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The application of social media in the mining industry Zoë, Mullard 2010

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THE APPLICATION OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE MINING INDUSTRY  by  Zoë Mullard  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF APPLIED SCIENCE  in  The Faculty of Graduate Studies  (Mining Engineering)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  September 2010  © Zoë Mullard, 2010  Abstract The current discourse on public engagement in the mining industry revolves around legislated processes that drive communication and information sharing with interested parties. This discourse neither aligns with modern tools for communication nor with the reality of a highly networked society that use social media to facilitate dialogue. This thesis addresses the gap between traditional communication processes in the mining industry and social media tools that create opportunities for dialogue and information sharing.  The research used a qualitative and mixed method approach to data collection. Twelve social media websites were observed to assess the extent of mining-related dialogue, and 41 interviews were conducted with representatives from the public, private, academic and civil sectors to learn about the challenges and opportunities of using social media. The interviews found that 62% of respondents were using social media tools; the most popular applications were blogs, followed by social networking platforms. These platforms are being used for outreach to established supporters and networks. Industry’s use of these platforms mimics their public relations and marketing messaging approaches, whereas civil society is able to generate dialogue on a number of topics through authentic disclosure of information. Government departments have been hesitant to incorporate social media tools as they struggle to align them with regulatory structures while also presenting an authentic and credible voice. Many respondents were using a trial and error approach to implement social media, despite having identified risks of using them. Risks and challenges include the possibility of losing control of messaging and wasting time on unproven communications technology. While some mining companies are adopting social media applications to conduct public outreach, these tools have not been explicitly used for stakeholder engagement. Case studies show how mining stakeholders use social media tools and their experience provides a foundation for strategic recommendations. This research demonstrates that social media is being used for specific purposes by mining stakeholders, although there is hesitancy around perceived risks of online dialogue.  ii  Table of Contents Abstract.............................................................................................................................................ii Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................ iii List of Tables ...................................................................................................................................vi List of Figures ................................................................................................................................. vii List of Abbreviations ...................................................................................................................... viii Acknowledgements .........................................................................................................................ix Dedication.........................................................................................................................................x 1. Introduction................................................................................................................................ 1 1.1 Background ................................................................................................................... 2 1.2 Research Approach....................................................................................................... 3 1.2.1 Statement of problem. ................................................................................................... 3 1.2.2 Research questions....................................................................................................... 3 1.2.3 Purpose of research. ..................................................................................................... 4 1.3 Significance of Research............................................................................................... 4 1.4 Definitions ...................................................................................................................... 7 1.5 Thesis Overview ............................................................................................................ 8 2. Literature Review ...................................................................................................................... 9 2.1 Overview of Social Media Tools .................................................................................... 9 2.1.1 Blogs............................................................................................................................ 10 2.1.2 Social networking services. ......................................................................................... 11 2.1.3 Wikis. ........................................................................................................................... 12 2.2 Communications Theory.............................................................................................. 12 2.2.1 Credibility. .................................................................................................................... 16 2.2.2 Transparency, disclosure and authenticity of voice. ................................................... 16 2.2.3 Convergence. .............................................................................................................. 18 2.2.4 Awareness of participants. .......................................................................................... 18 2.3 Stakeholder Relationship Mechanisms in the Mining Industry.................................... 19 2.3.1 Public participation and stakeholder relations. ............................................................ 19 2.3.2 Corporate social responsibility. ................................................................................... 20 2.3.3 Social license to operate. ............................................................................................ 21 2.3.4 Reporting and transparency. ....................................................................................... 22 2.3.5 Financial disclosure and legal disclaimers. ................................................................. 24 2.3.6 Social networks. .......................................................................................................... 25 2.3.7 Social network analysis and stakeholder mapping. .................................................... 