Insights From Millennial Engagement.

Introduction and Background

The financial industry is controversial due to mistrust and misconception of the public. Therefore, managing corporate legitimacy is critical for consumer perception (Herzig and Moon, 2012). Legitimacy is defined as the appropriate role of corporations which conforms to social norms, ethics, values, and expectations. If a good perception is lacking, then it is problematic, and corporations may struggle to survive (Palazzo and Scherer, 2006). In this case, the key for financial institutions nowadays, and given the transformation in communication methods, is to be on the cutting-edge of social media strategy to manage and enhance their legitimacy. Legitimacy management can also be learned from "millennials", people born between 1979 and 1996, as defined by Pew Research Center, who heavily use the internet and consider themselves to be the “Look at Me” generation on social media (Myers and Sadaghiani, 2010).

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Social Media and Corporate Legitimacy

Social media is now not only used to win customers, but also used to establish public confidence and relation through building a self-image, which is bonded to either personal or organizational reputation, and this can be utilized in the financial industry. Studies have demonstrated the correlation between information and engagement strategies arguing on it misalignment such as complex communication paradigms and dialogue. Communication in social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are mostly determine the tempo of message received by millennial in currently society resulting in change in marketing practice used by business and other organizations to convey messages on their respective brands, products, and values it holds. JP Morgan Chase & Co, for example, now embraces a Corporate Social Responsibility reputation, which subsidizes to the long-term success while promising to the relevant stakeholders’ higher expectations.

In contemporary operation paradigm, organizations enjoy better scale of CSR communication, which is realized through social media platforms. Different platforms can offer significant opportunities in developing a better character or status (Bria 2013). The current Foster Research designates that over 73.5% of CEOs consider social media as a better platform where they can execute their priorities (Kaul et al. 2015). This can be attributed to the fact that social media taps a substantial number of young people who frequently make use of internet.

Justification and strategic advantage

Having worked in corporate communications for ten years, I have witnessed the digital transformation in communication strategies and know how important it is for companies to manage their self-image on Web 2.0, which includes social media platforms. Twitter, is used as a main platform to monitor public sentiment. I have done manual media and digital monitoring using search words and hashtags to write daily analysis of public opinion. These reports were sent daily to senior management, to be used in decision-making. In addition, I was Manager of Marketing and Corporate Communication at PineBridge Investments, a global asset manager, and therefore have experience in brand management in the financial industry.

Recently, in Enabling Information and Tools, a course which is offered as part of the Doctorate of Strategic Leadership at Jefferson University, I learned about the technologies offered by Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, and how social media falls under these categories for information sharing and reputation building. The purview goes alongside collection of data that can justify the affirmations made in the thesis regarding social media management, and how it is directly influencing legitimacy of relevant financial institutions.

In this study, I will focus on Twitter as the main social media platform to collect and analyse public opinion sentiment about three financial institutions through hashtags that communicate some of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. I will then follow by assessing their legitimacy and recommending ways to manage the flow of information and dialogue on Twitter to enhance communication strategies that aim to promote legitimacy. From a communication type of work, I will study how millennials, with their unique abilities on social media, can effectively enhance corporate legitimacy.

Research Question and Methodology

Primary research question will be: What are the main key drivers on Twitter that can enhance corporate legitimacy? Relevant research questions may include: Which are the key drivers of social media that encourage legitimacy in financial institutions? How does e-leadership influence organizational legitimacy? What factors are associated to avenues that promote e-leadership through social media? Do organization messages conveyed through social media platforms trigger perceptions towards the company? To what extent do you perceive messages twittered by a company reflects its values, beliefs, and mission?

Research aim

The aim is to bring in the new set of skills and knowledge that millennials have about social media management to the financial industry.

Methodology

My methodology will be divided into two parts. The first will be analysing tweets of JP Morgan and Chase, Wells Fargo, and PineBridge Investments over a one-month period about current trends that involve their CSR actions, using hashtags for my monitoring purpose. I will identify the overall sentiment of the tweets and give a scale which will correlate with their corporate legitimacy. In this case, my independent variable is the pronouncement of the CSR action, and the dependent variable is the tweet sentiment which will measure legitimacy. Secondly, since I am in a college atmosphere where the number of millennials is comparatively high, I will take advantage and interview students on their view of the role of social media platforms on organizations reputation, CSR, and legitimacy.

The possible hypotheses include the fact that mass-following and big social networks are two key drivers that make social media powerful in influencing legitimacy. Secondly, e-leadership impacts legitimacy, and that is because of the perceptions and attitude it develops among followers. In addition, a qualitative approach in examining social media in the role of financial institutions can bring a fresh angle, which is not studied frequently. Eventually, I expect to learn how e-leadership can be so convincing to an extent that it can create impressions and perceptions, which may sometimes not exist in an organizational context.

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Conclusion

The background of social media management informs on the necessity of planning on how to obtain opinions, suggestions, and ideas from young people and apply them to financial institutions. I intent to analyses Twitter feed of JB JP Morgan and Chase, Wells Fargo, and PineBridge Investments identifying the messages and communication send to the organization while trying to capture sentiments associable to CSR and legitimacy. Similarly, I will interview students around the Campus as one way of gaining the perceptions and discernments of what “millennials” think of legitimacy, and how the two are associated to e-leadership (Brooks and Normore 2010). The class can help me conduct a pilot study, which can give a reflection of what is expected in the field. The pilot study will inform on the required resources and expected challenges during the research process. I can also apply learnings about qualitative research, which I hope will be offered in this class, to my pilot study.

References

  • Bria, F., 2013. Social media and their impact on organisations: building Firm Celebrity and organisational legitimacy through social media.
  • Brooks, J.S. and Normore, A.H., 2010. Educational leadership and globalization: Literacy for a glocal perspective. Educational Policy, 24(1), pp.52-82.
  • Campbell, J.L., 2007. Why would corporations behave in socially responsible ways? An institutional theory of corporate social responsibility. Academy of management Review, 32(3), pp.946-967.
  • Kaul, A., Chaudhri, V., Cherian, D., Freberg, K., Mishra, S., Kumar, R., Pridmore, J., Lee, S.Y., Rana, N., Majmudar, U. and Carroll, C.E., 2015. Social media: The new mantra for managing reputation. Vikalpa, 40(4), pp.455-491.
  • McQuail, D., 2010. McQuail's mass communication theory. Sage publications.
  • Montalvo, R.E., 2011. Social media management. International Journal of Management and Information Systems, 15(3), pp.91-96.
  • Myers, K. K., & Sadaghiani, K. (2010). Millennials in the workplace: A communication perspective on millennials’ organizational relationships and performance. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(2), 225-238.
  • Palazzo, G., & Scherer, A. G. (2006). Corporate legitimacy as deliberation: A communicative framework. Journal of business ethics, 66(1), 71-88.
  • Rindova, V.P., Pollock, T.G. and Hayward, M.L., 2006. Celebrity firms: The social construction of market popularity. Academy of management review, 31(1), pp.50-71.

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