The paper "Engagement and Management of the Online Community" is a wonderful example of a Management Case Study. Qantas Airways Limited formed in 1920 is the leading carrier airline in Australia and among the oldest in the world. The airline based in Sydney controls 65% of Australia’ s market with its subsidiaries operating the Qantaslink and Jetconnect operating under the Qantas brand. In 2011, the company underwent rapid structural modifications due to financial losses and subsequent loss in market share. Approximately 1000 employees lost their jobs as the company strategized into the Asian market by establishing airlines under different names.
The following financial year spelled, doom for the company due to the intensified industrial disputes, fuel prices, and stiff competition. Qantas began a program, Qantas Frequent Flyer, to reward customer loyalty and encourage customer involvement. It began exploring social media in 2010 to actively communicate with its customers and respond to their concerns. The loyalty program also aimed at connecting with the customers to gain feedback regarding their brand and customers’ attitudes towards their services (Fan et al, 2014 p. 553).
The company collaborated with the technology company, Communispace, to establish a private online community where only authorized users could communicate. This community engaged in discussions concerning crucial business decisions that yielded helpful feedback for the company regarding the improvement of online communication. Through this communication platform, the program developed into a successful public social media strategy that exploded into an active online community. Engaging and Managing Online Communities The success of every business relies on the relationship with its customers among other stakeholders. The establishment and development of stable relationships with the public rely entirely on the communication channels available.
Traditionally, public relations only referred to the courteous behavior of the receptionist to the customers who visited the business premises. The evolving industrial world, however, has changed the view of organizations towards public relations. The emergence of modern communication channels especially the internet has changed the view of the corporate world towards the public (Horowitz, 2010 p. 461). The social media particularly increases the level of interaction between various organizations’ stakeholders hence it is the best interest for the organizations to join in the conversation. Social media has been a gold mine for business firms since it offers an efficient and cheap mode of communication with the public.
The most active sites are facebook, twitter, and pinterest that allow the organizations to open up personalized accounts under their management (Porter et al, 2011 p. 93). The Facebook pages and twitter handle act as an interception for the online users as well as the organization. This creates an online community that the organization needs to monitor as well as manage. Engaging and managing online communities involves the establishment of a community that communicates online through the shared interest of the business (Kent & Taylor, 1998 p. 330).
These forums provide a platform for the business to promote its products, respond to queries regarding products and services, and collect valuable feedback from the consumers regarding their satisfaction levels. However, these forums do not entirely rely on the conversation regarding the business and its commodities since it mostly operates on the social media platform. The business, therefore, strikes a balance between formal and informal conversations to encourage contribution of the public. This creates an active community comprising of customers and other related parties who engage socially in regards to the business’ operations (Fan et al, 2014 p. 554).
Engagement and management of the online community offer the business a competitive advantage since it ensures the maintenance of healthy relationships with the stakeholders. It also offers an opportunity for the improvement of the corporate image among the public due to the receptive nature of these relationships.
Broom, G., Casey, S., & Ritchey, J. (2000). Public Relations as Relationship Management: A Relational Approach to Public Relations. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Fan, H., Lederman, R., Smith, S. P. & Chang, S. (2014). How Trust is Formed in Online Health Communities: A Process Perspective. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 34(28), 531-560.
Horowitz, M., D. (2010) .The New Community Rules: on the Social Web. Marketing Journal of Product & Brand Management 9(6) ,461 – 463.
Kent, M. L., & Taylor, M. (1998). Building Dialogic Relationships through the World Wide Web. Public Relations Review, 24(3), 321-334. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S036381119980143X
Ledingham, J. A., & Bruning, S. D. (2001). Community Relations. In R. L. Heath (Ed.), Handbook of public relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Miller, K. D., Fabian, F. & Lin, S. (2009). Strategies for Online Communities. Strategic Management Journal, 30, 305-322.
Porter, C. E., Donthu, N., MacElroy, W. H. &Wydra, D. (2011). How to Foster and Sustain Engagement in Virtual Communities. California Management Review, 53(4), 80-110.
Ren, Y., Harper, F. M., Drenner, S., Tarveen, L., Kiesler, S., Riedl, J. & Kraut, R. E. (2012). Building Member Attachment in Online Communities: Applying Theories of Group Identity and Interpersonal Bonds. MIS Quarterly, 36(3), 841-864.
Toth, E. (2000). From Personal Influence To Interpersonal Influence: A Model For Relationship Management. Public Relations As Relationship Management: A Relational Approach To Public Relations. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Wilson, L. J. (2000). Building Employee and Community Relationships through Volunteerism: A Case Study. Mahwah, NJ: Sage.