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The rise of Facebook-based communication in the energy sector: A longitudinal analysis of German and Austrian utility companies


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In the case of public utilities, the development of stakeholder communication through Facebook is not focused in the existing body of literature. Yet, it is especially these developments that are essential for scholars and practitioners as they highlight the way stakeholder communication in the energy sector will change. The aim of this paper is to contribute to this lack of research by investigating developments in the ways German and Austrian public utilities use Facebook to communicate. Responding to the research objectives, two empirical studies were conducted. In 2014 as well as 2015 an online survey was sent to 850 German and 30 Austrian utilities. The results highlight the rising importance of Facebook in the energy sector. The share of public utilities using Facebook is constantly increasing. Additionally, during the twelve months investigated, the interactivity and frequency of Facebook-based communication rose. Utilities are progressively willing to invest more personnel and monetary resources to administer their accounts. As the numbers of fans increase, users seem to value the information provided by utilities on Facebook.
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DOI 10.1007/s12398-016-0173-8
Z Energiewirtsch (2016) 40:89–96
The rise of Facebook-based communication in the energy sector
A longitudinal analysis of German and Austrian utility companies
Sebastian Martin1
Published online: 3 June 2016
© The Author(s) 2016. This article is available at SpringerLink with Open Access
Abstract In the case of public utilities, the development
of stakeholder communication through Facebook is not fo-
cused in the existing body of literature. Yet, it is especially
these developments that are essential for scholars and prac-
titioners as they highlight the way stakeholder communi-
cation in the energy sector will change. The aim of this
paper is to contribute to this lack of research by inves-
tigating developments in the ways German and Austrian
public utilities use Facebook to communicate. Responding
to the research objectives, two empirical studies were con-
ducted. In 2014 as well as 2015 an online survey was sent
to 850 German and 30 Austrian utilities. The results high-
light the rising importance of Facebook in the energy sector.
The share of public utilities using Facebook is constantly
increasing. Additionally, during the twelve months inves-
tigated, the interactivity and frequency of Facebook-based
communication rose. Utilities are progressively willing to
invest more personnel and monetary resources to administer
their accounts. As the numbers of fans increase, users seem
to value the information provided by utilities on Facebook.
Keywords Communication development · Facebook ·
Public utilities · Social media · Stakeholder dialog
Die Entwicklung Facebook-basierter
Kommunikation in der Energiewirtschaft
Eine Längsschnittstudie Deutscher und Österreichischer
Prof. Dr. Sebastian Martin
1University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria,
Garnisonstrasse 21, 4020 Linz, Austria
Zusammenfassung Zunehmend nutzen öffentliche Un-
ternehmen Facebook zur gezielten Stakeholder-Kommuni-
kation. Hierzu zählen auch öffentliche Energieversorger.
Bislang gibt es jedoch nur wenige Untersuchungen, die
eine Facebook-basierte Kommunikation von Energieverso-
gern thematisieren. Keine der Untersuchungen fokussiert
mögliche Veränderungen der Facebook-Kommunikation im
Zeitverlauf. Ziel dieser Studie ist es Erkenntnisse zur Ent-
wicklung der Facebook-Kommunikationin der Energiewirt-
schaft zu generieren. Hierzu wurden zwei Befragungen mit
jeweils 850 deutschen und 30 österreichischen Energiever-
sorgern im zeitlichen Abstand von 12 Monaten durchge-
führt. Als Ergebnis der Untersuchung kann eine steigende
Bedeutung von Facebook in der Energiewirtschaft festge-
stellt werden. Im beobachteten Zeitraum hat sich der An-
teil von Unternehmen die Facebook für ihre Stakeholder-
Kommunikation verwenden erhöht. Zudem ist eine Zunah-
me in der Häufigkeit und Interaktivität der Kommunikati-
on erkennbar. Auch Investitionen in Form von personellen
und monetären Ressourcen, welche für den Facebook-Auf-
tritt aufgewendet werden, nehmen zu. Steigende Fanzahlen
scheinen ein Hinweis darauf sein, dass die Facebook-Nutzer
das Kommunikationsangebot zunehmend annehmen.
1 Introduction
Facebook offers individuals as well as companies a way to
connect and interact virtually. As far as the private sector is
concerned, a large amount of literature examines the poten-
tial benefits as well as risks of Facebook activity (Pietsch
2012; Wingenter 2013; Haigh et al. 2013). As well as for
the public sector, the relevance of Facebook is increasing
(Oliveira and Welch 2013;Mossbergeretal.2013; Meijer
and Thaens 2013). “Agencies and departments on all lev-
90 Z Energiewirtsch (2016) 40:89–96
els of government are adding Facebook [...] buttons to their
otherwise static infrequently updated websites” (Mergel
2010, p. 7). Regarding the public sector, current Facebook
studies mainly focus on government agencies (Hofmann
et al. 2013;Mergel2013a; Vicente and Novo 2014). The
use of Facebook in other public organizations has barely
been investigated (Criado et al. 2013).
In Germany and Austria, public utilities in particular are
being confronted with far-reaching socio-political changes,
such as the departure from nuclear and fossil-fuel energy
sources (Witt 2013; Dechange and Friedrich 2013; Federal
Ministry of Education and Research 2014). In this challeng-
ing environment, stakeholder theory emphasizes the impor-
tance of communication between the utilities and their var-
ious stakeholders (Freeman 1984; Pedersen et al. 2013).
