Student communication studies Ralph van der Pauw received the Hanze Innovation Award this Wednesday afternoon. He received the prize for his dissertation on the effective use of social networks by organizations. Van der Pauw performed his research at Capgemini and developed a method for companies to measure if their use of social networks is effective. (Dagblad van het Noorden, 2011)
In February this year I started as a graduate intern at Capgemini. Together with Remko, Erwin and Rick we started looking for the possibilities of a dissertation with a challenging research question on online marketing. Because I researched the possibilities of social marketing in a previous internship, we decided to take a look at the global Capgemini social marketing campaign. After several suggestions the final research question had become: “In which way can Capgemini utilize her five social networks effectively to improve the communication and spread knowledge with its environment?”
The research question left a lot of space for personal interpretation, raising new questions like: “what do we define as effective?” and “how do we measure effectiveness?”. In my dissertation I answer both these questions by developing a method to enable organizations to benchmark their social accounts and compare them to others.
A successful social account is build up from different essential characteristics. Depending on which strategy a company has chosen, these social characteristics can for example be ‘helpful’ or ‘authentic’. Comparing social accounts merely by characteristics doesn’t create a substantiated image. Therefore I’m linking these pre-defined characteristics with relevant variables making it easier and more accurate to judge a social account.
By applying this method both on Capgemini accounts as well as its competitors, it became very easy to expose any shortcomings in the social strategy and determine which characteristics were applied more successful by its competitors. My recommendations were based on characteristics like relevance, authenticity compared to organizations like IBM, Accenture and Infosys.
Both Capgemini as well as the Hanze University of applied sciences were very pleased with the result. The Hanze Innovation award is one of the best forms of reckoning I could ever imagine and I am extremely proud of it. I would like to thank all my colleagues and others who were involved in the process for reaching this amazing milestone.