To connect or not to connect: exploring communication professionals’ perceptions of using social media for internal organisational communication.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
A large proportion of the studies on social media (SM) used by organisations, address how organisations use SM for external communication (e.g., for marketing purposes) to gain the attention and communication with external audiences. Compared with such studies, there are relatively few that address the use of SM for internal communication (IC).
The research reported in this thesis applied a general inductive approach to explore how communication professionals (i.e., communication practitioners and communication consultants) treat using SM for IC. To explore their attitudes toward using SM for IC and the experience upon which these are founded, I designed an online survey and recruited 40 professionals from a range of different organisations. The data gathered was coded according to whether it referred to strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O) or threats (T), and then a theme frequency analysis was undertaken to discover the most prominent attitudes about using SM for IC. Data on personal and organisational factors were examined to establish if any of these factors appeared to be linked to the range of participant attitudes. The findings from the practitioners were then compared with those from consultants to identify the differences and similarities between the two groups.
The study produced five initial findings. Firstly, this study identified three key strengths, one fundamental weakness, three key opportunities, and five critical threats of using SM for IC. Secondly, most practitioners and consultants believed SM would play an essential role in the long term, and most of the participants in both groups thought positively about the benefits of building SM into the intranet (i.e., saw SM as having many strengths that could be harnessed for IC). Thirdly, most practitioners accepted there was value in applying SM to IC but did not advocate relying on using it. Fourthly, the age, gender, and personal connectivity were three factors that affected both practitioners and consultants’ attitudes toward the proposition of using SM for IC. Lastly, the experience and the scale of the organisation were two factors that were detected as affecting practitioners’ attitudes.
This research used SWOT analysis and theme frequency analysis to identify the benefits and shortcomings of SM for IC from the perspective of communication professionals. In doing so, it contributes to the relatively scant literature on the use of SM for IC. While the findings align with existing general theories of SM’s use, they provide some new insights that apply specifically to IC. The research is the first to compare the attitudes towards using SM for IC of communication practitioners with those of communication consultants, identifying the similarities and differences as well as exploring the factors that appeared to affect their attitudes/ or choices. The findings of this study fill a gap in the current literature on the use of SM within organisations and have practical implications for organisations contemplating incorporating SM in the IC.