INTELLIGENCE 2.0 INA CATRINESCU
MANAGING STAKEHOLDERS’ OPINIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Image: © Yarche - Fotolia
INTELLIGENCE 2.0 MANAGING STAKEHOLDERS’ OPINIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA Ina Catrinescu
Intelligence 2.0: Managing Stakeholders’ Opinions on Social Media Executive International Master of Science in Corporate Communication (MCC) Erasmus University Rotterdam November, 2011
Although Social Media is currently an “en vogue” trend in business, little academic theory combining empirical research exists regarding the mechanisms of Social Media that can impact corporate reputations and help firms effectively manage stakeholder opinions online. This gap is not insignificant, for academia could help ground Social Media practices into substantiated theory, thereby giving firms a better understanding into the successful engagement practices with this channel. This thesis was aimed at making a contribution towards bridging that gap. Aside from the academic implications, the thesis also presents an equation for measuring Social Media engagement effectiveness and formulates recommendations on developing strategies to effectively manage stakeholders’ opinions online.
Prof. Dr. C.B.M. van Riel Dr. M. van Halderen
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................ 1
FOCUS OF THE THESIS ............................................................................... 1
OVERVIEW OF THE THESIS........................................................................ 2
INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES .......................................................................... 2
CASE STUDIES: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ORGANISATIONS? ... 24
BUILDING BRAND AWARENESS & ATTRACTIVENESS ................................. 24
BUILDING TRANSPARENCY & TRUST ......................................................... 25 4.2.1
DEALING WITH TRANSPARENCY IN THE INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES FIELD .... 27
GATHERING INTELLIGENCE .................................................................... 28
RESEARCH QUESTION 1-A ...................................................................................30
RESEARCH METHOD ...................................................................................................... 7
QUALITATIVE METHOD ............................................................................ 7
QUANTITATIVE METHOD ......................................................................... 8
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK ........................................................................................ 13
WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA? ....................................................................... 14
AGENDA-SETTING THEORY ...................................................................... 14
BRAND AWARENESS ................................................................................ 15
USES & GRATIFICATIONS THEORY............................................................ 16
REPUTATION MANAGEMENT ................................................................... 18
THE SPIRAL OF SILENCE THEORY ............................................................. 19
TRANSPARENCY ..................................................................................... 20
CONCLUSION ......................................................................................... 23
DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA? 31
HYPOTHESIS DEVELOPMENT ................................................................... 31
RESULTS ................................................................................................. 33
SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT EFFECTIVENESS ......................................... 35
RESEARCH QUESTION 1-B ...................................................................................36 RESEARCH QUESTION 1-C ...................................................................................38 6
CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................. 39
RECOMMENDATIONS ............................................................................. 40
RESEARCH LIMITATIONS ........................................................................ 47
FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS ............................................................ 47
Table 9: Overview of the theoretical framework ................................................ 13 Table 10: Overview of academic literature on the benefits of transparency .....21
Figure 2.1: FBI photobucket user added image Example 1 .................................. 11
Table 11: Overview of the benefits ....................................................................... 30
Figure 2.2: FBI photobucket user added image Example 2 ................................. 11
Table 12: Dataset for engagement efforts (four months) ................................... 33
Figure 3.1: Transparency....................................................................................... 23
Table 13: Dataset for sentiment (four months) .................................................. 34
Figure 5.1: Social Media Metrics .......................................................................... 31
Table 14: Top Keywords on Social Media ........................................................... 35
Figure 5.2: Overview of efforts and mentions..................................................... 33
Table 15: Interview protocol ................................................................................ 54
Figure 5.3: Efforts versus Mentions .....................................................................34
Table 16: FBI Vision, Mission & Values ............................................................... 54
Figure 5.4: Negative & Positive + Neutral mentions (27/05/2011-27/09/2011) ..34
Table 17: CIA Vision, Mission & Values .............................................................. 55
Figure 5.5: Effectiveness in function of engagement activity ............................36
Table 18: Interpol Vision, Mission & Values ....................................................... 55
Figure 5.6: Social Media engagement Strategies Matrix .................................... 37
Table 19: Europol Vision, Mission & Values ....................................................... 55
Figure 6.1: Social Media KPIs (adapted from Van Riel & Fombrun, 2007) .......43 Figure 6.2: Stages & steps of developing & executing a Social Media strategy 46
Figure 6.3: Screenshot of the SQL database interface built for data mining .... 53
ANNEX 1: DATA MINING TOOLS ............................................................................. 53
Figure 6.4: Screenshot of “SocialMention” ......................................................... 53
ANNEX 2: INTERVIEW PROTOCOL.......................................................................... 54 ANNEX 3: VISION, MISSION & VALUES .................................................................. 54
TABLES Table 1: Overview of the thesis ............................................................................. 2 Table 2: Overview of research methods ............................................................... 7 Table 3: Overview of the level of engagement per Intelligence agency ............. 8 Table 4: FBI subset of manually assessed data .................................................... 11 Table 5: CIA subset of manually assessed data................................................... 12 Table 6: Interpol subset of manually assessed data ........................................... 12 Table 7: Europol subset of manually assessed data ............................................ 12 Table 8: Results..................................................................................................... 12
1.1 FOCUS OF THE THESIS
Just a while back, Social Media seemed so new and awkward that it was
This thesis takes the above-described feeling of urgency as a starting point.
perceived more like a modern “child’s gadget”. This children’s gadget
The Social Media trends have led to practices such as stakeholders gaining
however, progressed from being just another way some businesses do
influence and power to impact organisational reputations online. These
marketing, to being the way we do marketing today. Everyone’s engaging and
developments could potentially pose a threat to Europol’s reputation and the
Intelligence agencies are not lagging behind. The FBI, Interpol and the CIA
fact that the agency is not active on Social Media further impedes it from
alike, have submerged themselves into this wave of hyper-connectedness.
being able to steer the opinions towards more positive ones when necessary.
This naturally makes the firms that are not engaging feel that they are being
A natural response of the organisation is therefore, to “control” these Social
left behind and that they might be missing out on the promise that this
Media developments by proactively engaging the channel, but would this
medium holds. Europol is one of those firms.
indeed be the solution? This thesis focuses on having an objective analysis of this matter and on answering Europol’s question by seeking to find the
Inside the organisation the feeling presides that Europol no longer has the
strategic benefits of engaging, as well as the lessons learned from the other
luxury of time on their side and that the question is not “whether or not”, but
agencies that are already active on Social Media. This research therefore
rather “how soon should Europol engage Social Media”. Some negative
addresses the following overall research question:
comments found on Social Media websites further led the organisation to fear
To what extent could Europol use Social Media to improve
that representation is done by others in negative ways and that the only way
stakeholder opinions on Social Media?
to mitigate this risk is by taking control, “Europol should take control of our presence,” (Information security Officer, Europol). Indeed, leaving the reputation of the organisation in the hands and at the mercy of the online
This overall question is broken down into three specific research questions. 1.
What are the strategic benefits of Social Media for
stakeholders is certainly not an option. But whether or not the opinions
organisations in terms of managing stakeholders’ opinions of
online are really as negative as it is internally perceived and whether “taking
the company on Social Media?
control of our presence” by engaging the Social Media is indeed the solution
manage these opinions?
for Europol, remains to be seen, objectively weighing various factors and is addressed by this research.
How do other intelligence agencies engage Social Media to
Would Europol’s participation in Social
positively impact Social Media stakeholders’ opinions?
1.2 OVERVIEW OF THE THESIS
my second and third research sub-questions by showing the effects of being active on Social Media channels for intelligence agencies, compared to not
The structure of this thesis is outlined in Table 1.1: Overview of the thesis. The research is divided into six chapters. Chapter I began with the introduction, where I discussed the focus of the thesis, aimed at evaluating whether or not
being active, such as in the case of Europol. Finally, in chapter VI, I conclude the findings of my study and formulate recommendations for Europol.
Europol should engage Social Media. Below, I finish this chapter with a short explanation of what intelligence agencies are, including a more specific
Table 1.1: Overview of the thesis
description of Europol - the organisation for which I am conducting this
Specific Research Question
Research problem & definition of Intelligence Agencies
Content analyses & interviews
Research Method Theoretical framework
Strategic benefits of engaging in Social Media
Benefits of Social Media
What are the benefits of Social Media for organisations?
Case studies, interviews & content analyses
Intelligence agencies’ Social Media practices Conclusion
How do other intelligence agencies engage Social Media to manage stakeholder opinions? Based on the above insights, what are the recommendations for Europol specifically in regards to Social Media participation?
Desk research & content analyses
In chapter II I discuss the methods I used to conduct this research.
Chapter III describes existing literature, offering the reader a first insight
into the strategic benefits of engaging in Social Media, formulated on bases of a solid mass-media effects theoretical framework.
Chapter IV consists of three case studies, aimed at answering the first subquestion of my research: that is, before investigating whether or not Europol should engage Social Media, I first need more insight in whether such
Broad Research Question Introduction
participation is beneficial in the first place. From the case studies I deduct the general benefits experienced by organisations that are engaging in Social
1.3 INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES
Media. There are a large number of definitions of “intelligence” in academic To gain industry specific understanding, I conduct a content and best practices analysis of other, equally prominent intelligence agencies (i.e. FBI, CIA and Interpol), in relation to their Social Media engagement and compare the effects of their efforts to those of Europol, in chapter V. This addresses
literature, varying for each field. In the law enforcement literature we find intelligence defined as “the collection and analysis of information” (Schaap, 1994), or the knowledge—ideally, foreknowledge—sought by nations in response to external threats to protect their vital interests, especially the wellbeing of their own people (Kirkpatrick, 1997).
The collected information is most of the time ''Classified information”, which
adversary for the sake of self-benefit is espionage and not intelligence.
is deemed to be “sensitive” and refers to any information or material that has
Intelligence is a wider concept and includes all possible ways of collecting
been determined to require protection against unauthorized disclosure in
information (Cools, 1996). Law enforcement scholars define intelligence as a
order to safeguard it against a use that would be contrary to its owner’s
product of an analytic process that a) evaluates information collected from
objectives (European Parliament study, 2010). The reasons such protection is
diverse sources (e.g. law enforcement databases, open source reporting,
needed are often related to national security.
surveillance, interview reports, evidence, biometrics, etc.), b) integrates the relevant information into a cohesive package, and c) produces a conclusion or
The regulation of access to classified information depends on their level of
estimate about a criminal phenomenon by using the scientific approach to
“sensitivity”, that is to say the potential seriousness of the consequences of
problem solving (i.e. analysis). Intelligence, therefore, is a synergistic product
their disclosure. The range of classification levels between sensitive
intended to provide meaningful and trustworthy direction to law enforcement
documents will command the authorisations allowing access to information,
decision makers about complex criminality, criminal enterprises, criminal
and its protection. Below are the different levels, with possible variants, as
extremists, terrorists, etc. (Carter, 2004).
information does not have a sensitive character, and can thus be generally
Intelligence agencies can belong to either the public field, like the different
accessed; Restricted information: its disclosure could be problematic;
national and international intelligence agencies and special police services, or
Confidential information: cannot be disclosed as it could jeopardise national
to the private sector, like the private information brokers and security
security; Secret information: cannot be disclosed as it could seriously
companies. Private intelligence services are non-state security firms that often
jeopardise national security; Top secret information: its disclosure would have
offer a wide range of intelligence to their clients, primarily by collecting and
extremely serious consequences for national security and requires the strictest
analysing business or competitive intelligence information and providing
confidentiality level. Handling this kind of information is what has given the
intelligence agencies the reputation of being “secret”.
governmental agencies devoted to information gathering and analyses for
purposes of security and defence. Or as defined by Johnson (1996): Taking into account that “secrecy is a vital element—perhaps the key
element—of intelligence” (Warner, 2007) it is important, to distinguish
counterintelligence, covert action and foremost, the collection and analysis of
between information that is gained secretly and that which is gained illegally.
information (from a mixture of open and covert sources) for the illumination
Illegal collection of information, intended to gather knowledge about an
of foreign policy deliberations.”
In the U.S., in 2010 there were more than 1,200 government organizations
THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
working on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence (Arkin and
Priest, 2010). Two very well-known examples in the U.S. are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF
The CIA is responsible for providing intelligence on a wide range of national security issues to senior US policymakers. The U.S. President nominates and the Senate confirms the Director of the CIA, who is responsible for managing the operations, personnel and budget of the agency and acts as the National
Human Source Intelligence Manager (CIA website). The main mission of the
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a "threat-based and intelligence-
agency is to "collect, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist
driven national security organization", with a mission to "protect and defend
the president and senior US government policymakers in making decisions
the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold
relating to the national security. The CIA does not make policy; it is an
and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership
independent source of foreign intelligence information for those who do. The
and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international
CIA may also engage in covert action at the president's direction in
agencies and partners".1
accordance with applicable law".2
Primarily a law enforcement agency, collecting intelligence related to
domestic security as well as investigating federal crimes such as kidnapping, tax evasion and securities fraud, the role of the bureau until September 2001 was mainly reactive, investigating crimes after they occurred. The events of the 9/11 have served as a push for the bureau to assume a more predictive and preventive role using an “intelligence-driven approach to prevent crimes and acts of terrorism by disrupting and deterring those who would do us harm” (Idem).
On an international level, intelligence is the information exchanged between member states for purposes of preventing, or combating, international forms of crime. Interpol is a globally operating example. It is the world’s largest international police organization, with a membership of 188 countries, “facilitating cross-border police co-operation, and supporting and assisting all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat crime” (Interpol factsheet, 2011).
operational agreements with Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Norway and the
On the European Union arena Europol comes as a key actor. The agency
United States, as well as strategic agreements with Albania, Moldova, SITCEN,
handles criminal intelligence and plays a key role in preventing, and
Frontex and other. Europol also works closely with and has an agreement to
combating terrorism, and other forms of serious international crime.
enhance international law enforcement co–operation with Interpol.
“Today's decision represents an extremely important step towards enhancing
The information exchange between Europol and Member States is facilitated
the security of residents of the EU and beyond. Efforts to harmonise the text
primarily through the Europol Liaison Officers (ELOs) on loan to the agency
of the Decision have been under way since the beginning of the existing Trio
by Member States to represent their national law enforcement agencies.
