Engaging Stakeholders through Social Media

The social media evolution has changed the way people communicate. It has given everyone the freedom and power to voice their opinions. The introduction of Web 2.0 technologies has enabled communication opportunities for people through the online medium, and, specifically social media. This has not only enabled an online communication channel, but has also affected traditional media channels and the overall media landscape.

To keep up with this rapid advancement of technology, companies need to focus on the ways they can engage their stakeholders. Many companies are reluctant to face the social media boom and have hence been running away from accepting negative opinions or comments people share online. But it is about time they muster the courage to listen – and reply in a satisfactory manner.

How a company decides to engage its stakeholders online, depends on the nature of the business and the stakeholders’ involvement level. Hence, it might that Company-A engages with stakeholders on social media at a deeper level – compared to Company-B.

We need to understand that social media is a medium of involvement.

As a first step, companies should gear up to listen to what the social sphere has to say about them. This process can be termed the research phase, in which social media analysis is required. This leads to understanding the position of the company or brand within the social sphere. After a detailed analysis of the social sphere with respect to a specific company, key areas need to be identified. This is a preliminary step that is a must, before any company plans to jump in the social sphere or engage users or stakeholders online.

As an example let’s talk about an extreme case of KESC: an organization with a very negative reputation. It has attempted to engage its stakeholders through the social media website Facebook. I think this was a step by the company to talk to their stakeholders directly. The results of KESC’s social media campaign is beyond the scope of this article. (My personal judgment is that they were not geared up to handle a tremendously large number of negative responses from their consumers.) However, KESC has still been attempting to engage people through their Facebook campaign, for instance, by asking consumers to send in pictures of illegal electric supplies so they can take action against them. They were listening to consumer complaints, and also trying to engage and address them through their operations department. However, they could have done more in terms of deeper involvement with their stakeholders.

What I meant to illustrate with the above example is that there is no set formula to effectively engaging critics, consumers, interest groups and other stakeholders within the social media. Every company has a different stance based on their position in social media, leading to an entirely different social media engagement strategy. But as a basic guideline, the following are a few key areas that should to be considered when planning a social media engagement strategy:

  • Remember that consumers have the power to initiate conversations in social media.
  • Companies should allow conversations by the community to get a true picture of their current position.
  • Company statements should be honest and transparent – the social sphere has the power to negate any statement that the company decides to release. And, companies should also be ready to give supporting evidence, if required to satisfy the concerned stakeholders.
  • Communication messages that go out from the company should maintain synergy, and ideally there should be one contact point.
  • Social media operates on a real time basis and the companies must be prepared to handle one-on-one communication with their potential audience(s).
  • Last but not least, it is vital to choose the right tools of communication in the social sphere to target the relevant audiences. There are various tools, applications and websites available to engage audiences in the social sphere, including corporate blogs, allied blogs, discussion forums, Wikipedia, instant messaging and social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube). Think, plan and then choose the ones that strategically make more sense!

    Author Information

    Sarosh Waiz is an Activation Strategist at GroupM. He is also a blogger, a social media consultant and the owner of Pakmediablog.net

    4 Responses to “Engaging Stakeholders through Social Media”

    1. wich sector shud b 1st 2 adopt social media in its communication?

      August 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm Reply
    2. Why God, why?

      July 19, 2010 at 9:14 pm Reply
    3. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but the comment (deleted by the moderator) that Ben is referring to suggested; KESC should eliminate its entire Marketing division and place those funds on power generation or something.

      July 18, 2010 at 11:55 am Reply
    4. Azriel Kahn #

      Psssstt Ben….details, details.

      July 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm Reply

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