Social Media Impact on Knowledge Management

Abstract

The goal of this paper is to analyze the importance of social media in knowledge management. The paper will explore how social media influences knowledge management in the present business world. Social media constitute a collection of different tools like wikis, blogs, and other social networking sites. The devices enable organizations and businesses to communicate, connect, and collaborate. Besides, they help organizations to build vibrant, sophisticated information infrastructure that allows quicker, easier, and more general distribution of information. Businesses use social media to collate knowledge from customers. Besides, organizations use social media to connect individuals with diverse skills and experiences, thus pooling together their knowledge and controlling it from a central location. The paper will use different case studies to analyze the effects of social media on knowledge management.

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Introduction

Social media is a vital tool that is designed to change the majority of the existing rules. The rise of social media has changed how knowledge is created, stored, and shared. Today, knowledge begins as an online dialogue and develops as more people join the conversation and situations change. In other words, knowledge is created as a social object. Von Krogh (2012, p. 157) argues, ‘social media takes knowledge and makes it highly iterative’.

Indeed, social media enables organizations to establish a community comprising of institutions or individuals with mutual interests. The organizations discuss and share ideas as well as transfer their understanding and knowledge without difficulties. Social media has brought to an end the era of a solitary, commanding voice. Nowadays, organizations have to look for ways to manage unstructured content. Besides, business owners spend a lot of time analyzing the knowledge that is created through social interaction.

Aims of the Review

The objective of this study is to determine how social media contribute to knowledge management in the present business world. The paper seeks to analyze how organizations use social media to acquire, store, and share knowledge. Besides, it will discuss the challenges of using social media in knowledge management. The paper will not be complete without examining the effectiveness of using social media in knowledge management. The discussion will help to determine if businesses benefit from social media. Technical analysis of different case studies will serve as an eye-opener on how enterprises use social media to manage knowledge. Besides, the analysis will point out the challenges that institutions encounter and give recommendations.

Summary

Social media has changed the order of knowledge management in modern businesses. Businesses no longer rely on a single source of information. Instead, information is generated in the form of conversations on social media. Social media enables enterprises with common interests to come together and share knowledge and experiences. The business operators spend time analyzing the knowledge that they acquire through social interactions.

Literature Review

Introduction to Knowledge Management

Von Krogh (2012, p. 160) argues that knowledge management is ‘becoming an increasingly important leverage point for organizations that could be used to lift their deficiency, innovation, and thus competitive abilities’. Business enterprises that insist on knowledge management know that information contributes to the competitiveness of an institution. According to Mangold and Faulds (2009), the basic objective of knowledge management is to gather, sort out, and transform information into a form that is valuable to all workers. Different applications help in knowledge management.

The applications include enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) and intranet among others. Von Krogh (2012) argues that knowledge management efforts are intended for the enhancement of organizational objectives like innovation, improved performance, integration, and competitive advantage. Today, many businesses use computers to manage operations and store data. The desire to use a computer to enhance knowledge management has resulted in organizations adopting numerous technologies such as knowledge repositories, intranets, expert systems, group decision support systems, and knowledge bases.

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There are two strategies for knowledge management, which are the push and pull approaches. The push strategy entails dynamically managing knowledge. In this strategy, organizations endeavor to code their knowledge into a public knowledge warehouse-like database overtly. In the push strategy, individuals have the liberty to access any information that is shared in a public knowledge warehouse. Mangold and Faulds (2009) refer to this system of knowledge management as the codification approach.

The pull strategy involves ‘individuals making knowledge requests of experts associated with a particular subject on an ad hoc basis’ (Mangold & Faulds 2009, p. 355). In this strategy, experts offer their experience to individuals that are in need. Mangold and Faulds (2009) refer to this strategy of knowledge management as the personalization approach.

Social Media in Knowledge Management

Social media has altered the way people relate and conduct themselves. It allows people to acquire knowledge and share ideas. Many organizations use social media in knowledge management. For instance, in the case of a disaster, the rescue teams use social media to share knowledge conveniently and efficiently. During the Haiti disaster, the United States used social media to coordinate the rescue operations.