Presidency, and the achievement of political consensus was foreseen to take
Besides exchange of information Europol provides operational analysis and
place by the end of the Slovenian Presidency. And we have succeeded" (Mate,
support to Member State operations and contributes expertise and technical
support for investigations and operations within the EU under Member State authority. Strategic reports, including threat assessments, and crime analysis
The above statement was made after the 18 April, 2008 meeting in
based on intelligence provided by Member States and other sources are other
Luxembourg of the EU interior ministers, aiming to reach a political
products generated by the organisation (EU Insight, 2010).
consensus on the Council decision establishing Europol. Less than two years later, Europol has been transformed into an EU agency. Having had a modest
The role of Europol is often mistaken for that of Interpol. Below is a brief
start in 1994 (as the Europol Drugs Unit), the organisation’s mandate has
description of the differences between the two agencies.
throughout the years expanded to encompass all types of serious transnational crime. Fully operational on July 1, 1999, on January 1, 2010
EUROPOL & INTERPOL
Europol has obtained a central role in EU law enforcement cooperation. The
Having started out as a Criminal Police Commission in the 1923, Interpol has
“veritable transformation, not merely a cosmetic one” (Barrot 2010) of Europol
been around seven decades longer than Europol, which started out as the
has given the agency the necessary operational powers, increasing its
Europol Drugs Unit in 1994. The two organisations are frequently mistaken
autonomy in the field of freedom, security and justice.
for each other, due to their seemingly similar roles in the fight against organised crime. There are however significant differences between the
Even though an EU agency, Europol’s contribution to the intelligence-led law
organisations and contrary to the public misperception, there is no
enforcement is not limited to the Member States only. The agency has
competition between them.
Aside from operating in different geographical ranges, (Interpol operates globally and Europol mainly in the EU) the two also play significantly different roles. The main word describing Interpol’s contribution to the global security is coordination. The organisation coordinates investigations at local, state and federal levels. Europol’s main contribution to the security in the EU is analyses. The agency employs Law Enforcement Experts from all over the European Union, who besides coordinating operations, also gather, analyse and disseminate information to the law enforcement agencies in the 27 European Union member states and in other non-EU partner states such as Australia, Canada, the USA and Norway.
Interpol and Europol both operate in several overlapping crime areas, such as: drugs and criminal organizations, illicit immigration and trafficking in human beings, terrorism and cybercrime. They both however also cover crime areas that the other doesn’t, such as: public safety and corruption in the case of Interpol, and illicit vehicle trafficking, money laundering and forgery of money in the case of Europol.
2 RESEARCH METHOD The analytic strategy comprised a blend of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The qualitative method was based on techniques drawn mainly from Glaserian grounded theory (Glaser, 1978) and thematic analysis,
recurrent in ethnographic research (Ryan & Bernard, 2000) - direct quotes
1-C: Would Europol’s participation in Social Media more positively impact Social Media stakeholders’ opinions?
from interviews and literature review have been used to find common
Mission, Vision and Values analysis of: 1. CIA, 2. Interpol, 3. FBI, 4. Europol QUANTITATIVE METHOD Software-assisted data collection
Social Media Mentions and Top Keywords over 27/05/201127/09/2011: 1. CIA, 2. Interpol, 3. FBI, 4. Europol
Manual Data Mining
Social Media Sentiment Analysis for: 1. CIA, 2. Interpol, 3. FBI, 4. Europol
patterns and themes. The quantitative method involved a multi-staged data collection approach, combining direct observation data collection techniques, software-assisted data collection and evaluation of results, as well as manual analyses of software-assisted data collection. Table 2.1 below, gives an overview of the quantitative and qualitative methods that were employed per sub-question in order to answer the main research question: “To what extent could Europol use Social Media to improve stakeholder opinions on Social Media?”
2.1 QUALITATIVE METHOD
Table 2.1: Overview of research methods
Data sources: Data for the qualitative analysis were based on three main
sources: 1) archival materials, 2) interviews with corporate managers of three
1-A: What are the strategic benefits of Social Media for organisations in terms of managing stakeholders’ opinions of the company on Social Media?
104 sources: Articles, websites, journals, publications, books.
firm with the use of Social Media and 3) interviews with six Europol employees.
1. 2. 3.
1-B: How do other intelligence agencies engage Social Media to manage these opinions?
organisations, in change of communicating to external stakeholders about the
Direct observation data collection
The European Commission The European Patent office The Dutch Safety Board
Social Media engagement practices of: 1. CIA, 2. Interpol and 3. FBI
Interviews: The European Law Enforcement agency (Europol), has served as the catalyst for this research. For this reason I chose to interview the latter group - to get more insight into the general attitude towards the idea of engaging the Social Media for our organisation. To ensure exclusion of the bias
professionals” this group comprised of providers who met the following
2.2 QUANTITATIVE METHOD
inclusion criteria: (a) work in a field other than Communications and included Information Security Officers, Operations middle management, Operations assistants and Analysts; (b) understand the use of Social Media for external stakeholders’ engagement purposes.
To better understand the positioning of other organisations vis-à-vis the use of Social Media and to gather more insight into the benefits experienced by them from engaging online, I have interviewed Corporate Communications managers at the European Commission, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Dutch Safety Board (OVV).
Data sources: Data for the quantitative analysis was based on two main sources: 1) Social Media websites and Feeds and 2) Social Media Monitoring tools.
Direct observation data collection: Direct observation data collection methods were employed to identify the individual strategies and efforts of Social Media engagement among 3 different Intelligence agencies: the CIA, Interpol and FBI. The observation occurred over the course of roughly one year (2010-2011) by observing the activity the three organisations on Social Media websites that they are present on, such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and
A set of open-ended questions have been developed for in-depth interviews. The questions solicit information about the types of benefits that the
Facebook. Table 2.2 below, provides an overview of the sampled activity per intelligence agency.
interview participants have encountered in the use of Social Media channels within their classified information environment.
The interviews had duration of 50 to 80 minutes each and were mostly conducted at the interviewee’s workplace. The interviews have been recorded and transcribed verbatim.
Archival materials: consisted of (academic) articles on Media Effects, Social Networking and the use of Social Media for external communication practices. These sources were used to examine how the issue has evolved from the traditional media to the modern trends.
Table 2.2: Overview of the level of engagement per Intelligence agency AGENCY
Facebook Active since Nr. months active on:08/08/11 URL Posts Likes Activity Frequency (p/m) Twitter Active since Nr. months active on:08/08/11 URL Tweets Followers Following Activity Frequency (p/m)
24-9-2010 11 http://www.facebo ok.com/FBI?sk=wal l151
25-6-2009 27,84 http://twitter.co m/#!/interpol_icp o 109
4741 10 3,9
31-3-2009 41 http://twitter.com/ #!/FBIPressOffice
3692 211082 810 90,04
YouTube Active since Nr. months active on:08/08/11 URL
Total Channel Views Total Video's Posted Total Upload Views Subscribers Activity Frequency (p/m)
http://www.yout ube.com/user/IN TERPOLHQ?ob=5 #g/u
http://www.youtub e.com/user/ciagov #g/u
http://www.youtu be.com/user/FBID OTGOV?ob=5
6808 26 29107 67 2,3
116874 19 240751 1,686 0,33
116454 64 1209897 3380 1,6
Flickr Active since Nr. months active on:08/08/11 Flickr URL
Total added Photos Twitter views Total Comments Activity Frequency (p/m)
152 62600 0 19
regardless of the amount of engagement efforts, or the lack thereof on the part of an organisation and give a good indication of an agency’s reputation.
Software-assisted data collection and evaluation of results: Monitoring online works in similar ways as asking opinions through surveys or focus groups. By reading the comments in blogs, articles, posts made to forums and websites like Twitter and Facebook, conclusions can be drawn and solid opinions can be formulated regarding the status and reputation of a brand, or organisation online. Social Media Monitoring tools are the modern “press clipping services”. To measure the Social Media engagement efforts of the intelligence agencies I used Social Media monitoring software. Narrowing down the selection of a tool was a matter of comparison and accessibility. The comparison made it clear that most of the Social Media monitoring tools use very similar techniques and generate similar reports. The most common
Metrics: The number of mentions and the sentiment, as the two main metrics used in this research to measure the Intelligence agencies’ Social Media
functionalities of Social Media monitoring software offer the following use: 1.
initiatives and their effectiveness. The reason I chose these particular metrics versus other, is due to the fact that they offer a good indication of what’s going on online despite whether an agency is engaging, or not. The same
Refine the search on languages, countries, platforms etc.
Search combined terms so that the search picks up online, comments, articles and posts about the topic that you wish to track. The search
comparison cannot be made if I had for example, chosen the number of Fans
query uses Boolean operators (e.g. OR, AND)
and Followers as a metric, since an agency can only gain “tangible” or measurable numbers of Fans and Followers, if it is engaging. This is not to say that if an agency does not engage, there are no Social Media users that are a fan of, or favouring the agency’s practices. They are just not being registered through clicks or subscriptions and can therefore not be measured. The number of mentions and the sentiment on the other hand, can be measured
Create search queries to research the topic that you wish to track (e.g.
Representation of the results in the form of reports and graphs.
Click through to view further details (e.g. web analytics of specific sources) or to access original content (e.g. the original blog post, news post, or Tweet).
Export functionalities, allowing exporting the data into other formats
The majority of the social monitoring software will interpret the first two
comments as having a positive sentiment, due to the presence of positive keywords, such as “love”, “very happy” and the last comment as a negative
"SocialMention"3 – an online Social Media search engine that searches user-
“kick ass”. However the only negative comment in reality is the second one
generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, twitter feeds and
and not the third. Two out of three comments are already incorrectly
videos was used to collect the data for this research. The results of the
classified. Moreover, ironic comments are most of the time interpreted as
searches were used towards evaluation and generating reports detailing data
positive. The same stands for sarcasm. Until computers are smart enough to
information such as the number of mentions (i.e. the number of times that a
accurately detect human emotions and not just "good" keywords versus "bad"
searched keyword has been referred to on Social Media) and the sentiment of
keywords, sentiment analyses — unless moderated by a human — cannot be
the mention (i.e. negative, positive, neutral).
100% relied upon.
The data was used to measure and compare the level of popularity and the
Manual data mining: In order to overcome this limitation, I have manually
sentiment around the 3 organisations that are active on the Social Media
analysed the data collected by "SocialMention". The records generated by the
channels, weighed against the level of popularity and the sentiment around
software, have been imported into a SQL database. With the help of a simple
Europol, which is not active on Social Media at all. The importance of
interface that I designed in order to facilitate the reading of the content, I
sentiment analysis for firms has been growing, but it is far from an exact
have personally read each collected mention and identified the sentiment
science. In 2010 U.S. researchers made some noise claiming that Twitter was
attached to it. The sentiments have been classified in positive, neutral and
87.6% accurate in predicting the movements of the stock market based on
negative, similar to the way that it is done by the software-assisted data
sentiment analysis (Bollen, Mao and Zeng, 2010). But this data has been
analyses. Below are a couple of examples of the comments that were analysed
deemed controversial as more research found that a software sentiment
and the sentiment that I classified them with:
analysis was only about 79% reliable (Biz360, 2010). Let’s consider some
Negative: “CIA is not an intelligence agency. It is an anti-intelligence
(hypothetical) examples of mentions:
agency. The CIA uses disinformation, much of it aimed at the U.S.
“I love these results from Europol”
“I’m not very happy with the results produced by Europol”
“Europol’s results kick ass!”
public, to mold opinion.” 4
4 www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/jag6r/cia_is_not_an_intelligence_agency_it_is_an; Sat, 06 Aug 2011 02:15; submitted by alllie;
Positive: “It would be an inspiration for Turkish Police The FBI has
Figure 2.2: FBI photobucket user added image Example 2
just released its very first mobile app.” 5 Neutral: “Europol gathers experts in the fight against non-Islamic.” 6
The meaning of positive and negative sentiments is straightforward; they either express affinity, or dislike the organisation being mentioned. Neutral mentions are most of the time comments that neither express affinity, nor dislike towards. In the majority of the cases a neutral mention is in fact a quoted, forwarded, reposted or retweeted content, initially published by the organisation itself, such as a press release, a news item, or a publication. The frequency of an organisation's content (press releases, publications, news etc.) being circulated (retweeted, reposted, forwarded, shared etc.) is a good indicator of the effectiveness their strategy. Images have been assessed in the same manner as the mentions and categorised over the same categories. Below are examples of images with a negative tone.
Figure 2.1: FBI photobucket user added image Example 1
Data was sampled based on a period of 4 months between (27/05/201127/09/2011). This analysis has resulted in 2112 records being analysed. The results have served as the bases for the propositions and conclusion of this research. An overview of all the data and the results of the data mining are provided in Table 2.3 to Table 2.7 below.
Table 2.3: FBI subset of manually assessed data Manual analyses (based on data extracted from Socialmention database) Period of analysis: 08/07/2011-08/08/2011 + 150 Random records from all records found
5 http://twitter.com/#!/TheHolySaint/statuses/100639992723935233; submitted by asbicakci; 6 http://twitter.com/#!/jnewsreader/statuses/100049577968795648; submitted by JewPI News 7 s538.photobucket.com/albums/ff341/luvlylindzmiss/?action=view¤t=FBI.jpg;
Total records analysed: 719
Total irrelevant or illegible records: 187
Neutral opinion Positive opinion Irrelevant
475 16 187
66% 2% 26%
Total valid mentions TOTAL mentions Table 2.4: CIA subset of manually assessed data
Manual analyses (based on data extracted from Socialmention database) Period of analysis: 08/07/2011-08/08/2011 sentiment count + 150 Random records from all records found
Total records analysed: 495
Total irrelevant or illegible records: 232
Neutral opinion Positive opinion Irrelevant
Total valid mentions TOTAL mentions
Table 2.6: Europol subset of manually assessed data
Manual analyses (based on data extracted from Socialmention database) Period of analysis: 08/07/2011-08/08/2011 + 150 Random records from all records found
184 6 232 263 495
37% 1% 47% 53% 100%
Total records analysed: 369
Total irrelevant or illegible records: 101
Neutral opinion Positive opinion Irrelevant
Total valid mentions TOTAL mentions
248 7 101 268 369
67% 2% 27% 73% 100%
Table 2.7: Results
Table 2.5: Interpol subset of manually assessed data Manual analyses (based on data extracted from Socialmention database) Period of analysis: 08/07/2011-08/08/2011 + 150 Random records from all records found
Total records analysed: 529 Total irrelevant or illegible records: Band related: 256 Other: 114
Output: Nr. of Engagement efforts (per month) Output: Nr. of Engagement efforts (per 4 months) Input: Mentions
Interpol Europol Average Average STD 6 0 32,5 42,417567
Mentions over 4 months (27/05/2011-27/09/2011): Irrelevant mentions over 4 months Valid mentions over 4 months:
Nr. of Mentions p/m
EFFECTIVENESS = % of positive + neutral/2
Numbers: (over 4 months)
Neutral opinion Positive opinion Irrelevant Total valid mentions TOTAL mentions
132 13 370 159 529
25% 2% 70% 30% 100%
3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
(Baumeister and Leary, 1995) as well as social capital (Burt, 1992; Bourdieu, The fact that media can influence people and their behaviour is, today, a
1985; Coleman, 1988) theories were used to root the applicability of media
widely accepted notion. For almost a century communication scholars have
effects to Social Media. Table 3.1 below, provides an overview of this
been debating the degree of that influence, as well as who is most impacted,
framework and its salience in the Social Media context.
why, under what circumstances and when. As a result of those debates the Media Effects tenet has emerged. Media effects refers to the many ways in
Table 3.1: Overview of the theoretical framework
which individuals and society may be influenced by deferent mediums such as
television, news, film, radio, music, books, magazines, websites and video games. The communication models of this tenet have evolved from one-way
APPLICATION TO SOCIAL MEDIA
THOUGHT McCombs & Carroll, 2003
Sharing information on Social Media helps organisations:
and linear process of message dissemination (Shannon and Weaver, 1949) as the cause of behavioural, or psychological response as the effect to a more
complex, two-way process (Bryant and Thompson, 2002), that is more interactive in nature, in which the medium affects the recipients, but the
a) build networks; b)“survive”; c) impact the media, public and policy agenda; d) create awareness; e) gain importance; f) manage reputations;
recipient, in turn, can influence and shape the sender, and the message (McCombs and Shaw, 1972). This transactional aspect of the Media Effects
Sharing information on Social Media helps organisations:
resonates with the main characteristic of Social Media as a communication “Uses & gratifications”
channel and validates this scholarly perspective as a relevant precursor for
a) gratify user needs; b) develop cognition- and affect-based trust.
“Social Media Effects” research. Noelle-Neumann, 1974
Sharing information on Social Media helps organisations:
Five propositions regarding the influence of mass media on corporate reputations (McCombs & Carroll, 2003) shape the correlative framework of this literature review. Three streams of thought related to the effects of media on audiences, mainly: the Agenda-setting theory (McCombs and Shaw, 1972), the Spiral of Silence (Noelle-Neumann, 1974) and Uses & Gratifications (McGuire, 1974) are further used to build up and elaborate the correlative
“The Spiral of Silence”
a) lower the effects of the Spiral of Silence; b) lower the power of the opposition(i.e. groups with negative opinions on SM); c) lower unsupportive behaviour on the part of stakeholders; d) reduce mistrust and misunderstanding; c) improve transparency;
3.1 WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA?
plaques bearing personal correspondence dated as far back as 2000 BC, which brings the existence of Social Media up to about 4000 years.
Social or Sociable Media are traditionally defined as the media that enhance communication and the formation of social ties among people (Donath, 2004). Media in this definition refers to a technology type, or platform. Blogs, vlogs, photo sharing, video sharing, wikis, podcasts, micro-blogs, music sharing, forums, ratings and reviews, social bookmarks, and online communities, are some examples of the long list of technologies covered by the umbrella-term of Social Media. Their purpose is to facilitate creation of online communities of people who share interests and activities, also referred to as Social Networks. A social network is composed of nodes - people, groups, organizations or other social entities, connected by a set of relationships (Wellman and Berkowitz, 1994). The contents of these social relationships (or links) are communication exchanges or information transfers. There are Social Networks to cater every niche, every interest, every demographic and every geographic region. Social Networking is the act of
New, however, are the current corporate trends in the application of this media.
communication are augmenting how we interact, get information and do business. The worldwide economic recession has imposed pressure for organisations to find new ways to generate revenue with minimal investment. The highly accessible and scalable nature of the Social Media offers the perfect solution, and allows companies to inexpensively engage Social Media for marketing, and PR purposes. The practice of facilitating dialogue and sharing content between companies, influencers, prospects and customers through the use of Social Media has therefore emerged as a definition for Social Media marketing (MarkettingSherpa, 2009). It is this specific application of Social Media that I analyse in this research, applied to intelligence agencies.
forming new relationships and strengthening old ones by using Social Media (Sweeney and Craig, 2010).
3.2 AGENDA-SETTING THEORY
To create systems that better support social networking, researchers and
A ground breaking study conducted by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw
developers of Social Media draw from fields such as cognitive science,
in 1972, on the role of the media in the 1968 presidential campaign in Chapel
sociology and urban design. The media might have morphed with innovation
Hill, North Carolina, sheds light on the relationship between the agenda of
and rapid progress of the modern technology; sociable media however are not
the media and the public agenda (Funkhouser, 1973). The authors found a
a modern occurrence. Historically, the most common sociable media were
direct correlation between an issue and "how much importance is attached to
messages written on physical objects conveyed from sender to receiver,
that issue from the amount of information in a news story and its position"
otherwise referred to as letters. Archaeologists have found clay tablets and
(McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Cohen put this as follows: "The press may not be
successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is
these propositions to the Social Media context, as well as explore their
stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about" (Cohen, 1963).
association with prior research.
McCombs progressed to formulate the following five propositions regarding
3.3 BRAND AWARENESS
the influence of mass media on corporate reputations (McCombs & Carroll, Proposition 1: To improve public awareness on the Social Media it is
“The amount of news coverage that a firm receives in the news media
important that a firm is frequently mentioned on the channels. Therefore, the
is positively related to the public’s awareness of the firm.” (p.39)
more an organization shares its news on the Social Media channels the more
2) “The amount of news coverage devoted to particular attributes of a firm is positively related to the proportion of the public who define
the chances are that the news, and subsequently the organization itself will gain importance in the public opinion.
the firm by those attributes.” (p.40) 3) “The more positive that media coverage is for a particular attribute,
The importance of generating awareness can be seen in the great length that
the more positively will members of the public perceive that
companies go to, to maximise exposure. In 2010, businesses spent more than
attribute. Conversely, the more negative that media coverage is for a
$131.1 billion on advertising fees (Kantar Media, 2011) on traditional media
particular attribute, the more negatively will members of the public
channels, TV, radio, magazines, newspapers etc. Awareness is sought after in
perceive that attribute.” (p.41)
order to gain new and keep existing customers, sell products, generate
4) “The agenda of substantive and affective attributes associated with a
investment, build a positive image, gain competitive advantage, etc.
firm in business news coverage, especially those attributes specifically linked with a firm, primes the public’s attitude and opinion about the
Borges (2009) moreover, found that today's stakeholders want to be engaged
differently than previously and that many traditional marketing channels
5) “Organized efforts to communicate a corporate agenda will result in a
simply do not work as well anymore. “The outbound marketing tactics that
significant degree of correspondence between the attribute agenda of
worked in the 1980s and 1990s just don’t work anymore in the late first decade
the firm and the news media.” (p.42)
of the new millennium.” Borges claims that what stakeholders want are
These five propositions shape the correlative framework of this theoretical
relationships, “They want to know you and your people. They want to know
analysis and serve as a “roadmap” for this chapter. Below I adapt and apply
that you’re listening to them, and they actually want to engage you, the seller, in conversations.” Social Media is a revolutionary platform that offers an
inexpensive way to build solid relationships with constituencies and the shift
performance (Leavitt, 1951; Mehra, et al., 2001; Sparrowe, et al., 2001),
from one-way broadcast to two-way conversation is nowhere more palpable
knowledge utilization (Tsai, 2001), innovation (Perry-Smith and Shalley,
than in the Social Media realm. Word-of-mouth is gaining importance over
2003), etc. These studies have generally shown that by networking an
advertising: “Consumers are looking to peers for recommendations on
organisation can create a status of power, establish itself as a leader, maximise
products, services, health issues, and more via Social Media. Today, 76% rely
its revenues, improve performance and get access to intelligence, etc.
on what others say, while 15% rely on advertising” (Qualman, 2010). A study conducted among over 3300 marketers, showed that the number-one
The value that can be derived from social inclusion can further be deducted
advantage of Social Media marketing is generating more business exposure, as
from the research of the negative consequences that occur when social
indicated by 88% of marketers, followed by increasing traffic (72%) and
belongingness cannot be achieved, which has been proven to lead to mental
building new business partnerships (Stelzner, 2011). This is due to the fact that
and physical health problems, a lowered immune system, depression, and
this medium provides easy access to a large number of a company’s
loneliness (Cacioppo et al., 2003).
stakeholders since more than three quarters (78%) of the online population are frequent Social Media users (Collins, 2011).
The detrimental effects of exclusion from a network on a corporate level are salient in the stakeholder theory which was first used in 1963 at the Stanford
The importance of having access to stakeholders is rooted in the
Research Institute. This study labelled a company’s stakeholders, such as
belongingness theory (Baumeister and Leary, 1995) which claimed that
shareowners, employees, customers, lenders, investors, suppliers and society,
creating and maintaining close relationships with others is a fundamental
as “those groups without whose support the organisation would cease to exist”
need, common to all humans, equivalently important as the need to eat and
(Freeman, 1984, p. 13). The author argued that for a company to survive, it
drink. The “need to belong” is deemed to benefit both survival and
needs networks of stakeholders who show supportive behaviour to the
reproduction, as an essential part of natural selection. Developing and
company’s corporate objectives. Social Media offers the perfect platform for
maintaining social networks, stems from this universal human need for social
organisations to “survive” by offering access to build networks and engage
belongingness and has also been studied in the context of organizational
with and earn the support of stakeholders.
collaboration (Jones, et al.,1997), power (Brass, 1984), entrepreneurship
3.4 USES & GRATIFICATIONS THEORY
(Renzulli, et al., 2000), leadership (Sparrowe and Liden, 1997), turnover (Krackhardt and Porter, 1985), profit maximization (Burt, 1992), job
Proposition 2: The more a set of particular attributes about a firm are
mentioned on Social Media, the higher the chances are that the public will
information from the platforms where Intelligence, or Law enforcement
define the firm by those attributes. It is therefore important for firms to
agencies are active. These groups are the potential seekers of news revolving
increase the amount of Social Media communication efforts around the
around their and their countries’ safety and need to gratify their need for
attributes that they desire to be perceived by.
security. One could therefore argue that “gratifying” this need through sharing on Social Media information which helps create a feeling of safety, an
Besides the fact that social networks may help organizations to “survive”
Intelligence agency helps reduce uncertainty and creates a supportive
(Freeman, 1984, p. 13), there is another important and positive consequence of
environment (Hunt and Morgan, 1994) and therefore develops trust among
open information sharing practices on Social Media channels, which is:
the “safety seeking” stakeholders.
building trust. Uses and Gratifications (U&G) (Herzog 1944; McGuire 1974) - a widely studied Media Effects theory - serves as a paradigm for this concept. The U&G body of research attempted to understand why people used certain media and disregard others, and found that people are active and goal directed, thus not passive recipients of information, and their choices are driven by their need to fulfil specific gratifications, which are based on individual, social and psychological requirements (Severin and Tankard, 1997).
Katz (1973) identified 35 needs and grouped them under five main categories: cognitive needs (e.g. acquiring information, knowledge and understanding); affective needs (e.g. emotion, pleasure, feelings); personal integrative needs (e.g. credibility, stability, status); social integrative needs (e.g. interacting with family and friends); and tension release needs (e.g. escape and diversion).
In the Social Media context, this theory suggests that users will be motivated to select a Social Media platform that best gratifies their needs. For example those seeking to gratify tension release or safety needs, might seek to gather
3.5 TRUST An understanding of the importance of trust in business and consumer relationships resonates all over the world. ‘‘Familiarity breeds trust’’ (Gulati, 1995). In the intelligence-led context, as shown by the findings of a research conducted at NATO showed that there was a need to rebuild public trust with a more routine openness, abandoning unnecessary secrecy in order to withstand the challenges that the new technologies and structures of global terrorism are presenting (Oxford, 2005). Repeated interaction has been found to lead to the institutionalisation of behaviour. “Any human activity that is frequently repeated is subject to habituation, which frees the individual from having to make decisions and thus provides psychological relief’’ (De Jong and Nooteboom, 2000, in Akkermans et al., 2004). Along with commitment to mutual interest and objectives (Naude and Buttle, 2000), trust in partners was found to be one of the essential aspects of network participation. The two aspects are interdependent and together they enable cooperation between organizations (Hunt and Morgan, 1994), as well as between an organisation
and its stakeholders. Companies seek to build trust with their stakeholders,
3.6 REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
just as individuals are aiming to build trust in their daily relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. When you trust someone you are more likely
Proposition 3: The sentiment around a particular attribute on the Social
to find them credible, you will value their experience and knowledge, you will
Media, will define the sentiment with which Social Media users will perceive
give them your confidence and are more likely to engage in business practices
that attribute. For an effective Social Media engagement in order to improve
reputation it is therefore of great importance to increase the amount of positive mentions and lower the amount of negative ones.
Organizational research suggests that depending on distinct psychological processes, based on competence and warmth – the two basic dimensions on
“…(he) who steals my purse steals trash…But he that filches from me my good
which people judge others (Fiske, Cuddy and Glick, 2007) - there are two
name…makes me poor indeed”, Shakespeare9. With this quote in Othello,
different types of trust (McAllister, 1995; Zucker, 1986): cognition- and affect-
Shakespeare captured the modern common-sense thinking on the subject of
based trust (McAllister, 1995).
corporate reputation. “A Corporate Reputation is a perceptual representation of a company’s past actions and future prospects that describe the firm’s
Chua et al. (2008), defined cognition-based trust as “rational trust”, which is
overall appeal to all of its key constituents when compared with other leading
judgement based on evidences of competence, and reliability; and affect-
rivals” (Fombrun, 1996, p.72).
based trust, as “emotional trust”, based on feelings that an organisation is concerned with the welfare of their partners, or stakeholders.
Today, top executives will agree that their company's good name is a fundamental asset, the loss of which is quantifiable and potentially
The Social Media is an accessible platform to help an organisation develop
catastrophic. The demise of Arthur Andersen LLP and the collapse of Enron
both types of trust with its stakeholders online. Sharing operational successes,
have become living proof of this as well as typecasts for poor reputation
as well as facts and figures, can serve as evidences of competence and
practice. A weak reputation has both internal and external effects on the
reliability, and help build cognition-based trust. Likewise, by sharing
behavioural and economic performance of a company (Fomrbrun and
information on, for example, an organisation’s efforts towards Corporate
Rindova, 2001, p. 80). A positive reputation can be rewarding in various ways.
Responsibility can help improve the perception that the organisation is
The price of the company’s market shares will go up, customers pay premium
concerned with the welfare of its stakeholders, which in turn will build affect-
prices for the products of companies that have a good reputation and
based trust. 9
Othello Act 3, scene 3, 155–161
employees are happy to work for reputable companies (Fomrbrun and
commonly draw upon the bits of information that are particularly frequently
Rindova, 2001). Organizations “build up “reputation capital” to tide them over
mentioned and have the strongest sentiment at the time.
in turbulent times. It’s like opening a savings account for a rainy day. If a crisis strikes . . . reputation suffers less and rebounds more quickly” (Alsop,
To describe the process of public opinion formation, Elizabeth Noelle-
2004, p. 17).
Neumann introduced the mass communication theory of the Spiral of Silence in 1974. The theory revolves around the notion that people fear isolation and
In the Social Media context, according to the survey results of a research
in order to avoid it, will becomes less inclined to voice opposing opinions to
study conducted by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law (2009) among 438
those that are publicly prevalent in the social environment. This in turn gives
randomly selected management, marketing and human resources executives
weight to the publicly prevalent opinion, or as the author put it: “the tendency
within companies across the United States show that eight in 10 executives
of the one to speak up and the other to be silent starts off a spiralling process
believe that Social Media can build brand reputation (81%). This is not
which increasingly establishes one’s opinion as the prevailing one” (p. 44).
surprising considering that in 2008, on average 75,000 blogs were created
This separates society into two groups according to Noelle-Neumann: the
daily, with 1.2 million new posts that often included consumer opinions on
ones that speak up (group A) and the ones that are silent (group B).
products and services (Pang and Lee, 2008). Stakeholders transitioned from being influenced, to being the influencers, which is making “corporate
Group A type of people believe that their opinion is accepted by the society
reputations profoundly vulnerable to the whims of empowered stakeholders”
so, they express their point of view in public strongly and with great self-
(Reputation Institute, 2010). Therefore, participation on Social Media enables
confidence. This kind of attitude is usually attractive and because of the need
firms to influence the influencers, positively impact their opinions and
to belong, which I previously described in this thesis, more people will join
therewith effectively manage their reputations.
group A, making the group stronger and more confident (also in the perception of other people in the society).
3.7 THE SPIRAL OF SILENCE THEORY The opposite occurs for group B. Lacking the self-confidence to express their Proposition 4: The agenda of the Social Media users’ attitude and opinions about a firm are formed based on the substantive and affective attributes associated with a firm covered on the Social Media. Meaning that when users express opinions, rather than basing them on the total “picture”, they
opinion and out of fear that it will not be accepted, they prefer to remain “silent”. They further start to decrease in number and their perception about their opinion weakens. This process can go on in a loop structure, forming the
Spiral of Silence, until only a few people remain in group B and group A
dominates the society. Proposition 5: Transparent communication practices, by purposefully and In the Social Media context, by displaying an introvert attitude through not
strategically communicating a corporate agenda on the Social Media will
result in a significant degree of correspondence between the attribute agenda
automatically categorises itself into the “silent group” - group B and starts the
of the firm and the attribute agenda on the Social Media.
Spiral of Silence. Especially when these discussions revolve around the organisation itself, by allowing those that are talking to do so without
Transparent communication practices are not only important in the Agenda-
intervening, an organisation allows these group become the dominating one
setting context. Mutually benefitting relationships require trust, “which in
and their opinion the prevailing one. This can prove especially damaging to
turn implies transparency and honesty” (The Edelman Trust Barometer 2007).
the reputation of an organisation if the opinions expressed by group A are
Academic literature clearly suggests that to improve trust communication
negative, or misleading.
practices of organizations must be open and transparent. “Leading firms are opening up pertinent information to all these groups (investors, employees,
Aside from the risks from the effects of the Spiral of Silence, the lack of
customers, partners, media) because they reap significant benefits from doing
participation on the Social Media channels, which are becoming ever more
so…transparency is a powerful new force for business success,” (Tapscott and
widely accepted by the society for openly expressing opinions, further fosters
Williams, 2008). Richard Edelman in the Edelman Trust Barometer (2007)
the risk of being perceived as in-transparent and concealing relevant
claimed that “continuous, transparent -
information. Introversion, distorting or concealing relevant information,
communications is central” to business success in today’s new environment
avoiding to state or disclose facts, ideas and conclusions have been proven to
cause lack of trust (Zand, 1972), create suspiciousness and increase the likelihood of misunderstandings and misinterpretation (Westerlund, et al.
The Johnson & Johnson, “Tylenol case” is an example of the priceless value of
2009), as observed in Europol´s case. One could therefore argue that lack of
transparency. In the fall of 1982, seven people died after ingesting capsules
participation alone, can attract mistrust and unsupportive behaviour on the
that had been poisoned with cyanide. The first and best decision on the part
part of stakeholders.
of the company was to adopt a policy of full disclosure and openness. This constituted the key to the brand’s survival (Corpen Group, 2010).
Social Media is changing the nature of communication, making transparency a dominating feature thereof: “Our mission since Day 1 has been to make society more open” Dave Morin, former Facebook executive states. Various scholars have concluded that being transparent can bring multiple benefits to
an organisation. Table 3.2 below outlines a few of the perspectives. Table 3.2: Overview of academic literature on the benefits of transparency GROUNDED
Muscarella and Vetsuypens (1989); Ang and Brau (2002)
Transparency reduces asymmetric information
Diamond & Verrecchia (1991); Subrahmanyam and Titman (1999), Ang and Brau (2002); Botosan and Plumlee (2002)
Transparency reduces cost of capital
"Muscarella and Vetsuypens argue that a track record of continuous information verification is valuable in mitigating potential information asymmetries." (Ang and Brau, 2002) "Revealing public information to reduce information asymmetry can reduce a firm’s costs of capital by attracting increased demand from large investors due to increased liquidity of its securities." (Diamond & Verrecchia, 1991)
Datar, Naik, and Radcliffe (1998); Lang, Lins and Maffett, (2010)
Transparency increases liquidity
Coglianese, et al. (2008)
IN Financial Literature
"Firms that are more transparent pay less." (Ang and Brau, 2002) “Firms with greater transparency, as measured by quality of accounting standards, quality of auditor, level of earnings management, analyst following and analyst forecast accuracy, are characterized by less volatility in liquidity, as well as lower correlations between firm level liquidity and market liquidity and between firm level liquidity and stock returns. Further, more transparent firms are less likely to experience ―extreme liquidity
Transparency allows the public to develop a more accurate picture of what is happening inside Transparency strengthens the connections between government agencies and the public they serve
Transparency motivates improvement
Transparent organisations are more likely to be trusted
Transparency enhances productivity and contributes to more ethical workplace culture; Transparency is critical to keeping employees engaged
events, where liquidity essentially vanishes and trading becomes prohibitively costly.” (Lang and Maffett, 2010) "Governmental transparency allows the public to develop a more accurate picture of what is happening inside a government" “Both transparency and public participation can promote democratic legitimacy by strengthening the connections between government agencies and the public they serve.” “Transparency will expose an organization’s weaknesses, and areas that need improvement. Hiding these does not make them go away. Positive feedback that everything is okay, when it isn’t, only reinforces the debilitating behaviour. Sure, transparency might make an organization feel uncomfortable, but it will also motivate it to improve.” "In particular, organizations that encourage and allow public participation, share substantial information so their publics can make informed decisions, give balanced reports that hold them accountable, and open themselves up to public scrutiny, are more likely to be trusted." “Transparency and openness by workplace leaders enhances productivity and contributes to more ethical workplace culture”
In dictionaries the adjective “transparent” is defined as the condition of being
balanced, and unequivocal’’ further distinguishes legally releasable and
“pervious to light,” “free from pretence or deceit,” and “allowing to see
positive, or negative.
through with clarity” (Webster’s online dictionary). Bushman, et al. (2003) for example, defined transparency as “the availability of firm-specific information
To understand how the information should be disclosed for an organisation to
to those outside publicly traded firms, and viewed as the joint output of
be perceived as transparent we can look to the same definition. Heise
multi-faceted systems whose components collectively produce, gather,
mentions accurately, timely, balanced, and unequivocal as strategic
validate and disseminate information to market participants.”
approaches. Another political scholar, Cotterrell (1999) distinguished the intrinsic purpose
Making available as a prerequisite of transparent behaviour is also reinforced
of being transparent: “the availability of information on matters of public
in the definitions of political scholars: “Transparency comprises the legal,
concern, the ability of citizens to participate in political decision, and the
political, and institutional structures that make information about the internal
accountability of government to public opinion or legal processes.” Backing
characteristics of a government and society available to actors both inside and
the latter definition up is Balkin’s distinction of the three primary purposes
outside the domestic political system. Transparency is increased by any
for transparency: providing information to stakeholders, fostering public
mechanism that leads to the public disclosure of information, whether a free
participation, and holding organizations accountable (1999). Rawlins (2009)
press, open government, hearings, or the existence of nongovernmental
has further build on the above three purposes and has specified the following
organizations with an incentive to release objective information about the
determining elements of transparency: - providing information that is
government” (Finel and Lord, 1999). “Put simply, transparency is the opposite
truthful, substantial, and useful; - participation of stakeholders in identifying
of secrecy. Secrecy means deliberately hiding your actions; transparency
the information they need; - and objective, balanced reporting of an
means deliberately revealing them” (Florini, 1998).
organization’s activities and policies that holds the organization accountable. In conclusion we can summarise transparency as deliberately disclosing /
So deliberately disclosing information to internal and external stakeholders is
making available: (WHAT?) “firm-specific” (Bushman, 2003), “legally
necessary if an organisation is to be perceived as transparent. But what kind
releasable information—whether positive or negative in nature” (Heise, 1985),
of information can be disclosed? The above-quoted Bushman definition
(HOW?) “in a manner which is accurate, timely, balanced, and unequivocal’’
mentions firm-specific. Heise (1985) who defined being transparent as the act
(Idem), (WHY?) for the purpose of providing information, fostering public
of making “available publicly all legally releasable information—whether
participation, and holding organizations accountable (Balkin, 1999; Rawlins,
positive or negative in nature—in a manner which is accurate, timely,
Figure 3.1: Transparency
services, financial performance, leadership and vision, corporate citizenship, and workplace environment.
3.9 CONCLUSION Although agenda-setting effects primarily have been studied in the context of mass-media, the principal idea is the transfer of salience from traditional media to the Social Media context. Together, the five agenda-setting propositions provided a roadmap for this empirical research describing and explaining the influence of Social Media on the reputations of firms. Particularly emphasized by these propositions is that Social Media participation plays a great role in generating awareness, impacting According to Holtz, transparency is the degree to which an organisations shares the following with its stakeholders: Its leaders: “The leaders of transparent companies are accessible and straightforward when talking with members of key audiences”; Its Employees: “Employees of transparent companies are accessible to reinforce the public view of the company and to help people where appropriate”; Its values: “Ethical behaviour, fair treatment and other values are on full display in transparent companies”; Its culture: “How a company does things is more important than what it does. The way things get done is not a secret in transparent companies”; The results of business practices, both good and bad: “Success, problems, failures and victories all are communicated by transparent companies”; Its business strategy: “A company’s strategy is a key bases for investment decisions. Misalignment of a company’s strategy and investors’ expectations almost always results in disaster”. This is consistent with Fombrun and van Riel’s (2007) theory which posed that firms can be transparent about products and
stakeholder opinions and the online reputation of a firm. They also imply that by not sharing news on the Social Media channels an organisation fails to render itself important not only in the opinions of those stakeholders that use this medium as a primary source of information, but also lowers its chances of having an impact on the media, public and policy agendas. Currently more and more journalists are looking onto the Social Media sites for the next story. The more importance a story gains on the Social Media arena (i.e. it’s being frequently re-tweeted and commented on etc.) the bigger the chances that the story will come on the media agenda, further increasing the chances of it gaining importance on the public (outside the Social Media terrain) and subsequently the policy agenda. Allowing negative opinions to predominate will negatively prime the public opinion. It can therefore be argued that by not engaging Social Media a firm indirectly contributes to the formation of negative reputations online.
CASE STUDIES: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ORGANISATIONS?
4 CASE STUDIES: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ORGANISATIONS?
from different sectors, entrusted to communicate on the Social Media on
In order to be able to make recommendations for my employer on the topic, I
The EPO has started to participate in 2008. Currently the organization
first needed to assess whether the theories described above (see Chapter 3)
successfully employs a YouTube channel, broadcasting videos about the
have practical resonance. To understand what drives firms to engage this
Office and clips from key events like the European Inventor Awards; a Twitter
medium and what the benefits are that they gain from their efforts I have
account, linking to EPO job vacancies and events; and Facebook page
addressed three organisations that are already effectively deploying Social
providing news, photos, videos and announcements on the European Inventor
Media, mainly the European Commission (EC), the Dutch Safety Board (OVV)
Award. Mr Rainer Osterwalder, EPO’s Deputy Spokesperson, has gladly
and the European Patent Office (EPO), aiming to gain insight on my
shared his knowledge and experience on this topic on behalf of the
questions based on their practical experiences.
The European Commission has started to engage the Social Media as early as
The Dutch Safety Board is active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and forums.
in 2006 through their YouTube channel. In addition, at the time of this
“Social Media is the future”, the organization felt that they were missing out on
analysis (April 2011), the European commission was very actively participating
an area that was growing, “communications people have to do today’s work,
on Twitter and Facebook. The daily frequency of updates amounted on
with an eye on tomorrow” said Mrs Groenendal referring to the reason the
Twitter to 2 – 10 posts and around 1 post on Facebook. Moreover, the
Board has decided to engage the Social Media channels. Mrs Groenendal, the
Commission has a special blog section on their website rich in activity from
spokesperson at the Dutch Safety Board was my respondent for this research.
behalf of the organisation. One of four staff is specifically employed for Social Media analyses and data mining.
various commissioners, representatives and even few of the vice-presidents, such as Neelie Kroes, who since the beginning of 2011 has been blogging at least 3 times a month on various topics. Her blogs are gaining in popularity
4.1 BUILDING BRAND AWARENESS & ATTRACTIVENESS
with numbers of views ranging from 2000 to 4500. The Head of the Social Media Sector, Mr Bert van Maele, who was kind enough to offer to be interviewed for my research, runs the Social Media team which comprises four staff, and supervises an additional decentralised network of 60 employees
Consistent with my earlier described literature, one of the benefits of engaging Social Media mentioned by all three organisations during the interviews is creating awareness: “2, 3 years ago 50 % of the people asked whether or not they were aware of who the OVV is, had not heard of us”,
CASE STUDIES: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ORGANISATIONS?
according to Mrs Groenendal. She claimed that this has drastically improved
place to be - 80% of young internet users in the EU27 are active on Social
since the Board engages in more proactive communication practices online.
Media (Eurostat, 2010). In the U.S., people aged 20 to 29 years spend more
At the EC Social Media is used to “try to give the European Commission a
time than other age groups using Social Media marketing (with 41% spending
human face, because a lot of people perceive it like a sort of “black-box”, so we
11+ hours weekly), followed by 30- to 39-year-olds (37% spending 11+ hours per
try to show that there are people working here that have specific interests that
week) (Stelzner, 2011). Easy access to youth can be beneficial for example
we go through the same motions as everyone else does.” Also at Europol the
when an organisation attempts to profile itself as an attractive potential
importance of Social Media for creating awareness is anticipated: “First of all
employer, but also as Mrs Groenendal mentioned: “Engaging youth also
Social Media creates greater awareness for the general public, it’s the friendly
establishes an image of the organisation as being modern, progressive and
face of the organization, the soft face of the organization, not the hard face”
developing“, an added value for those that pursue such an image. For
(Head of Unit, Europol).
intelligence agencies in particular engaging might be a great way of breaking out of the cliché image of being “boring” or “conservative”. Increasing the
Taking the generating of awareness of the company behind the brand a step
span of awareness regarding the great work that Europol does, might in turn
further, at the EC, Social Media is perceived as the way to reach the groups
inspire more young people to partake police vocations, and further their
outside the “Brussels bubble”, or as my interviewee put it, “The problem at the
careers towards the benefit and the safety of their nation.
moment is that Social Media coming from the headquarters gets still too much stuck in the “Brussels bubble”. We haven’t been able to get out of that, therefore
4.2 BUILDING TRANSPARENCY & TRUST
the future effort of the representation will focus on that.” Also, the spokesperson at the Dutch Safety Board mentioned that: “Social Media allows you to reach a group of people that cannot be reached in any other way. Youth’s primary information source is internet and they cannot be reached through traditional media.” So it seems that spreading awareness through Social Media can also help to reach a different stakeholder group, like the younger generations.