25 2.3.8 Networks, social capital and the Internet..................................................................... 26 2.4 The Future of Web 2.0................................................................................................. 28 2.5 Methodology Literature Review................................................................................... 29 2.6 Literature Review Conclusions.................................................................................... 29 3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY............................................................................................... 31 3.1 Methodology ................................................................................................................ 31 3.1.1 Study design and data sources. .................................................................................. 31 3.1.1.1 Website observations...................................................................................... 31 3.1.1.2 Interviews. ....................................................................................................... 33 3.2 Use of ATLAS.ti Qualitative Research Analysis Tool.................................................. 36 3.2.1 Interpretation of ATLAS.ti. ........................................................................................... 38 3.2.2 Reflections on ATLAS.ti............................................................................................... 43 3.3 Limitations of Research ............................................................................................... 43 3.4 Methodology Conclusions ........................................................................................... 44 4. RESULTS AND ANALYSIS .................................................................................................... 45 4.1 Website Observation Results ...................................................................................... 45 4.1.1 Blog website observations. .......................................................................................... 45 4.1.2 Facebook website observations. ................................................................................. 47 4.1.3 Twitter site observations.............................................................................................. 49 4.1.4 Twitter versus Facebook website observations. ......................................................... 52  iii  4.2 Interview Results ......................................................................................................... 53 4.2.1 Use of social media tools............................................................................................. 53 4.2.2 Convergence. .............................................................................................................. 55 4.2.3 Social media and mine life cycle. ................................................................................ 57 4.2.4 Purpose of social media tools. .................................................................................... 58 4.2.5 Experience and sentiments of using social media. ..................................................... 59 4.2.5.1 Sentiments about blogs................................................................................... 59 4.2.5.2 Sentiments about Facebook. .......................................................................... 63 4.2.5.3 Sentiments about Twitter. ............................................................................... 68 4.2.5.4 Sentiments about wikis. .................................................................................. 70 4.2.6 Social media and stakeholder relations....................................................................... 71 4.2.7 Risks and challenges of using social media tools. ...................................................... 72 4.2.8 Benefits of using social media tools. ........................................................................... 76 4.2.9 Policy and privacy issues of social media tools........................................................... 80 4.2.10 Information management and social media............................................................. 80 4.2.11 Impressions of future integration of social media. ................................................... 81 4.3 Conclusion of Results.................................................................................................. 82 5. DISCUSSION AND INTEGRATION OF OUTCOMES............................................................ 83 5.1 Discussion and Analysis of Blogs................................................................................ 83 5.2 Discussion and Analysis of Social Network Services.................................................. 86 5.2.1 Analysis of Facebook. ................................................................................................. 86 5.2.2 Analysis of Twitter. ...................................................................................................... 88 5.2.3 Social network comparison.......................................................................................... 90 5.3 Discussion and Analysis of Wikis ................................................................................ 92 5.4 Analysis and Discussion of Major Themes.................................................................. 95 5.4.1 Authenticity and credibility. .......................................................................................... 97 5.4.2 Transparency............................................................................................................... 98 5.4.2.1 Accountability. ................................................................................................. 99 5.4.2.2 Monitoring...................................................................................................... 100 5.4.3 Audience engagement............................................................................................... 101 5.4.3.1 Communities of interest. ............................................................................... 103 5.4.3.2 “Twitter” not “talk”. ......................................................................................... 104 5.4.4 Industry and event promotion.................................................................................... 106 5.4.5 Reflection and raising awareness. ............................................................................ 106 5.4.6 From raising awareness to mobilization. ................................................................... 107 5.4.7 Recruitment and human resource management....................................................... 109 5.4.8 Crisis communication. ............................................................................................... 110 5.4.9 Reputation and brand management.......................................................................... 111 5.4.10 Investor relations.................................................................................................... 