As organizations move through the change management process, the engagement of stakeholders through social media management is critical.
Naeem (2020) suggests that organizational knowledge sharing, managerial trust, levels of employee engagement, collaborative practices, and social learning are enhanced through the use of social media during organizational change efforts.
With the benefits to be had, it's important that leaders are proactive in considering their social media management plan as part of organizational communication in any change effort.
Companies approaching change projects effectively are often seen to involve a diverse group of internal stakeholders.
Such is the basis for Kotter's second step, building a guiding coalition, in his model for change. Where this is the case, team communication is beginning, continues in the third step, and is expanded to include an extended audience in step four.
Kareem (2014) suggests that organizational productivity is enhanced where organizations use traditional and contemporary mediums of communication with their internal stakeholders.
In light of this, adding a social media strategy to already existing communication like emails, video conferences, and departmental meetings might allow for an organization's messaging to reach a greater number of people within their workforce and with greater impact.
Depending on your generational grouping, you may have greater proficiency with some social media platforms over others. Personally, I've enjoyed using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for years, though have yet to find my way to making a Tik Tok account.
Generational preferences for social media and other forms of communication likely exist in your organization. For the greatest reception of the information you intend to communicate, you'll want to be sure you aim to reach your audiences members where they are.
Yelling down one hallway, while most of your audience is in another may not be the best use of your time or effort, no matter how great of a message you've constructed.
If you were to only communicate with internal stakeholders, no matter if the message was well-received or not, you'd likely find some difficulty or resistance when implementing change.
That's why you may have heard of the practice of setting a chair aside during strategy meetings as a reminder to consider the impacts of decisions on stakeholders, like your prospects and customers, who aren't in the room.
Even better, is to have those stakeholder groups involved in strategy development.
Negative impacts to project implementation and strategic outcome have resulted where companies neglected to consider the interests of extended tiers of stakeholders in the planning processes (Aaltonen & Kujala, 2010, as cited in Maj, 2020).
When it comes to the social media activities of your external audience members, including prospects, customers, vendors, competitors, and other parties, you may find that these groups are as diverse as your internal audience, if not more so.
And, depending upon the reach of your organization, as may be true for companies operating internationally, the pool of social media platforms from which to choose may be that much greater.
Patrutiu-Baltes (2016) mentions that companies had once been able to direct their external communications based on geography and, what may have been at the time, limited diversity, whereas now the same organizations must consider their globally and culturally diverse stakeholder groups.
Limited resources may not allow you to create and maintain a presence on every social media platform that exists, yet the discussion of these considerations in your development of strategy early on in the change process is critical.
Gone are the days when a press release would reach enough of the audience you hoped to influence.
As we consider organizational communication as part of the process of managing change, an area of great interest to me is in corporate social responsibility.
Corporate social responsibility,
or CSR, is a focus not just on an organization's financial sustainability, yet considers a company's
treatment of society and environment. You may hear this referred to as the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.
Where this relates to social media management and organizational communication is in external stakeholders developing their perceptions of a company based on that organization's attention to efforts around corporate social responsibility.
These efforts may be in charitable giving, participation in community events, pledges and progress toward more environmentally-friendly operational processes, or academic partnerships.
Where those external audience members might be future customers, candidates for employment, or business partners, it's important to engage with them proactively to be able to positively, and ethically, influence perceptions.
Etter (2014) as cited in Balasubramanian et al. (2021) mentions that those organizations neglecting engagement on social media platforms will see neither the positives from building relationships with external audiences nor the benefits, including financial, of their efforts in corporate social responsibility.
Be present. Be engaging. Be both, not only when it suits you, as in reaction or in times of crisis, yet proactively and where you can share and provide value in information and in action.
This section of the site is an excellent primer for insight on methodologies, tools, and resources that can support successful change efforts.
To continue your learning:
David Bohmiller, MBA, MS (he/him/his)
Founder, CEO and Consulting Executive
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Balasubramanian, S. K., Fang, Y., & Yang, Z. (2021). Twitter Presence and Experience Improve Corporate Social Responsibility Outcomes. Journal of Business Ethics, 173(4), 737-757. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1007/s10551-020-04537-x
Kareem, B. (2014). A Cost-Benefit Model for Optimal Selection of Communication Channels in Manufacturing Organizations. NED University Journal of Research, 11(2), 1-13.
Maj, J. (2020). Stakeholder Approach to Diversity Management: Stakeholder Analysis in Polish Organizations. International Journal of Organizational Diversity, 20(1), 25-43. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.18848/2328-6261/CGP/v20i01/25-43
Naeem, M. (2020). Understanding the Role of Social Media in Organizational Change Implementation. Management Research Review, 43(9), 1097-1116. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1108/MRR-07-2019-0336
Patrutiu-Baltes, L. (2016). The Impact of Digitalization on Business Communication. SEA: Practical Application of Science, 4(2), 319-325.