To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question – social media as a missed opportunity for knowledge management

Tim Wright, Stuart Watson, Daniela Castrataro


As individuals and as social agents, many have embraced Social Media (SM), the benefits of which are self-apparent and are taken for granted within the context of this paper. Evidence would suggest that the penetration and demographic spread of the adoption of SM continues to grow rapidly within our daily life, not only on a personal level, but also in the workplace. However, there is a lack of research relating to SM and its application within specific business areas. Firstly, this paper intends to focus on the utilisation of SM to foster Knowledge Management (KM) potential within organisations. Anecdotally, an important concern of decision makers is the reputational risk and threat to traditional models of Intellectual Property management posed by the use of SM in the workplace. In addition, there is a perception that the business use of social networking websites is "time wasting" and not costeffective, considering the perceived resource requirements to manage and successfully exploit the phenomenon of SM. However, within organisations, there are a range of stakeholders that could potentially play an important role in influencing decision makers’ views in terms of limiting the risk and gaining the business opportunities which SM offers. The authors believe that SM can offer tremendous benefits and opportunities for knowledge-aware management, including new knowledge creation, fresh approaches to Intellectual Property generation and innovation, and the development of valuable and deep insights into client and customer perception. Each of the aforementioned opportunities may result in commercial benefits and advantages. But, in the absence of clear and compelling models for the application and exploitation of SM, the uptake of these tools could remain patchy, and the potential for KM practitioners to influence decision makers, regarding focusing on the positive side of the risk/opportunity equation, will be challenging. Secondly, the result of this paper is to improve the understanding of businesses perception and adoption of SM and the role of KM in that. The authors devised a survey that sought to capture the scope and nature of the use of SM in a business context, the application areas of work to which it is being applied, the key champions for the use of SM and the key constraints and guidance on its use. In particular, the authors aimed to gain insight into an organisation’s perspectives regarding the opportunities and threats offered by SM for the generation of Intellectual Assets and especially of new knowledge. The intent was to gain an "as is" view and identify commonalities that have resulted in a positive perception of SM. The paper presents the findings of this survey, identifying the key applications of SM, where it is implemented and utilised, the prevailing attitudes and the key influencer for decision makers. In addition, the results specifically intend to demonstrate the active or passive role of the KM community in the wider business application of SM, highlighting areas where the authors believe opportunity exists for KM practitioners to influence decisions through a more extensive use of SM.



Social Media, Social networking, Knowledge management, Strategic decision making, Crowdsourcing, Co-creation, Innovation, Web 2.0.

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