Such a communication process might be supported by the
use of Facebook. However, the existing body of literature
insufficiently reflects stakeholder communication of pub-
lic utilities through Facebook. None of the studies focuses
on developments of Facebook based communication. Yet,
especially these developments are essential for scholars as
well as practitioners, as they highlight the way stakeholder
communication might change in the energy sector. The
aim of this paper is to contribute to this lack of research by
providing data about the engagement of German and Aus-
trian public utilities in Facebook over a period of one year.
Special focus is put on developments regarding:
the share of utilities which use Facebook for stakeholder
the interactivity and frequency of Facebook communica-
the monetary and personnel resources deployed for Face-
book communication,
communication outcomes.
Research results will illustrate essential communication de-
velopments in the energy sector as well as highlight impli-
cations for both researchers and practitioners. To address
the research objectives, the paper is structured as follows:
After the introduction (Sect. 1), Section 2 introduces stake-
holder theory as the theoretical framework for the study.
The theoretical basis highlights the importance of stake-
holder communication in the context of the energy sector.
The methodological approach is described in Section 3,
and the empirical results are illustrated in Section 4. A dis-
cussion, the conclusion, limitations, and implications for
further research are presented in Section 5 and 6.
2 Stakeholder theory in the context of the energy
According to stakeholder theory, utilities should actively
manage relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders
(Freeman 1984) as these stakeholders may strongly impact
the company and its objectives (Donaldson and Preston
1995; Wall and Greiling 2011). Stakeholder theory rec-
ommends collecting the relevant stakeholder information
and integrating this knowledge into the corporate decision
making process (Freeman and Evan 1990). A stakeholder
dialog can be seen as an appropriate form of such data col-
lection. On the basis of a dialog, insights into stakeholders
expectations and criticism might be gained. Additionally,
a dialog offers the company an opportunity to explain its
objectives and behavior to the various groups of stakehold-
ers (Schulten 2012; Pedersen et al. 2013).
As the most popular social network in 2014, Facebook
counted around 28 million German and about three mil-
lion Austrian users (statista 2014a, 2014b). The social net-
work offers a way for direct and indirect communication
(Kreutzer and Hinz 2010;YangandLin2013; Spillecke
2013;Mergel2013b). Organizations as well as single on-
line users are able to reach a broad community of Face-
book users by highlighting specific aspects, ideas or con-
cerns (Wallsten 2007; Merilainen and Vos 2011). “[W]e
all tend to pay closer attention to those things our friends
and trusted colleagues point to as being interesting, use-
ful, or otherwise noteworthy. (Mergel and Greeves 2012,
p. 38). The spread of recommendations through Facebook
is not limited to direct contacts. Indirect contacts, mean-
ing the contacts linked to the direct contacts but not to
the companies’ Facebook page, might as well be informed.
This tremendously expands the number of possible recipi-
ents (Mergel 2010;MergelandGreeves2012). In this way
Facebook provides a platform which might be used to influ-
ence public and political opinions (Wallsten 2007; Fieseler
et al. 2010; Merilainen and Vos 2011;LaRosa2014).
Stakeholder theory highlights the importance of stake-
holder communication (Freeman 1984). German and
Austrian public utilities may communicate with their var-
ious groups of stakeholders through Facebook (Oliveira
and Welch 2013; Mossberger et al. 2013). As the number
of Facebook users in both countries has constantly been
increasing over the years (statista 2014a, 2014b), these
media have been gaining importance as a potential instru-
ment which can be used for stakeholder communication.
Utility companies might increasingly become aware of
such communication opportunities associated with Face-
book. Therefore more and more utilities might actively be
engaged in Facebook based stakeholder communication.
Z Energiewirtsch (2016) 40:89–96 91
Fig. 1 Ownership and number
of employees (indicator of com-
pany size) of the participating
number of
number of
44 %
52 %
completely in private
13 %
15 %
at least to some extent public
41 %
32 %
public share > 50 %
70 %
56 %
public share < 50 %
19 %
19 %
public share = 50 %
8 %
6 %
not specified
3 %
19 %
not specified
2 %
0 %
100 %
100 %
100 %
Number of employees
number of
number of
1-49 employees
67 %
20 %
50-249 employees
26 %
250-599 employees
14 %
600-1200 employees
15 %
17 %
>1200 employees
18 %
23 %
100 %
100 %
3 Methodological approach
Responding to the research objectives, two empirical stud-
ies were conducted. In February 2014 an online survey was
sent to 850 German utilities which are members of the Ger-
man Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW).
Additionally, the survey was distributed to 30 Austrian util-
ity companies which are members of the Austrian Energy
Association (Österreichs Energie e. V.). In order to acquire
reliable data regarding the deployment of Facebook-based
communication in the energy sector, the same companies
were asked to complete the survey again after a period of
twelve months, in February 2015. Ten percent of the util-
ities completed the survey in 2014, including 80 German
and eight Austrian companies. In 2015 the response rate
grew to around 17 percent, consisting of 130 German and
19 Austrian utilities. Regarding ownership, in both years
around half of the companies were entirely public. In 2014
two fifths and in 2015 one third of the companies described
themselves as at least to some extent public. The majority
of the companies with such mixed ownership specified their
public share at more than 50 percent. Therefore most of the
companies surveyed were entirely or for the most part pub-
lic. In contrast, only 13 percent of the utilities in 2014 and
15 percent in 2015 indicated complete private ownership. In
addition to ownership, the number of employees is used as
an indicator of company size. In both years about 65 per-
cent of the utilities have up to 600 employees, whereas
around 15 percent list a workforce between 600 and 1200
employees. Only nearly 20 percent of the companies have
more than 1200 employees. The above specifications of the
participating utilities are summarized in Fig. 1. Concerning
the proportional shares of the utilities’ nationalities, own-
ership types and company sizes, the results of both online
surveys are similar, allowing a longitudinal analysis of de-
velopments in Facebook-based communication over a one-
year period.
