Social Media Use in The Workplace

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Social Media in The Workplace

Considering social in the workplace, I feel it is essential we understand the social media building blocks relative to how organizations and their members interact and utilize various social networks. In the article, Unpacking the Social Media Phenomenon, Kietzman et al. (2012) explain in detail how organizations should interact with and through social media. In particular, we can understand the building blocks of workplace social media engagement through these seven facets: presence, relationships, reputation, groups, conversations, sharing and identity.

We can understand an organization’s presence as, “The extent to which users know if others are available” (Keitzman, et al., 2012). An organization’s social media presence determines what that organization’s consumers have access to at any given point in time. Elaluf Calderwood states, “Virtual presence is directly associated with a desire to communicate synchronously, engage with others in real time and have more influential interactions” (p. 3).

We can understand an organization’s relationships as, “The extent to which users relate to each other” (Keitzman, et al., 2012, p. 3). It’s healthy for organizations to build good relationships. In part, our relationships form our identity. Our relationships help us grow in leadership, social influence, power, trust, attitude similarity and diversity. Social media in the workplace helps build strong ties which increases our effectiveness (Keitzman, et al., 2012, pp. 7 – 8).

We can understand an organization’s reputation as, “The extent to which users know the social standing of others and content” (Keitzman, et al., 2012, p. 3). From my perspective, reputation is the most important component to an organization’s success. Word-of-mouth tends to drive business and social media has become increasingly imperative to how a company is viewed by others. Reputation is everything! What gets said on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube drives business. I recall reading an article about the way a bridal store responded to an unhappy customer. Because the customer was unhappy with how she was treated she put a negative comment on a social media site. The negative impact from her complaint grew to overwhelming levels for the shop owner and the business folded. While this is an extreme example, it is also a true one. It demonstrates the power of reputation within social media and the workplace.

We can understand an organization’s groups as, “The extent to which users are ordered or form communities” (Keitzman, et al., 2012, p. 3). Be it an ingroup or an outgroup, the networks organizations engage on social media should maintain good boundaries and the organizations should also be mindful of their group choices. An organization’s group, or network, tends to become influential through the power of communication. Choosing relevant groups for membership can help an organization reflect itself either positively or negatively depending on their group choices (Keitzman, et al., 2012, pp. 6-7).

We can understand an organization’s conversations as, “The extent to which users communicate with each other” (Keitzman, et al., 2012, p. 3). Being able to communicate through social media is crucial to the work environment. For example, social media allows consumers to do things like schedule meetings and look for new jobs (Keitzman, et al., 2012, pp. 11-13).

We can understand an organization’s sharing as, “The extent to which user exchange, distribute and receive content” (Keitzman, et al., 2012, p. 3). Positive and productive communication is key to success within our personal and professional lives. With that in mind, the concept of sharing is one of the most important facets of social media within the work environment. We use social media to send information, share information and accept information from co-workers through social media. Twitter and YouTube are two very common sites where workplace information is shared. Through the sharing of information in the workplace via social media platforms we can encourage our coworkers and those we manage to enhance productivity. Having more means of communication increases flow (Keitzman, et al., 2012, pp. 13 – 14).

We can understand an organization’s identity as, “The extent to which users reveal themselves” (Keitzman, et al., 2012, p. 3). When an organization reveals their identity on social media they should consider how they want to be regarded as a group and whether or not they would be supported in that identity by others (Zhao, et al., 2008). Identity would be the building block that defines the qualities, both good and bad, that an organization perceives within itself (Keitzman, et al., 2012, pp. 4-6).

While most of us have a personal social media presence, so do many organizations. At one point, part of my job was keeping up the social media presence of the law firm, Darrow & Dietrich Law Offices, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The belief was that engaging with the local community would boost sales volumes. We ran a PPC campaign, opened a Facebook page, created a beautiful website and incorporated a Twitter feed. When we did these things sales increased. More customers called to schedule consultations and we contracted more lawsuits. This was proof that awareness around Keitzman’s honeycomb model served not only our business but also our interactions within the workplace well. Because we were mindful of how we used the presence, sharing, conversation, group, reputation, relationship and identity principles from the model, we were able to create a better organization on the whole.


Kietzman, Jan H., Silvestre, Bruno S., McCarthy, Ian P., Leyland, F. Pitt. (March 14, 2012). Unpacking the Social Media Phenomenon: Towards a Research Agenda. Journal of Public Affairs. Volume 12, (2).

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