of power often related to how they saw their ability to influence or impact others through their engagement in social media. Such influence or impact was commonly seen in the way participants referred to their expertise and knowledge, title or position within the organization, or group affiliation. One of the dominant themes of discussions was the tendency for participants to consider any social media output about their organizations as a reflection of their persona on social media. Despite difficulties, the desire to maintain some level of personal separation from the organization was a constant among participants. The social media engagement experience was underscored by a concern for one’s relationships and social networks, with many weighing their engagement on social media against their own priorities in both building and maintaining relationships. Still, few considered it an affront to their relationships to promote their companies on social media, often justifying the promotion as part of their identity. The authors also found that communicating about one’s company online is also a function of the stake participants have in their organization’s success and in their relationship with the organization.

Implications for Practice
Organizations should be aware that (1) rewarding relationship spawn engagement, particularly in an open-communicative structure, whereby social media-based interaction is encouraged and facilitated, (2) employees consider their social media activities in favor of the organization based on the relational strength (or desired relational strength) with their organizations, and (3) work-life balance is a major issue for employees in their use of social media that concerns their organizations.

Location of Article
This article is available online at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363811116303861 (abstract free, purchase full article)

Posted in [Research Library], Employee / Organizational Communication, Employee Communication Behaviors and tagged , , , , , .

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