This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center

Communication has long been associated with organizational identification (OID). However, few studies have considered the role of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in organizational identification processes and outcomes. Given the prominence of computer-mediated communication, (particularly social networking systems) communication via online channels might influence the employee-organization relationship. Organizational social network systems, such as the official Facebook page, may be particularly relevant to the employee-organization relationship because they provide a virtual connection between employees and organizations. With this in mind, the authors of this study assessed how interaction with the company’s Facebook page is associated with employee perceptions of social capital and their identification with the organization. Specifically, the authors examined how the official Facebook page is associated with employees’ bridging social capital (e.g., weak tie connections that span departments across the organization and feelings of connection to the organization), bonding social capital (e.g., strong tie interpersonal relationship with other organizational members and trust and support from those members), and organizational identification.

The authors surveyed 223 full-time employees from various industry sectors via Qualtrics. Participants were only included in the study if they were older than 18 years and employed with an organization that had an official Facebook page. Among the respondents, 60% were female, and 40% were male. At the time of the survey, respondents had been employed in their current organization for an average of 6.7 years (range = 1-28 years). About 68% of participants did not hold managerial positions.

 Key Findings
1.) Employee interaction with the company’s official Facebook page likely functions to both maintain and enhance their identification with the organization.
2.) Employee interaction with the company Facebook page can enhance an employee’s bridging outcomes by increasing employees’ interest in, and feelings of, connection to the organization.
3.) In organizational settings and employee-organization relationships, the broad nature of bridging social capitalrepresents the identification between employees and the organization better than that of bonding social capital, which is linked to close interpersonal workplace relationships.
4.) The employee interaction with the company Facebook page is linked to higher organizational identification levels, in part because of the bridging social capital these interactions generate. Thus, the company Facebook page provides a communicative bridge between employees and the larger organization, rather than a strong bonding tie.

Implications for practice
Organizations are advised to 1) encourage employees to follow the company Facebook page, 2) use that page to communicate with employees, providing information that may be of interest and useful to employees, not just to external stakeholders, 3) create and link to specific employee groups and employee-relevant topic pages relevant to employees’ interests and concerns.

Sias, P. M., & Duncan, K. L. (2020). Not just for customers anymore: Organization Facebook, employee social capital, and organizational identification. International Journal of Business Communication, 57(4), 431-451.

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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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