The American armed forces created a Microsoft SharePoint platform that enabled people with experience in disaster management to share information (Yates & Paquette 2011). The platform had numerous features of the social media that allowed the persons participating in the rescue mission to create web pages and share knowledge. Besides, the platform directed all persons with useful information to the leaders of the operations. Indeed, the use of social media enabled the relief personnel to share information about the nature of the disaster as well as manage the relief professional knowledge obtained from other workers.

Business institutions use social media to liaise with both the suppliers and customers. For instance, Starbucks uses numerous social media instruments in knowledge management that facilitate marketing and branding (Chua & Banerjee 2013). Besides, the hotel uses social media to redefine the duties and responsibilities of its clients. The clients cease to be inactive beneficiaries of beverages and contribute to the company’s innovation. Starbucks gathers feedback from customers through social media, which plays a key role in enhancing innovation.

Challenges of Using Social Media in Knowledge Management

Despite social media providing a new way of creating and managing knowledge, it also presents a myriad of difficulties for shielding private information. A few scholars have focused on knowledge protection. Besides, there are very few scholarly journals that account for security-related knowledge management practices that are associated with social media. One of the critical challenges of using social media in knowledge management is information security (Girard & Girard 2011).

An organization can hardly manage the knowledge shared on social media without allowing people to access the information. The effectiveness of knowledge collection and distribution depends on the number of people that have access to the social media platform. Allowing many people to access a social media platform leads to the rise of security challenges. Not all people that access a company’s social media platform are interested in sharing their experience. Some people access the platform to steal information or share malicious data that could negatively affect an organization.

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Presently, social media platforms are prone to identity theft, phishing, scams, and disclosure of private information. These challenges coupled with the fact that social media audiences are blurred make it difficult for business enterprises to manage the safety of their knowledge base efficiently. In most cases, organizations do not even know who has access to their information. They also do not know who and when information is posted on their social media platforms.

Thus, it might be challenging for organizations to guarantee the security of their knowledge (Girard & Girard 2011). Many companies lose valuable knowledge to rival businesses through identity theft. Staff from rival companies disguise as customers or experts and access information from employees. Until today, most organizations cannot control the kind of information that passes through their social media. Not all staff members are conversant with social media. As a result, it is hard for some businesses to use social media to collect information from all workers. Moreover, organizations encounter challenges when sharing vital information with employees that do not know how to use social media.

According to Porter (2001), social media provides a good chance for knowledge management. However, many organizations do not know how they can exploit social media to their benefit. Two factors contribute to the profitability of an organization. They are a sustainable competitive advantage and industry structure. Because a majority of the organizations use Twitter, blogs, and Facebook to gather and manage knowledge, it is hard for the companies to ‘keep track of their core corporate experience’ (Porter 2001, p. 67).

Organizations are at the risk of ruining their reputations because they do little to influence how knowledge is shared on social media. Information shared through social media travels at a very high speed. Besides, it reaches a considerable number of people within a short time. Thus, it might be hard for an organization to correct any negative information before it reaches people. In other words, even though social media facilitates knowledge management, it can cause considerable damage to the reputation of an organization within a short span.

Effectiveness of Using Social Media in Knowledge Management

Social media is active in promoting intra-organizational knowledge sharing. According to Vuori and Okkonen (2012), employees prefer sharing knowledge on platforms that are easy to manage. Social media offers a variety of flexible ways to interact with. It enables employees to identify with colleagues with particular knowledge or experience. Vuori and Okkonen (2012) maintain that social media is useful in knowledge management especially in organizations that promote a culture of information sharing. It allows organizations to create groups of employees that work together to accomplish certain objectives.

Currently, many organizations have social media platforms that enable employees to share knowledge. For instance, most companies create portal sites that allow employees to share knowledge regarding the customers, market conditions as well as competitors. Additionally, some companies use the Voice of Customer (VoC) system to get feedback from clients. The system helps gather information regarding customer needs.