112 5.4.11 Return on investment (ROI) and social return on investment (SROI). .................. 114 5.4.12 The public sector and social media. ...................................................................... 116 5.5 Aligning Cultures on Social Media............................................................................. 119 5.5.1 Social media and first nations culture. ....................................................................... 119 5.5.2 Languages................................................................................................................. 120 5.6 Conclusion of Discussion and Integration of Outcomes............................................ 120 6. RECOMMENDATIONS AND STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS......................................... 122 6.1 Objectives and Strategy ............................................................................................ 123 6.1.1 Establish objectives. .................................................................................................. 123 6.1.2 Design a strategy....................................................................................................... 124 6.1.3 Flexible approach to control. ..................................................................................... 124 6.2 Manage Social Media Platforms................................................................................ 125 6.2.1 Build and maintain relationships................................................................................ 125 6.2.2 Cost of implementing social media............................................................................ 126 6.3 Third-Party Groups and Social Media Neutrality ....................................................... 127 6.4 Measure Success ...................................................................................................... 127 6.5 Timing and Alignment of Tools.................................................................................. 127  iv  6.6 Mine Site versus Headquarters ................................................................................. 128 6.7 Social Media and the Mine Life Cycle ....................................................................... 128 6.7.1 Exploration. ................................................................................................................ 129 6.7.2 Permitting and environmental assessment. .............................................................. 129 6.7.3 Operations. ................................................................................................................ 130 6.7.4 Recruitment and employee relations......................................................................... 130 6.7.5 Closure. ..................................................................................................................... 131 6.8 Strategic Policies and Procedures ............................................................................ 131 6.9 Conclusion of Recommendations and Strategic Considerations .............................. 132 7. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, FUTURE RESEARCH AND CONCLUSIONS.......................... 133 7.1 Summary of Findings................................................................................................. 133 7.1.1 Theoretical framework and methodology. ................................................................. 133 7.1.2 Results....................................................................................................................... 133 7.1.3 Recommendations and strategic considerations. ..................................................... 135 7.2 Recommendations for Future Research ................................................................... 135 7.2.2 Evolving and new social media tools......................................................................... 135 7.2.3 Understanding audiences and stakeholders. ............................................................ 136 7.2.4 Geographic and longitudinal research....................................................................... 136 7.2.5 Strength of online relationships. ................................................................................ 136 7.2.6 Mobile devices and social media............................................................................... 137 7.3 Conclusions ............................................................................................................... 137 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................ 139 APPENDICES.............................................................................................................................. 152 Appendix 1 – Respondents Sentiments about Social Media (General)................................ 152 Appendix 2 – Interview Questions......................................................................................... 159 Appendix 3 – Ethics Certificate ............................................................................................. 162  v  List of Tables Table 1 – Overview of Web 2.0 (Social Media) Technologies ........................................................ 8 Table 2 – Twitter Content Analysis................................................................................................ 11 Table 3 – Website Observation Sites ............................................................................................ 33 Table 4 – Respondent Contact Database Summary..................................................................... 34 Table 5 – Research Codes and Definitions................................................................................... 37 Table 6 – ATLAS.ti Legend of Named Links ................................................................................. 38 Table 7 – Facebook Membership Growth and Commentary ....................................................... 49 Table 8 – Twitter Comments and Growth of Users ....................................................................... 51 Table 9 – Web 2.0 Tools Used by Respondents........................................................................... 54 Table 10 – Reasons For Not Using Social Media ......................................................................... 55 Table 11 – Life Cycle Stages and Social Media............................................................................ 57 Table 12 – Application of Social Media Tools ............................................................................... 58 Table 13 – Respondent Sentiments – Blogs ................................................................................. 60 Table 14 – Respondent Sentiments - Facebook ........................................................................... 63 Table 15 – Respondents Sentiments – Twitter ............................................................................. 69 Table 16 – Respondent Sentiments – Wikis ................................................................................. 