Building a bond with citizens on Facebook: A case study of how it affects a municipality’s brand to be on Facebook

Anna Sofie Brill Jørgensen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

As the municipal brand in general is facing the challenges of a bad reputation as a service provider and a decreasing interest in the local democracy this thesis offers valuable know-ledge about how to use Facebook as a platform for getting closer to and creating a bond with the citizens by being on Facebook. To restore or create the bond between a municipali-ty and its citizens via Facebook, the social medium must be used appropriately. Through a case study of the Facebook pages of two municipalities, Allerød and Aalborg, it is evaluated how appropriately the two municipalities have approached Facebook both stra-tegically and in practice, and what the potential is for the Facebook pages to work as a plat-form for a municipal-citizen bond. The frame of analysis is brand personality theory by Jenni-fer Aaker (1997) also described by Tilde Heding, Charlotte F. Knudtzen and Mogens Bjerre (2009). From this offset, the groundswell mindset by the authors Charlene Li and Josh Ber-noff (2009) is applied to evaluate the two municipalities’ Facebook presence. The findings are more specifically centered on the approach, the goals and the target au-dience that has been expressed in the interview with each municipality’s head of communi-cation and on each municipality’s Facebook page(s). Allerød has only one Facebook page and since they are focused on pushing out one-way communication, i.e. information without having defined one or more target audiences, their Facebook page is evaluated to have a limited chance of being a platform that Allerød can use in creating a municipal-citizen brand. Aalborg on the other hand has chosen a project or campaign-based approach with several pages that each focuses on a specific topic. They wish to use Facebook to hear people’s opi-nions and activate them in the local community which is an appropriate offset for using Fa-cebook. Even though the research shows that they have not defined their target audience, they have a better chance of getting closer to the citizens in Aalborg through Facebook as their pages naturally targets smaller audiences. The research is specifically focused on the municipal side of using Facebook to strengthen the municipal brand through the relationship with the citizens. It calls for further research to find out how citizens actually bond with municipalities through Facebook and how other social media can be used in municipalities to improve the general reputation.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2011
Number of pages218