This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center

Summary
Although internal communicators have various tools to communicate with employees, internal social media offer a “synchronous” opportunity (allows two or more people to share communication in real-time) for organizations to share detailed, transparent, up-to-date information. Recently, more organizations are using internal social media. Despite potential challenges and criticisms such as privacy issues or distractions, research suggests they may help employees in several ways. Some of these benefits include connecting and collaborating on work projects, creating a sense of community, promoting organizational learning and innovation, and fostering engagement. Nevertheless, little is known about how employees perceive organizations’ use of internal social media, the strategies they use, or the consequences that result. Taking the employee perspective, the authors of this study examined how organizations should introduce and encourage employee participation on internal social media. They argued that relevant, useful, informative, practical, and visually appealing information on internal social media may prompt employees to participate. Interactive and conversational communication seeking employees’ voices and input were considered the most effective tools to foster conversations and relationships between employees and the organization.

Method
The authors constructed an online survey of 1,150 employee participants from various United States-based organizations in more than 20 different industries. Each of the respondents had adopted internal social media, of which 86.9% had used social media for over three years. Sixty-five percent of respondents had corporate tenure of more than five years. Male respondents comprised 52.2% of respondents, and 47.8 % were females. Seventy-two percent of the respondents aged from 26 to 55. Approximately 73.5% of the respondents had at least some college education.

Key Findings
1.     The organization’s strategic information dissemination and two-way symmetrical communication were crucial influencers in employees’ internal social media use.
2.     Employees’ use of internal social media, and the organization’s strategic information dissemination, and two-way symmetrical communication were all significantly related to employees’ perceived organizational transparency.
3.     Employees’ use of internal social media and the organization’s provision of transparent communication fulfilled employees’ information needs and enhanced employees’ perception of quality organization-employee relationships

Implications for Practice
Organizations and internal communication managers should share useful, relevant, practical, and informative information appealingly to satisfy employees’ information needs, which may lead to social media participation and positive perceptual and relational outcomes. Openness to different opinions, being interactive, inviting, and responsive, can create a sense of organizational transparency and foster relationships, engagement, and a trusting social media communication climate.

Reference
Men, L. R., O’Neil, J., & Ewing, M. (2020, published online). From the employee perspective: Organizations’ administration of internal social media and the relationship between social media engagement and relationship cultivation. International Journal of Business Communication.

Location of Article
This article is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488420949968 (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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