This concept refers to the networks of relationships between people who live and work in a specific culture. It relates to the personal associations people have within their communal sphere and encompasses the norms, trust and systems that exist within a group. Social capital allows individuals to work effectively, both independently and collectively, and helps people to possess better lives.
Social capital is also a pretty cool theory as it enables supportive, emotional and personal factors to be shared through bonding and bridging relationships. Let me explain…
Bonding social capital comes from an inward-looking social network and normally occurs between an individual and those who are super close to them like a family member or good mate. Bonding social capital is an intimate form of social capital and provides individuals with emotional support, which in the end helps them to function in the world in a more satisfying way.
Bridging social capital on the other hand is related to a larger network of people. It is considered to be a more significant form of social capital as benefits an individual’s overall economic and social development. Bridging social capital is important because it gives individuals access to different people, different information and different social networks beyond their immediate bonding circle.
Watch this somewhat odd and witty clip for more info on social capital:
Social Capital, Trust and Social Media within Organisations
One of the core things to note is that social capital is about building trust. So in the context of an organisation’s use of social media…social media is a platform that encourages social capital (and therefore the building of trusting relationships) and social capital can help organisations enhance their relationships, functionality and overall brand equity. Social media enables organisations to elevate their social capital since it supports interactivity, synchronous communication and freedom of speech. This means that social media can actually be used to build trusting relationships between an organisation and their employees and customers.
That being said, trust is a difficult thing to exercise across social media because technology inhibits our ability to assess those we’re talking via social channels. And so that is why I guess Theorist’s Kennedy and Sakaguchi said, the “future of the Internet may require faith in humanity”, as organisations nowadays are required to apply a moralistic or generalised trust towards individuals in order to attain and improve their social capital.
Issues and Challenges of Social Media
- Psychological Impacts*: It influences the way we think and respond. Our intellect and actions are now intrinsically dictated by the way we use technology. We no longer accept the traditional process of using our brains but desire to have instant answer to questions, which we can easily access through the Internet.
- Privacy/Big Brother: Employers can now invade employees’ privacy through actively monitoring their Internet and e-mail activity. This action however erodes trust and lowers morale, commitment and performance within an organisation.
- Bad behaviour can also go unnoticed via social media, as supervising one’s online activity can be rather demanding operation for an organisation to sustain
However, there are also some good reasons for employers to monitor their employees:
- To protect their legal liabilities
- To checking if employees are doing the work they should be, without being distracted by the Internet or their private Facebook feed
- To make sure private and confidential documents are not being transmitted and disseminated in an inappropriate way
It is very important for an organisation to address these issues and challenges as time equals money** and one bad act online could ruin their reputation. Having said that organisations need to find the right balance between being a watchdog and allowing their employees to use social media to generate revenue.
Culture and the Adoption of Social Media
Culture plays a big role in the process of change yet today we have a workforce full of millennials who are highly technologically orientated and executives who are not so keen on using interactive technology akin to social media due to the influence it may have on their productivity and security.
Christine Eberle, a contributor to the influential book called The Social Media Management Handbook, stated in a podcast that organisations need to strike a balance between accepting social platforms into their workplace/workflows and nurturing a corporate environment, where all the different voices can be heard. Eberle believes that if organisations actually opened their arms to today’s technologically advanced culture they could move their organisation in the right progressive direction.
To wrap up…social media scholar, Andrew Miller said, “the more rigid an organization’s internal controls are for workflow the more likely that social media adoption is being fought.” This makes me think…how long can an organisation like this exist in today’s culture that is heavily influenced by technology? What do you guys reckon?
*Here are some poignant quotes from the very thought provoking article called Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains by Nicholas Carr (such a good read)
- “What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
- “In the past the man has been first” and “in the future the system must be first.”
- “The Internet is a machine designed for the efficient and automated collection, transmission, and manipulation of information, and its legions of programmers are intent on finding the “one best method”—the perfect algorithm—to carry out every mental movement of what we’ve come to describe as knowledge work.”
- “In Google’s world, the world we enter when we go online, there’s little place for the fuzziness of contemplation. Ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed. The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive.”
**Employers don’t want employees wasting their company time or looking at their personal mobiles when they should be working. They also may not want to be associated to some of the things their employees are connected to via their private social media accounts, therefore employers have to be diligent and make sure they ethically monitor their employees use of social media when at work.
Kennedy, M. & Sakaguchi, T. (2009). Chapter XII Trust in social networking: Definitions from a global, culture viewpoint. In C. Romm-Livermore & K. Setzekorn. Social networking communities and e-dating services: Concepts and implications (pp. 225-238). Hershey, NY: Information Science Reference.
Miller, A. (2011). Cultural barriers to organizational social media adoption. In J. Girard & J. Girard (Eds.), social knowledge: Using social media to know what you know (pp. 96-114). Hershey, PA: doi: 10.4018/978-1-60960203-1.ch006