In the experience of the interviewed organisations Social Media seems to help build a transparent image and generate trust. My interviewee at EPO has repeatedly emphasized how Social Media enabled the organization to muster trust among important stakeholders or as Mr Osterwalder put it: “It’s about creating transparency and creating trust. Transparency is the first thing that public organisations, paid by tax-payers money, need to create”. Building trust among the tax-payers as a stakeholder group is particularly important for
This is in line with the existing research which shows that if a company is seeking to reach the younger generation in particular, Social Media is the
intelligence agencies, since this constituency indirectly holds their licence to operate and are most of the times the most distrustful group, as well as the
CASE STUDIES: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ORGANISATIONS?
most invested group, since it is their safety the agencies activities are
Dutch Safety Board throughout their experience found that communicating
concerned with. My interviewee at EPO found that Social Media offers a great
legally releasable information is most of the time more than enough. The
means of building trust by specifically targeting through communication
content they release is mostly related to what investigations are about and
those stakeholders that are distrustful: “There are people who absolutely dislike
framework of those investigations: “I’ve learned that the public finds it useful to
what EPO does in certain areas” as the EPO spokesman put it, “but Social
know in which stage an investigation is. There are different stages: facts
Media offered the organisation a means of proactively seeking those out and
gathering, analyses, review period (for those involved in the accident so that
addressing them, inviting them around.” The European Commission employs a
they can respond), and then we have the publication phase when we inform the
similar approach, “You have to always analyse why you are perceived negatively
public. You should never tire to explain how things work, because then people
and then see who perceives you negatively” and depending on the level of
understand and develop patience toward the lengthy durations of the
influence of that person “invite them around or address them” in order to learn
investigations”, said Mrs Groenendal.
what caused the negative attitude and whether there’s something the organisation can do can to inspire a change in perception, as Mr van Maele
This is consistent with prior literature, arguing that it is the task of managers
to provide explanations, rationalizations and justifications behind a company’s activities in order to gain trust (Pfeffer, 1981). The EPO does not
Having an effective means of creating dialogues and personal communication
expect that the stakeholders online will drastically change their attitude
with stakeholders, further seems to help the organisations I interviewed to
towards the organisation, but find it plausible that they might start to
dissipate stakeholders’ doubts, which is also positively impacting trust: “If
understand the organisation better and in turn develop more favourable
there are doubts about the work of your organisation, Social Media is a quick
opinions of the organisation. This resonates with the preconceptions and the
and easy way to personalise otherwise boring and impersonal messaging...We
hopes that Europol has towards this medium. Struggling with the inability to
want to build up a positive reputation for example by passing core messaging
address the (most of the time unjust) negative comments on the Social Media,
via these channels and limiting the damaging effect of some protesting against
the agency is hoping to be able to positively impact them by engaging the
our work by sending out clarifications through these channels”, said Mr
channel. The EPO spokesman claimed that even if people may still discern
Osterwalder during our interview.
“you can give them the feeling that you are open about what it is that you are doing and Social Media really helps in that respect.” Being open about
Dissipating stakeholders’ doubts further helps generate understanding, as well
corporate practices enables “the public to benefit from it. That’s a prime virtue
as create patience, which in turn contributes to the development of trust. The
[of Social Media] and creates trust”, according to Mr Osterwalder.
CASE STUDIES: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ORGANISATIONS?
The fact that open sharing of information and networking facilitates either
mentioned that: “Transparency is often mistaken with betraying secrets.” In
affect-or cognition-based trust among key stakeholders is also in line with
the intelligence agencies’ field particularly “secrecy is a vital element—
prior research (van Halderen and Kettler-Paddock, 2011). As the EPO
perhaps the key element. Intelligence involves information, yes, but it is
spokesman’s quotations indicate and the Dutch Safety Board confirmed,
secrecy, too. For producers of intelligence, it is more about secrecy than
Social Media appears to be an important way for the organization to create
information” (Warner, 2007). Secrets, whether related to government or
such levels of trust. Especially for the public intelligence agencies that are
business, have the function of protecting valuable tactical, or strategic
most of the time perceived as secretive and operating in a covert mode,
informational assets and are valuable because they protect value (Dufresne
building these levels of trust could prove valuable. Introversion, distorting or
and Offstein, 2008). This value is protected by different levels of classification
concealing relevant information, avoiding to state or disclose facts, ideas and
against unauthorized disclosure in order to safeguard it against a use that
conclusions have been proven to cause lack of trust (Zand, 1972), create
would be contrary to its owner’s objectives (European Parliament study, 2010).
suspiciousness and increase the likelihood of misunderstandings and
The potential seriousness of the consequences of disclosure grows with the
misinterpretation (Westerlund, et al. 2009). To mitigate against the negative
level of classification of information, ranging from problematic, to extremely
effects of introversion, intelligence agencies could use the Social Media
serious and potentially compromising to national security. Sharing too much
channels to build cognition-based trust by for example publishing and
is therefore a major concern in intelligence agencies: “We should not go too
disseminating information about successfully completed operations, which
much in details on the internet. Avoid that risk. It [Social Media] can be too
would effectively prove their competence and reliability; as well as affect-
open for us [Europol]”, said the interviewed Head of Unit in the Operational
based trust, by for example using the channel as an early warning system
Department at Europol. “Yes this is a major concern not to give away too much
publishing “Wanted” announcements, or public safety advise on various
information. So we have to be sensible about the use of Social Media in order
not to expose the organization to the reputational damage and to avoid negative consequences” (Analyst, Europol).
4.2.1 DEALING WITH TRANSPARENCY IN THE INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES FIELD
The intelligence community largely invests time and financial resources in the Although the academic literature has repeatedly emphasized the importance
form of clearance approvals and checks, technological, formal and procedural
of transparency (Rawlins, 2009; Piotrowski, 2007; Ang and Brau, 2002; etc.),
controls in the day-to-day operations in order to maintain, safeguard, control
transparency is at the same time a delicate issue for intelligence agencies. In
and administer their system of “secrets”. Both inputs (e.g. cell phones and, or
line with prior research (Vaccaro and Fontrodona, 2010), my EPO interviewee
camera phones within Intelligence agencies’ facilities are prohibited) as well
CASE STUDIES: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ORGANISATIONS?
as outputs are controlled (e.g. employees often possessing two different
to share absolutely everything about itself. Also my interviewee at the Dutch
computers, one with access to the internet and another only connected to the
safety board emphasized that this way of information sharing does not have
secure network, or USB devises being forbidden). But as we can learn from the
to breach secrecy-related issues: “[Disclosure] is no more of a limitation in the
WikiLeaks case, technology and policies might be able to moderate up to a
Social Media context then it is in the everyday work. Leaks of information could
certain level, but cannot reliably prevent information from being leaked.
happen anywhere. On Social Media people might be more careful then otherwise
"WikiLeaks is more of an HR and legal issue than a technology one.
verbally. Writing makes you think twice” (Mrs Groenendal, The Dutch Safety
Somebody who was trusted shared information he wasn't supposed to"
Board). Mr Osterwalder at EPO confirmed this as well. He claimed that the
(Modruson, F. CIO at Accenture, in Nash, 2011). In conclusion Social Media
organization can still share a lot of information, without having to give away
does not in itself lead to, or increase the risk of breaching of privacy.
secret information: “Social Media does not entail having to betray secrets about
“Disclosure is a risk that is not necessarily attached to Social Media.
the way you operate, or pursue certain cases or activities”, said Mr Osterwalder
Information can be disclosed on other channels. If anything – by participating
during our interview.
on Social Media channels Europol will have people in charge that will ensure that what is being posted is in line with the confidentiality guidelines, and
In conclusion, theory and case studies alike, maintain that if managed
people will think twice before posting. The people in charge of Social Media
correctly, intelligence agencies can engage in transparent communication
should be trained to avoid errors related to disclosure. Disclosure of
practices on Social Media channels without risking disclosure.
information which is classified, and should otherwise not be disclosed is a human error and should be managed at the process level” (Information security
4.3 GATHERING INTELLIGENCE
Officer, Europol). A third benefit of Social Media for intelligence agencies is its potential to Also from literature and the conducted interviews, we can infer that being transparent is beneficial for organisations and does not conflict with the secrecy aspect of the intelligence agencies. In his book “Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media to Maximize Value and Build their Brand” Holtz states that: “Being transparent does not require that you produce a never-ending sea of data and information” and that transparency “is not full disclosure.” Being transparent does not imply that an organisation has
gather intelligence information. This is an interesting finding, which has been less well studied by prior literature. Intelligence agencies can not only use Social Media to build awareness, transparency or trust, but can also proactively use it to get first-hand information from their stakeholders on intelligence cases that they are working on. For instance, in the investigation on the Turkish airlines plane-crash, on Wednesday 25 February 2009 the Dutch Safety Board received the first pictures of the plane-crash within
CASE STUDIES: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ORGANISATIONS?
minutes of the accident through twitter. Another example is the Moerdijk
on operations that the agency is investigating will require that the agency to
case, when on 5 January 2011, at 19:35, a chemical plant caught fire. The
some extend shares, or posts information on those particular operations. This
organisation posted on Twitter that they needed images and eye-witnesses
in most cases is not possible due to the fact that the operations under
and “before you know it a lot of images and videotapes which were useful for the
investigation are at all times kept secret, even internally among departments
investigation starting to come in”, Mrs Groenendal shared. The Dutch Safety
and the information that is used for investigations is most of the time
Board is therefore rather positive on the use of Social Media for investigation
classified, as described in the previous sub-chapter.
purposes. Aside from the classification of information, another limitation to intelligence Using Social Media for this particular practice is also being extensively
agencies posting information on operations, is the fact that anything that the
employed by the U.S. law enforcement community. A survey conducted by
agency shares on the investigations that are conducted, could give unfair
the IACP among 728 U.S., Law Enforcement agencies in September 2010 on
competitive advantage to adversaries – the criminals involved in the
the use of Social Media, has concluded that 81.1% of agencies surveyed use
operations, who would then become aware that they are under observation
Social Media. 62.3% are using Social Media for crime investigations and 40%
and could alter their behaviour to deceive the observer (e.g. Europol’s
use it for soliciting tips on crime (IACP, 2010). Receiving tips from the
operations department). In psychological literature this is referred to as the
community are a common practice for the law enforcement. Social Media now
Hawthorne Effect, which poses that the behaviour of subjects changes when
helps facilitate this practice. Sophisticated tools are being developed in order
they are aware of being observed (Roethlisberger and Dickson, 1939).
to make it easier for the public and the police to interact online. One such
Criminals being aware that they are under investigation could lead to failed
example is tip411 program developed by the CitizenObserver Corporation.10
operations and is thus unproductive in the intelligence-led environment. In conclusion using Social Media for information gathering purposes is a
For intelligence agencies in particular, this open source of information
potential, albeit a limited benefit for Europol in particular.
gathering might appear as an important added value in theory, but in practice, it does have its caveats. These caveats are related to the earlier
From the European Commission however, I have learned of another approach
described ‘transparency – secrecy’ trade-off. Attempting to collect intelligence
to intelligence gathering that Europol and any other organisation can tap into. Mr van Maele mentioned that Social Media “demands that an organisation is
“Tip411” is a web-based notification tool which makes easy for citizens to provide immediate, anonymous tips and intelligence: http://www.citizenobserver.com
able to react quicker, it should adapt quicker, should be able to deal with comments and questions that people have. And that for an organisation as big
CASE STUDIES: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ORGANISATIONS?
as the Commission - dealing with so many topics and which is hierarchical and
In addition to the above outlined benefits, the previously mentioned quote
sort of conservative - is very difficult.” Hence, Social Media is fundamentally
from my interviewee at EPO summarises the main conclusion of this chapter
influencing communication structures, but also operational business and
and that is that Social Media offers organisations a means of proactively
could be effectively used towards change management. Gathering user-
seeking the stakeholders with negative opinions out and addressing them and
generated information and communicating it to the decision-makers could
inviting them around. So, the general perception of the addressed
serve as an improvement driver. “Social Media is more about changing the
organisations is that more transparent communication practices through
organisation,” said Mr van Maele, “we try to use the Social Media in this way, to
Social Media help with managing stakeholders’ opinions of the company.
be able to use the information and adapt to the information.” Open-minded participation and ability to listen to constructive opinions, can guide firms through a learning curve. “Walking the talk” is the next step.
RESEARCH QUESTION 1-A What are the strategic benefits of Social Media for organisations in terms of managing stakeholders’ opinions of the company on Social Media? In this chapter I have detailed the results from the conducted interviews which have helped me identify the strategic benefits of using the Social Media for organisations and have answered my research sub-question 1a. The most salient benefits that have been identified are outlined in Table 4.1 below. Table 4.1: Overview of the benefits Benefit Building brand awareness and attractiveness
Case Study EC, OVV
Literature Stelzner, 2011;
Building transparency and trust
OVV and EPO
Talbot, 2007; McAllister, 1995; Chua et al. 2008; Tapscott and Williams, 2008;
Gathering Business and Law enforcement intelligence
DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA?
5 DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA?
Figure 5.1: Social Media Metrics
Existing academic literature and the conducted interviews have helped me better understand the benefits that organisations experience as a result of engaging their stakeholders through Social Media. To gain an industry specific insight, in this chapter I assess the strategies and effects of Social Media engagement, or non-engagement, of some the world's most prominent intelligence agencies, mainly: FBI, CIA, Interpol and Europol. The fact that all four have significantly differing styles of approaching the medium is a welcome coincidence, as it helps me get a better understanding of the impact of different strategies. I compare their contrasting levels of activity on the social networking websites, as well as assess the effects of their efforts.
The reasons that most commercial companies engage the Social Media are mainly to attract and keep customers, and improve sales. Measuring
5.1 HYPOTHESIS DEVELOPMENT
effectiveness or the ROI of Social Media for this sector is therefore most of the time related, but not limited to:
product recommendations - which will
The current trends drive firms to want to define engagement metrics that will
impact sales; brand sentiment - indicating customer satisfaction; increase or
lead them to make better business decisions. The volume of Social Media
decrease in number of followers - or potential clients-base.
metrics is vast, differing not only between sectors (i.e. public versus commercial), but also among competitors in the same industry. Each
As my interviews show, the drivers behind the public sector's decision to
organisation therefore, depending on the motivations behind their Social
engage are slightly different. Public organizations, besides the need to stay
Media initiatives could have drastically different metrics. Moreover, according
abreast of the modern developments, most of the time engage Social Media to
to the Forrester report, written by Elliott et al. (2011), different internal
improve awareness around their products or operations and to influence
stakeholders are interested in measuring different data and therefore require
public trust. The most appropriate metrics for the public sector therefore are
the sentiment of the Social Media stakeholders' opinions, which will indicate the levels of trust and affect, and the stakeholders' expressed interest in the
DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA?
agencies' communication efforts, which is an indicator of the awareness
as negative, positive or neutral. The results of the sentiment analysis indicate
stakeholders’ opinions online about the agencies. H3: The most frequently used keywords by which an agency is
To test the propositions phrased in the Theoretical Framework (see pg. 14), I
referred to online will correspond to the top attributes that the
have formulated the following hypothesis:
agency wishes to be perceived by.
H1: More frequent engagement efforts will incrementally build stakeholders’ awareness of a firm on Social Media.
“Organizational identity expressions are important for managing the perceptions and subsequent intentions of external stakeholders”, as was found
The level of effort that an agency is investing in their Social Media
by a study conducted by van Halderen (2007). Organizational identity
engagement, is in this thesis measured by the total number of posts, Tweets
expressions are the ways in which firms express who they are as an
or blogs that an agency is communicating, studied by noting the frequency of
organization. The author posed that external stakeholder’ perceptions and
communication (e.g. number of posts per month) and the Social Networking
behaviours towards the organization are impacted by these “expressions”.
platforms where the agencies were active on (e.g. Twitter or Facebook). More
This counts tenfold on Social Media. Once an agency posts something on the
frequent communication usually requires more effort, time and human
Web, it will most likely be replicated, re-tweeted, or forwarded. Aside from
resources, which incurs more costs for an organisation. I therefore assume
this, search engines archive content and aggregators automatically duplicate
that a higher level of engagement, equals higher costs. The unit used to
it. Simply put: what goes online stays online. Firms must therefore invest
measure effort is the absolute number of posts.
great care into ensuring that what they communicate online is effectively expressing the firm’s identity.
The number of mentions - the number of times an agency's name is mentioned on the Social Media – was used in this research as the value to assess the
The set of particular attributes that are most frequently mentioned on Social
effectiveness of the awareness spreading.
Media about a firm, are assessed by the numbers of most frequently used
H2: Social Media engagement positively impacts stakeholder opinions online.
keywords that are used in the context of a firm’s mentions. The broadest range of rhetorical efforts of an organization that explain who the organization is,
Sentiment analysis or opinion mining served as assessor how people “feel"
what it stands for, what it does and why (Idem, pg. 6) are most concentrated
about an agency, its products or services (positive, negative, neutral),
in a firm’s Mission, Vision and Value statements. These should therefore
deducted from the content that they post online. The sentiment of a mention
contain the top attributes, or identity expressions, by which the firm wishes to
was measured by assessing the tone of its content, which was then categorised
be perceived. Ten Social Media top keywords have been cross-assessed against
DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA?
the contents of the Mission, Vision and Value statements of each agency in
Active on Twitter since June, 2009 and YouTube since September, 2010,
order to determine how efficient they are at positioning themselves by their
Interpol is communicating on these channels on average 24 times (6.2 times a
month). The initial data mining attempt for Interpol generated a large amount of mentions and only after deeper content analyses it became evident
that 61% of the total amount of mentions found online on Interpol is related to a band, with the same name “Interpol”. This leaves the agency with a total
Hypothesis 1 argued that more frequent engagement efforts will incrementally build stakeholders’ awareness of a firm on Social Media. A four months
of 160 relevant mentions (40 per month), i.e. mentions excluding the ones related to the band.
sample of all the efforts the agencies are making on all the platforms is detailed in Table 5.1 below. The second row outlines a four months sample (27/05/2011-27/09/2011) of all the mentions that each agency is generating in return.
Number Of Mentions
Europol is surprisingly not lagging far behind in terms of the number of mentions it generates, averaging to 149 mentions over the assessed period. Figure 5.2: Overview of efforts and mentions
Table 5.1: Dataset for engagement efforts (four months) Engagement Efforts
With a “0” activity level, i.e. no posts or content sharing from Europol itself,
The FBI is the most active of the four agencies on the Social Media. With Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts, the agency is on average sharing content 420 times over a period of four months (105 times a month). The agency also has the most numbers of mentions of all four, averaging to 308 mentions (77 per month). CIA’s activity level amounts to 76 posts, (19 posts a month), comprising mainly of videos and photos posted on YouTube and Flickr. Over the assessed period on average 274 posts can be found on Social Media mentioning CIA.
DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA? Figure 5.3: Efforts versus Mentions Table 5.2: Dataset for sentiment (four months) % of mentions (over four months) Negative
Figure 5.4: Negative & Positive + Neutral mentions (27/05/2011-27/09/2011)
FBI - the most active of the four agencies is generating most mentions. The CIA, Interpol and Europol’s results follow in a descending order. Even though the difference is not major, the above graph indicates that higher engagement efforts generate higher numbers of mentions. This supports Hypothesis 1.
Hypothesis 2 argued that Social Media engagement positively impacts stakeholder opinions online. This entails that the agencies that are engaging on Social Media will generally have more positive mentions online than those that don’t engage (e.g. Europol).
Contrary to the supposition of hypothesis 2, Europol, the least active agency of all four, has on average the most positive and neutral, and the least negative mentions online. This leads me to conclude that positive opinions on Social Media are not determined by whether or not an agency engages in
Table 5.2 below gives an overview of the percentages of positive, negative and
Social Media, neither is it influenced by more frequent participation.
neutral mentions. If hypothesis 2 is correct, the agencies that engage more frequently will have higher percentages of positive and neutral mentions, and lower percentages of negative.
Hypothesis 3 tested the degree to which the most frequent keywords by which an agency is referred to online will correspond to the top attributes that the
DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA?
agency wishes to be perceived by. Table 5.3 below details the top 10 keywords
5.3 ENGAGEMENT EFFECTIVENESS
each of the agencies is referred to online and the percentage of match between the listed keywords and the agenciesâ€™ Â Mission, Â Vision Â and Â Value Â statements (see annex ) (underlined are the keywords that matched and between brackets are the number of times the word was found back in the
Reducing â€œcostsâ€? and increasing â€œprofitsâ€? is the aim for maximised Social Media engagement effectiveness. To increase â€œprofitâ€?, organisations will strive to increase positive reviews and lower the negative ones, at an optimum â€œcostâ€? or effort. In order to compare the four engagement strategies and their
Mission, Vision and Value statements).
effectiveness, an equation has been devised by which effectiveness can be measured. Applying the attributes previously used in this research, the
Table 5.3: Top Keywords on Social Media FBI (62 months)
CIA (64 months)
INTERPOL (79 months)
EUROPOL (58 months)
Interpol (x3) Niger
Europol (x3) European (x3)
Source Police Scandal Korybaker262626 Fraud Report Complaint Federal (x2)
Plot Petraeus Source Security David Intelligence (x1) Afghanistan News
Armour Dead Island Secretariat Drug Arrest Link Source
Data Report Police Agreement Information (x1) Europe (x2) Swift Crime (x4)
effectiveness of an engagement strategy can be expressed in function of the positive, neutral and negative mentions in percentage values. Below is the list of variables: đ?‘Ś = đ??¸đ?‘“đ?‘“đ?‘’đ?‘?đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘Łđ?‘’đ?‘›đ?‘’đ?‘ đ?‘ , đ?‘Ľ = đ?‘ƒđ?‘œđ?‘ đ?‘–đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘Łđ?‘’ Â đ?‘šđ?‘’đ?‘›đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘œđ?‘›đ?‘ , đ?‘Ľ = đ?‘ đ?‘’đ?‘˘đ?‘Ąđ?‘&#x;đ?‘Žđ?‘™ Â đ?‘šđ?‘’đ?‘›đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘œđ?‘›đ?‘ , đ?‘Ľ = đ?‘ đ?‘’đ?‘”đ?‘Žđ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘Łđ?‘’ Â đ?‘šđ?‘’đ?‘›đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘œđ?‘›đ?‘ , where đ?‘Ľ , Â đ?‘Ľ Â đ?‘Žđ?‘›đ?‘‘ Â đ?‘Ľ âˆˆ [0: 1]. We know that the negative mentions can be expressed in function of the positive and neutral mentions with:
Match with Mission, Vision and Values 10% 10%
đ?‘Ľ = 1 âˆ’ (đ?‘Ľ + đ?‘Ľ )
Thus, the effectiveness could also be expressed in function of the positive and The cross-matching exercise indicates mixed support for hypothesis 3.
neutral mentions only.
Europolâ€™s Â results are well in accord with the hypothesis. For the rest of the
If we assume the effectiveness being a linear function of the two variables
agencies, matching keywords are uncommon. This further indicates a rather
positive and neutral mentions, we obtain the following equation:
non-strategic approach to Social Media by the three active agencies.
đ?‘Ś = đ?›źđ?‘Ľ + đ?›˝đ?‘Ľ + đ?›ž
We know the following values of the effectiveness corresponding to some specific positive and neutral mentions values:
DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA?
đ?‘Ľ =1 đ?‘Ľ =0â‡’đ?‘Ś =1 đ?‘Ľ =0
đ?‘Ľ =0 đ?‘Ľ = 1 â‡’ đ?‘Ś = 0.5 đ?‘Ľ =0
đ?‘Ľ =0 đ?‘Ľ =0â‡’đ?‘Ś =0 đ?‘Ľ =1
Figure 5.5 shows the overall effectiveness of the Social Media practices of each (5)
We use the above mentioned three specific points in order to find the parameters đ?›ź, đ?›˝ Â đ?‘Žđ?‘›đ?‘‘ Â đ?›ž in equation (2), and we obtain: (5) Â đ?‘–đ?‘› Â (2) Â â‡’ Â đ?›ž = 0
of the four agencies. Here we can clearly see that more frequent engagement does not always imply more effectiveness. Especially if we consider the results of Interpol and Europol; even though they are the least active of the four, their strategies appear to yield the most effective results.
(4) Â đ?‘–đ?‘› Â (2) Â â‡’ Â đ?›˝ = 0.5 (3) Â đ?‘–đ?‘› Â (2) Â â‡’ Â đ?›ź = 1 Therefore, the effectiveness can be expressed in function of the positive and neutral mentions with the following equation: đ?‘Ś = đ?‘Ľ + 0.5đ?‘Ľ đ?‘œđ?‘&#x; đ??¸đ?‘“đ?‘“đ?‘’đ?‘?đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘Łđ?‘’đ?‘›đ?‘’đ?‘ đ?‘ = đ?‘ƒđ?‘œđ?‘ đ?‘–đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘Łđ?‘’ + 0.5 Â đ?‘ đ?‘’đ?‘˘đ?‘Ąđ?‘&#x;đ?‘Žđ?‘™ Â đ?‘šđ?‘’đ?‘›đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘œđ?‘›đ?‘
RESEARCH QUESTION 1-B How do other intelligence agencies engage Social Media to manage these opinions?
Engaging effectively is critical to the reputation of any organisation online: commercial or public. A well-constructed and then executed strategy is the key. In order to compare the engagement strategies of the four agencies I have
Figure 5.5: Effectiveness in function of engagement activity FBI, CIA, Interpol & Europol
mapped them according to their level of effort (Activity) and the results of their engagement (Effectiveness) over four categories: 1) Inactive & Effective (low activity, high effectiveness); 2) Inactive & Ineffective (low activity, low effectiveness); 3) Active & Effective (high activity, high effectiveness); and 4) Active & Ineffective (high activity, low effectiveness) (see Figure 5.6).
The matrix in Figure 5.6 gives a graphic representation of the answer to my research sub-question B. The textual explanation is further detailed below, reasoning the strengths and weaknesses, of each strategy. The main conclusion is that the four Intelligence-giants engage contrastingly different and yield very different and sometimes, unexpected results. I have not addressed whether or not these results are matching their objectives, but I can
DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA?
conclude that they are not. The results make me wonder whether or not some
the CIA falls into this particular quadrant. To save their presence, the CIA
of the studied agencies have a strategy in place at all, or if they are just
would need a more personalized and content-rich approach. Pictures can
engaging for the sake of being ´out there´?
speak louder than words, but as apparent in this case, they are not enough to
Figure 5.6: Social Media engagement Strategies Matrix
be effective on Social Media.
Active & Ineffective Many organizations ‘get by’ on Social Media, showing potential, but not exactly meeting tangible growth objectives. With 56 more mentions than the four agencies’ average a month the FBI is the most frequently mentioned and therefore the most known agency online. The agency’s effectiveness weakens however as soon as its effort level or activity frequency comes into the equation. The FBI communicates on average 32 more times compared to the other 3 agencies. There’s a clear disconnect between the effort that the agency makes and the results that it yields. Further research helped me identify why the agency’s high activity level is not ‘paying off’ accordingly. The FBI is employing a very clever, but rather impersonal approach to engagement. The Inactive & Ineffective The CIA’s engagement efforts are currently in the form of video’s and pictures on YouTube and Flickr. The agency does not facilitate comments and posts from public on these pages. Interactive functionalities are disabled. Stakeholders can view the content, but cannot interact. This kind of strategy
agency is using “dynamic news feeds that can be plugged into and read through various applications, readers, and webpages.”11 This may very well be the explanation behind the agency’s very active but not maximally effective engagement approach. Personalizing the content might be the solution, if the agency is to improve its strategy.
contradicts with the very nature of the Social Media, which is frequently referred to as “user-generated-content” and has interactivity as a main attribute. Impeding the user to generate content might be the reason behind the poor effectiveness of the agency’s engagement strategy. Moreover, being
Active & Effective Organizations that pursue the right engagement strategy efficiently thrive. They can only continue to set and achieve yet more challenging strategic
on Social Media and not welcoming, or allowing interactivity, cannot exactly be labelled as an “engagement” strategy and could be the explanation to why
11The portable FBI our newest social media initiatives
DESK RESEARCH: HOW DO OTHER INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ENGAGE SOCIAL MEDIA?
targets, so as to sustain their effectiveness. Not the most popular of all
uncontrollable risks. This quadrant nonetheless, offers a clean sled and the
agencies, but nonetheless effective in terms of managing stakeholders’
promise of an uphill Social Media ride, when tapped into correctly.
opinions on the Social Media, the strength of Interpol’s strategy lies in the low efforts, but high effectiveness. Interpol’s posts range from general news about
RESEARCH QUESTION 1-C
the agency, such as: “INTERPOL appoints the RCMP's William J.S. Elliott as its Special Representative to the United Nations” 12; to videos about operations
Would Europol’s participation in Social Media more positively impact
conducted by the agency, as for example: “Operation INFRA-RED 2010” video
Social Media stakeholders’ opinions?
on their YouTube channel.13 Active on only two channels and communicating
What the results show is that neither participation alone, nor a higher level of
on average six times a month, the agency is clearly not aiming for “quantity”.
activity on the Social Media, will ensure positive stakeholder opinions. To
Moreover, the agency does not engage in conversation. Their strategy is based
expect that by just being “out there” an organization’s stakeholders will
on a one-way “push” method. In contrast to the CIA, Interpol combines visual
automatically reward its initiatives with positive opinions is a misperception.
communication efforts (i.e. videos) with textual ones (i.e. tweets). If the
The CIA’s ‘non-interactive’ approach, teaches us that the engagement needs
quality of their communication efforts would be strengthened with
to be invested and interactive. FBI’s ‘software-generated’ engagement, teaches
appropriate levels of identity expressions and their effectiveness improved by
us that personalized communication is important. From Interpol we learn
engaging in two-way conversations with their stakeholders, Interpol’s
that to continue yielding positive opinions, engagement needs to be well-
strategic placement would be a good starting point for a successful Social
planned and identity expressive. Positive stakeholder opinions are therefore a
matter of interactive, well-planned, personalized, identity expression-rich and invested engagement. According to Van Halderen (2011), “Too many
Inactive & Effective
companies think a Social Media strategy means all they have to do is get
When firms fall into this quadrant their strategy can be categorized as a “no
themselves on to Facebook and Twitter and start saying things they presume
brainer”. By doing nothing they yield results – a dream strategy! But it is not a
people want to hear. That is blindly following the Social Media hype”, she
sustainable one. The stature that Europol acquired on Social Media has been
says. The findings of my research support Van Halderen’s claim that: “It is
more a matter of luck, than skill. Leaving the reputation of the organisation in
absolutely essential that managers at the top of organizations have a clear
the hands and at the mercy of others harbours unpredictable and
idea of how they want to position the company, what key messages they want to get across and in what kind of style” (RSM Outlook, 2011).
