Understanding Social Media Stakeholders and Their Needs
Posted by Chelsea Dowling
As I read through the Using Social Media for Collective Knowledge-Making, Tweeting and Ethos, and Technical Communication Unbound articles there were two main concepts that really seemed to jump out at me – the idea of social media stakeholders, how those stakeholders use their social media tools, and how [as technical communicators] we may need to adapt our communications based upon social media channels.
The idea of stakeholder analysis is a way to analytically look at individuals who are impacted by a particular event/situation/problem/etc. and understand how they are impacted. As technical communicators, by conducting stakeholder analyses we can better articulate the communication messages and more effectively design systems to better suit the stakeholder needs. As Longo stated in her article on Using Social media for Collective Knowledge-Making, “technical communicators and teachers of technical communication are poised to understand content users now as producers and to work toward relationships between [information and communication technologies] and human interaction to design documents and content in this global context, allowing us to cross community boundaries” (2013).
This statement defines the importance around establishing stakeholders in order to build those relationships Longo describes. If we can understand how those stakeholders use social media, we can in fact, better communicate and refine our messages to those individuals. The following graphic by Meritus Media shows, at a high level, how many stakeholders there can be and drives out what they value. How a customer uses Facebook is different than how an employee uses Facebook. If we can begin to identify and analyze those stakeholders, we can truly begin those targeted communications that means something to our readers.
One thought, however, that was raised after reading Bowdon’s article on Tweeting an Ethos, was on how [technical communicators] use these channels. As Bowdon found in a study he conducted, “[technical communication students] had trouble discerning and articulating the values of their various organizations, but all of the groups faced great difficult when trying to product content to post on Twitter and Facebook in order to keep up a consistent, meaningful presence on behalf of their organizations. They were unsure how to translate that understanding into a Twitter or Facebook thread” (2013). What this called out to me was that we, as technical communicators, need to be cognizant now only about stakeholders and how they use social media channels, but how we use social media channels to communicate with those stakeholders.
One of the biggest challenges for us will be to effectively use and communicate via social media channels. To Bowdon’s point, delivering a message on a social media channel can be very different than drafting an e-mail or writing content for a Web site. Learning how to translate our messages to a 140-character tweet and learning when it is most appropriate to use Facebook to share messages will become part of our skill sets that we will need to master.
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