Using Twitter to Discuss Work: Functions of Employees' Tweets

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Kimberly Schneider

Mentor Department



Research indicates that people are increasingly using social media and other communication technologies both inside and outside the workplace (Walden, 2016). In a recent study, workplace satisfaction was examined through the use of social media on the job and employees' satisfaction was positively associated with the amount of time spent on Facebook chatting with co-workers (Robertson & Kee, 2016). The researchers also explored differences between full-time and part-time employees in their use of social media for work purposes and they reported that part-time employees used social media more frequently than full-time employees, partly to stay in contact with their co-workers. This research has implications for using social media as a platform to increase employees' satisfaction. Another study explored the risks and benefits of workplace social media and its effects on an organization's reputation. Dreher (2014) found that employees function as brand ambassadors on social media for their organization. Everything they say and do online creates a reputation for the company. Such research may aid in setting specific guidelines and managing social media use in the workplace. Opgenhaffen and Claeys (2016) assessed the extent to which organizations allowed social media use at work, how these social media guidelines were put into place and upheld, and how this use could benefit the organization. They found that most organizations believe that social media use can have positive implications in the workplace, but only when it is monitored. Many employers believed that posting messages created by the organization was better than having an employee create their own messages in order to maintain a certain organizationally-approved reputation. Whereas previous research has focused on exploring social media use for work and related guidelines, there is still little research on the purpose or goals of employees' use of social media and the potential motivational aspects of its use. The current study examines Twitter data collected through the Illinois State University SMACC Lab. We will search for work-related keywords and examine the relative frequency of positive versus negative content in the tweets. We will also code the information included in these tweets based on categories such as: organizational-related communication, work behaviors, professional communication, and coworker interactivity. Demographic information (e.g., work status, gender, age) will be retrieved, when available, from public accounts to examine potential group differences in use of these various categories in tweets.


VanCleave-undergraduate, Kresse-undergraduate

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