Should your mining company run a blog, sponsor a tweet, or facebook away to all the world? Every mining manager has asked this question. Few receive intelligent answers. Those amongst their staff with blogger instincts or skills, plead for a blog, write a blog, and persist until they offend some sensitive individual. Then the blog is pulled and the mining company rethinks the question.
For better and more insightful answers to the question whether a mining company should blog, tweet, or Facebook, best see a recent Masters thesis by Zoe Mullard of the University of British Columbia. The thesis discusses how stakeholders in the mining industry are using social media for communication both internally and externally. The thesis draws on ideas from communication theory, corporate social responsibility practices and studies on social capital, and data analysis was framed around key themes of transparency, authenticity and credibility. Case studies outline opportunities and risks of using these communication tools. Strategic considerations are included to guide stakeholders towards effective use of social media.
The link to her thesis is as follows: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/28933.
Here is the abstract, to whet your appetite:
The current discourse on public engagement in the mining industry revolves around legislated processes that drive communication and information sharing with interested parties. This discourse neither aligns with modern tools for communication nor with the reality of a highly networked society that use social media to facilitate dialogue. This thesis addresses the gap between traditional communication processes in the mining industry and social media tools that create opportunities for dialogue and information sharing. The research used a qualitative and mixed method approach to data collection. Twelve social media websites were observed to assess the extent of mining-related dialogue, and 41 interviews were conducted with representatives from the public, private, academic and civil sectors to learn about the challenges and opportunities of using social media. The interviews found that 62% of respondents were using social media tools; the most popular applications were blogs, followed by social networking platforms. These platforms are being used for outreach to established supporters and networks. Industrys use of these platforms mimics their public relations and marketing messaging approaches, whereas civil society is able to generate dialogue on a number of topics through authentic disclosure of information. Government departments have been hesitant to incorporate social media tools as they struggle to align them with regulatory structures while also presenting an authentic and credible voice. Many respondents were using a trial and error approach to implement social media, despite having identified risks of using them. Risks and challenges include the possibility of losing control of messaging and wasting time on unproven communications technology. While some mining companies are adopting social media applications to conduct public outreach, these tools have not been explicitly used for stakeholder engagement. Case studies show how mining stakeholders use social media tools and their experience provides a foundation for strategic recommendations. This research demonstrates that social media is being used for specific purposes by mining stakeholders, although there is hesitancy around perceived risks of online dialogue.
Zoe welcomes comments and feedback — email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.