ECIS 2020 Research Papers

Abstract

Working with social media in professional settings is a complicated task. The operations of social media platforms are based on complex algorithms that are adjusted based on a constant stream of data created when users interacting with each other. Making sense of, and professionally acting on, algorithmically mediated data that influences the way the work tasks are performed, is what we call “algorithmic work.” The research questions addressed are: (i) What is algorithmic work? and (ii) How is algorithmic work with social media performed? Based on qualitative text analysis, in-depth interviews and participatory workshops from a longitudinal study with professional municipal communicators, we analyze Facebook interaction and how algorithms impact and influence the work with Facebook over time. The findings show how the social media algorithms push the communicators to rethink how they phrase their posts and how they approach the audience while constantly considering their professional role. The main contribution is the conceptualization of algorithmic work as socio-technical processes of: i) balancing openness and closeness of platform operations; ii) adjusting the work operations and performative interactions as the algorithms change; and iii) strategizing on how to understand and utilize advantages of algorithmic logic for the organizational and professional mission.

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