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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



BUILDING BRAND AWARENESS & ATTRACTIVENESS ................................. 24


BUILDING TRANSPARENCY & TRUST ......................................................... 25 4.2.1



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


TRUST..................................................................................................... 17


REPUTATION MANAGEMENT ................................................................... 18


THE SPIRAL OF SILENCE THEORY ............................................................. 19


TRANSPARENCY ..................................................................................... 20


CONCLUSION ......................................................................................... 23



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




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?





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 Method

Research problem & definition of Intelligence Agencies

Content analyses & interviews

Research Method Theoretical framework

Strategic benefits of engaging in Social Media

Desk research


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

research. 1

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


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).






Unclassified information:


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


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 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 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?”  


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?

Archival materials

104 sources: Articles, websites, journals, publications, books.

firm with the use of Social Media and 3) interviews with six Europol employees.

Case Studies/Interviews

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


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 l151

130524 13,7


25-6-2009 27,84 m/#!/interpol_icp o 109

4741 10 3,9



31-3-2009 41 #!/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)



5-11-2006 57

21-3-2008 39,96

http://www.yout TERPOLHQ?ob=5 #g/u

http://www.youtub #g/u

http://www.youtu OTGOV?ob=5

6808 26 29107 67 2,3

116874 19 240751 1,686 0,33

116454 64 1209897 3380 1,6




22-9-2010 10,992


Flickr Active since Nr. months active on:08/08/11 Flickr URL

2-1-2011 8

Total added Photos Twitter views Total Comments Activity Frequency (p/m)

152 62600 0 19

- om/photos/ciagov

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.

"European Union")

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

(e.g. Excel).

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; 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!/TheHolySaint/statuses/100639992723935233; submitted by asbicakci; 6!/jnewsreader/statuses/100049577968795648; submitted by JewPI News 7;


Total records analysed: 719

Negative opinion

Total irrelevant or illegible records: 187

Neutral opinion Positive opinion Irrelevant


% 41


475 16 187

66% 2% 26%




Total valid mentions TOTAL mentions Table 2.4: CIA subset of manually assessed data

532 719

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

Negative opinion

Neutral opinion Positive opinion Irrelevant

Total valid mentions TOTAL mentions

Table 2.6: Europol subset of manually assessed data

74% 100%

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

Negative opinion

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


Negative opinion





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






Nr. negative







Nr. neutral







Nr. positive







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%










(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



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

McGuire, 1974

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;




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).


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


the influence of mass media on corporate reputations (McCombs & Carroll, Proposition 1: To improve public awareness on the Social Media it is

2003): 1)

“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

firm.” (p.42)

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


(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,


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

with them.

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

(p. 2).





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

Political Literature

Piotrowski (2007)

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  

Public Relations

Case Studies

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

Rawlins (2009)

Transparency motivates improvement

Rawlins (2008)

Transparent organisations are more likely to be trusted

Deloitte (2008)

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.




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


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”,  



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  


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



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.



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).


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  



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


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



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:

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



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


Talbot, 2007; McAllister, 1995; Chua et al. 2008; Tapscott and Williams, 2008;

Gathering Business and Law enforcement intelligence


IACP, 2010;




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


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

different metrics.

the sentiment of the Social Media stakeholders' opinions, which will indicate the levels of trust and affect, and the stakeholders' expressed interest in the



agencies' communication efforts, which is an indicator of the awareness

as negative, positive or neutral. The results of the sentiment analysis indicate

spreading effectiveness.

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



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

core attributes.

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,

FBI 420

CIA 76







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



agency wishes to be perceived by. Table 5.3 below details the top 10 keywords


each of the agencies is referred to online and the percentage of match between the listed keywords and the agencies’  Mission,   Vision   and   Value   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 “costs� and increasing “profits� is the aim for maximised Social Media engagement effectiveness. To increase “profit�, organisations will strive to increase positive reviews and lower the negative ones, at an optimum “cost� 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)

Crittenton Murder

Iran Link

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?‘’  đ?‘šđ?‘’đ?‘›đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘œđ?‘›đ?‘ , đ?‘Ľ = đ?‘ đ?‘’đ?‘˘đ?‘Ąđ?‘&#x;đ?‘Žđ?‘™  đ?‘šđ?‘’đ?‘›đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘œđ?‘›đ?‘ , đ?‘Ľ = đ?‘ đ?‘’đ?‘”đ?‘Žđ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘Łđ?‘’  đ?‘šđ?‘’đ?‘›đ?‘Ąđ?‘–đ?‘œđ?‘›đ?‘ , where đ?‘Ľ ,  đ?‘Ľ  đ?‘Žđ?‘›đ?‘‘  đ?‘Ľ ∈ [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 − (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.

Europol’s  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.

� = �� + �� + �


We know the following values of the effectiveness corresponding to some specific positive and neutral mentions values:



� =1 � =0⇒� =1 � =0


� =0 � = 1 ⇒ � = 0.5 � =0


� =0 � =0⇒� =0 � =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 �, �  ���  � in equation (2), and we obtain: (5)  ��  (2)  ⇒  � = 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)  đ?‘–đ?‘›  (2)  ⇒  đ?›˝ = 0.5 (3)  đ?‘–đ?‘›  (2)  ⇒  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  đ?‘ đ?‘’đ?‘˘đ?‘Ąđ?‘&#x;đ?‘Žđ?‘™  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



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



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  


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

Media engagement.

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.!/interpol_icpo. August 18, 2011. 13 Interpolhq's channel.




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

this research).

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-


generate awareness,

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”  (,  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.




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.


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




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 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

Managing stakeholders opinions on social media  

Social Media is currently an “en vogue” trend in marketing. Little academic theory combining empirical research exists however, regarding th...

Managing stakeholders opinions on social media  

Social Media is currently an “en vogue” trend in marketing. Little academic theory combining empirical research exists however, regarding th...