What’s the cool thing to do here? : navigating uncertainty by engaging social media professionals

by Diana Tasker Biffl

Institution: University of Texas – Austin
Year: 2016
Keywords: Uncertainty; Legitimacy; Social media work
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2065346
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2152/39030


This study investigates uncertainty through an exploration of social media professionals and their perceptions, choices, and motivations. Through an analysis of interviews with 31 social media professionals, findings suggest that the organizations that social media professionals provide services for, as well as the professionals themselves, experience consistent uncertainty. As a result, these individuals and organizations engage in a combination of strategies to reduce uncertainty; the simultaneous employment of these multiple strategies in the complex space of social media work creates tensions that social media managers and organizations must work to resolve. Finally, findings indicate that social media professionals must also communicate legitimacy to their organizations or client organizations and to the public. This study expands on theory related to isomorphism, innovation-diffusion, and legitimacy by delving into organizational social media use, and uncovering how social media professionals navigate their own uncertainty, their clients’ uncertainty, as well as tension caused by varying approaches to managing this uncertainty. I argue that social media professionals engage in behaviors that reflect fad-following (Rogers, 1962, 1983), fashion-following (Hirsch, 1972), and the use of efficient-choice (Abrahamson, 1991; Grandori, 1987) to reduce uncertainty and to display legitimacy. Advisors/Committee Members: Treem, Jeffrey W. (advisor), Mackert, Michael (committee member).