Social Media Part 1

Social Media Part 1

This is the first part of a 2 part series, because I have a lot to say about these four articles. I must admit that social media and I don’t really get along. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally see the appeal and the importance of social media. However, I just do not use it very much. In fact, I didn’t get a Twitter account until I was forced to for this class which started a couple months ago (has it really been almost 2 months?!).  While I have enjoyed the discussions on Twitter and now think it is a great way to do discussions (partly because I get updates about it) and interact with people, I don’t do much else on twitter. I hardly get on facebook anymore and I’m only vaguely aware of the other social media outlets out there.  The articles I decided about this week deal with social media and I must say I am incredibly fascinated by it. They all deal with it through different perspectives. Two are about Customer Knowledge Management (my favorites), one is about viral events, and the last one is about wikis.

Social media has allowed for greater connectivity on multiple platforms. Social network sites make it possible for events to become viral, aka spreading to a large amount of people since social networking allows for a lot of weak ties to exist between people. For example, let’s say I have 300 friends on Facebook (that’s a slight exaggeration) and I post a message that gets seen by a lot of people in my friends list. Now let’s say a friend of mine shares it with all of her friends and so on and so forth. The original message has the potential to reach a lot of people who do not have strong ties to me. Hemsley and Mason (2013) suggest that for an event to become viral, people have to make 2 decisions: whether to read/watch the message or not and whether to forward the message or not (p. 144).  These decisions turn the user into an active user rather than just passive. They have to make a choice. This is something all four articles go into, at least a little bit. Hemsley and Mason (2013) go on to say that there are four points about the nature of viral events which are significant to knowledge management, the first one being those two decisions mentioned above. The second is that making those decisions to watch/read the message and pass it on means that the user thinks the message/event is worth passing on and is relevant. Third: once an event goes viral, it can take on iconic significance (Hemsley and Mason, 2013, p. 147). And Fourth: the more attention the event gets, it gets more attention from more people (since people want to know what everyone else is talking about).

Hemsley and Mason (2013) then talk about the nature of knowledge which was interesting because everything seems to go back to Polanyi and tacit knowledge. They bring up six views on the nature of knowledge: Knowledge Pyramid, Knowledge as a state of mind; Knowledge as Object; Knowledge as Process; Knowledge as Access to Information; Knowledge as Capability. I am not going into detail about these (since this is just the first article and I haven’t even brought up the other ones). They end up suggesting that organizations need to be open to change when it comes to social media.

“Social media enables workers to be immersed in the organization’s culture even during ‘non-work’ periods, simultaneously with cultures and behavioral norms of multiple other networks” (Hemsley and Mason, 2013, p. 157).

I mentioned earlier that when it comes to social media (like Twitter and Facebook) I am not as proficient as many others. When it comes to wikis, I know even less (except for Wikipedia). According to Grace (2009), many organizations are leaving traditional knowledge management systems for Web 2.0 applications like Wikis, blogs, and social software (p. 64). Also, let me say I had no idea how many types of wikis are out there.

“Wikis in particular embodies the highest attainable information sharing dream of an organization where a group of its members is voluntarily and unselfishly collaborating and creating knowledge and working towards a common goal to benefit the organization” (Grace, 2009, p. 65)

The quote above seems a bit idealistic to me (unselfishly? Really?). However, I see what it is saying. Wikis allow users to collaborate together and create knowledge together as a group instead of individually. It uses the combined efforts of many. It is interesting to me because I was taught in school to stay away from Wikipedia (granted that was mostly dealing with research purposes and Wikipedia is only one wiki out of many). Wikis are useful and do have value. But as rhugenwrites put it, “an unreliable Wikipedia post is just as bad as a poorly given speech with outdated statistics”.  Grace (2009) did a case study review on three different organizations: Mapa, eBay, and Ingenta. I was especially intriugied by Mapa’s reason for choosing wiki “because of its ability to not only capture explicit and migratory knowledge but also tacit and embedded knowledge which is critical to the knowledge intensive nature of the business” (Grace, 2009, p. 66). After all, tacit knowledge show up everywhere. By capturing tacit knowledge, would that make it explicit? Is it collaboration aspect of wikis that helps capture tacit knowledge?

Both of the articles deal with social media, though focusing on two different things (though if something does become viral, it could have its own wiki page J ). However, they both emphasize the importance of social media today for organizations. Organizations may be reluctant to embrace social media because it does mean a change and many people are resistant to change (I couldn’t help but think of one of our discussions on twitter). Grace (2009) concluded by saying “the strongest push for organizations embracing wiki technology is its ease of use and ability to facilitate knowledge sharing” (p. 72). I think this could also apply to other social media outlets.


Grace, T. P. L. (2009). Wikis as a knowledge management tool. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(4), 64-74.

Hemsley, J., & Mason, R. M. (2013). Knowledge and knowledge management in the social media age. Journal of Organizatational Computing and Electronic Commerce, 23(1), 138-167.

2 thoughts on “Social Media Part 1

  1. The assumption behind the wiki (any wiki) is that all people have important knowledge to share, because all people (under some constraints) can edit the (any relevant) wiki.

    One reason, at least for wikis, for the resistance and the sometimes failures of these efforts to use social media is because organizations don’t take into account people’s work flows. 1) We have to remember that they are tools. 2) As tools, we have to integrate them into daily practice. Then, they have a better chance of being accepted.


  2. You joke about the unselfishness from Grace’s quote and, as someone who’s used Wikis in work, I can understand that. When we added/edited information in the Wiki is was primarily to keep other people from telling the customers the wrong information. Now, that wasn’t done for selflessness. It was done for selfishness because we we’re tired of getting calls from irate customers who were told the wrong information by some other agent. 😀


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