According to Girard and Girard (2011), social media has helped to boost the number of experts that a business can reach. Currently, it is easy to reach numerous business experts and get ideas from them. Social media has not only helped business operators to reach new populations of customers but also tap into the different mutual knowledge bases. Business operators use social media to search for information regarding special requests that they get from customers.

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Girard and Girard (2011) claim that social media has enabled organizations to create a universal database where organizations share knowledge regarding different products and services. Indeed, ‘support organizations are learning and capitalizing on social media as an open and unstructured knowledge base’ (Girard & Girard 2011, p. 86). Organizations appreciate the role of customers’ experience in enhancing organizational performance.

Therefore, business operators use social media to converse and learn from clients. The integration of social media in enterprise applications has helped to establish an informal communication platform that facilitates team building. Social media has helped organizations to get rid of call centers. Previously, institutions relied on call centers for knowledge collection and management. Today, social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn enable businesses to exploit unstructured knowledge bases.

Summary

Knowledge management contributes to the success of a company. Institutions use social media to liaise with customers and suppliers. For instance, Starbucks uses social media to gather knowledge from its clients. Knowledge facilitates innovation in the company. Besides, organizations use social media to share knowledge in the time of disasters. Social media played a crucial role in the Haiti disaster. Relief personnel used social media to share knowledge and consult individuals with experience in disaster management. Social media is useful in knowledge management because it enables individuals to identify with persons with specific skills. The primary challenge of using social media in knowledge management is that it is hard for a company to control what the people share.

Knowledge Management at Starbucks

Objectives

The primary objective of this study is to determine the impacts of social media on knowledge management in Starbucks. Besides, the study intends to evaluate the level to which social media can facilitate knowledge management at Starbucks.

Methodology

The use of social media in knowledge management is not a new phenomenon. However, there is limited literature that accounts for the impacts of social media on knowledge management. Due to time constraints, this study relied on secondary sources of information. The researcher gathered qualitative data from different secondary sources. The sources included peer-reviewed journals, newswires, books, magazines, and social media platforms. The researcher visited Starbucks’ social media platform to determine how it uses social media to collect and manage knowledge.

Approach

The paper approached the concept of knowledge management from both practical and theoretical perspectives. The researcher relied on qualitative case studies to gathering information about Starbucks.

Results and Findings

The researcher came up with three findings. First, the researcher learned that Starbucks uses numerous social media tools in knowledge management. The tools help to gather the information that facilitates marketing and branding strategies. The researcher found that Starbucks uses social media to advertise coffee brands. Besides, it uses social media to position its brand as the best in the world. Second, the researcher found that Starbucks uses social media to redefine the duties of its clients. Social media has enabled Starbucks to transform customers from passive beneficiaries of its beverages to the dynamic providers of inventive ideas.

The company uses social media to collate knowledge from customers on what it should do to enhance its services. Third, the researcher found that Starbucks uses social media to encourage its clients to share knowledge. In most cases, clients are reluctant to share knowledge with business operators. However, the creation of interactive social media platforms has helped Starbucks to encourage its clients to volunteer useful knowledge.

Recommendations

The researcher found that Starbucks did not have a social media platform where staff interact and share knowledge. Thus, there is a need for Starbucks to create a social media platform that can assist in acquiring knowledge from the employees that work in different departments. Moreover, Starbucks needs a social media platform that can help it connect with its various outlets and share knowledge.

Discussions

Starbucks recognizes the importance of social media in knowledge management. Starbucks has social media platforms that enable it to gather knowledge from customers. The administration of Starbucks appreciates the role of clients in promoting innovation. Thus, it has created an interactive platform where employees communicate with customers and get their complaints. Starbucks needs to establish a social media platform for its employees. Moreover, it requires creating a platform that can enable its different branches to share knowledge.

Limitations

The paper could not cover in detail the impacts of social media on knowledge management due to time constraints. Thus, the results were analyzed based on this limitation.

