Managers indicate and academic research reveals that employees’ perceptions of social media determines an organization’s social media success. Commonly discussed topics are social media guidelines, social media culture, employer empowerment, and employees’ company reputation-related social media competence. In a recent research published in the International Journal of Technology Marketing, we studied a novel construct: Social Media Climate. In management practice, Social Media Climate is often termed ‘social media culture’ (for a discussion on the differences between culture and climate, see HTC Consulting’s overview).
Definition of social media climate:
Social Media Climate refers to individual’s perceptions of an organization’s values, norms, beliefs, and attitudes regarding social media.
Now that we know what social media climate is, the question remains: What is it conceptually? What are the factors that constitute a social media climate? And, for managers even more important: How can we assess social media climate? In this research, we develop a scale to measure social media climate: The so called Social Media Climate Index, in short, SOMECLIX.
Tool: Measuring Social Media Climate
We developed a scientific measurement model than can serve as an assessment tool in organizations. It contains of 29 survey questions than can be integrated in any employee survey. After presenting the research very briefly (a link to the complete research report is presented at the bottom of this page), all survey questions and suggestions for analyses are presented below.
We started with eleven expert interviews with managers, consultants and employees in agencies in various positions with heterogeneous background. Interviews were conducted in 2014 and all informants had a social media / online / media related work experience ranging from >4 to >20 years. We identified various concepts and statements related to social media climate.
In a subsequent stage, we identified related concepts in the literature and adopted existing measures, if necessary, by statements identified in the expert interviews. This pool of 79 items was answered by 243 fully employed respondents from various industries. Data was subjected to a series of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, which resulted in 29 survey questionnaire items. Results indicate what we call a ‘higher-order factor structure’. That is, our model consists of broader factors than can be divided into more nuanced sub-factors. These factors included (1) socializing (incl. sub-factors), (2) usage certainty, (3) job performance, (4) corporate social media commitment, and (5) external real-time communication.
Survey Measurement Scale
To Measure SOMECLIX in organizations, managers should survey their own employees. In Particular, managers should ask for respondents’ agreement with these items. We used 7-point scales (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree), but adjustments of the anchor points are not problematic.
Internal Communication (a sub dimension of socializing)
- Our internal social media tools support cross-functional real-time communication.
- My organization explains its decisions to employees via social media.
- Our internal social media channels enable the discussion of issues with other employees until they come to a shared understanding.
- My organization is straightforward in telling me what I want to know by means of social media.
Active Contribution (a sub dimension of socializing)
- In my organization employees make constructive suggestions via social media on how to improve internal processes.
- When employees notice a problem, that doesn’t affect them, they inform the responsible employee via social media.
- Employees in my organization are encouraged to participate in broad organizational topics via social media.
- Employees in my organization actively collaborate with the help of social media tools.
- In my organization employees achieve goals collectively via social media.
Information Sharing (a sub dimension of socializing)
- In my company exchange of information takes place frequently and in a timely manner via social media.
- Our company’s vision and goals are shared via social media throughout the organization.
- In my company employees use social media to stay informed.
Sharing of knowledge (a sub dimension of socializing)
- My company has processes for exchanging knowledge between individuals via social media channels.
- My company has effective processes in place to distribute knowledge throughout the organization via social media.
- In my company a wide range of social media guidelines exists.
- In my company there are good social media rules and regulations.
- In my company there are defined processes for the use of social media.
- In my company it is clear whether and how social media should be used by employees.
- My job would be difficult to perform without the use of social media tools.
- Using social media gives me greater control over my work.
- Using social media saves me time.
- Using social media increases my productivity.
Corporate Social Media Commitment
- My company finds it useful to advertise through social media.
- My company thinks social media has great potential for business.
- In my company social media is seen as a waste of time.
- My company thinks that social media is always relevant.
External Real-Time Communication
- We use social media to facilitate two-way-communication with our customers.
- In my organization social media is used to communicate in real-time with customers.
- My organization emphasizes real-time exchanges with customers via social media.
How to calculate the SOMECLIX – the Social Media Climate Index
A very pragmatic approach (which statisticians would disagree with) is to average the results of all items per dimension. For example, calculate the average of the three items of ‘External Real-Time Communication’ to a score, etc. I do not see this approach that problematic, as the most interesting finding for managers are differences. For example, differences between junior versus senior employees, differences over time (e.g. before versus after social media coaching activities), or differences between your company and a competitor. Knowing that you have an average value of, say, ‘5’ on one of those dimensions is not really helpful. You need some references. However, for these simple calculations, some very basic excel skills are sufficient.
You may use this scale for scientific purposes. I recommend using all 29 items. If, for any reason, you need to shorten it, try to use at least 2-3 items per (sub)-dimension. However, 29 items are relatively easy to measure. In a well-designed questionnaire, answering these questions should not take more than 10 minutes.
Download the Research
Hillebrandt, I.; Ivens, BS.; Molloy, J.; Oppelt, H.; Rauschnabel, P.A. (2016) Measuring and Managing Organizations’ Social Media Climate: The Social Media Climate Index (SOMECLIX), International Journal of Technology Marketing, forthcoming.
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