A Longitudinal Study of Facebook, Linkedin, & Twitter Use

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A Longitudinal Study of Facebook, LinkedIn, & Twitter Use
Anne Archambault Microsoft Corporation Redmond, Washington USA annea@microsoft.com ABSTRACT

Jonathan Grudin Microsoft Research Redmond, Washington USA jgrudin@microsoft.com messaging, and employee blogging were first used mainly by students and consumers to support informal interaction. Managers, who focus more on formal communication channels, often viewed them as potential distractions [4]. A new communication channel initially disrupts existing channels and creates management challenges until usage conventions and a new collaboration ecosystem emerges. Email was not embraced by many large organizations until the late 1990s. Instant messaging was not generally considered a productivity tool in the early 2000s. Slowly, employees familiar with these technologies found ways to use them to work more effectively. Organizational acceptance was aided by new features that managers appreciated, such as email attachments and integration with calendaring. Many organizations are now wrestling with social networking. About half of U.S. companies reportedly block sites or have restrictive policies [9, 17]. Echoes of past email and IM debates rage in the trade press [6]. Change could come more quickly this time: People are accustomed to using new technologies, adoption is less expensive, work-life boundaries are eroding, and the use of these technologies by successful people in government and entertainment is discussed in the media. In 2008, two years after Facebook became available, the size of its Microsoft “group” indicated that it was used by over one-third of all employees. How were they using it? How much if any was for work purposes? How did use or attitudes vary with role or age? Whether using such sites at home or work, employees are learning what they can provide and are developing skills in using them. Different social networking sites have been popular at different times and in different countries [16]. Over half of the Microsoft employees are in North America. The others are distributed around the world. In 2008, we found some use of Plaxo and international use of Orkut, Bebo, QQ, and other sites, but it was minimal and has diminished [10]. The primary sites from 2008 to 2011 were LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Live Spaces. Live Spaces was a commercial product endorsed for internal use. An internally-developed microblogging tool was released in 2010 but does not figure prominently in the data. Today, over 80% of our employees and over 10% of the world population are active Facebook users. Most joined during the three years spanned by our study. Past experience with new technologies indicates that employers

We conducted four annual comprehensive surveys of social networking at Microsoft between 2008 and 2011. We are interested in how these sites are used and whether they are considered to be useful for organizational communication and information-gathering. Our study is longitudinal and based on random sampling. Between 2008 and 2011, social networking went from being a niche activity to being very widely and heavily used. Growth in use and acceptance was not uniform, with differences based on gender, age and level (individual contributor vs. manager). Behaviors and concerns changed, with some showing signs of leveling off. Author Keywords

Social networking, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Enterprise
ACM Classification Keywords

H.5.3 Group and Organization Interfaces
INTRODUCTION

We conducted four annual in-depth surveys of attitudes and behaviors around social networking sites in Microsoft, a large technology company. In May 2008, MySpace was the largest site worldwide, with over 100 million users. Today it has 30 million. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter increased from 75 to 600 million, 20 to 100 million, and 2 to 200 million, respectively. How did this unprecedented technology shift play out in an organizational setting? Our survey data...
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