The literature review revealed a consensus among authors on the idea that during the last decade social media has evolved as an efficient means of communication for business and private purposes. Moreover, Morley and Parker (2010) observe increasing level of addiction to social media among individuals in general, and younger people in particular.
Specific characteristics of social media as a communication tools include peripheral traits, facilitation of many-to-many communication, high level of transparency, and many potentials for the disruption of communication.
It has been stated that “one of the benefits of using social media services as a communication interface is that a lot of people are already there; they know how to use the features and perhaps the threshold for participating in interaction with others is lower” (Zavoral, 2010, p.413).
Additional benefits of using social media as a communication channel in workplaces have been found to include inexpensive or no associated costs (Ruesch and Bateson, 2008), ease of use (Thayer, 2009), possibility to limit visibility whenever necessary (Guffey et al., 2009), and social media serving as a content-sharing medium (Bronstein et al., 2010).
According to Bronstein et al. (2010) the use of social media by businesses in general and large multinational corporations in particular is not limited to the facilitation of communication. Rather, social media in its various forms such as company Facebook page or YouTube clip is being valued by increasing numbers of businesses at a strategic level.
Moreover, according to Eunson (2012) the introduction of a wide range of innovative social media sites and new platforms for online communication did little to compromise the role of traditional e-mails in the facilitation of communication in a work environment. Reviewing increasing numbers and varieties of social media, Layon (2011) praises Quora as a popular and highly effective social media tool due to its highly advanced technical capabilities and features and argues that the level of its popularity is rapidly increasing among a wide range of organisations.
Factors Affecting Social Media Usage in Corporate Communication
Literature review has found a wide range of factors that have impact upon usage of social media in internal communication in one way or the other. The major factors were identified to include organisational culture, corporate leadership, age levels of employees, the nature of the industry, and others.
The role of organisational culture in the usage of social media in communication is stressed by Ruesch and Bateson (2008). Namely, according to authors in organisations where open and receptive culture prevails the level of communication tends to be set up effectively with efficient utilisation of social media tools. Conversely, in organisations where culture is not receptive to innovation and potentials for increasing efficiencies are not sought after vigorously, employees tend to be less motivated to rely on social media as an effective communication channel.
Moreover, Eunson (2012) specifies age as an important demographic factor that significantly impacts the level of usage of social media in corporate communication. The author reasons that younger employees are more adept at utilising social media in communication than their elder colleagues partially due to their familiarity with a range of social media tools outside of working environment.
Personal lifestyle and self-concept is perceived to be factors with substantial impacts on the level of usage of social media in corporate communication by Guffey et al. (2009). Authors argue that individuals who have proactive personalities are more keen on experimentation and consequent adoption of increasing ranges of social networking platforms for initiating and/or sustaining communication with their co-workers.
Some authors refer to specific case studies when discussing factors impacting upon usage of social media in internal communication. For example, Smith and Mounter (2008) praise ‘giude not God’ approach adopted by head of IBM communications department in Europe that involves introduction of a wiki platform for IBM used for collaboration in projects and knowledge sharing. Accordingly, Smith and Mounter (2008) consider organisational leadership and the existence and quality of management initiatives to be one of the most important factors affecting the level of usage of social media in corporate communication.
Cook, N. (2008) “Enterprise 2.0: How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work” Gower Publishing
Eunson, B. (2012) “Communication in the Workplace” John Wiley & Sons
Guffey, M.E., Rhodes, K., Rogin, P. & Rhodes, K. (2009) “Business Communication: Process and Product” Cengage Learning
Morley, D. & Parker, C. (2010) “Understanding Computers: Today and Tomorrow, Comprehensive” Cengage Learning
Ruesch, J. & Bateson, G. (2008) “Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry” Transaction Books
Smith, L. & Mounter, P. (2008) “Effective Internal Communication” Kogan Page
Zavoral, F. (2010) “Networked Digital Technologies” Springer Publications