Bauer et al. (2012) point out that access to information is
a key reason for Facebook users to become a fan of a site.
Following this idea, the amount of fans was used as an
indicator of communication outcomes. If the information
provided is perceived as interesting, the utilities are likely
to gain fans. On the other hand, if the information is not
perceived as noteworthy, Facebook users might not want
to become fans of a page. In this context, Pedersen et al.
(2013) emphasize the importance of a stakeholder dialog.
Such a dialog on Facebook requires interactivity with the
various stakeholders as well as a certain frequency of com-
92 Z Energiewirtsch (2016) 40:89–96
Fig. 2 Addressed stakeholder
(multiple choices possible)
10 %
8 %
10 %
13 %
15 %
18 %
26 %
28 %
41 %
46 %
62 %
64 %
69 %
69 %
69 %
74 %
79 %
1 %
7 %
7 %
7 %
7 %
16 %
21 %
22 %
33 %
43 %
48 %
52 %
82 %
43 %
49 %
54 %
85 %
0 % 20 % 40 % 60 % 80 % 100 %
other stakeholders
shareholders and investors
sustainability experts
current suppliers and business partners
otential suppliers and business partners
nongovernmental organizations
potential business customers
current business customers
local authorities
current apprentices and interns
current employees
potential private customers
potential employees
potential apprentices and interns
public and media
current private customers
2015 (n=67) 2014 (n=39)
munication. Therefore, interactivity and frequency seem
to be adequate indicators for the intensity of a stakeholder
dialog. Both indicators are variable and can change over
time. Such change could depend on the available monetary
and personnel resources deployed.
4 Empirical findings
In 2014, out of the participating 88 utilites, a minority of
44 percent possesed a Facebook account. During the pe-
riod investigated this share significantly increased to 58 per-
cent of the 149 companies which completed the survey in
2015. Therefore, since 2015 the majority of utility com-
panies have begun to use Facebook for stakeholder com-
munication. In 2014, the 49 companies without an account
explained their absence was due to insufficient control of
the medium (55 percent), excessive workload (49 percent),
insufficient knowledge of Facebook (20 percent) and ex-
cessive costs (2 percent). In 2015, the percentage of utili-
ties which feared insufficient control sharply decreased to
38 percent of the responding 74 entities. Likewise, the
share of companies which are concerned about insufficient
knowledge of Facebook declined about 40 percent. In both
years, excessive workload was constantly mentioned by
nearly half of the entities without an account. In contrast,
the share of utilities which explained their Facebook ab-
sence on account of excessive costs increased more than
five times to 11 percent in 2015.
In 2014, the majority of the 39 utilities with an account
used Facebook to reach current and potential private cus-
tomers, current and potential employees, current and po-
tential apprentices and interns as well as the general public
and media. Slightly fewer than half of the companies con-
centrated on local authorities or residents, whereas only
a minority emphasized current and potential business cus-
tomers, non-governmental organizations, current and po-
tential business partners or sustainability experts. The de-
scribed stakeholder focus changed during the period inves-
tigated. In 2015, the share of utilities targeting current and
potential private customers increased to more than 80 per-
cent. In contrast, the share of companies that seek attention
at other stakeholder groups sharply declined. The described
developments are shown in Fig. 2.
Concerning the average frequency of postings, in 2014,
17 percent of the utilities provided information once a day,
nearly half of the companies publicized information several
times a week, a share of 14 percent at least once a week
and 17 percent provided information several times a month.
Overall the average frequency of information grew in 2015
as, for example, a higher share of companies publicized
information several times a week, and even ve percent of
the companies provided information several times a day.
Fig. 3below illustrates the increases.
Z Energiewirtsch (2016) 40:89–96 93
Fig. 3 Average frequency of
the provided information
0 %
3 %
17 %
14 %
49 %
17 %
0 %
3 %
2 %
13 %
5 %
60 %
13 %
5 %
0 % 10 % 20 % 30 % 40 % 50 % 60 % 70 %
less than once a month
once a month
several times a month
least once a week
several times a week
once a day
several times a day
2015 (n=63)
2014 (n=35)
Fig. 4 Degree of interactive
communication on Facebook
3 %
12 %
54 %
31 %
3 %
8 %
51 %
38 %
0 % 20 % 40 % 60 %
Passive(observation of communication)
Reactive (reaction to significant events)
Active (provide information on their page without
external impetus)
Interactive (strong interaction between the company
and the single user)
2015 (n=63)
2014 (n=35)
Additionally, the companies were asked to give more de-
tailed insights into how they communicate on Facebook. In
both years, most companies described their communication
as interactive or active. Only a minority of utilities called
their communication reactive or passive. During the period
of twelve months, the share of companies with active ap-
proach to communication, which means companies that act
without external impetus to provide information on their
page, slightly declined from 54 to 51 percent. At the same
time the share of companies using interactive communica-
tion, meaning a strong interaction between the company
and the single users, rose from 31 to 38 percent. Figure 4
summarizes these findings.