70 Table 17 – Respondent Perspectives on the Effects of Social Media........................................... 72 Table 18 – Respondent List of Risks and Challenges................................................................... 72 Table 19 – Comments about Risks and Challenges of Social Media ........................................... 76 Table 20 – Respondent List of Benefits of Social Media............................................................... 78 Table 21 – Speculated Benefits of Social Media........................................................................... 79 Table 22 – Table of Growth of Social Media – TVI Pacific.......................................................... 115  vi  List of Figures Figure 1 – “Corporate Facelessness” - Screenshot of Alcoa’s Facebook Page ........................... 17 Figure 2 – Use of GRI Framework by Mining Companies............................................................. 24 Figure 3 – View of Website Observations ..................................................................................... 32 Figure 4 – Graph of Research Respondents by Sector ................................................................ 34 Figure 5 – Gender of Respondents ............................................................................................... 35 Figure 6 – Representation of "Density" of the Term Recruitment ................................................. 40 Figure 7 – Representation of “Groundedness” of Term Recruitment............................................ 41 Figure 8 – Network View of Groundedness and Density for Term “Recruitment”......................... 42 Figure 9 – Growth of Facebook Users during Observations ......................................................... 48 Figure 10 – Growth of Twitter Users , ........................................................................................... 51 Figure 11 – Lafarge’s Social Network Platform Growth – Facebook vs. Twitter........................... 52 Figure 12 – Use of Social Media by Sector ................................................................................... 53 Figure 13 – Web 2.0 Tools Used by Respondents........................................................................ 54 Figure 14 – Inter-correlation of Web 2.0 Tools.............................................................................. 56 Figure 15 – Convergence of Social Media Tools .......................................................................... 57 Figure 16 – Social Media Policies ................................................................................................. 80 Figure 17 – Network View of Blogs ............................................................................................... 85 Figure 18 – Network View of Facebook ........................................................................................ 87 Figure 19 – Network View of Twitter.............................................................................................. 89 Figure 20 – Network Comparison of Facebook and Twitter.......................................................... 91 Figure 21 – Network View of Wikis................................................................................................ 93 Figure 22 – Social Media Tools and Major Themes of Authenticity, Transparency and Credibility .............................................................................................................................................. 96 Figure 23 – Excerpt from Lafarge’s Facebook Discussion on Climate Change.......................... 102 Figure 24 – Communities of Interest, Credibility and Wikis......................................................... 104 Figure 25 – Barrick Gold Wikipedia Page ................................................................................... 111 Figure 26 – Human Resources Life Cycle and Social Media...................................................... 131  vii  List of Abbreviations ARD – Acid Rock Drainage BASES – Business and Society Exploring Solutions CBC – Canadian Broadcast Corporation CEAA – Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency CIM - Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum CMC – Computer Mediated Communication CSA – Canadian Securities Administrators CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility EITI – Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative FPIC – Free, Prior and Informed Consent GARD – Global Acid Rock Drainage (Guide) GHG – Greenhouse Gas GPS – Global Positioning System GRI – Global Reporting Index HR – Human Resources ICEM - International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mining and General Workers' Unions ICMM – International Council on Mining and Metals IFC – International Finance Corporation IMF – International Metalworkers’ Federation INAC – Indian and Northern Affairs Canada INAP – International Network for Acid Prevention JIC – Joint Information Centre MMSD – Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development NGO – Non-governmental organization PDAC – Prospector and Developers Association of Canada PDF – Portable Document Format ROI – Return on Investment RSS – Really Simple Syndication SEC – Security and Exchange Commission SME – Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration SROI – Social Return on Investment TSM – Towards Sustainable Mining UAC – Unión de Asambleas Ciudadanas (Spanish for “Union of Citizen Assemblies”) Union of Citizen Assemblies US – United States of America WBCSD – World Business Council for Sustainable Development  viii  Acknowledgements This thesis relied on the cooperation and support of many individuals who shared their experience and ideas about social media and the mining industry. The intention in doing this research was to identify opportunities for enhancing communication and improving transparency in the industry, and I appreciate the insights that were offered to me, particularly in light of the competitiveness and sensitive nature of the mining industry. It is my hope that this thesis will foster constructive discussion and an exploration of new communication tools to enhance meaningful dialogue between companies and communities impacted by mining. A thesis is never solely the work of an individual, and in this case there are several people who provided ongoing support. I would like to thank my supervisor Dr. Dirk van Zyl for presenting me with the opportunity to conduct this research; his patience, encouragement, and guidance have been invaluable throughout the learning process. I am also indebted to my committee members and other faculty at UBC’s mining department who have shared their time and ideas: Dr. Malcolm Scoble and Dr. Scott Dunbar. I would like to thank Jack Caldwell, whose curiosity and encouragement continued to unravel new questions while I tried to make sense of the research findings. I am truly grateful for the time and effort that was shared by all the respondents who participated in this research – their perspectives and experiences were enlightening and interesting. I have tried to remain truthful to the ideas that were shared and am thankful for the reflection that went into participating in this research. I am also appreciative of the support from my fellow students and friends at the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering. I would also like to thank the contribution of other researchers who have indirectly supported this work through their writings and discussions. A final thank you is directed at my family and friends who have supported me unquestioningly throughout this inquiry.  