Thursday, 20 March 2014

The contribution of social media to human resource management

Zhao, Tianzhang is a student in the Social Media MA at the University of Westminster.

Social media helped to generate energy and mobilize a community of support in the U.S. presidential election in 2008, which helped Barack Obama to achieve popularity (Jue, et al., 2010). According to Jue and his colleagues (2010), this fervor of political influence would be of particular value to any community activist, no matter their political beliefs or organizational affiliation.

If this were true what would this mean for organisational management? Most organisations seek to engage employees, clients, customers, suppliers and partners in an effort to achieve brand loyalty to their products and services. However, in today’s world political and business leaders cope with increasingly difficult circumstances in achieving these objectives (Jue, et al., 2010).

What to do? Well, social media is a useful platform for leaders to construct and share their strategic goals in a relatively efficient and accessible way. To gain and sustain competitive advantage, leaders need to rely on the engagement and commitment of those they work with, namely their employees and partners. They also could depend on social media platforms to accelerate and enhance employee innovation, engagement, and performance (Jue, et al., 2010); The elements of human resource management in an organization. In other words, social media

As Jue and his colleagues (2010: 2) claimed, “those who are actively using social media in their organizations can be confident that they have new ways to improve their business performance, create long-term capability, and ultimately sustain their success”.

Based on Jue and his colleagues’ work (2010: 74-75), social media would be a great help at work, which would be reflected in the following ways:

  1.  Incorporated into a company’s corporate culture and critical to its strategy.
  2. cost effective.
  3. scales more effectively to meet a global audience’s training needs.
  4. engages employees in sharing knowledge and expertise.
For example, we can look at the NHS. In practice, NHS states that social media helps them enhance their human resource efficiency. In their 2013 report on their employers, it was pointed out that firstly, social media offers a great platform for both organizations and individuals to listen and have conversations with people they want to influence and talk to. Secondly, social media provides an online platform for HR managers to highlight the working behavior guidance and HR policies. Thirdly, the next generation of NHS employees would rely on getting information from the internet and mobile devices, therefore, how NHS embraces these social media users for the benefits of employees and patients would be significant in developing a sustainable NHS. Finally, if NHS could trust their employees with the patients’ lives, why can employees not be trusted on social media?

To sum up, the relationship between social media and human resource management has an unexpected change in this dynamic environment. For social media researchers, it should be emphasized that the unexpected function of social media would always emerge along with the changing environment in specific industries or working areas. For HR managers and leaders, it is time to be aware of the importance of social media’s impact at work, and think about how to take the advantage of using social media effectively to develop the organization and promote business performance.


CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). (2013). The role of HR in corporate responsibility. Available: Last accessed 1st Dec 2013.

Jue, A.L., Marr, J.A. & Kassotakis, M.E. (2010). SOCIAL MEDIA AT WORK: How Networking Tools Propel Organizational Performance. United States of America: Jossey-Bass.

NHS. (2013). HR and social media in the NHS. Available: Last accessed 1st Dec 2013.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Social Media – Giving sport stars a voice?

Abdullah Anees
 is a student in the Social Media MA at the University of Westminster.

Two things I am very fond of are social media and sports, and what better way to relate the two in modern day then a reflective blog on how one influences the other.

As we all know, social media platforms have allowed people to voice their opinions with others worldwide. The difference in a message being shared from any individual to the larger audience has developed at a furious pace since the development of Web 2.0. We now see people, such as athletic celebrities, who we were once accustomed to only seeing on the TV, now becoming vocal on social media platforms. It seems stars are taking their views more public rather than leaving that up to their publicists.

Twitter, Facebook and various other social media platforms have allowed athletes to more readily reach out to their fans to establish a common connection. This common connection is the will to express their opinions and views; they now have a stage to show they have another side to them apart from sports. TV and Newspapers did not really give them a stage to express views on certain issues; and many times they were miss-represented without having a way to reply.

If newspapers and television pick and choose information from these athletes then surely social media allows us to eliminate the press and obtain information directly from these stars? Social media has given people access to direct sources of information in every possible field.

Social media has given the space for these public stars needed to protect their image in times where a candid photograph or a quote could be exploited and taken out of context.

Does a social medium really give them freedom of speech?

Many sport stars have gone on to twitter to express their views on certain events and have received mixed reactions from the online community. This has resulted in them retracting statements made online by deleting posts and tweets. Being in the ‘public eye’ they are expected to behave in an appropriate manner, questioning their actual freedom of opinions.

Being role models of many young children globally, their views and behaviours are constantly monitored on social platforms and you get the feeling the press is ready to pounce on any slip up these stars make. The press will always build stories around sports stars expressing their views and opinions socially.

Another angle I want to mention is the commercial aspect of sport stars being on social media. If a top flight footballer tweets a picture of his branded boots is that a message from his sponsors? Do they really have total control over their tweets? Even in the case of false advertisements from companies who deny they get sponsored athletes to promote to their audience their brand it still has to be questioned.

