Always On: Managing Online Communities in a 24/7 Society

Always On: Managing Online Communities in a 24/7 Society

Sarah Williams (University of Wolverhampton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2206-5.ch014
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Social media is often viewed as a solution to service sector engagement issues, since it presents a cost-effective alternative to traditional promotional strategies; acting both as a promotional platform and a forum for customer engagement. Social media is increasingly being used by service sector organisations to engage with communities and create dialogue between organisations and their service users. In a world where consumers are increasingly ‘always on', the challenge is how to effectively use social media as a key promotional, communications and engagement tool, and to move its use from broadcast platforms to forums for online customer engagement. The aim of this chapter is to understand how service sector organisations are engaging with social media platforms and customer communities; to identify whether, in an ‘always on' world, this represents the ideal method of community building, or whether it is being used as a more cost effective broadcast tool; and to identify areas of good practice.
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This chapter starts from the premise that there are several complex and dense concepts being considered as part of this research, including social capital, community engagement, virtual communities and participatory spaces. As a result of the interdisciplinary nature of the study there is not the space to explore all of the nuances of each theory, therefore this review will consider the concepts believed to be most pertinent to the study, adopting the approach of ‘theory shopping’ advocated by McKee (2005: ix).

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