Category Archives: social media

Assessing the Value of Corporate Blogs: A Social Capital Perspective

The following co-authored article appeared here: 0361-1434/$26.00 © 2010 IEEE
2 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION, VOL. 53, NO. 4, DECEMBER 2010

—CRAIG BAEHR, MEMBER, IEEE, AND KONSTANZE ALEX-BROWN
Abstract—This three-phased study examines corporate blog use, specifically the impact and value of blogs on organizational social capital and knowledge sharing at Dell Inc., a global computer manufacturer. The impact of social-mediated Web 2.0 technologies on organizational social capital has received limited attention in scholarship,possibly because of the inevident connection to measurable economic value and newness of the technology. Our findings indicate the corporate blog can be used as a sustainable forum leading to a shared understanding of organizational roles, increased sense of group cohesiveness, improved work processes, and fostering of professional and personal ties between employees in the organization.

Knowledge is embedded in the collective workforce of an organization and is highly dependent on human interaction to share and attribute value to that information. With the increasing level of information a worker encounters on a daily basis, the task of capturing tacit knowledge, properly contextualizing it, and distributing it across an organization has stretched the limits of human capacity. With the emergence of participatory technologies, organizations have invested in software and web-based tools for information and knowledge capturing, sharing, and reuse. They also allow for improved interaction, collaboration, and accessibility of structured and unstructured data in varying degrees of formality. Using these tools to capture and disseminate organizational knowledge can depend greatly on the social capital of the organization, through the informal relationships, networks, and communities formed by its workers.

Many corporations are using blogs, wikis, knowledge bases, and social networking sites as routine parts of their business operations. Examples such as Jammer, Twitter, Facebook, and various Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECMs), such as MOSS 2007, that include blogging and microblogging applications are ubiquitous in today’s workplace. Rockley notes that ECMs have evolved to include management of unstructured content and data such as email, blog posts, wiki entries, and even personal profile pages of social networking sites [1]. Manovich adds that metadiscourse and metacontent, such as tag clouds and social bookmarking capabilities, have also become important parts of these technologies [2]. Collaborative authoring is also collaborative knowledge sharing—along with legacy content, we have come to expect feedback, cross-posting, discussion, and comments as an essential part of the genre.

Blogs, as social networking tools, have become widely used in social and corporate settings. Blogs are websites (often participatory) that feature regular commentary and related content on a specific subject, which is usually presented in reverse chronological order. Blogs can contain textual, visual, multimedia, and even interactive content. Blogs have been studied as social genres that allow individuals and groups to share dialog on a specific subject. Miller and Shepherd argue the social blog genre has value through its immediacy, formal features, brevity, self-expressive content, and community development and involvement [3].While the blog’s initial function was primarily social
in nature, more recently, organizations have begun using blogs as networking and information-sharing tools, internally for employees and externally for customers and vendors. In organizational contexts, corporate blogs are more focused on knowledge sharing and information reuse. They emphasize efficient information delivery to large numbers of individuals and serve as a common knowledge
base. Tørning states that this type of blog serves as a “knowledge repository for getting information and for learning processes” [4, p. 2]. Workers must intrinsically invest in this communication technology, use it, contribute to its development, and see potential value in their efforts, from either an individual or an organizational perspective. The resulting products can create social capital within an organization, which connects the value of knowledge sharing to its impact on organizational efficiency and, ultimately, innovation. From a management perspective, integration and sustainability of these information products depend heavily on measuring and proving proving their bottom-line value to the organization.

A closer look at employee communication

Digital communication technologies have changed workplace communication. Internal, corporate communication is no exception and has undergone several important shifts. Carliner (2010) has noted that there has been a massive move to publish organizational content online and, second, organizations increasingly seek dialogue with and feedback from employees via social, digital communication technologies, such as corporate blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, discussion forums, and social networking sites. How do social digital communication technologies, specifically the blog and the micro-blog used for employee communication, change the formation of organizational social capital of a large, global, high-tech organization?

Large corporations in the US, such as Intel, Dell, IBM or Starbucks, have begun to adopt social media tools for employee communication. The weekly printed or emailed newsletter is increasingly being replaced by or supplemented with posts published on company internal blogs that allow for quick and efficient publishing and updating if needed. Micro-blogging tools, giving employees the opportunity to communicate with each other, have also been launched inside of many large businesses. Organizations are recognizing that their employees are exposed to a plethora of social media tools in their private lives and are beginning to expect the same communication tools at their place of work. Some companies are experimenting with intelligent corporate directories that have the ability to connect employees based on the information they enter into their profile pages. These technologies are designed to connect employees for their benefit and for the benefit of the organization. These tools have one important thing in common: they create digital archives of what is communicated. These records can be searched and filtered and, at minimum, provide insight into a company’s culture. For the researcher interested in organizational communication, these archives or information products provide never-before-seen opportunities to examine communicative exchanges between the organization’s leadership and the employees and communication among employees.

Bib: Vie, Stephanie (2008) Digital Divide 2.0: “Generation M” and Online Social Networking Sites in the Composition Classroom. Computers and Composition 25, 9-23.

Vie, Stephanie (2008) Digital Divide 2.0: “Generation M” and Online Social Networking Sites in the Composition Classroom. Computers and Composition 25, 9-23.

In her 2008 article, Vie, while not directly mentioning the rhetoric of social networking technologies, puts out a call to action with respect to changing how composition is taught in the classroom. The traditional approach using the academic essay as the central focus in the composition classroom, according to Vie, needs to be adapted to foster a technological literacy that is required to navigate and compose within and across the new Web 2.0 technologies. Shifts in the perception of authorship and audience and the extremely participatory nature of these technologies need to be addressed by instructors in order to remain relevant. Continue reading Bib: Vie, Stephanie (2008) Digital Divide 2.0: “Generation M” and Online Social Networking Sites in the Composition Classroom. Computers and Composition 25, 9-23.