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Social Media in the Workplace
Working Paper

Published By

Stanford University

May 2011

The objective of this paper is to discover the social media platforms (SMPs) that are economically relevant to a business organization, the uses to which these platforms are put, and the reasons for their value. Given that social media generates information, the paper assumes that the difference between social media platforms arises from just two factors: the extent of control that may be exercised over the information flow and the extent of collaboration on information flows possible among participants on the platform.

It tests a hypothesis, derived from literature on strong and week ties, that an SMP can be economically valuable to a business organization only if it generates information that either improves the reliability of existing information, or is new information. Using a primary survey of 20 firms, the paper examines their use of social media for various business purposes and asks whether these uses match the theoretical conclusions. Some of the potentially useful business outcomes from social media include hiring and professional development, strategic planning, business development and marketing, project management, strategic planning, project ideation, product development and developing intellectual property, and sales of goods.

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