As shown in figure 5, in 2014, the utilities estimated
an average of 8.9 staff hours per week to administer the
Facebook account. The maintenance process was mostly
carried out by in-company full time personnel. In 2015, the
total time deployed for the Facebook account grew about
50 percent to 13.5 staff hours per week. The time spent by
companies’ part-time personnel and apprentices or interns
increased. Even so, most of the time was spent by in-
company full-time personnel.
Concerning the financial resources, in both years, the
vast majority of companies spent up to 15,000 euros an-
nually on their Facebook account. A development can be
detected as the share of companies that spend more than
15,000 euros annually grew between the years 2014 and
2015. Such increases can especially be seen for the share
of utilities which invest between 45,000 and 60,000 euros
(increase of 7 percent) and the companies spending more
than 75,000 euros (increase of 4 percent). Figure 6sum-
marizes these findings.
According to Bauer et al. (2012), the amount of Face-
book fans was used as an indicator for communication out-
comes. This implies the idea that stakeholders only become
and stay fans of a Facebook site if the utility company con-
stantly offers interesting information and/or the possibility
of a stakeholder dialog. As highlighted in figure 7, during
the year under observation the median of fans increased
about 19 percent and the arithmetic average about 17 per-
cent. When the previous consideration is applied, this could
indicate that stakeholders to some extent value how utilities
communicate on Facebook.
5 Discussion
Stakeholder theory highlights the importance of actively
managing stakeholder relationships (Freeman 1984). The
number of German and Austrian Facebook users is grow-
ing constantly (statista 2014a, 2014b). Utility companies
seem to be aware of this relatively new opportunity for
stakeholder communication as the share of utilities engaged
in Facebook is increasing. The reasons for not using this
94 Z Energiewirtsch (2016) 40:89–96
Fig. 5 Deployed time resources
for Facebook (hours/week)
Ø Facebook-
hours/ week
Ø Facebook-
hours/ week
number of
total time for
the whole
Fig. 6 Financial resources
spent for the Facebook account
65 %
15 %
9 %
0 %
3 %
9 %
57 %
16 %
4 %
7 %
4 %
13 %
0 % 10 % 20 % 30 % 4 0 % 50 % 60 % 70 %
0 – 15,000 euro
> 15,000 – 30,000 euro
> 30,000 – 45,000 euro
> 45,000 – 60,000 euro
> 60,000 – 75,000 euro
> 75,000 euro 2015 (n=56)
2014 (n=34)
instrument, like insufficient control or insufficient knowl-
edge, are on the decline. Still, the utilities realize that
Facebook, as an instrument for stakeholder communica-
tion, is associated with workload and costs. Stakeholder
theory emphasizes the communication with various groups
of stakeholder. Utilities seem not to be following this rec-
ommendation as, during the period investigated, more and
more companies were focusing on current and potential
customers. In contrast, the share of utilities that concen-
trated on other groups of stakeholders, such as potential
and current employees, apprentices or interns, sharply de-
creased. The theory especially points out the importance of
a stakeholder dialog as a form of communication. A dialog
depends on the frequency and interactivity of communi-
cation. Both, frequency and interactivity of the Facebook
communication increased during the twelve months under
observation. By doing so, a substantial share of companies
does not seem to use Facebook as a substitute for a ‘one-
way’ oriented form of communication such as a company
website. Rather, consistent with stakeholder theory, the
possibly of Facebook as an instrument for stakeholder dia-
log is being used actively. It is assumed that an increase of
frequency and interactivity would lead to a rise of mone-
tary and personnel resources deployed. The empirical find-
ings seem to confirm this assumption. During the twelve
months, the devoted time resources for Facebook increased
about 50 percent and the share of companies spending more
than 15,000 euros annually on the Facebook account more
than 20 percent. These results emphasize the idea that
more and more utilities acknowledge the increasing im-
portance of Facebook for stakeholder communication and
are willing to invest in this medium. In both years, the
Facebook account is commonly supported by a company’s
full time employees. Only one-fourth of the companies
outsourced a part of the Facebook-related work to external
service providers. A reason for this could be that the stake-
holder dialog might be more authentically and effectively
handled by internal personnel. Bauer et al. (2012) point
out that access to information is a major reason for Face-
book users to become fans of a page. During the period
investigated the number of fans rose. Maybe such a strong
development is a consequence of an intensified stakeholder
dialog, which is recommended by stakeholder theory and
empirically indicated by higher information frequency and
Z Energiewirtsch (2016) 40:89–96 95
Fig. 7 Amount of fans on Face-
6 Conclusion: Progress and prospects
This article explores developments regarding the use of
Facebook by German and Austrian utility companies. The
findings reveal that more and more utilities are using
Facebook to communicate with their stakeholders. Dur-
ing the twelve months investigated, utilities strengthened
their communication efforts towards current and potential
customers. Such a narrow focus is in contradiction to
stakeholder theory, which recommends communication to
a wide variety of stakeholders. Additionally, the theory
emphasizes the importance of stakeholder dialog. As fre-
quency and interactivity of communication grow, utilities
seem to be following this advice. It is assumed that such
communication efforts are somehow connected to the re-
vealed increase of the invested resources and might lead
to the rising amount of fans documented. Overall, the
described developments indicate the growing importance
of Facebook as a form of stakeholder communication.
