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Which age group uses ‘enterprise social media’ and why are we surprised?

by on October 14, 2013

An article with the title Boomers Beat Millenials with Business Social Media caught my eye in our alerts today. A few clicks later, I was looking at the research of Paul Leonardi at Northwestern University and in particular a study he conducted about ‘Enterprise social media’ — tools like internal Facebook or Twitter within organizations.

A synposis of the research describes how these tools can lead to ‘increased knowledge about who knows what and who knows whom’. It adds: ‘But surprisingly, younger employees are more skeptical of the tools than their older colleagues’. This suggests an assumption that younger workers will be more readily accepting of social media at work than older workers.

Here’s an extract from this longer account of the work:

‘Interestingly, Leonardi did not find that use of the social networking tool differed based on someone’s role in the organization. Instead, he found that use differed by age: younger employees across the company were generally more skeptical of the tool. “So many young people use social media tools”—like Facebook and Twitter—“in their lives daily,” and those tools are really for social, non-work-related communication, says Leonardi. This, he believes, made it harder for younger employees to embrace social technology in the workplace. “They would say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be posting things my boss would see.’ … On the other hand, the senior employees didn’t have that same concern. For them, the technology was another mode for communicating about work-related matters.”’

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