|Abstract: ||This thesis examines the impact of social media on organisations, and in particular focuses on the way firms are using social media to construct “online celebrity” and the way social movement organisations acquire legitimacy through a blending of offline and online illegitimate actions. This thesis embraces a perspective at the intersection between institutional theory, communications theory and strategy to deeply understand the impact of social media that enables and constrains organisational actions. The study finds that social media are affecting the information-intensive environment where organisations operate. Current shifts in communication technology, such as new patterns and modes of communication, provide a useful natural experiment to analyse how different types of organisations, including firms and social movement organisations, are strategically adopting social media to help maintain or acquire social approval assets.
This research into social media strategy in one large technology firm and in one social movement organisation shows how social media may enable firms to achieve valuable strategic positions in ways that are underexplored by current organisation literature, ultimately leading to celebrity and legitimacy acquisition. This thesis makes several contributions to organisational strategy and institutional theory. First, it introduces and develops the concept of online celebrity, which is a firm’s ability to attract public attention and affective investment from networked publics through social media. Second, it expands our understanding of legitimacy acquisition by including a blending of illegitimate offline and online actions by social movement organisations that challenge taken for granted cultural norms, dominant frames and powerful actors. Third, it outlines key social media tactics which focus on shaping the external organisational environment and the cognition and perception of key audiences.
This thesis also presents future paths of research that organisation and management scholars should consider in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how shifts in communication strategies facilitate larger shifts in social institutions and in the way organisations construct their interaction with stakeholder audiences.|