Still, this study only focusses on utility companies which
are members of the German Association of Energy and
Water Industries (BDEW) or the Austrian Energy Associ-
ation (Österreichs Energie e.V.). The associations provide
various services, such as information, to its members and
therefore affect their behaviour. Companies without such
memberships were not included. Consequently this study
does not represent all utilities and it is only to a limited
extent possible to generalize the study results for the whole
energy sector. In order to generalize findings, future studies
should also integrate utilities which are not members of
the focused associations. Moreover, this study is limited to
a period of twelve months. To more precisely determine
development in communication, future studies should ex-
tend the period of investigation. The stakeholder dialog
seems to be an essential aspect of Facebook communica-
tion. Future studies should more deeply focus on dialog-
related aspects. In particular interactivity seems to be an
important characteristic which needs to be observed in
a more differentiated way. Additional interviews with the
marketing managers of utilities or surveys of the various
stakeholders could generate new communication insights.
It could be also interesting to look in more detail at the
relationship between aspects of stakeholder dialog, such as
communication frequency and interactivity, the resources
invested and the communication outcome. As communica-
tion might differ in an international context, future studies
could additionally focus on countries other than Germany
and Austria.
Acknowledgements The author is grateful to Linda Tuttle Weidinger,
B.A., instructor of English, University of Applied Sciences and Uni-
versity of Education, Linz, Austria, for her language assistance and
Conictofinterest S. Martin states that there are no conflicts of in-
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://, which permits unrestricted
use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give
appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a
link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were
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... " [C]ompanies need to build their capacity to communicate in these new media and to monitor the attitudes of the public and opposition organizations" (Uren et al., 2016, p. 87). The initial and explorative research by Martin and Grueb (2016), as well as Martin (2016), reveal that a growing amount of German and Austrian public utilities seem to be following this advice by using Facebook to interact with their stakeholders. Although public utilities often have various business segments, such as the supply of electricity, gas, water and/or long-distance heating, the broad majority of these utilities possess just one single Facebook account for the whole company. ...
... Whereas the studies of Martin and Grueb (2016), Martin (2016) and Martin (2017a) describe how utility companies are currently using Facebook, to the best of our knowledge, there exists no study which focuses on the actual expectations of Facebook users. Nevertheless, as the phenomenon of social media redefined stakeholders' expectations (Manetti et al., 2016), research on the expectations of Facebook users is becoming crucial. ...
... Companies need to gather information on stakeholder interests, expectations and criticism (Donaldson and Preston, 1995;Wall and Greiling, 2011) and pay attention to this knowledge when making decisions (Rasche and Daniel, 2006;Phillips et al., 2003;Freeman and Evan, 1990). Important stakeholder groups of a public utility are current and potential private customers, business customers, employees, apprentices or interns, suppliers or business partners as well as citizens, shareholders or investors, media, residents, non-governmental or non-profit organizations, sustainability experts or politicians (Martin, 2017a;Martin and Grueb, 2016;Martin, 2016;Witt, 2013). Particularly, a dialogue with the various stakeholders seems to allow utilities to collect relevant stakeholder information (Manetti et al., 2016;Driessen et al., 2013), as well as to express their own objectives and behaviour (Pedersen et al., 2013). ...
Purpose A growing amount of German and Austrian utilities create own Facebook accounts to communicate with their stakeholders. Whereas existing studies describe how utility companies are currently using Facebook, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, there exists no study which focuses on the actual expectations of Facebook users. Nevertheless, as the occurrence of social media redefined stakeholders’ expectations, research on the expectations of Facebook users become crucial. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to contribute to the existing social media literature by investigating the expectations of Facebook users towards a virtual stakeholder dialogue with their public utility companies on Facebook. Design/methodology/approach Eight German and six Austrian public utilities supported the empirical study by posting a link to an online survey on their Facebook account. In total, 258 Facebook users followed that link and completed the survey. Findings The broad majority of participants expect public utility companies to use Facebook as a communication channel. They request to regularly receive a variety of information on different topics. In addition, participants want to have the opportunity to post general queries, complaints or criticism, suggestions for improvement, positive feedback or queries in a crisis situation. Moreover, the empirical data reveal that user-specific characteristics such as gender, age, country of residence, length of Facebook membership or number of Facebook friends impact the expectations towards a Facebook conversation. Originality/value The findings enable scholars and practitioners to gain in-depth insights into Facebook conversations from the actual user perspective.
... The higher the number of followers on social media, the more influential the firm becomes, especially with regard to corporate branding and promotion. Martin (2016) agreed with the above claims, stating that engaging the community on different platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, enables corporate entities to enhance their market reach to the target audience, engage them actively, and respond to their feedback in a timely manner. Fyfe and Crookall (2011) noted that expansive social media engagement affords a strong competitive advantage over other industry players because of the strong brand reputation developed in line with ESG and SLO principles. ...
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This study investigated the current situation of social media adoption in the energy and resources sector, the preferred social media platforms in the energy and resources sector, and the reasons for the differences between these preferred platforms. In this study, quantitative analysis method was adopted, and we used Excel and SPSS for data collection and data analysis. Through the investigation of 262 companies, all companies maintained a strong online presence through corporate websites, email contacts, and various social media platforms. However, the adoption and use of social media platforms differed among countries. Linear regression analysis revealed that companies should constantly update their relevant information on social media platforms to increase their followers, improve their influence and popularity, and achieve better interaction with stakeholders. Through quantitative analysis, it was found that companies in the energy and resources sector should maintain a strong online presence. These companies should choose specific social media platforms according to their target audience. Because some platforms are more suitable for specific purposes, companies should pay attention to the different designs and functions of each social media platform. Future research should focus on the use of social media in B2B marketing by companies operating in the energy and resources sector.
