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Transgressions and Transformations at Work: Towards a Social Media Practice among Swedish Municipality Communicators
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Media and Design. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6636-055X
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Divison of Informatics. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6101-3054
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Media and Design. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2118-2152
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Divison of Law, Economics, Statistics and Politics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5848-4288
2017 (English)In: Transitions, Transformations and Transgressions in Work and Learning & Work and Learning Research: Book of Abstracts, Grahamstown: Rhodes University , 2017, p. 81-, article id ID071Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses how communicators at the municipality, in their work, negotiate the tension between a traditional role of an 'informative administrator' and a 'promoting, engaging social media profile'. The work is learned by carefully transgressing municipality social media and IT policy and by transforming social media practice from private and commercial use of Facebook, towards a new practice founded in democratic values.

Social media has become an important strategy for municipalities to disclose a massive amount of information with relatively low cost and to create engagement with citizens. However, fostering participation and citizen engagement on social media platforms is still a great challenge for municipality administration as well as for research. Despite a widespread diffusion of platforms such as Facebook in municipalities, interaction level is relatively low compared to private organisations. We know from previous research that citizens' engagement with municipalities on Facebook is related to the municipalities' tradition of openness and transparency and their local administration style. Municipalities with a tradition of transparency are to a greater extent using features in Facebook that enable citizen engagement.Hence the organisational context where the engagement takes place is a crucial factor.However, what is often forgotten when trying to understand how engagement emerges on municipality social media platforms is the intentions of the platform providers and the emerging social logic of the platforms in use. A digital platform such as Facebook cannot be regarded as one overall technology choice, but as a platform provider that promotes services and tools along with a considerable amount of conditions and regulations. As social platforms are being adopted and matured, the huge amount of data concerning user behaviour and interaction patterns has changed from being side business to core business for the platform providers. This is applied,for instance, in the possibility to harvest and sell data. Overtime, the logic of such platforms has become more advanced and its ability to shape and transform the communication patterns has grown stronger and become critical. So, what implications do such a platform logic have on municipality administrations' use of Facebook? A content analysis of online interaction on four municipalities' Facebook pages during a period of two years was conducted. Approximately 6000 posts and comments were categorised by content, media type and tone. Engagement such as likes, shares and comments were then measured for the different categories.Empirical findings indicate that municipality communicators have problems both to reach out with information and to create engagement on Facebook. It is important for the communicators to be politically neutral, correct and speak with the voice of the whole municipality (i.e. not too personal). This way of being, however, does not work so well on Facebook.They report having gradually adjusted their work (content, tone, media type and timing) to what is spreadable, sharable and commentable according to a Facebook logic. The communicators say they feel forced to post pictures of blossomtrees and check-ins from the lunch restaurant in order to get likes and shares. They know that if they don't do this they will lose citizens' attention and they will not reach out with more important posts. They are aware that posts that are interesting to see and read are not sufficient; posts also need to trigger people to like, share and comment. The socialmedia work needs to be designed in accordance with a unique Facebook platform logic.

This paper aims to contribute to the body of knowledge on IT and learning at work with a special focus on new competence in the public sector. It also extends an existing framework of e-government transparency and citizen engagement by taking into account the role of Facebook as a platform with highly structured strategies for how to foster a special kind of sociality and engagement. The practical contribution implies new knowledge for staff and management in the public sector to develop competence to manage transparency and engagement through social media.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Grahamstown: Rhodes University , 2017. p. 81-, article id ID071
Keywords [en]
Social media platform, workplace learning, transformation of work practice, e-government, citizens, communicators
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning; SOCIAL SCIENCE, Informatics; SOCIAL SCIENCE, Human and economic geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-13203OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-13203DiVA, id: diva2:1271203
Conference
10th International conference on Reseaching work and learning, 6-8 December 2017, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
Available from: 2018-12-17 Created: 2018-12-17 Last updated: 2019-12-05Bibliographically approved

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Norström, LiviaLundh Snis, UlrikaBernhard, IréneAssmo, Per

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