Hi, please

Social Networks, a tool for corporations to believebly go social?

Social Networks gather people all over the world breaking every types of boundaries. They kind of break the establishment enabling networking and interractions among people who would never have been in touch.

Consequences : corporations, as part of the civil society, are often attacked or at least asked for explanations regarding the way they run their business.

Here’s companies’ new communication challenge : being both PROFITABLE and RESPONSIBLE (CSR)

Social networks seem to offer a new approach to communication by providing more proximity and truth in the contacts they establish among people. Determined to protect and improve their image, many companies are trying to implement communication strategies using social networks to meet their goal.

For instance Danone Group has created a Facebook page to call up people around the causes they support through Danone.Communities. So far Danone has proven to be pretty successful.

But how can we measure the impact of social media on corporations’ credibility? Is it a new efficient communication tool that companies should use or a trap which puts companies at risks they are not ready to face yet?

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  1. Leslie 13:56, Feb 5th, 10

    Sounds like a fun topic to explore! I know coming from the advertising industry, it’s a constant struggle to try to get my client to become a part of the social media world. All they see are the negative aspects of it. Yet, even w/out the company’s presence in social media, consumers continue to talk about them on a daily basis.

    I see it as a very positive thing to be part of social media as a company, because, no matter what, people are going to talk. So, you might as well be present as a company to help guide the conversation down a certain path. Secondly, social media will only grow in the future. So, it can be helpful to be present from the very beginning and grown with the medium; this will only lead to a better understanding of social media.

    On a similar (but different) note, I just posted an article on the site about the delicate balance between employers and their company concerning social media sites. Maybe it will help develop your idea more. The author explains at the bottom that companies simply cannot ignore social media any more. I think this statement holds true from both the aspect of the company’s employees, as well as their customers. Here’s the article: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=121880

  2. mushon 10:45, Feb 6th, 10

    I see two interesting challenges to corporations here:
    1. Engaging and constructing their PR efforts through new media
    2. Using a high humanistic cause to advance their brand

    both have been practiced before, but combined they hold new challenges and new possibilities that revolve around the politics of participation and leadership. The ideal situation is for the non-controversial possitive cause to be associated directly with a non-controversial possitive image of the brand. The commitment in stepping into the leadership role (rather than the less structurally committing role of a philantropist) raises the question of committment. Will Danone be there to finish the job? Will Danone provide accountable leadership? What happens if the cause becomes more controversial and might not be serving the brand in the same way? If they choose a more leading role in these fields how can/should they collaborate/compete with the NFP orgs working in this field longer and with a very different set of objectives?

    I love it that you frame the question from the perspective of the corporation. It is interesting and fresh, keep it up…

  3. Ryan 16:28, Feb 6th, 10

    I think this is a really interesting that you frame it around their credibility. I think we are always weary or critical of any business corporation. That’s why it’s important to examine their track record and what they’ve done. Non-profit corporations utilizing Facebook for awareness and support are able to use it to their advantage because they are trying to be philanthropic or humanitarian in a way to push their “good” cause. It’s definitely something that companies can’t ignore a la Leslie’s comment, but it could work either way for them. However, what do they have to lose for trying??? Social media are a way in which it can help corporations or companies disseminate their messages. The credibility revolves around not the fact whether they use these social media, but “how” and even “what” it is they do apart from using the social media. I don’t think their credibility will be drastically affected per se, but it could alter their message in how they convey it. It depends again. If the company has a great report with the public then it will most likely only bolster their efforts.

  4. Juliette 14:50, Feb 8th, 10

    @ Leslie
    Thanks for this interesting comment! As you said it seems to me that very few company really dare to go on social media although I totally agree and think that the sooner they address the problem the better.
    Could you let me know if you have achieved to convince your clients to go for it? and if so, I would be actually very interested in knowing more about the arguments that you used?

    I am glad that you find the question relevant!
    The questions that you raised are a topic of investigation for me. Indeed, going on the new media is great but leaves no room for improvisation. Every projects started should be carefully followed up. It seems to me that using the new media requires that companies accept in the first place to put themselves (and their reputation) more at risk.

    Actually I do beleive that companies that are not well prepared have a lot to lose. Reputation is something very difficult to build and very easy to destroy or at least badly tarnish… Despite the benefits that can come out of the use of new media, companies are likely to be attacked just because the join the conversation.

  5. nadine 20:17, Feb 8th, 10

    Great topic Juliette, you are addressing the latest trend in the social corporate responsibility debate. Here are some links that will help you in your research:

    The Latest Corporate Social Responsible News: Sustainable Communications: An Emerging Discipline (facebook is mentioned in the end):

    The Global Reporting Initiative is one of the pioneers that developped indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance. http://www.globalreporting.org

    Sustainability’ Gains But Is Mum The Word?

    As I can’t attach a document to this post, I will send you some pdf-file by mail…

  6. Leslie 13:29, Feb 12th, 10

    Hey Juliette- It’s been a tough uphill battle to try to get the client on social media sites! We did manage to get them to do an “indirect” Facebook profile with an artist that they work with. The Facebook profile was created and maintained by the artist, rather than the actual company. This, though, could actually work very well, if used in the correct way. I can tell you more on this in class, if you want.

    We’ve had to put together a couple social media presentations to attempt to get the the point across. Our main point in both was that social media is out there and people are in fact talking (and talking a lot). We argued that it would be better to join the conversation and help move it in the direction that they wanted, rather than just choosing to ignore it. We also pointed out the significance of the fact that the client’s main competitor is both on Facebook and Twitter and actively engaging with their audience. We tried to stress that allowing the competitor to gain all this footing in social media, while they are not experimenting and learning from it, as well, could hurt the company in the future.