... This is clearly evident on the energy market. Social media are used in this case to identify consumers' attitudes towards renewable energy [96], level of environmental consumers' awareness [97], stakeholders' opinions [98], etc. ...
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The aim of this article was to determine the significance of modern marketing communication channels used in the process of shaping the external image of an enterprise as an employer. An analysis of the world literature on marketing, management, marketing communication and human resource management was used to prepare the theoretical part. The results of the analysis indicate a cognitive and research gap regarding the use of modern communication channels for building the external image of an enterprise in the role of an employer. In order to reduce the gap, empirical studies were conducted among young Polish potential employees, in which the survey method was used to gather primary data. The collected data were subjected to statistical analysis, during which the following methods and statistical tests were applied: the analysis of average values, exploratory factor analysis, Kruskal–Wallis test (KW), Pearson chi-square independence test and V-Cramer coefficient analysis. The results of the analyses conducted indicate, inter alia, that statistically significant diversity was identified in the case of non-professional media in terms of respondents’ opinions on whether the employer’s image created by modern media is better than the employer’s image created on the basis of classical marketing communication channels. In the case of professional and non-professional media, the age of the respondents was not a differentiating feature. Moreover, neither for professional media nor for non-professional media were statistically significant dependencies identified between respondents’ opinions on the impact of actions undertaken by enterprises on shaping their positive external image as an employer and respondents’ opinions on whether the employer’s image created on the basis of modern marketing communication channels is more beneficial than the employer’s image created on the basis of classical marketing communication channels. The results obtained on the basis of the research have a cognitive and applicability value, characterized by originality. Until now, the importance of using modern marketing communication channels in shaping the employer’s external image has not been analysed. This also applies to enterprises operating on the energy market.
... As recent studies show, public utilities increasingly communicate with their stakeholders on Facebook (Martin, 2016(Martin, , 2017b. The majority of companies uses their social network accounts to address citizens, current or potential private customers, current employees and the public and media. ...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of external factors on the Facebook dialogue. As both weather and point in time substantially. As both weather and point in time substantially influence people’s lives, it can be assumed that both factors may also affect communication on Facebook. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study focusing on the impact of the external factors “weather” and “point in time” on a public utility’s Facebook communication. Design/methodology/approach The potential influence is explored through the case study of an Austrian public utility. The study focuses on 321 postings, published via the company’s official Facebook account between August 2016 and February 2018. Findings The empirical results confirm the influence of “weather” and “point in time” indicators on the stakeholder dialogue. The findings highlight how the relevant items affect the posting behavior of a utility, as well as stakeholders’ reactions, comments and shares. Originality/value By introducing both external factors to the social media literature, this paper broadens the understanding of Facebook communications beyond the sender and receiver of digital information. In this way, the research contributes to a more holistic view of Facebook dialogue. It provides practical advice on how social media managers of public utilities may use weather forecasts and “point in time” considerations to more strategically foster stakeholder dialogue in social media.
... In this way, 'the majority of companies pay attention to service as well as brand and PR objectives' (Martin and Grueb 2016, p. 13). Further, Martin and Grueb (2016) as well as Martin (2016) identify a growing amount of German, Austrian and Swiss utility companies using Facebook for stakeholder communication. ...
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As the leading social media tool, Facebook is increasingly becoming an important channel for two-sided stakeholder communication in the energy sector. Even though public utilities more and more all relying on such virtual communication, little is known regarding the communication-related factors and their interdependencies. This study aims to reduce this research gap by analysing correlations between a public utility’s specifications, communication interactivity, the resources spent and the outcome of the Facebook conversation. In 2016, an online questionnaire was sent to German, Austrian and Swiss utility companies. The empirical data of the 139 utilities that responded fully support relationships between the communication interactivity and the invested resources as well as the outcomes of a communication. In this way, the results provide new insights for scholars and practitioners into the Facebook conversations of public entities.
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Purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of Facebook, as the source for job advertisements. This study also examined the basic characteristic of the contents of these job advertisements at local Facebook groups and brand pages. Both qualitative and quantitative approach was adopted for the study. Results confirmed that, from the organization's perspective, it is the cost effective source. From the applicant's perspective, it is a source of direct communication; still serious dilemma was reported on the question of privacy and security. Finally, according to academic experts, the advertisements characteristic has some problems of poor content, which could have serious effects on corporate reputation.
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Purpose – Based on past study, three different value constructs, including social value, hedonic value, and epistemic value, were adopted in this study to examine their influence on individual's stickiness to use Facebook. Besides, this paper aims to explore how “trust” affects the personal usage behaviors. Design/methodology/approach – The research model was tested with data from 345 Facebook's users using a web survey. The partial least squares technology was used to test the proposed hypotheses. Findings – Results confirmed that hedonic value served as important value concerns for Facebook users. Besides, considering trust factor, the respondents can be classified into two groups. In the high-trust group, social value and hedonic value produced significant impacts on stickiness. In the low-trust group, the statistical results show that epistemic value and hedonic value had impacts on the stickiness for Facebook web site use, but social value aspect had no significant impact. Research limitations/implications – The respondents were mainly the subjects that belonged to the young age group in Taiwan. Therefore, it should be cautious to generalize the conclusions to other areas or the elder. Practical implications – This study results facilitate web site operators and marketing researchers to understand what value factors and trust affect the user stickiness of Facebook. Their marketing plan and application plug-in can be accordingly adjusted. Originality/value – This study provides positive evidences how value factors affect Facebook stickiness. The paper also proved that high-trust and low-trust people have different value models.
