Consulting firms’ use of Twitter for interactive stakeholder communication

Christiane Emilie Meisling

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Purpose – Social media is praised as a new and effective way for companies to engage with their stakeholders. This study analyzes if companies use the new media to its full potential. By analyzing Twitter usage in consulting firms across two geographical markets, Danish and US/global, the research defines the degree to which these companies engage in interactive stakeholder communication. Moreover the study engages with key stakeholder groups in the consulting industry to determine their expectations and demands to interactivity on Twitter. The research thereby covers both the sender and receiver’s approach to companies’ interactive stakeholder communication on Twitter. Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on a content analysis of the last 100 tweets sent by 12 corporate accounts as of April 1st 2014. The tweets are measured for interactivity using 8 variables: hashtag, @-sign, asked questions (actual/rhetorical), retweets, received retweets, received comments and responses to comments. To uncover the receivers’ perspective, 10 qualitative interviews were performed with interviewees representing 6 stakeholder groups. Findings – The US/global companies apply the interactive variables more often than the Danish sample, indicating greater social media maturity. However, individual companies show different social media usage within both geographical samples. Looking at the adopted stakeholder communication strategies show that engaged symmetrical dialogue with stakeholders is very limited both in the US and in Denmark. Stakeholders have different demands and expectations to corporate Twitter usage, e.g. the future employees, NGOs and social media experts expect the companies to be interactive on social media, while the customer representative seemed less interested. Originality/value – This study helps close the gap of limited research on B2Bs’ social media usage, and is one of the few studies examining social media usage specifically in consulting firms. It is also one of the few studies making a comparative examination across geographic markets on social media usage in Danish companies and companies from the US or global representation. The study differs from current research, with its communicative focus on interactivity, as the key opportunity in the realm of stakeholder communication. Lastly, the study presents a new way of measuring interaction on Twitter, by coding tweets based on interactive variables.

EducationsMSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages89