Author(s), Title and Publication
van Zoonen, W., Bartels, J., van Prooijen, A.-M., Schouten, A. P. (2018). Explaining online ambassadorship behaviors on Facebook and LinkedIn. Computers in Human Behavior87, 354-362. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2018.05.031.

Summary
Through social media, employees can function as powerful brand ambassadors with everything they do and say online. The authors of the current study argued that sharing information about organizational achievements can result in more positive perceptions of the organization, which in turn can lead to a stronger professional image of the members of that organization, thereby satisfying self-enhancement needs. Additionally, employees who experience stronger professional or organizational identities have been shown to be more likely to combine social and work connections in social media networks. Therefore, the authors examined whether employees enact their organizational identities through online communications about the organization on Facebook and LinkedIn. They consequently proposed that self-enhancement and organizational identification are important individual drivers of online ambassador behaviors, because positive evaluations of the organization can spillover to employees’ professional identities. Additionally, the research proposed that employees’ segmentation preferences, that is, the extent to which they want to keep work separate from private life, are likely to influence their decisions to engage in ambassadorship behaviors on Facebook and LinkedIn. The study, which reports on a two-wave panel study among 515 Dutch employees, suggested that these antecedents have different effects for employee ambassadorship behaviors on Facebook and on LinkedIn.

The results showed that there is a significant positive relationship between organizational identification and ambassadorship behaviors on Facebook. This effect was not found between organizational identification and ambassadorship behaviors on LinkedIn. Given the purpose of LinkedIn as a professional online network and record of employees’ curricula, organizational information is likely to be part of this profile regardless of the extent to which employees identify with the organization. The study also demonstrated that employees with self-enhancement motives engage in online ambassadorship behaviors on their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Arguably, employees share organizational information on social media to create positive spillover effects between the perception of the organization and their professional identities as members of that organization. Additionally, the findings suggested that segmentation preferences are negatively related to ambassadorship behaviors on Facebook, whereas segmentation preferences are not significantly related to those behaviors on LinkedIn. An employees’ LinkedIn audience is likely to be predominantly comprised of other professionals who are interested in learning about work and organization-related issues of others’ in their network. Therefore, the potential for work life spillover is lower on LinkedIn compared to Facebook.

Implications for Practice
Organizations should (1) direct managerial efforts to capitalize on employees’ communication potential, 2) facilitate organizational identification processes, 3) raise awareness for work-life boundary issues related to the use of social media platforms, and (4) provide training on how to responsibly engage in work-related social media use.

Location of Article
This article is available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563218302577 (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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