Das Internet und insbesondere die sog. sozialen Medien haben die Transaktionsbeziehungen sowie die Machtverhältnisse zwischen den Marktteilnehmern grundlegend verändert. Die Abnehmer- bzw. Konsumenten-Seite entscheidet nicht mehr nur darüber, welche Güter und Leistungen erworben bzw. genutzt werden, sondern zunehmend entfaltet sie ebenfalls maßgeblichen Einfluss auf die öffentliche Wahrnehmung dieser Güter und Leistungen. Dies ist nicht nur für die Markenführung von besonderer Bedeutung. In vielen Fällen werden die Kunden sogar ausdrücklich in den Wertschöpfungsprozess einbezogen. Die Grundlage hierfür bilden vor allem die Technologien des stationären und mobilen Internets; sie nehmen immer stärker Einfluss darauf, wie Kunden oder Mitarbeiter untereinander, mit und in Unternehmen interagieren. Insbesondere Social-Media-Anwendungen schaffen sowohl den Raum als auch die Öffentlichkeit für diese Aktivitäten.
Soziale Medien greifen um sich! In den USA kommt kaum noch ein werbetreibendes Unternehmen an Facebook, Twitter & Co. vorbei (vgl. [35], S. 3). Und auch in Deutschland erfreuen sich soziale Medien wachsender Beliebtheit. Rund zwei Drittel der 30 DAX-Unternehmen haben inzwischen eigene Facebook- Präsenzen. Einige DAX-Unternehmen, wie zum Beispiel BMW und Adidas, konnten ihre Fanzahlen im vergangenen Jahr fast verdoppeln (vgl. [53], S. 62). Adidas durchbrach im Mai 2011 sogar die Schallmauer von 10 Mio. Fans. Es überrascht daher nicht, dass 50 % der börsennotierten Unternehmen im deutschsprachigen Raum meinen, dass soziale Medien sehr wichtig für ihre Unternehmenskommunikation sind (vgl. [56]).
Die Energieversorger stehen heute vor großen Veränderungen und Aufgaben. Zur erfolgreichen Bewältigung dieser Herausforderungen gewinnen neue Organisationsformen zunehmend an Bedeutung. Projektmanagement ist ein entscheidender Erfolgsfaktor von innovativen Unternehmen. Die Bereitschaft bzw. Fähigkeit wichtige und temporäre Vorhaben als Projekte zu organisieren und abzuwickeln, steigert neben der Motivation der Mitarbeiter auch die Qualität der Arbeitsergebnisse und damit die Effizienz des Unternehmens. Neben einem professionellen Einzelprojektmanagement liefern das Multiprojektmanagement und hier insbesondere das Projektportfoliomanagement einen bedeutenden Beitrag. Der Artikel zeigt den Aufbau und Funktionen des Multiprojektmanagements im Allgemeinen und ein Konzept für die Struktur eines Multiprojektmanagements in der Energiewirtschaft. Darüber hinaus beschreibt dieser Artikel die Vorgehensweise beim Aufbau des Multiprojektmanagements. Nach einer Einführung, die insbesondere der Begriffsdefinition und –abgrenzung dient, werden auf Basis von Studien die Bedeutung und der Nutzen des Multiprojektmanagements aufgezeigt. Die Struktur des Multprojektmanagements mit seinen Dimensionen „Methoden und Prozesse“, „Organisation“, „Mensch“ und „IT“ sowie der Verknüpfung mit der Unternehmensstrategie liefert die Basis und gleichzeitig den Aufbau des Artikels. Die Aufgaben und wesentlichen Merkmale werden beschrieben. Es folgt darauf die Anwendung der Dimensionen in der Energiewirtschaft. Das letzte Kapitel zeigt die Vorgehensweise für eine erfolgreiche Einführung von Multiprojektmanagement in Unternehmen auf.
Die Märkte für Energieversorgung stehen weltweit vor großen Herausforderungen. Zum einen sind die Reserven an fossilen Energieträgern wie Öl und Gas grundsätzlich begrenzt, was bei stetig wachsender Nachfrage nach diesen Rohstoffen zu weiter steigenden Preisen führen wird (Erdmann und Zweifel, Energieökonomik, Berlin, 2008, S. 125–132). Zum anderen hat sich der Klimawandel durch die weltweit ansteigenden CO2-Emissionen weiter beschleunigt, ein Großteil dieser Emissionen ist auf die Energieerzeugung mit fossilen Energieträgern wie Steinkohle, Braunkohle und Erdgas zurückzuführen (Ströbele et al. Energiewirtschaft, 2. Aufl. München, 2010, S. 64–68). Die Stromerzeugung mit Kernenergie hat zwar den Vorteil sehr geringer CO2-Emissionen, verliert aber in vielen Ländern wegen der Probleme bei der Endlagerung der Brennelemente und wegen der Gefahr einer radioaktiven Verseuchung bei Kraftwerksunfällen an gesellschaftlicher Akzeptanz. Andere emissionsneutrale Verfahren der Energieerzeugung, sogenannte „erneuerbare Energien“, wie Windkraft, Biogas, Photovoltaik oder Solarthermie, sind zwar technisch verfügbar und werden auch verstärkt genutzt, sie sind aber wetter- und tageszeitabhängig nicht immer gleich gut einsatzbereit und bei den heutigen Strompreisen zum Teil auch unwirtschaftlich.
