74 New Technology, Work and Employment
© 2018 Brian Towers (BRITOW) and
John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
New Technology, Work and Employment 33:1
Hybrid social media: employees’ use of a
boundary- spanning technology
Chris Archer-Brown , Ben Marder, Thomas Calvard and
Improved employee collaboration and communication can be
facilitated by social technologies that extend within and beyond
organisations. These social technologies have increasingly
come to be represented by social media sites, which are used to
extend workplace relationships across personal and profession-
al boundaries in a hybrid role. This presents opportunities and
risks as those boundaries are collapsed. Using boundary man-
agement as a theoretical lens, we evaluate the associations of
relationship initiation between colleagues at different levels of
organisations with employees’ strategies and their well- being.
We also investigate relationships with social media usage, age
and propensity to self- monitor and group employees using clus-
ter analysis. We consider implications of our ﬁndings for devel-
oping more sophisticated policies, training and guidance for em-
ployees on the use of social media as a workplace tool.
Keywords: social media, boundary management, workplace
relationships, employee collaboration, professional networks,
work-life, multiple audiences
Early attention in social media research focused on personal perspectives (e.g. Boyd
and Ellison, 2008) and considered social media in the workplace to be a distraction
(Coker, 2011). Recently, researchers have considered the adoption of social media in an
enterprise context (von Krogh, 2012; Leonardi et al., 2013) where beneﬁts are derived
as a result of transcending organisations structures (Chui et al., 2012). However, im-
plicit in much social media research has been the assumption of separate personal
versus professional or internal versus external boundaries; whereas the reality would
arguably be better described in terms of co- existing, overlapping personal and profes-
sional networks, and therefore to conceptualise social media purely along an inside—
outside organisational continuum is problematic.
To manage their social boundaries, users may resort to various strategies involving
multiple proﬁles for targeted audiences, or presenting content that conforms to
expectations of certain audiences (Hogan, 2010; Stutzman and Hartzog, 2012). Figure 1
Chris Archer-Brown, (firstname.lastname@example.org) Professor of Digital Entrepreneurship, Fal-
mouth University. Interests: Digital economy, boundary management, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Dr Ben Marder, Lecturer in Marketing, University of Edinburgh. Interests: branding, multiple audience
management in social media, tourism.
Dr Thomas Calvard, Lecturer in Human Resource Management, University of Edinburgh. Interests:
Diversity Management, Technology and Empathy and Perspective- taking.
Dr Tina Kowalski, Lecturer in Human Resource Management, University of York. Interests: Well-
being, health effects of organisational change and technology.