12 Interpol-ICPO. twitter.com/#!/interpol_icpo. August 18, 2011. 13 Interpolhq's channel. Www.youtube.com/user/interpolhq?ob=5#p/u/7/ugd0lmmbbbg.
6 CONCLUSION 2.
The more a set of particular attributes about a firm are mentioned on
On one hand, my research shows that Europol’s inactivity on Social Media has
Social media, the higher the chances are that the public will define the
not really threatened their online reputation. Thus, the idea that
firm by those attributes. It is therefore important for firms to increase the
organizations should be “on top of”, “consistently monitor” or “control” Social
amount of Social Media communication efforts around the attributes that
Media activities may be somewhat exaggerated. As my content analysis shows,
they desire to be perceived by.
compared to the FBI, the CIA and Interpol, Europol has over the past years, been the least active on Social Media. Stakeholders’ opinions of the
The sentiment around a particular attribute on the Social Media, will
organisation are nonetheless not that negative at all. In fact, the company
define the sentiment with which Social Media users will perceive that
fared much better in terms of positive stakeholder opinions compared to the
attribute. For an effective Social Media engagement in order to improve
other intelligence agencies that do put efforts into Social Media.
reputation it is therefore of great importance to increase the amount of positive mentions and lower the amount of negative ones.
The case studies on the other hand, suggest that other organisations do experience strategic benefits from pro-actively engaging in Social Media, such
The agenda of the Social Media users’ attitude and opinions about a firm
as: “building brand awareness and attractiveness”, “building transparency and
are formed based on the substantive and affective attributes associated
trust” and “gathering business and law enforcement intelligence”, which
with a firm covered on the Social Media. Meaning that when users express
Europol might be currently missing out on.
opinions, rather than basing them on the total “picture”, they commonly draw upon the bits of information that are particularly frequently
The Media Effects tenet moreover, suggests the following implications in
mentioned and have the strongest sentiment at the time.
regards to the effects of Social Media engagement on the reputation of an organisation: 1.
Transparent communication practices, by purposefully and strategically
To improve public awareness on the Social media it is important that a
communicating a corporate agenda on the Social Media will result in a
firm is frequently mentioned on the channels. Therefore, the more an
significant degree of correspondence between the attribute agenda of the
organization shares its news on the Social Media channels the more the
firm and the attribute agenda on the Social Media.
chances are that the news, and subsequently the organization itself will
Combining both conclusions leads in my view to the following implication
gain importance in the public opinion.
for Europol: So far, Europol’s reputation has not been threatened by its
inactivity on Social Media. Hence, I advise the management of Europol not
all. People talk about us and they do so in relatively positive terms and in
to ‘dive’ into Social Media from a ‘risk management’ perspective, but to
50% of the cases they do so using our identity expressions. The agency
pro-actively look at the possibilities that Social Media may have for
therefore, does not need to approach the medium from a “damage-control”
Europol and to carefully build a Social Media strategy that fits the needs of
perspective, but can better focus on leveraging the benefits from this
Europol. In the section below, based on the lessons learned during this
medium. By conducting such a measurement initiative, an organisation
research, I offer recommendations for building this strategy, which can be
will get a realistic understanding of where it currently stands in “the eye”
applied not only to Europol, but also other firms that are looking to
of the stakeholder that they are planning to engage. Moreover, such an
engage, or improve present efforts.
analysis will help define realistic timeframes and the level of “urgency” with which a firm should start engaging. This is a great starting point,
especially when designing the strategy, but also for future effectiveness measurements.
INITIATION It’s undisputable that Social Media is very fashionable. Firms however, should
Social Media monitoring tools are a good way to start studying the Social
abstain from making “a leap in the dark” just for the sake of being “in vogue”.
Media context. Even though the accuracy of the software is still debated
If nothing else, then at least to avoid wasting resources, prior to engagement,
(described in the “Research method” section) and being improved, it is
the following should be considered:
nonetheless a great way to gain directional insight. 79% accuracy is a good starting point and if more accurate data is needed, firms are encouraged to
Study the engagement context. Measuring “non-engagement” is
employ (human) manual analyses (similar to the way I have performed in
probably not the first thing that comes to mind when considering
participation. It is nonetheless of a great value to assess “what you are getting into”, as proven by the findings of my thesis. Prior to this analysis,
Benchmark. Benchmarking may seem a straightforward requirement
Europol was driven by urgency to leap into the Social Media in order to
during the execution of a strategy, but might not be such an evident factor
“keep up” and not be “left out” on the Social Media arena. This urgency
of importance in the initiation phase. Measuring an inactive firm’s
only grew when Europol was faced with a couple of negative comments
reputation on the Social Media and then benchmarking it against active
from the Social Media users, as described in the introduction. The context
competitors, will offer data that can be incorporated into a larger picture
analysis however, made it clear that the agency is not being left behind at
not only useful for evaluating the overall performance, but more
importantly, for understanding what levels of engagement are possible and necessary.
I encourage firms to conduct a Competitors’ engagement analysis. Here the effort of engagement could be assessed, versus its effectiveness. The
In Europol’s case, by looking at Interpol’s example on YouTube (67
effort of engagement can be measured by the number of a competitor’s
subscribers), the agency can chose to abstain from engaging this particular
outgoing communication efforts. “Followers”, “Likes” and “friends” are on
medium until it is better prepared for it. Video production is not a cheap
the other hand good indicators of effectiveness - the more the merrier
business, so an agency’s participation on YouTube better deliver
being the “rule of the thumb”.
significant amount of subscribers, otherwise the efforts invested into engaging are disproportionally larger than the value gained from it.
Moreover, a sentiment analysis for competitors can be conducted using
Moreover, a few videos might not be a good enough reason to start a
Social Media monitoring tools. This will give a more detailed overview of
whole YouTube channel. A “channel” by definition requires more
the preferred trends, or in other words of what users want and like to be
abundant contains. Therefore, a significant number of videos should be
informed about, how often and on which platforms.
available, if an agency is to be taken seriously. Also the agency is advised to consider the quality of the contents.
PLANNING AND DESIGN Using the data collected and the understanding formed in the Initiation
Another lesson learned for Europol in this case, is that “static”
phase, a firm can proceed to establish the scope of engagement and define a
engagement, where stakeholders are not offered the possibility to interact
plan of approach/the strategy. A Social Media strategy, will in most cases, be a
with a firm online, goes against the distinctive principles of Social Media
sub-set of an existing communication or marketing strategy. Whichever
and might be damaging to a firm’s reputation, as can be deducted from
strategy is the “parent” it should be driven by the business strategy (van Riel,
CIA’s example. This does not intend to imply that the multitude of
negative comments around the CIA is only as a result of their “static” approach to the medium. It is nonetheless pertinent that by not
Identify the work involved. Based on the context analyses an agency can
welcoming interaction, the agency is in this case missing out on the ability
identify how much damage-control will be necessary before it can reap
to steer the negative opinions towards more positive ones, as was
rewards. In Europol’s case, as the context analyses shows, the agency can
suggested by the case studies. So, if Europol engages, it is advised that they
only build on the already positive reputation online and will luckily have
do so openly and allow interaction on its Social Media platforms.
no particularly negative reputation to overcome. But this can vary per firm
and industry. So, an organisation should be prepared to invest the
consultancy and a network of patents experts are part of the Social Media
appropriate amount of effort based on the current context. A positive
team. This is meant to ensure “fluency” in the Social Media regularity as
context analyses will require less damage-control, meanwhile a more
Mr Osterwalder put it: “There are two or three people responsible for these
negative context analyses, might require more. What this entails is that an
[Social Media] accounts, and a larger group able to respond, so if a comment
agency with a negative reputation online, upon its leap into the Social
arrives that requires an expert response then we know which paths to follow,
Media might want to apply some corrective measures by addressing the
and comments will be responded to within minutes or hours at most.
negative perceptions first. This is usually more labour-intensive then the
Response on SM has to be very quick. If it’s too slow the message will lose its
regular communication efforts (Tweets, posts, messages about operational
results etc.) and is an important attribute for the Strategy formation or design.
At the Dutch Safety Board aside from the two communications employees that are part-time involved in Social Media, a team of investigators are
Measuring the current negative perceptions around the firm online with
encouraged to respond directly when circumstances call for it: “Everyone
the help with Social Media Monitoring tools can give a good overview of
working at the Board is a communicator” (Groenendal, OVV). At the
where and on what topics the agency should conduct corrective measures.
These findings should be taken into consideration in the firm’s Social
communications staff, one full-time analyst and a network of sixty staff
Media engagement strategy. “Cleaning the sled” will make the Social
from various sectors.
Media “ride” faster, smoother and more enjoyable. Depending on the size of your organisation and of the level of intended 4.
Setup the Social Media Team. Many communications managers assume
effort, the teams vary in size. It is however advisable to involve and trust
that adding “Social Media” as an “in between chore” to the list of other
operational experts in engaging the Social Media on behalf of the
tasks of any of the communication staff, will do the trick. This is a clear
organisation. They are a firm’s knowledge repository. For many
underestimation of effort. None of the organisations presented in the case
communications managers trusting operational staff to communicate on
studies had only one person executing the Social Media strategy, especially
behalf of the organisation is a “stretch”, but might be a worthy “stretch” to
not as an “in between chore”. Proper and effective Social Media
engagement practices are a “team-effort” as I have learned from all of the interviewed organizations. At the EPO, two media relations staff, a
Define the objectives. The objectives of the Social Media engagement
voice”, preferably organisation-wide and at least among the team of Social
strategy will be closely linked to the communication objectives of a firm,
Media advocates. Key messaging revolving around the corporate story (van
which in turn should be closely related to its business strategy (van Riel,
Riel and Fombrun, 2007) should be developed (if they haven’t been
developed in the communication strategy yet) and shared. This can be
Theory and Case Studies of the benefits that can be gained from engaging
achieved through effective internal communication practices and
with the user generated content can help define which Social Media
objectives can be leveraged online. In the commercial context “empowering sales” is one that is frequently referred to, but might be more
In “Essentials of Corporate
interesting for one firm than for another. For Europol specifically, based
Communication” by Van Riel and Fombrun (2007), the authors propose a
on the agency’s business strategy and communication strategy, the main
model for defining corporate communications Key Performance Indicators
Social Media objectives will be to:
which will impact reputation. Adapted, this model serves as a “ready-to-
use” tool for defining the KPIs for a Social Media engagement strategy.
b. establish the agency as a leader among police in EU and c.
Figure 6.1: Social Media KPIs (adapted from Van Riel & Fombrun, 2007)
improve trust among stakeholders online;
Define organizational identity expressions. Van Halderen suggests “orchestrating
expressiveness principles”: Distinctiveness, Consistency, Sincerity and Transparency (pg. 137). To take Europol as an example, establishing the agency as a leader among police in EU will require identity expressions about the agency’s police coordination activities, such as this for instance, “Europol coordinates police operation against World's largest online paedophile ring” (Euroalert.net, March 2011). Different strategic objectives will require different KPIs and metrics. 7.
Develop a “shared voice”. In the Social Media context it is increasingly important that the organizational identity expressions gain a “shared
Defining a set of the most important ones for your organisation will help focus the strategy and attention on the most important outcomes.
EXECUTION AND CONSTRUCTION
further gives the negative message the chance to degenerate and become
9. Reduce bureaucracy. In conservative organisations bureaucracy can pose
more “toxic”, travel further and spread more. “Coming in as quick as
a risk to open and transparent communication practices online. Running
possible ensures that it’s not entirely one-sided and negative, as it would be
after signatures and other forms of prior approval, often distributed over
without your participation” (Groenendal, OVV). Making the way for
various organizations layers, stands in the way of the philosophy of the
information from an organisation’s “knowledge repository” to the digital
channel: “Social Media requires quick and prompt reactions,” (Groenendal,
realms as short and as straight as possible is therefore vital for a successful
OVV). Taking time for signatures and proofreading can cause significant
Social Media participation. The risk is clearly understood at Europol, “You
delay in response on Social Media. It only takes a click to tweet, share or
need to find ways to communicate in a very fast way. Decisions should be
blog a complaint or negative perception. By the time a company realises it,
made very fast and that of course is a challenge” (Female assistant in the
the problem has a big chance of having spread, and having turned public
operations unit, Europol). To mitigate this risk the Commission
and big. The inability to be quick and provide direct response when the
recommends extracting the Tweets and posts from “pre-agreed” material,
need for action is identified could prove a liability to the formation of trust
such as press releases, memos, speeches etc. which usually have to go
with the public for Europol when engaging Social Media. One example of
through the regular agreement procedures, “And then we tweet. We can go
damage caused by slow response is the Nestle versus Greenpeace case in
into the speech, into the memo, into the press release and we make the
2010, when the company was too slow to respond to an outcry from the
tweet, because it’s basically on agreed information”, said the Head of Social
NGO on their Facebook page, cantered around the use of palm oil in its
Media sector during our interview.
products. Extraction of palm oil leads to destruction of forests in Southeast Asia. At first, Nestle ignored the problem. This further fuelled the fire.
