Social Media Use in Organizations: Exploring the Affordances of Visibility, Editability, Persistence, and Association

Communication Yearbook, Vol. 36, pp. 143-189, 2012

90 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2012 Last revised: 20 Oct 2013

Jeffrey W. Treem

Northwestern University

Paul M. Leonardi

University of California, Santa Barbara

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

The use of social media technologies - such as blogs, wikis, social networking sites, social tagging, and microblogging - is proliferating at an incredible pace. One area of increasing adoption is organizational settings where managers hope that these new technologies will help improve important organizational processes. However, scholarship has largely failed to explain if and how uses of social media in organizations differ from existing forms of computer-mediated communication. In this chapter, we argue that social media are of important consequence to organizational communication processes because they afford behaviors that were difficult or impossible to achieve in combination before these new technologies entered the workplace. Our review of previous studies of social media use in organizations uncovered four relatively consistent affordances enabled by these new technologies: Visibility, persistence, editability, and association. We suggest that the activation of some combination of these affordances could influence many of the processes commonly studied by organizational communication theorists. To illustrate this point, we theorize several ways through which these four social media affordances may alter socialization, information sharing, and power processes in organizations.

Keywords: Social media, organizations, enterprise, social networking, social networking sites, SNS, affordances, communication, change

Suggested Citation

Treem, Jeffrey W. and Leonardi, Paul M., Social Media Use in Organizations: Exploring the Affordances of Visibility, Editability, Persistence, and Association (2012). Communication Yearbook, Vol. 36, pp. 143-189, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2129853 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2129853

Jeffrey W. Treem

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Paul M. Leonardi (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara ( email )

Phelps Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.tmp.ucsb.edu/leonardi/

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