The struggles of being social

The beauty of social media is in many ways the barriers these platforms breakdown. The increased connectivity, openness and engagement between individuals they provide is great, but not without some negative effects.

I really enjoyed this week’s topic, and have a lot to discuss to be frank. So, I will fight my natural instinct to waffle and try keep this short, sharp and simple.

Social capital 

Social capital is a concept that refers to relationships between people who live and work together in specific cultures. The concept encompasses the norms, trust and systems that exist within distinct communal groups. Social capital provides individuals with a number of benefits, enabling them to work better both independently and collectively.

Putnam (2000) discusses two forms of social capital and their functions:

  • Bonding social capital: between people in similar situations, such as immediate family or school friends. Bonding social capital is intimate and provides strong emotional support for individuals.
  • Bridging social capital: distant ties of similar individuals, such as more distant friendships and workmates. Bridging social capital essentially refers to an individuals wider network of people, providing access to different information, perspectives and networks outside their inner circles.


Social capital, trust, and business

Social media’s provide individuals and organisations with platforms that can assist in increasing social capital. Establishing social capital within a business can help enhance relationships, functionality and brand equity. Consequentially, using social media can help businesses to build these relationships and better their relationships with stakeholders. Mello (2012) discusses social media’s implications for building social capital:

Social media has “… changed the ways in which business is conducted as well as how people interact with each other in many of their personal and professional dealings.”

A central aspect of building social capital, is building trust. With social media now being used by businesses to establish social capital, building trusting relationships through these platforms is a challenge faced by businesses. Kennedy and Sakaguchi (2009), define trust as “an interpersonal relationship with either a specific person or a specific business” (p. 226).

The open nature of social media, means exercising trust can be challenging across these technologies. Employees have the power (and often use it) to monitor their employees internet and email activity. This action is often perceived by individuals as an invasion of privacy; eroding trust, decreasing morale, commitment and performance within the business. There are also issues of trust between businesses and their customers. For corporate success it is vita that a business is perceived as trustworthy by its customers.

It ain’t so easy being social…

Social media undoubtedly has a number of benefits. However, with these come issues and challenges businesses must face. The main issues relating to social media use, particularly in a business context are:

  • protecting employee identity,
  • maintaining employee privacy (the big brother issue);
  • ensuring appropriate use of social media; and
  • employee safety online.


For businesses, knowing how to manage their use of social media is vital. Implementing plans, processes and strategies can help add and element of control and structure, helping to mitigate some potential risks.





Kennedy, M. & Sakaguchi, T. (2009). Chapter XII Trust in social networking: Definitions from a global, culture viewpoint. In C. Romm-Livermore & K. Setzekorn. Social networking communities and e-dating services: Concepts and implications (pp. 225-238). Hershey, NY: Information Science Reference.

Macnamara, J. & Zerfass, A. (2012). Social media communication in organizations: The challenges of balancing openness, strategy, and management. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 6(4), 287-308.

Mello, J. A. (2012). Social media, employee privacy and concerted activity: Brave new world or big brother? Labor Law Journal, 63 (3), 165-173, Retrieved from Business Source Complete Database

Putnam, R. D. (2001). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster.


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