Summary

The goal of this study was to determine the effects of social media on knowledge management. The study relied on a qualitative case study to collate data about Starbucks. The researcher found that Starbucks used social media not only to acquire knowledge from customers but also to position and market its brand. Starbucks is yet to exploit the knowledge of its employees entirely. It requires creating a social media platform that can help to collate knowledge from employees as well as its various outlets. It was hard for the researcher to conduct a detailed investigation due to time constraints.

Knowledge Management in Public Libraries in Canada

Objective

The primary objective of this study is to determine if social media facilitates knowledge management in public libraries in Canada. Besides, the study seeks to understand how public libraries use social media in knowledge management.

Methodology

With the onset of social media, non-profit organizations like public libraries have a chance to exploit the clout of technology for knowledge management reasons. This study relied on qualitative data. The researcher used an exploratory qualitative interview method to collect data from two public libraries in Canada. One of the libraries was located in an urban center while the other one was from a rural setting. Due to time constraints, the researcher only interviewed a few participants.

Approach

The researcher used a grounded theory approach to analyze data. This approach was informed by a ‘social constructionist theoretical framework’ (Forcier, Rathi & Given 2013, p. 1). The researcher intended to obtain proportional findings regarding the public libraries’ perception of knowledge management as a theory.

Results and Findings

The results demonstrated that social media are priceless knowledge management instruments in public libraries. The participants stated that library staff used social tools like user-profiles and blogs to share knowledge. However, the participants from the rural library claimed that they did not use social media in knowledge sharing. Instead, they relied on traditional methods of knowledge sharing like emails and meetings. However, the participants claimed that they used social tools like webinars and Amazon.com to acquire knowledge.

Recommendations

The researcher found that the urban library had embraced social media as an essential instrument in knowledge management and sharing. However, the rural library had not fully embraced social media. There is a need to educate the staff working in the rural library on the importance of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and intranet in knowledge management and sharing to profit from social media. Besides, there is a need to install the necessary technological infrastructures in the rural library.

Discussions

Social media is an essential instrument in knowledge management and sharing in public libraries. It enables library staff to acquire knowledge regarding new products. Besides, it helps to minimize time wastage regarding organizing for a staff meeting. It would be hard for rural libraries to embrace social media since they are not equipped with relevant technological infrastructure. There is a need to educate staff working in rural libraries on the importance of social media.

Limitation

The primary limitation that the researcher experienced during the study was a time constraint. Interviewing many participants due to limited time was hard. Thus, the study was compiled based on the information gathered from the few participants.

Summary

Public libraries use social media tools like blogs, intranet, Twitter, and user profiles to share and acquire knowledge. Besides, some library staff uses webinars and Amazon.com to gain knowledge regarding the latest publications and their prices. The primary challenge that affects rural libraries is a lack of technological infrastructure and knowledge about modern social media instruments. There is a need to educate library staff members, particularly those that work in rural areas on the role of social media in knowledge management.

Reference List

Chua, A & Banerjee, S 2013, ‘Customer knowledge management via social media: the case of Starbucks’, Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 237-249.

Forcier, E, Rathi, D & Given, L 2013, ‘Knowledge management and social media: a case study of two public libraries in Canada’, Journal of Information & Knowledge Management, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 1-10.

Girard, J & Girard, J 2011, Social knowledge: using social media to know what you know, IGI Global, New York.

Gupta, J & Sharma, S 2004, Creating knowledge-based organizations, Idea Group Publishing, Boston.

Mangold, G & Faulds, J 2009, ‘Social media: the new hybrid element of the promotion mix’, Business Horizons, vol. 52, no. 1, pp. 353-358.

Porter, E 2001, ‘Strategy and the internet’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 79, no. 3, pp. 62-78.

Von Krogh, G 2012, ‘How does social software change knowledge management? Toward a strategic research agenda’, Journal of Strategy Information Systems, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 154-164.

Vuori, V & Okkonen, J 2012, ‘Knowledge sharing motivational factors of using an intra‐organizational social media platform’, Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 592-603.

Yates, D & Paquette, S 2011, ‘Emergency knowledge management and social media technologies: a case study of the 2010 Haitian earthquake’, International Journal of Information Management, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 6-13.

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