New research: Microblogging Inside and Outside the Workplace


I just got off the phone with Kate Ehrlich of IBM Research, who I’ve known for many years and was one my co-authors for our California Management Review article Managing Collaboration: Improving Team Effectiveness through a Network Perspective.

We had a great discussion about a variety of common interests, including where things are going in using social network analysis for performance improvement, and the value of social media in sales teams. Kate shared with me some recent research she has done with the use of microblogging inside and outside the enterprise, which has been written up as a paper titled Microblogging Inside and Outside the Workplace – it’s well worth a read.

IBM established BlueTwit some time ago as an internal microblogging tool, and its employees also use Twitter. As such, they were able to do research comparing how staff used microblogging for internal and external audiences.


Source: Microblogging Inside and Outside the Workplace

The research showed that Twitter is used more for sharing information and status updates, while the internal tool was used more for asking questions and directed interaction.

The study also included a qualitative component of interviews with IBM employees on how they used the microblogging tools. Below are the motivations and perspectives identified in the studies, together with representative quotes. See the article for the detailed research.



“if all that went outside I would feel that you would be somewhat exposed because inside people are more willing to share more readily their direct experience whereas outside they are probably not likely to say here’s something that wentreally wrong… although would not be seen as a bad thing…”

Conversation and Help from Colleagues.

“I couldn’t find any blog or wiki which would help me. So I posted an update on BlueTwit and someone from Canada who I had never been in contact with sent me an update, well you can do it like this here and here and… this really saved my day! I received the answer in 5 minutes!”

Real-time Information Sharing and Awareness.

“As far as Twitter is concerned the value is two-fold: learning much of what is happening in the marketplace, picking up trends, and picking up news… get a lot of news items earlier that way than any other way…”

Reputation Management.

“Value as an employee is to be visible inside the company. You have to be visible to show people. I help my community with new solutions. To give and get.”

Feeling Connected.

“I feel like I know these people. When it does come a time when I meet them or I might need to engage with them on something there has been an element of rapport established… we don’t actually know each other but we do, from the interactions we’ve had in that space.”