Kang: Social media elevates employees’ influence on companies’ reputations
Social media has placed the reputations of companies in the hands of their employees, said assistant professor Minjeong Kang in a Feb. 15 research colloquium talk.
In particular, employee advocacy takes place on social media, where employees can give their firsthand accounts of what their company is really like. This communication is seen by the public as more credible because it’s not curated by the company, she said.
Before these employee accounts were available online, the public had to rely on statements from company officials for insight into workplace culture.
“However, with social media, the landscape has changed,” Kang said.
Employee perceptions about how effectively their companies are communicating with them internally also affect how employees talk about their work experiences on social media.
“I’m trying to understand interactions between organizations and multiple stakeholders,” she said.
Kang also talked about a study she’s still working on, which looks at the way negative advocacy affects a company.
To illustrate this idea of dissenting voices, Kang talked about a New York Times articles that exposed Amazon for treating employees negatively. She showed several comments readers left on the article, which were severely critical.
“Reputation is a value judgment,” she said. “If an organization has a positive reputation, organizations may not be punished by stakeholders if they make one mistake.”
However, when organizations do receive negative publicity, consumers’ faith in both the company’s level of morality and level of ability suffer, she said.
“The reputation boost when exposed to positive employee voices was lower than the damage done when people were exposed to negative employee voices,” Kang said.
So far, Kang has found that negative advocacy has a more pronounced impact on an organization than positive advocacy does, but the study is still in progress.