Understanding Participation in Company Social Networks

Carla Martins, University of Porto
Lia Patrício, University of Porto

Companies have increasingly participated in social networks, but research on how to create value in this new context is still scarce. This article contributes to better understand company social networks (CSNs), defined as people connected to a company or brand through a social networking site. This research involved an exploratory study of the page maintained by a large retailer for six months, followed by a qualitative study with members of the CSN. The results highlight differences between CSNs and other types of online communities. Members rely on the company to help them achieve their goals; few count on their CSN peers, with whom they maintain weak ties. Unlike brand communities, most members are not enthusiasts but instead engage in a pragmatic relationship with the brand. Study results show that CSNs can create value for both the host company and its members, but active management is necessary to unlock that potential. The implications for CSN management include strategies to foster participation and increase value for companies and members.

 

Carla Sofia Martins, Lia Patrício, (2013) “Understanding participation in company social networks“, Journal of Service Management, Vol. 24 Iss: 5, pp.567 – 587