Investigating social media usage patterns in the stakeholder groups of the University of Stellenbosch Business School

Lazier, Natalie (2010-12)

Thesis (MBA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.


Popularity of social media sites is growing at a fast rate and many businesses and higher education institutions are attempting to successfully engage with their stakeholders using this new interactive medium that facilitates ‘many-to-many’ communication. There are several forms of social media and users have many options available to them, ranging from the more generic social networking sites, like Facebook, to more niche sites, like BlackPlanet that targets black African Americans. The focus of this research is on the social media usage patterns and trends in the stakeholder groups of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). Eight stakeholder groups were identified and they consist of the following groups and USB departments: i) USB prospective students; ii) USB current students, busy with their research reports; iii) USB current students, not busy with their research reports; iv) USB alumni; v) USB course administrators; vi) USB academic faculty members; vii) USB research supervisors; viii) USB Marketing and Communication Division. The analysis showed that the social media site Facebook is popular among all stakeholder groups of the USB, followed by LinkedIn and YouTube. Furthermore, Facebook and LinkedIn were cited as the preferred social media sites for the USB to use in communicating with its stakeholder groups. Additionally, respondents indicated strong privacy concerns with the use of social media. Numerous other similarities and differences by gender, age group and stakeholder groups were discussed in the findings. Combined with information from literature, these findings were translated into a multistep plan to improve the communication among the USB’s stakeholder groups. The fast-changing social media landscape requires businesses and higher education institutions, like the USB, to stay abreast of the latest user trends to ensure continued interaction with their stakeholders. Therefore, regular investigations by the USB into the use of social media by its stakeholder groups are required in the foreseeable future.

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