Social Media & Business Value Report: Z Energy

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We live in a fast paced era where, due to the progression of social media, the way businesses market themselves has been forced to evolve. It is because of this evolution that many organisations are joining social media platforms. Publications over the past decade have assessed this new business necessity and have formulated theories and strategies to help organisations make the best transition into the social media realm as possible. Here, Z Energy will be examined to see what type of social media platforms they use for business, how their use compares to publications about social media use for business, and whether their use of social media tools is effective.

Z Energy uses many platforms to connect with their consumers. At the time of writing, Z Energy’s Facebook page has 290,462 likes, and is a hub of information for consumers who connect with them online. Here, Z Energy shares promotional activity, company initiatives and fundraising efforts, photos from various activities and events, as well as their long-running community support campaign Good in the Hood. Similarly, their presence on Twitter shares this type of content, while also having easily visible communications from associate organisations and customers on their wall by ‘tagging’ Z Energy in their own content. Z Energy’s Twitter following at time of writing is 6,275 users and their profile shows they are following 6,843 other Twitter users, demonstrating their high level of online activity and active connectivity in the world of social media.

Their LinkedIn profile, where Z Energy have 8,115 followers, mostly shares news regarding the company’s latest achievements and shares Z Energy’s objectives in their use of social media. Here, testimonies from current employees about their time at Z energy can be read and when there are positions of employment available, prospective employees can make relevant connections.

Finally, slightly different kinds of social media platforms have been utilized; YouTube and Vine. Z Energy’s YouTube channel has 650 subscribers and posts videos regularly, regarding Z Energy’s mission statements, questions and discussions with Z Energy’s CEO, and most prominently, the Good in the Hood campaign. Vine is a unique social media format where videos can only be seven seconds long and although utilizing this platform for business could seem difficult to some, Z Energy have created a channel nonetheless. Their Vine channel has 154 followers and features videos promoting services, competitions and staff activities.

Z Energy’s adoption of social media for use for business seems to have been with outstretched arms as they have ventured into various different types of social media. By doing this, they have managed to cover more of the functional building blocks of social media, as described by Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy and Silvestre (2011). The seven functional building blocks of social media are identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation and groups. All of these aspects bear importance for businesses using social media, but some building blocks are better addressed by certain social media platforms than others.

According to Kietzmann et al. (2011), the nature of certain social media sites determine which functional building blocks they address. For example, as LinkedIn is concerned with professional image and making connections with individuals, as well as being a place where organisations can publicly define themselves, the site focuses primarily on identity, as well as relationships and reputation. Facebook has a primary focus on relationships, but as it is a more diverse social media platform, it also covers presence, identity, reputation and conversations. Kietzmann et al. (2011) states that social media sites such as YouTube primarily focus on sharing, but also address conversations, groups and reputation. This ties in closely with Cook’s (2008) 4 C’s: Connection, collaboration, communication and cooperation. These different categories focus on the action of the social software tools used rather than the characteristics, and much like Kietzmann et al. (2011)’s functional building blocks, they can exist independently but work best when integrated.

Bearing this in mind, if Z Energy’s choices of social media platforms are examined as a whole, it can be said that they have addressed all seven of the functional building blocks of social media as well as Cook’s (2008) 4 C’s. By deciding to involve themselves as a company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Vine, Z Energy have created a strong online presence that is catered to many consumers, which addresses all areas of the social media framework. Going down different avenues could have been a strategic choice to increase their ROI with social media marketing as not every consumer or potential customer uses the same social media platforms, so maximum outreach could equate to maximum awareness. This could be the driver of Z Energy’s choices of social media involvement if Hoffman and Fodor (2010) are correct in saying that a large amount of awareness along with positive engagement from consumers will result in a long term pay off.

Z Energy as a company are certainly conscious of their involvement with social media. This is made evident by the page Social Media at Z, provided on the Z Energy website, which outlines the guidelines for engagement expected of themselves and their consumers when interacting online. The main reason, it seems, that Z Energy have included a social media page on their website is to ensure customers know the standards to comply with when engaging with Z Energy via social media, and also to state that they wish to work with their customers and supporters, to hear opinions and feedback, and to ‘interact’ with other New Zealanders. This provides a sense of transparency in Z Energy’s motives in using social media and is reassuring that they, as an organisation, feel strongly about adhering to guidelines of the social media channels which they use.

As far as organisations keeping up with the fast paced world of social media goes, Z Energy is doing a very good job of it. The multiple social media platforms that Z Energy use to connect with consumers has allowed them to address important aspects regarding the different structures of social media, such as the seven functional building blocks (Kietzmann et al., 2011) and the 4 C’s (Cook, 2008). Z Energy’s conscious practice of social media engagement demonstrates a transparent process with their consumers and has aided their success in the realm of social media.

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References

Cook, N. (2008). Enterprise 2.0. How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work. Aldershot, England: Gower Publishing Ltd.

Hoffman, D. L., & Fodor, M. (2010). Can you measure the ROI of your social media marketing? MIT Sloan Management Review52(1), 41.

Kietzmann, J. H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I. P., & Silvestre, B. S. (2011). Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Business horizons54(3), 241-251.

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