Perceptions of Risks of Non-Advertising Uses of Micro-Blogging within Small to Medium Enterprises

Perceptions of Risks of Non-Advertising Uses of Micro-Blogging within Small to Medium Enterprises

Soureh Latif Shabgahi (The University of Sheffield, UK) and Andrew Cox (The University of Sheffield, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8408-9.ch011


This chapter is about the perception of risks of non-advertising uses of micro-blogging in small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK. Risks of micro-blogging are defined as situations which involve exposing the organization and employees to danger. Few previous studies have been carried out into risks of internal micro-blogging in the corporate context. In the research presented in this chapter, initially a thematic analysis of previous literature on enterprise micro-blogging (EMB) was conducted. Following this, qualitative interviews were selected as the most appropriate method for data collection to explore understanding of the issues among practitioners. Twenty-one interviewees were conducted with SMEs in the area of South Yorkshire in the UK, during 2013. The participants were from organizations in the field of IT, Consultancy and Sports. The analysis of the qualitative data revealed new areas of risk in micro-blogging, which had not been identified in previous literature. Based on the data, a descriptive account of the risks is provided. The chapter concludes by introducing participants' views of how to mitigate such risks.
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Micro-blogging is a “form of blogging, generally made up of short, succinct messages, used by both consumers and businesses to share news, post status updates and carry on conversations” (Reinhardt, 2009, p. 5). Micro-blogging allows individuals to broadcast and share information about personal activities, opinions and status, as well as to receive quick notifications (Grace et al., 2010; Günther et al., 2009; Java et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2010b). Micro-blogging has been viewed as a method for exchanging social information in the work context (Grace et al., 2010). Perceptions of the emergence of a different set of uses for micro-blogging within organizations have led researchers to coin the term enterprise micro-blogging (Álvaro et al., 2010). In this research the term enterprise micro-blogging is used to apply to non-advertising micro-blogging uses i.e. other than for advertising products or events, micro-blogging can be used by members of staff to communicate with each other and with those outside of the business, such as with customers and clients.

The most familiar example of micro-blogging is Twitter (Riemer & Richter, 2010a; Riemer et al., 2010b). Launched in 2006, Twitter has become more and more popular and there is already much research on its use (Jansen et al., 2009; Riemer et al., 2010b). There has been a lot of research based on the public uses of Twitter by organizations and mostly related to its use for marketing (Rui & Yongsheng, 2010). Less work has investigated the uses of Twitter within organizations and for non-advertising purposes. Yammer is another example of a micro-blogging platform, but one designed solely for internal use. Adam Pisoni co-founded Yammer with David Sacks in 2008. In 2012, Yammer was sold to Microsoft for 1.2 billion USA dollars (Liedtke, 2012). Twitter and Yammer are similar micro-blogging tools, with the difference that Twitter is open to any web user, while Yammer is restricted for private uses within organizations (Müller & Stocker, 2011). Like Twitter, Yammer has been very successful. In 2013, Yammer was being used by more than seven million people and 70,000 companies internationally (Lunden, 2013). Yammer is used in organizations of all kind of sizes and fields (A´ lvaro et al., 2010). Alqahtani et al. (2014) found that organizational support encourages the adoption of tools such as Yammer. One of the participants in their research stated that there is a need to train some of the older employees to get them comfortable to use enterprise micro-blogging (EMB). That is exactly what they did with Yammer. This study illustrates that organizations do value Yammer for business purposes; some are willing to spend time to train their employees to make better use of it.

Although many users have engaged with micro-blogging, questions still remain unanswered about its use. Specifically few studies have been carried out to examine how the risks of micro-blogging are perceived. Also, few studies have looked at ways to manage risks. In this context, the overall aim of the research reported in this chapter was to explore the risks of micro-blogging in small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the area of South Yorkshire, UK and to answer the following research questions: What risks were perceived with the use of micro-blogging and how were the risks of micro-blogging managed?

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