Research Proposal: Implications of using Twitter in the workplace

On: October 11, 2010
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About Janice Wong
Janice Wong is an Australian-born cellist and digital media fanatic living the life in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). She graduated from the Masters of New Media programme at the University of Amsterdam in 2011 and now works at adidas as a Global Social Media Manager. Contact: janice[at]thewongjanice.com instagram.com/thewongjanice linkedin.com/in/thewongjanice

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Email has been great within the workplace. That is, until you start to receive hundreds of irrelevant emails a day. Then, you take one day off, and the next morning your inbox is a dog’s breakfast. So, instant messaging was introduced to larger companies ca. 2003 with a lot of success.

But how about using Twitter in the workplace? Let’s check out the implications of microblogging for business use, and discuss future research.

Zhao and Rosson’s (2009) study  How and Why People Twitter: The Role that Microblogging Plays in Informal Communication at Work examined the impacts of microblogging on informal communication at work and concluded: enhance information sharing, building common ground, and increased sense of connectedness between colleagues.

Meyer & Dibben (2010) in An Exploratory Study about Microblogging Acceptance at Work looked at the impact on team performance. Their results found that Twitter helps coordination, promotion of social interaction, promotion of tacit and explicit knowledge. They also found advantages with real-time information and brevity of 140 characters enables the ability to browse large amounts of texts.

Ehrlich & Shami (2010) made a comparison between public tweets on Twitter and tweets on an internal proprietary tool (BlueTwit) in their study Microblogging Inside and Outside the Workplace. Again, real-time information was valued, and connectedness between colleagues. Users had no apparent issues with confidentiality and had good control over public/private tweets. Advantages was also members from other parts of the world could help, instantaneously, which in some cases seemed quicker and more insightful than a helpdesk.

For future research:

Internal proprietary tool.

  • Confidentiality plays a big role, especially within a workplace. Would it work to have a way to create different circles, kind of broadcast lists, so certain tweets can only be circulated to certain channels?

Public interface.

  • Work/Life balance. Is it beneficial to share ones personal life with work colleagues? These issues already start to appear on Facebook, for e.g. would you show the same tagged photos to your grandmother and or your boyfriend’s parents who just added you on Facebook?

Informality within the workplace.

  • Decentralisaion in the workplace. Does informal mean impolite? How should one communicate with their boss/manager/CEO? “Dear… Kind regards,…” vs. @hey …
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