There are some sports stars that I would love to see on social platforms; however there are numerous reasons why they keep away. Their inability to cope with the ‘digital public eye’ and what they might feel are restrictions of speech being a public figure would be my first opinion.

Would you like to reflect on your research, pose ethical or logistical research questions to the network, or blog about developments in the field of new social media? See your name in print by emailing 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Keeping up with technology: What is “scientific lag” and can we proactively reduce it?

In 2011 then Census Director Robert Groves wrote on the Census Director’s Blog about the burgeoning volume of “organic data”—data that, as opposed to “designed data,” have no meaning until they are used (surveys are a primary example of the latter). He noted that finding ways to combine these two types of data to increase the “information-to-data ratio” was a challenge, but also represented the future of surveys. Using terms identified as “big data descriptors” in Groves’ piece, as well as a few other terms I think qualify, I put together the graph below to show the number of AAPOR presentation titles between 2010 and 2013 that contain a big data descriptor.1,2
big data descriptors in AAPOR presentation titles 2010-2013
One take away is the increased interest researchers have shown in big data over the past few years. An equally important lesson is that almost all of the attention big data has received from AAPOR members—at least measured by the number of presentations they’ve done—has been on social networking sites (SNS). I found only one presentation in the past four AAPOR conference programs that contained a big data descriptor for a non-social media topic—a demonstration in 2012 by Ben Waber on the use of wearable sensors for measuring behavior.
To some extent this is explained by scientific lag. Just like there is cultural lag—the time between the emergence of a new technology and when culture catches up—there is a lag time between when consumers adopt technologies and when our research methodologies catch up (i.e., scientific lag = cultural lag + time until research methodologies using those technologies are implemented). And, technologies often don’t remain static, but rather evolve making it a continuous game of catchup (development) for research methodologists. I’ll go into more detail about this in a presentation I’m giving at the AAPOR conference this year, but one quick example from the annals of survey research history is the development of computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). While telephone exchanges had existed for almost a century and programmable computers emerged in the 1940s, it took until 1971 for CATI systems to be developed by market researchers, another five years for academic researchers to begin using it, and the federal government another seven years to implement its use. Certainly, cultural lag played a role. It took years for enough households to have telephones for probability based telephone sampling to make sense. In addition, it took time for the programmable computer to develop into a device usable for this purpose. But, it also took researchers time to figure out such a system was possible and the value it presented.
Now, let’s fast forward a bit. In 1997, one of the first SNSs,, was created.  It lasted until 2001. A host of other networking sites, the ones most of us are familiar with, sprang up in the early 2000s—Myspace (2003), Facebook (2004), and Twitter (2006). There are, I suppose, two ways of looking at the cultural and scientific lags and SNSs. On the one hand, it took a few years SNSs to grow to significant numbers. For example, it took Facebook four years (2004 – 2008) to grow to 100 million users. Within four years of that development there were multiple presentations at AAPOR on the subject. That’s certainly much faster than the development of CATI technology/adoption. On the other hand, social researchers took nearly a decade from the birth of widely popular SNSs to begin formally recognizing their research utility.
Now, we may be at the cusp of another such tsunami of consumer technology adoption. Groups disagree on the exact timing (e.g., Forbes says 2014 and MIT Technology Review says 2013), but the evidence points to the start of rapid growth in the use of internet connected sensors and devices for a multitude of purposes. I’ve recently written about how and why I think the devices and the IoT will affect social science data collection.
My question is whether the research community can be more proactive, and therefore decrease the scientific lag between adoption and research implementation. My hope is we will and that it will have a positive effect on survey data collection.
I’ll be presenting more thoughts on this topic at AAPOR and look forward to the discussion we have about big data in the session. Between now and then I’d welcome the thoughts others have on or experiences others have had with using wearable tech, sensors, or the IoT for research.
This was first posted on Survey Post  on 24/02/14
Brian Head is a research methodologist at RTI International with 5 years of experience in the government and not-for-profit research sectors.  Training in sociology and research methods and statistics led him to a career in research where his work has included questionnaire design and evaluation,  managing data collection efforts, and qualitative and quantitative data analysis.

    Monday, 3 March 2014

    Get chatting on social media research ethics: Upcoming Tweetchat, 11 March 2014

    Last week we shared a post with links to a report based on an analysis of NSMNSS network members' perspectives and questions, and a review of some prominent ethics guides (See the NSMNSS blog post from 27 February). 

    Discussions of ethical principles and guidance related to social media research are plenty, and thrilling! But what do you think? What questions do you have about your own research or about the studies your students propose? What do you hope to find in the ethics guildelines you consult? How can we, as an emerging field, strengthen the ethical basis of social media scholarship to improve overall credibility? 

    You can join us for a Tweetchat on these very questions and related issues by following #NSMNSS on Tuesday 11 March 2014 at 7:00pm (London time) or 3:00pm in New York time. (See for your time zone.)

    Remember to include #NSMNSS in all your posts to help us capture all of the discussion. We will provide a transcript of the Tweetchat on our blog following the event.