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Why do organisations adopt social media?

In a world of 2.1 billion active social media users – and this number is exponentially increasing – it’s unsurprising to learn that organisations too are hopping onto the social media bandwagon. Sure, if you’re a modern-day organisation, engaging in social platforms may be the ‘hip’ thing right now; the tech-equivalent to organic kale chips and gluten-free activated almonds to hipsters, if you will. But what drives organisations to do so? In this post, we explore 3 major drivers that propel organisations to adopt social media technologies: brand and product promotion, enhanced customer service and relationship management, and the enabling of social media insights to gain a competitive advantage. Let’s begin!

Building brand-awareness and promoting products and services

Perhaps one of the most apparent drivers propelling an organisation’s uptake of social media is the ability to build the organisation’s brand and promote its products and/or services. According to marketing strategist, Laura Lake, social media gives organisations a relatively low-cost platform to create their own identity and a “human” personality, and thus influence how customers perceive them. This ability is further aided by social media’s technological capabilities such as tagging and sharing content, as these help to disseminate information and be included in the platform’s search engine results. A great example of the adoption of social media for brand and product promotion is the Ford Fiesta Movement, a 2009 social media marketing campaign promoting the introduction of the Ford Fiesta, Ford’s first sub-compact car in over a decade. The movement involved selecting 100 consumers who were extremely active and well-connected on social media, and giving them a Ford Fiesta to use for 6 months. Participants were also tasked with missions’ to complete  (such as finding and challenging a celebrity doppelganger to re-enact a famous scene) and were asked to document these missions on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. The movement generated 6.5 million views on Youtube, amassed more than 50,000 information requests about the car and as a result, Ford sold 10,000 cars in the first 6 days upon the car’s release. As evident through their strategic use of social media, Ford was able to successfully re-establish their identity and successfully promote their product, as reflected through immediate, subsequent sales.

Create and develop the customer relationship

Another major driver propelling organisations to utilise social media is the ability to create and develop the organisation’s relationship with its customers. Social media enables organisations to focus on their customers and create a platform where customers are able to share stories, voice concerns or provide feedback, and more importantly, for the organisation to listen to its customer and respond accordingly. In essence, creating this new communication channel enables customers to directly connect with the organisation, as opposed to previous contact methods, which often involved speaking to operators and lengthy waiting periods for a response. A great example of an organisation utilising social media to connect with its customers is Woolworths. A social media user recently used Facebook to communicate her product dissatisfaction to Woolworths. We’ll let you see it for yourself  below…

Post 1 Social Media.png

Figure 1 – screenshot of a Facebook User’s customer complaint to Woolworths (imaged sourced from Woolworth’s Facebook page)

With nearly 900,000 Facebook ‘likes’ on their page and visitor posts from a multitude of  customers on a daily basis, Woolworths could have easily ignored the post or briefly address the post. But what did they decide to do? Well, they responded, of course (and in a timely manner too)! Take a look at Woolworth’s response below.

Post 1 Social Media 1

Figure 2 – image of Woolworth’s response (image sourced from Woolworth’s Facebook page)

From this example, both we’re able to see how Woolworths communicates and connects with its customers. Not only does Woolworths sympathise with the customer, but the organisation also offers her a refund for her dissatisfaction. Furthermore, this demonstration of sympathy to the customer helps to create and shape Woolworths’ ‘human’ identity, which gives customers and noncustomers a perception that they are communicating with a person, as opposed to an organisation. However, before rushing to create a Facebook or Twitter account, it’s important to note that while social media brings the organisation closer to the customer, organisations must acknowledge the changing expectations of customers in terms of response times. It is estimated that 42% of customers who complain via social platforms expect a response within 60 minutes. So it is no surprise that organisations who intend to adopt social media for customer service purposes must be aware that time is of the essence.

Gain social media insights to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage

Steering away from the marketing and customer service perspective, organisations may be driven to adopt social media simply because their competitors are doing it. While this conjures up the Zen koan frequently recited by parents to children, ‘If all your friends jumped off a bridge then would you too?’, from an organisational perspective it makes sense. As argued by prominent researchers, including Michael Porter, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the competition is essential to building a competitive advantage. And social media acts as a perfect gateway for this. The public space of social media enables organisations to gain insights into their competitors’ marketing strategies and how they manage their relationships with their customers. For example, an organisation may be strategically driven to establish an online presence on the top 5 social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and Youtube) simply because their competitors are also on these platforms. Moreover, by following their competitions’ social media sites, the organisation may discover a special promotion offered by the competitor and therefore may also be compelled to introduce a similar or, better yet, a more appealing promotion for consumers.

And now wrapping up, in this post, we’ve managed to explore some of the major drivers that propel organisations to adopt social media and create an online presence. Through the case studies, we’ve also taken a look at certain social media trends influencing the uptake and use of social media. From these, it is clear  that there is certainly a place in the social media world for most, if not all, organisations, if they understand such drivers and leverage the most appropriate and relevant social media trends to successfully create and develop their online presence.

Have we missed something? Let us know what you think by commenting below.


Altman, I 2015, ‘Why Your Business Must Embrace Social Media Yesterday’, Forbes, accessed 21 March 2016, <>

Baer, J 2015, ‘42 Percent of Consumers Complaining in Social Media Expect 60 Minute Response Time’, Convince and Convert, weblog post, accessed 21 March 2016, <>

Bullas, J 2015, ‘Social Media Facts and Statistics You Should Know in 2015’, Jeff Bullas, weblog post, accessed 20 March 2016, <>

Divol, R, Edelman, D and Sarrazin, H 2012, ‘Demystifying Social Media’, McKinsey Quarterly, accessed 21 March 2016, <>

Lake, L 2016, ‘Understanding the Role of Social Media in Marketing’, About Marketing, accessed 20 March 2016, <>

McCracken, G 2010, ‘How Ford Got Social Marketing Right’, Harvard Business Review, weblog post, accessed 21 March 2016, <>

Moreau, E 2016, ‘The Top 25 Social Networking Sites People Are Using’, About Tech, accessed 23 March 2016, <>

Woolworths 2016, Facebook page, accessed 22 March 2016, <>


3 thoughts on “Why do organisations adopt social media?

  1. Great post, The Mavericks. Interesting read to understand the different reasons why organisations lean towards using social media.


  2. Pingback: Social Media Engagement Strategy 101 | The Mavericks

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