The role of frames and cultural toolkits in establishing new connections for social media innovation

It has been suggested that social media foster innovative outcomes by facilitating communication with a vast network of new connections. In this paper we argue that forming new social connections on social media is a crucial first step in the innovation process that is not straightforward to achieve. We report on the findings of a qualitative study of 31 owner-managers in the UK who were attempting to make new connections in order to inspire innovation in their firms. The findings suggest that a lack of available social cues on social media creates a sense of uncertainty that can stifle the innovation process. In our case, the respondents addressed these difficulties by using frames as proxies for missing social stimuli. We argue that such framings guide the selection of well-established cultural tools needed to turn mental maps into action. A key implication of our findings is that social media is not necessarily an equitable space for innovation since the process still relies upon established networks and styles of behaviour, which are not readily accessible to all.