Trotz der zunehmenden Relevanz von Facebook-Fanpages mangelt es Unternehmen an fundierten Erkenntnissen zur effektiven Umsetzung und kommunikationspolitischen Wirkung dieser Webseiten. Der Beitrag untersucht deshalb empirisch, welche Eigenschaften einer Fanpage von Konsumenten als bedeutsam wahrgenommen werden und welche Wirkung diese bei ihnen entfalten. Er liefert Inhabern, Betreibern und Entwicklern von Fanpages wichtige Handlungsempfehlungen für die erfolgreiche Umsetzung ihrer Seiten.Die Konsumentenmärkte von heute sind charakterisiert durch eine zunehmende Marktsättigung, eine steigende Produkthomogenisierung und die damit einhergehende Verschärfung des Marktwettbewerbs (Bruhn 2009). So überrascht es nicht, dass Konsumenten täglich mehreren tausend Kommunikationsbotschaften ausgesetzt sind (Scheier/Held 2006). Dieser kommerziellen Informationsüberflutung steht die begrenzte Kapazität der Konsumenten zur Verarbeitung von Informationen gegenüber (Jacoby 1977). Um eine kognitive Übe ...
The aim of this paper is to further explore the drivers behind the decision of citizens to engage in social and political participation on the internet, since mixed empirical evidence has been found in the literature. Using data from the 2011 survey on the use of information and communications technologies by households and individuals in Spain, the following two types of e-participation are analyzed: reading/giving opinions about social/political issues and signing/taking part in online petitions/public consultations. Relying on an updated version of the resources approach, we investigate as to what extent e-participation is explained not only by traditional participation-related resources (i.e., socio-economic characteristics) but also by digital skills, social networks and the online development of public administrations. Results show that, while online participation is mainly associated with internet-related skills, there is a significant gender gap. Interestingly, the unemployed tend to engage socially and politically online more than the rest of the population.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the content of for‐profit organizations' Facebook pages and how the communication strategy employed impacts stakeholders' perceptions of the organization‐public relationship, corporate social responsibility, attitudes, and purchase intent. Design/methodology/approach For Study 1, a content analysis examined the types of information on for‐profit organizations' Facebook pages. Facebook pages were coded for organizational disclosure and information dissemination, corporate social responsibility information, and interactivity. Pages were also coded for using a corporate ability, corporate social responsibility, or hybrid communication strategy. Three organizations were then selected based on the content analysis results to serve as exemplars in the two‐phase experiment. Participants filled out measures of initial attitudes, perceptions of the organization‐public relationship, corporate social responsibility, and purchase intent. A week later, participants interacted with the organizations' Facebook pages and then answered additional scale measures. Findings Study 1 found for‐profit organizations discuss program/services, achievements, and awards on their Facebook pages. The main communication strategy employed on Facebook is corporate ability. Study 2 results indicate interacting with Facebook pages bolsters stakeholders' perceptions of the organization‐public relationship, corporate social responsibility, and purchase intent. The organization employing a corporate social responsibility communication strategy had the most success bolstering these variables. Research limitations/implications Several of the organizations did not have Facebook pages to code for the content analysis. Some organizations' pages were not coded because the page was just starting and there was no information available. The content analysis included a small sample size ( n =114) which impacted the experiment. It limited the number of organizations that could be employed in the experimental conditions. Practical implications When posting information on Facebook, organizations should employ the corporate social responsibility communication strategy. However, regardless of the strategy employed, interacting with Facebook information can bolster stakeholders' perceptions of organizational‐public relationships, corporate social responsibility, attitudes, and purchase intent. Originality/value The paper adds to the experimental literature. There is very limited experimental research examining the impact of Facebook on stakeholders. It provides practitioners with some guidance on the types of communication strategy they should employ when posting on Facebook.
Little is known about how public sector organisations capitalise on the potential of social networking sites (SNSs) as communication channels. Previous research is short on theoretical models and managerial insights into the success of local governments' online communication strategies. The purpose of this study is to explore how successfully local governments utilise SNSs for managing their external communication with citizens. Using a multi-method analysis of 15,941 posts and 19,290 comments on the Facebook pages of the 25 largest German cities, we make five contributions to research and practice. First, we analyse the properties and topics of government posts to draw a rich picture of how local governments use Facebook as a communications channel. Second, we conceptualise success in governments' online communications in terms of the frequency and polarity of citizens' reactions, which we use for third, evaluating government communication behaviour in SNSs. Fourth, we identify which benefits SNSs offer that traditional communication channels do not provide. Fifth, we offer guidelines for improving the online communication strategies of local governments using SNSs.
Within a short timeframe, social media have become to be widely used in government organizations. Social media gurus assume that the transformational capacities of social media result in similar communication strategies in different organizations. According to them, government is transforming into a user-generated state. This paper investigates this claim empirically by testing the claim of convergence in social media practices in three North-American police departments (Boston, Washington DC and Toronto). The research shows that the social media strategies are widely different: the Boston Police Department has developed a ‘push strategy’ while the Metropolitan Police Department in DC has developed a ‘push and pull strategy and the Toronto Police Service a ‘networking strategy’. The paper concludes that a combination of contextual and path-dependency factors accounts for differences in the emerging social media strategies of government organizations. Social media have a logic of their own but this logic only manifests itself if it lands on fertile soil in a government bureaucracy.