10. Customise the content per platform. To reduce time and effort some
Proceeding to attempt to delete the negative comments and argue with the
organisations practice “content recycling”, using the same content on all
users did not help the company. Instead of being part of the discussion,
Social Media platforms. Moreover, some practice what’s referred to as
Nestle was first too slow and then too defensive having turned the incident
“passive copying”: “Passive copying from the website to the Social Media is
into a fiasco for the brand.
not a right approach” (Male Analyst, Europol), “You have to keep it exciting and interesting” (Female assistant in the operations unit, Europol).
The Dutch Safety Board has noticed from experience that delayed responses are perceived as less credible, “The OVV tries to respond within
My interviewee at the European Commission recommends adapting the
an hour”, says the spokesperson. Waiting too long before responding
content to the channel it’s posted on, “Twitter has a different public than
Facebook. We don’t use Facebook for political communication, but we do
as the Spokesperson at the Dutch Safety Board put it when asked about
use twitter for political communications. Because there [on twitter] it is
how they handle negative comments and criticism made on Social Media
business-to-business and on Facebook we do have people that have an
towards the agency. My interviewee at the EPO, agreed: “For this type of
interest, but which are not political”, “we use videos in a different way on
communication you have to let go of control. You have to accept that people
Facebook than we do on the president’s website, for example. You have to
will be spontaneous, that they will respond to all kinds of aspects that they
differentiate [the content] per channel”, said Mr van Maele during our
might also be posting some inappropriate information and you have to deal
with it. Adopting this kind of attitude takes time; EPO is still in the process.” Organisations nonetheless wish to reserve the right to remove posts that
11. Avoid the “Streisand effect”. Attempting to hide or remove a piece of
contain for example profanity, hate speeches, personal attacks, spam or
information published on the internet can have the unintended
politically inappropriate content. Mr Maele, at the Commission, therefore
consequence of publicizing the information more widely, which is known
suggested that moderate moderation is ok, “You have to set rules for
online as the “Streisand effect”. This phenomenon acquired its name after
people,” “We say what we accept and don’t accept, so that people know what
the famous singer Barbra Streisand, in 2003 attempted to suppress
will be deleted.” The commission has a code of conduct policy published on
photographs of her residence. The attempt in itself ended up generating
its Social Media platforms and “If the comments are against the set policy,
further publicity of the photographs that the singer was so carefully trying
we delete it.”
to protect (Bernoff and Li, 2008). Along with many examples, a very vivid one is the Digg case study, detailed in Bernoff’s and Li’s book “The
12. Personalised communication is important. Automatically created
Groundswell”. Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, a social news website,
content pulled from a firm’s website into other Social Media sites might
chose to face a major lawsuit against all the giants from the movie industry
sound very appealing to some firms as it requires no extra work other than
(Disney, Sony, Microsoft etc.) instead of dealing with the “Streisand effect”
updating a website. The European Commission however strongly advised
which was spurred by unhappy users of the company’s website, due to a
not to use this kind of RSS feeds to generate the content as “People will just
post containing the broken encryption key for the high-definition DVD
un-follow” (van Maele, EC). The negative effects of automatically generated
format having been removed by Digg.
posts can be seen in the FBI’s case, which practices this approach. The agency publishes a lot of content, a lot more than the monthly average, but
The organisations interviewed for my case studies understand the danger of this phenomenon and advise that: “It is better not to delete information”,
their strategy, as I previously described, is not very successful. Learning
from their example, Europol is advised to adopt a “personalised engagement practice”.
14. Compare. Monitoring engagement on Social Media is already a great start. Information such as an “x” number of mentions, however, is meaningless outside the context of industry. By benchmarking, this information (e.g.
MONITORING AND CONTROLLING SYSTEMS
positive reviews and ratings) can become decision making differentiator
On Social Media, monitoring and controlling engagement is crucial. An
for a firm’s strategy, as well as a time and effort saviour.
engagement strategy can only be effective if the firm is “listening” to what the customer is saying and adapting to their needs. Listening “is the true strength
15. Adapt. Adapting the delivery method or communication style to
of Social Media that companies should be looking to leverage” (Van Halderen,
engagement will increase the chances that the audience will better absorb
13. Measure the effects. As my case studies show, the notion of “measuring engagement” is still in its initiation phase and most companies are merely engaging, but not measuring the effects yet, or are just beginning to get more disciplined in this respect. Two out of the organisations presented in the case studies were not measuring engagement and one had only started measuring in in July 2011. Even so, this research presents some important lessons which might prove helpful for organisations that are just starting out, or that are already engaging but are not quite sure how well they are doing. The reason for this is the fact that Social Media as a communication, or marketing tool for firms, has started a while before monitoring software had started to be developed. Today however, there are plenty of affordable tools being perfected every day for this purpose (e.g. Engagor, Altherian SM2 etc.), therefore to capture the pool of information in the external spheres of customer engagement, firms will need to look beyond their internal reporting systems.
the message, but also the likelihood that they will stick around and become a brand’s advocates. Ignoring will have the opposite effects. Figure 6.2: Stages & steps of developing & executing a Social Media strategy
6.2 RESEARCH LIMITATIONS
Career trends. The limitation described above, I realised is leading to the development of a new career-trend and mainly the one of the Social Media
Using sentiment analysis as assessor of reputations was appropriate for this study given my intend in finding whether or not more active participation generates more positive opinions on Social Media. Future research should examine other attributes such as numbers of followers or fans, for example, which are also indicative of a firm’s favourability and effectiveness on Social Media.
Analyst, who is hired to overcome the AI limitations. Aside from psychology or social studies, this role requires a large set of skills, such as languages and data mining skills. Moreover, I anticipate that the Social Media careers might further branch into roles such as: Social Media Reputation managers, Strategists and Spokesmen. A study of the career and skills developments as a result of the technological and communications movements would be very useful to better prepare employers, education providers and job-seekers alike.
Moreover, looking only on Social Media for reputation trends around firms does not take into account the whole “picture”. What people talk about on the digital platforms is highly influenced by what happens “outside” the Social Media terrain. A prior reputation-, general events- and traditionalcommunication-practices analysis would have been an added value. It is recommended that future Digital Reputation research is conducted hand in hand with Traditional Reputation Analysis.
Thought Leadership. Social Media provides open and easy access to an abundance of information and sources for foreknowledge. An interesting application hereof, that I would have liked to address in research is Thought Leadership. Organisations developing novel points of view (NPOVs) and showing concern, by driving debates around major societal issues, tap into the potential of positioning themselves as Thought Leaders (Kettler-Paddock and van Halderen, 2011). Social Media makes it increasingly easy to spot the major
6.3 FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence and mainly human sentiment prediction is gaining momentum in the current hyper-connected society. There’s an abundance of software being developed to supply this particular demand. Throughout this research however, through numerous tests, but also through discussions with developers and consumers alike, I have been repeatedly faced with the demand from consumers on one hand and the limitations in accuracy of the current tools, on the other. Never before has the study of this particular topic been as exciting and as urgent.
issues affecting society today, concentrating emerging trends just a couple of clicks away. Social Media as a driver or source of Thought Leadership is therefore an interesting topic for future research.
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ANNEXES ANNEX 1: DATA MINING TOOLS Figure 6.3: Screenshot of the SQL database interface built for data mining
Figure 6.4: Screenshot of “SocialMention”
ANNEX 2: INTERVIEW PROTOCOL Table 6.1: Interview protocol INTERVIEWPROTOCOL Time (20-45 minutes) INTRODUCTION Thank you for your cooperation on my research. I’m conducting this Master research on behalf of the Corporate Communication Unit at Europol, supervised by the Erasmus university. Social Media as a Communication Channel for Businesses “70% of small and medium businesses actively use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to promote themselves”, shows a research from Access Markets International Partner, conducted in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, Germany, UK, China, India, Korea, and Australia. 67% of the top 100 Dutch companies have an established Social media presence, according to a research conducted by Social Media Monitor in the Netherlands in 2010. More and more businesses are using social media to get in front of their target audience and to create awareness. According to Forrester Research’s most recent Interactive Marketing Forecast, social media marketing will grow at an annual rate of 34% -– faster than any other form of online marketing and double the average growth rate of 17% for all online mediums. Interview Purpose My study focuses on identifying the benefits of creating a Social Media presence for organizations. The interview will approximately last 45 - 60 minutes. I
MEANING AND TERMINOLOGY For the purpose of this interview I define Social Media as a group of new kinds of online media, which share most or all of the following characteristics: Participation, Openness, Conversation, Community and Connectedness. Examples of social Media Platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin. Your organization and the use of social media Can you tell me something about your organization and what it does? Does your organization engage Social Media for marketing/communication practices? How many employees work at …? How many employees work in your communication unit or department? How many human resources are employed for social media purposes? Which Social Media channels are used by your organisation? How often does your organisation communicate through social media? Do you measure the effects of your participation? How do you generate statistics? Do you have a strategy for targeting particular stakeholder groups? What are the purposes of social media for your organisation? Does your organisation handle classified information? Benefits of Social Media What are the benefits that you have been experiencing due to your social media presence? Please give examples where possible.
Has social media had an effect on your media coverage? Has your social media presence had any effect i.e. on the public trust, awareness, and reputation? In what way? Requirements What are according to you essential requirements for an organisation to build and manage a good Social Media Presence? For each mentioned requirement: Could you explain why this requirement is important?
ANNEX 3: VISION, MISSION & VALUES Table 6.2: FBI Vision, Mission & Values Mission The FBI’s national security mission is to lead and coordinate intelligence efforts that drive actions to protect the United States. Our goal is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the threats and penetrate national and transnational networks that have a desire and capability to harm us. Such networks include: terrorist organizations, foreign intelligence services, those that seek to proliferate weapons of mass destruction, and criminal enterprises. In order to be successful, we must understand the threat, continue to integrate our intelligence and law enforcement capabilities in every FBI operational program, and continue to expand our contribution to the Intelligence Community knowledge base. Because national security and criminal threats are often intertwined, our ability to integrate intelligence and investigations makes us uniquely situated to address our nation’s threats and vulnerabilities. Our Mission As an intelligence-driven and a threat-focused national security and law enforcement organization, the mission of the FBI is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners. Our Priorities The FBI focuses on threats that challenge the foundations of American society or involve dangers too large or complex for any local or state authority to handle alone. In executing the following priorities, we will produce and use intelligence to protect the nation from threats and to bring to justice those who violate the law. 1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack 2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage 3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes 4. Combat public corruption at all levels 5. Protect civil rights 6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises 7. Combat major white-collar crime 8. Combat significant violent crime 9. Support federal, state, local and international partners 10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI's mission
Our People & Leadership: On September 30, 2011, we had a total of 35,576 employees. That included 13,900 special agents and 21,676 support professionals, such as intelligence analysts, language specialists, scientists, information technology specialists, and other professionals. Learn how you can join us at FBIJobs.gov. For details on our leadership, see the FBI Executives webpage. Our Locations: We work literally around the globe. Along with our Headquarters in Washington, D.C., we have 56 field offices located in major cities throughout the U.S., nearly 400 smaller offices called resident agencies in cities and towns across the nation, and more than 60 international offices called “legal attachés” in U.S. embassies worldwide. Our Budget: In fiscal year 2011, our total budget is approximately $7.9 billion. Our History: The FBI was established in 1908. See our History website and How the FBI Got its Name for more details on our evolution and achievements over the years. Our Motto: "Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity." Learn about the origins of this motto. Our Core Values Rigorous obedience to the Constitution of the United States; Respect for the dignity of all those we protect; Compassion; Fairness; Uncompromising personal integrity and institutional integrity; Accountability by accepting responsibility for our actions and decisions and the consequences of our actions and decisions; and Leadership, both personal and professional.
Table 6.3: CIA Vision, Mission & Values Vision: One Agency. One Community. An Agency unmatched in its core capabilities, functioning as one team, fully integrated into the Intelligence Community. Mission: We are the nation’s first line of defense. We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go. We carry out our mission by: Collecting information that reveals the plans, intentions and capabilities of our adversaries and provides the basis for decision and action. Producing timely analysis that provides insight, warning and opportunity to the President and decisionmakers charged with protecting and advancing America’s interests. Conducting covert action at the direction of the President to preempt threats or achieve US policy objectives. Core Values: Service. We put Country first and Agency before self. Quiet patriotism is our hallmark. We are dedicated to the mission, and we pride ourselves on our extraordinary responsiveness to the needs of our customers. Integrity. We uphold the highest standards of conduct. We seek and speak the truth—to our colleagues and to our customers. We honor those Agency officers who have come before us and we honor the colleagues with whom we work today. Excellence. We hold ourselves—and each other—to the highest standards. We embrace personal accountability. We reflect on our performance and learn from that reflection.
Table 6.4: Interpol Vision, Mission & Values Vision and mission: The vision – what INTERPOL aspires to achieve "Connecting police for a safer world". Our Vision is that of a world where each and every law enforcement professional will be able through INTERPOL to securely communicate, share and access vital police information whenever and wherever needed, ensuring the safety of the world's citizens. We constantly provide and promote innovative and cutting-edge solutions to global challenges in policing and security. The mission – what INTERPOL does to achieve its vision "Preventing and fighting crime through enhanced international police co-operation" We facilitate the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal law enforcement authorities. We ensure that police services can communicate securely with each other around the world. We enable global access to police data and information. We provide operational support on specific priority crime areas. We foster continuous improvement in the capacity of police to prevent and fight crime and the development of knowledge and skills necessary for effective international policing. Table 6.5: Europol Vision, Mission & Values Vision, Values: As the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol’s mission is to support its Member States in preventing and combating all forms of serious international crime and terrorism. Its role is to help achieve a safer Europe for the benefit of all EU citizens by supporting EU law enforcement authorities through the exchange and analysis of criminal intelligence. Large-scale criminal and terrorist networks pose a significant threat to the internal security of the EU and to the safety and livelihood of its people. The biggest security threats come from terrorism, international drugs trafficking, trafficking in human beings, counterfeiting of the euro currency and payment cards, fraud, corruption and money laundering as well as other activities related to the presence of organised crime groups in the economy. New dangers are also accumulating, in the form of cybercrime, VAT fraud and other sophisticated crimes which abuse modern technology and the freedoms offered by the EU internal market. All of these have been declared priority areas by the European Union’s Council of Ministers. Europol’s vision is to contribute to a safer Europe by providing the best possible support to law enforcement authorities in the Member States. It will achieve this by delivering a unique set of operational services for the European Union, developing as the principal: • Support centre for law enforcement operations • Criminal information hub, and • Centre for law enforcement expertise In line with our mission and vision, we attach importance to the following five values which best characterise the culture of Europol and the work of its people: • Integrity • Accountability • Initiative • Teamwork • Effectiveness
Erasmus University Rotterdam School of Management Burgemeester Oudlaan 50 3062 PA Rotterdam The Netherlands www.corporatecommunication.nl