Digital Governance and Social Media Engagement

Digital Governance and Social Media Engagement

Tobias Endress
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6595-8.ch002
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Social media and online brand communities are important factors in today's business environment (Fuchs, 2014; King, 2013; KPMG, 2012). This chapter presents an in-depth qualitative analysis in the sector of financial services companies; additionally, it provides some indications for the adaption to other services and to general industry companies. In itself, communication in the digital social network provides no value for companies, but it may help to create value (Piwinger & Porák, 2005; Zerfaß, 2006). Social media is already naturally integrated within many areas of everyday work, according to the interviewed experts. However, many companies still have deficits in their governance structures for social media. Used properly, digital social networks might be a cost-effective component in communication between the company and its partners and customers. Social media networks can contribute in the medium- or long-term to gain the trust of customers and business partners.
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Demand Of Control And The “Everyone Can Join In” Principle

As an approach towards gaining an understanding of these rather complex processes, it seems helpful to develop some theoretical models to make these complex processes more tangible. The aim is to investigate the possible conflict between the company’s demands to control, on the hierarchical systems-based structure within the financial services industry, and the “everyone can join in” principle as propagated in the social media context. Leaders in social media the communities often rely on the help of voluntary collaborators and reject hierarchical structures.

The analysis is based on the Internet presence of the companies listed above and on other publicly available information about them, as well as on the opinions and sentiments available in known online communities or blogs. In addition, the strategy of each company is examined with the help of expert interviews. As experts, in each case an employee with in-depth knowledge about the topic has been interviewed.

The results have been examined and compared, and on this basis, a guidance document concerning an appropriate strategy and recommendations for a benefit-maximizing communication was developed (Endress, 2009). It emerges that digital communication within communities is a very important source of information and can break up existing structures.

Even though digital social media is a rather new topic, there is a lot of literature about social structures that might be able to support an initial understanding of the topic and provide an analytical framework. Since in the following analysis digital social networks are to be examined for their utility in the business context, one of the first questions that may arise is about the relationship between economics and sociology.

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