How Organizations Effectively (& Not-So Effectively) Use Social Media

During the Spring 2016 semester, there was a graduate course, Communication Technology & Organizations at Georgetown University. This course, according to the syllabus, focused on learning how organizations and individuals are using communication technologies to frame messages. The final project was where students chose an organization and monitored their social media for up to two to three months. At the end of the semester, the students presented their findings. There were 17 organizations chosen from a wide variety of industries. They were:

  • Airbnb
  • Buchheit, Inc.
  • Coca-Cola
  • Federal Communications Commission, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Disability Rights Office
  • Kate Spade New York
  • HBO
  • Nike
  • Oculus VR
  • Oreo
  • Pepsi
  • Renwick Gallery
  • Sephora
  • Space X
  • Starbucks
  • Rowe Price
  • The Washington Post
  • WMATA: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

The biggest recommendation is these organizations need to use a less robotic tone and have more two-way conversations. They couldn’t just keep promoting their own content but see what the audiences were interested in as well. Imagery was particularly important. Only two companies were not using some form of imagery in each of their posts. Their analytics were down significantly versus the other 15 that used either a photo or video in every post.

There are different reasons for the social media profiles. While Twitter seemed to have the most activity, their other profiles seemed less organized. An organization needs to know what they want. Do they want their Instagram to show behind the scenes? Do they want their Facebook Page to be primarily a spot for their blog or events? Answering questions and concerns are best to be done anywhere. Out of the six organizations that actually did respond back to negative comments, a few of the students noticed that usually only one social media profile was used to answer questions. What the final project showed was that no matter how a person reaches out to you through social media, you need to at least acknowledge it. Be personal but quick. If you are an organization and there is a complaint, kindly tell them how to contact you privately to give you more details. This is the most professional yet personal way and keeps the negativity out of the public eye.

These were taken between March through April 2016 and the companies might have changed their social media protocols since then. However, the importance of social media as a communication tool for organizations is undeniable. It is a popular way for their audience to contact them. It is a quick and often free way to promote new products. This final project was to show what has worked and what can help any organization to continue to prosper with the use of social media.

Here is an infographic of the overall results:

Social Media Project Infographic - T. Jabbari

Tara Jabbari

Tara Jabbari is a second-year Master's candidate in the Communication, Culture & Technology program at Georgetown University and the Assistant Webmaster for gnovis. She has worked in the United States and New Zealand for non-profits in web management and producing documentaries for the organizations.