Author(s), Title and Publication

Madsen, V. T. (2017). The challenges of introducing internal social media – the coordinators’ roles and perceptions. Journal of Communication Management, DOI: 10.1108/JCOM-04-2016-0027


Coworker communication on internal social media (ISM) has the potential to increase workplace productivity and contribute to creating a sense of community that can further organizational collaboration and knowledge sharing. Unfortunately, as coworkers will often refrain from using these social tools and continue working and communicating in the ways they are accustomed to, many organizations are not obtaining the potential benefits. To gain insights into why organizations are struggling in their processes of fully integrating ISM as a part of their internal communication, the author conducted 10 semi-structured interviews with ISM coordinators at ten organizations in Denmark. During the interviews, the coordinators provided their perceptions of coworker communication and behavior on ISM, the challenges with introducing ISM, and their role in relation to coworker communication on ISM.

Across the different organizations, coordinators agreed that most of the communication taking place on their ISM involves news, knowledge-sharing, and practical information. Several utilized the metaphor “knowledge-sharing around the coffee machine” to describe the communication that takes place on ISM. A key challenge for the ISM coordinators was getting coworkers to communicate on ISM. Additionally, discussions of organizational issues were rare, and self-censorship was considered a major issue. Within the organizations that ISM did not work that well, it was implemented as a functionalistic IT project. On the other hand, where ISM was perceived to work reasonably well, coordinators played important roles as facilitators and sense-givers in organizations.

Implications for Practice

ISM cannot solve organizational climate problems. Organizations with closed organizational climates, or those in which there is fear and lack of trust, cannot expect constructive discussions on ISM. With regard to introducing ISM, the coordinator can play a central role as a facilitator and a change-management agent, especially in the first year of initiating the program. Finally, management has to genuinely involve coworkers.

Location of Article

This article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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