THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN PROMOTING KNOWLEDGE SHARING AND TRANSFER

The Role of Social Media in Promoting Knowledge Sharing and Transfer
Introduction
Social media platforms have taken the world by storm. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Instagram, and Snapchat among others have grown in popularity. Such platforms have enabled the connection of people in ways never before thought possible. As such, the world has been presented with endless opportunities for knowledge transfer especially between people with the slightest relationship, physical or electronic. Business or organizational setups have important cues to pick from this important transformation since knowledge management and knowledge transfer is critical to the success of any organization, whether in the short-term or long-term as evaluated by Luo, Slotegraaf and Pan (2006). To stimulate knowledge sharing, organizations initiate knowledge sharing through different programs and tools. If such initiatives are not successful, organizations run the risk of losing knowledge, which is a critical resource as emphasized by Nelissen, Wenneker, and van Selm (2008). Theories such as the Diffusion of Innovations Theory and the Technology Acceptance Model have been put across to explain this phenomenon. This paper will analyze previous studies on social med and its role in promoting knowledge sharing and transfer.
Philosophies and Theories of Knowledge Sharing and Transfer
Griffin (2009) examined the works of Carl Rogers and came up with some philosophy on how people experience and represent their experiences. To that end, Griffin (2009) came up with conditions that allow an individual to experience what another is representing as an experience. The first condition is congruence. With congruence, Griffin (2009) explains that an individual’s inner feelings must be in tandem with their outer representation for such an individual to represent an experience is such a way that others can decipher. The second condition is unconditional positive regard. Griffin (2009) explains that it is the link needed for an individual to experience positive feelings towards another individual where knowledge transfer is about to happen. The last condition is empathetic understanding. It is the ability of an individual to have another individual’s world view. Combined, these three conditions form the basis of knowledge transfer and sharing, more so in social media platforms. Social media platforms are rich grounds that have allowed the formation of new relationships and interactions that forster the above mentioned conditions that are imperative for knowledge transfer.
The Diffusion of Innovations Theory foresees that the speed of spread of upcoming technologies spread out through groups of people or cultures. Everett Rogers in his theory examined an innovation life cycle and categorized the stages into five. According to the theory, there are certain conditions that hasten or slow the adoption of a new innovation by members of a given culture or group. For the case of social media, one critical factor is the spread of the internet connection. Opinion leaders are also critical in the shaping of the terrain as examined by Valente and Davis (1999). This point out to the importance of having opinion leaders in every setting that knowledge needs to be shared or transferred take center stage in using social media. The theory appreciates the fact that not all members of a particular defined group adopt innovations at an instant. As such, opinion leaders in a knowledge sharing environment should not expect all members to jump on board instantaneously. Ma et al. (2014) found out that according to the Diffusion of Innovations Theory, influencers of knowledge transfer and sharing include opinion leaders, networks and credibility of the knowledge in question.
Previous Research on Social Media and Knowledge Sharing and Transfer
Paroutis and Saleh (2009) examined the primary influencers of knowledge sharing among employees in a significantly important multinational corporation. To do this, the study focused on the barriers to employees’ active participation in various social media platforms in the said organization. The study identified that history, perceived organizational support, outcome expectations and trust were major precursors of the level of adoption of social media.
Behringer and Sassenberg (2015) studied the interrelationships that exist between the relevance of knowledge transfer and sharing, shortages in the same, perceived importance of social media in knowledge transfer and exchange, and experience in social media, and surrounding intentions. They found out that all the above mentioned factors are of great relevance to social media as a tool for knowledge transfer.
Sigalaa and Chalkiti (2015) evaluated the connection between employee innovation and creativity and social media use. The study adopted a knowledge management approach and found out that there is an important need in shifting focus from micro level management of creative individuals to a meso level management. As such, creative individuals are offered more space to develop and create more and newer knowledge.
Gaál, Szabó, Obermayer-Kovács and Csepregi (2015) conducted a multifaceted study that aimed at establishing the link between individual characteristics as well as willingness to utilize internal social media technologies. On this, the study found out that older generations were fond of using presentation sharing technologies and professional social media platforms such as Linked In as compared to the younger generation which was found to be interested in platforms such as Facebook. The study further evaluated how internal and external social media technologies are put to use by employees to share professional knowledge or for professional development. On this, the study found out that majority of organizations do not prefer their employees to access social media sites but in organizations where it was allowed, a majority of the people used them.
Managing and Transferring Knowledge with Social Media
Social media, being a form of Information Communication Technology, as described by Van der Hooff, Weyers, Peters and De Lange (2005), impacts knowledge transfer to the extent that members of the organization in question use such tools. Social media is an important tool in knowledge transfer as it promotes sharing and offers multiple methods of conveying and obtaining knowledge, be it text, video, pictures, presentations, or podcasts as provided by Eyrich, Padman, and Sweetser (2008). As such, organizations should aim at generating knowledge and relying on its employees to share and distribute it. Further, social media allows people to search for specific information of interest. This reduces learning time.
Conclusion
It has been found that social media is a force that organizations should reckon with. Further, being a widely accepted concept by majority of the people, social media offers a wide range of capabilities that help in knowledge transfer and sharing, for instance, creating new connections, recommendations, search, and sharing of knowledge items. Organizations that have sustained a ban on social media as demonstrated above run the risk of losing important knowledge as they are fighting against the current. Organizations should have well placed opinion leaders take the mantle of shaping the terrain to ensure that majority of the people get on board.

References
Behringer, N. and Sassenberg, K., 2015. Introducing social media for knowledge management: Determinants of employees’ intentions to adopt new tools. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, pp.290-296.
Eyrich, N., Padman, M.L. and Sweetser, K.D., 2008. PR practitioners’ use of social media tools and communication technology. Public relations review, 34(4), pp.412-414.
Gaál, Z., Szabó, L., Obermayer-Kovács, N., & Csepregi, A. (2015). Exploring the role of social media in knowledge sharing. Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(3).
Griffin, E. 2009. A first look at communication theory. Boston, MA: McGrawHill
Luo, X., Slotegraaf, R.J. and Pan, X., 2006. Cross-functional “coopetition”: The simultaneous role of cooperation and competition within firms. Journal of Marketing, 70(2), pp.67-80.
Ma, L., Sian Lee, C. and Hoe-Lian Goh, D., 2014. Understanding news sharing in social media: An explanation from the diffusion of innovations theory. Online Information Review, 38(5), pp.598-615.
Nag, R. and Gioia, D.A., 2012. From common to uncommon knowledge: Foundations of firm-specific use of knowledge as a resource. Academy of Management Journal, 55(2), pp.421-457.
Nelissen, P., Wenneker, M., & van Selm, M. 2008. ICT performance in processes of knowledge sharing in organizations: A review of literature. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 33(1), 91-107. doi:10.1515/COMMUN.2008.005
Paroutis, S. and Al Saleh, A., 2009. Determinants of knowledge sharing using Web 2.0 technologies. Journal of knowledge management, 13(4), pp.52-63.
Valente, T.W. and Davis, R.L., 1999. Accelerating the diffusion of innovations using opinion leaders. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 566(1), pp.55-67.

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