3 Social media communication in sport workplaces
Many organisations use social media among larger workplace groups, and also to speed up knowledge generation. Media such as blogs, wikis, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, all used alongside internal social-networking sites are often utilised. It’s undoubtedly a communication channel that allows many different people to contribute to discussions in an easily accessible manner, and this is part of its appeal. Since this is widespread in many workplaces, it is important to think about how to send suitable messages via this channel.
Three distinctive features of communicating on social media are:
- In face-to-face interaction you speak to different people in different ways. You don't speak to your father-in-law the way you speak to your colleagues. However, on social media, you write your message without necessarily knowing who will be reading it. All these readers will see the same message and make different assumptions about the sender.
This connects to communication partly being about managing impressions or a performance provided for a particular audience. The difficulty with social media is a potential blurring of your different professional, social and personal group boundaries.
- Another distinctive feature of social media communication is the possibility of your account becoming an ‘echo chamber’, with a tendency towards confirmation bias (also outlined in Session 2): social media can reinforce the beliefs of users because users generally tend to seek out news and views that tally with their own opinions. Research suggests that social media can create an echo chamber in which a network of like-minded people share controversial views and selective information. This means that any biases held are simply repeated back to users unchallenged and thereby confirmed as fact. For example, a group of sport practitioners may convince themselves that they are open-minded about people with body piercings, but if their social media circle is drawn from people with limited experience of such body decorations, any stereotypes may often be reinforced without challenge.
- Watch this short animation. The main message it conveys is: it’s best to assume that everything you put on social media is public and searchable or has the potential to be.