ix  Dedication  To my parents, who have learned eagerly alongside me.  x  1.  Introduction  Mining has changed in the last 20 to 30 years and so has communication. We need to take the opportunity to use new tools to promote the good work that [mining] companies are doing in terms of responsibility, environmental work and engaging communities (Interview 10020).1 Social media tools (also referred to as Web 2.0 tools) are online communication platforms that facilitate collaborative information sharing. Since their emergence in about 2001, it is estimated that Web 2.0 tools account for a third of all web activity (O'Reilly, 2005; Edelman, 2009). Web 2.0 tools have become increasingly popular for bringing authentic voices instantaneously to the fore, making them useful for sharing opinions, advocacy and mobilization. Universities, public institutions and members of civil society use these tools to share information, to grow membership and to promote causes. Private companies have been slower to adopt Web 2.0 technologies and their use often parallels controlled marketing to reach clients, stakeholders and the general public. Mining companies are generally conservative with their marketing as they are a highly visible industry and suffer from public monitoring and lingering negative perceptions. Recently, financial institutions have withdrawn investments in mining companies due to concerns over unsettled, and potentially costly accusations from impacted communities.2 This reaction may be a reflection of the disparity between what companies present in annual reports, versus offline actions occurring in the field. In order to foster good community relationships and for corporate risk management, mining companies invest significantly in their stakeholder communication and engagement strategies. Whereas in the past it was difficult for remote communities impacted by mining activities to have their concerns voiced to the public, Web 2.0 tools provide accessible and cost-effective ways to disseminate their distress. These concerned voices are rising above the marketing noise of private companies. Mining companies have made strides towards improving their community relationships to protect their reputation and business interests, but as of yet have not consistently incorporated Web 2.0 tools as part of the outreach channels. Although there is significant literature about the principles of corporate social responsibility – such as how to obtain a social license to operate and other methods for managing stakeholder relationship between mining companies and interested parties – little research focuses on the intricacies of communication. The need for transparent communication is emphasized, but there is a need to better understand the impact of different channels of information flow. Legislation governs how companies must engage their stakeholders, such as 1  Refer to Chapter 3 (Methodology) and Chapter 4 (Results) for a description of the interviews. For example, the Norwegian Pension Fund withdrew investments from the Canadian mining company Barrick in January 2009, as a result of environmental damage caused by the company’s riverine tailings disposal from the Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea. 2  1  through public meetings, but in an age of mobile communication technology, companies must build public trust using modern communication tools and information sources. The overall objective of this research is to explore how social media tools are currently being used in the mining industry, and to understand how these tools might shape relationships between mining companies and impacted communities. By understanding current conventions of stakeholder engagement and the skills required for meaningful corporate-community communication, it may be possible to identify how social media communication tools could be used to complement formal engagement and reporting processes in the mining industry.  1.1 Background This research emerged as a result of inquiring about the cultures of communication by stakeholders in the mining industry. These cultures include communication between companies and their employees (i.e. internal communication), as well as external outreach to and between stakeholders and impacted communities. The globalization of communication systems, especially developments of the Internet, has changed the capacity for communities impacted by mining to access and share information with worldwide networks. This exposure has increased reputation risk management for mining companies. “International media coverage of local conflicts, coupled with international consumer or shareholder campaigns, provide local communities with access to the power of international public opinion and pressure groups” (Thomson & Joyce, 2000, p. 1). Individual and organizational motivations for participating in dialogue about mining are inherently different, although the issues are often the same. In the virtual realm (i.e. online), it is possible to maintain conversations, regardless of the number of participants, the distance between people or the stage of consultation. Currently online conversations are not considered in formal stakeholder engagement processes. On the other hand, face-to-face engagement is closely tracked by mining companies, that meet with stakeholders throughout a mine’s life cycle; these conversations are pivotal for maintaining a company’s reputation and social license to operate. Miscommunications or poorly documented interactions may be used in litigation against a company. Through research and literature reviews, it became evident that there are disparate communication needs for the stakeholders involved in mining-related projects. Therefore, at the start of the research, an attempt was made to understand how new social media tools might bridge communication divides. However, the research showed that although various stakeholders use new communication tools, the conversations are directed at their supporters – those who have already developed a positive or negative opinion about mining. Rarely do difficult questions get raised or resolved online. Therefore, the current social media environment appears to mimic tensions and divides on the ground. One might say that there is more “twitter” than “talk”. At the  2  same time, the research showed that the use of these tools should not be discouraged. In part these tools should not be overlooked because they continue to gain popularity worldwide and across all demographic groups. Mining stakeholders must recognize that younger generations, future community leaders, and mine employees are increasingly culturized to these tools and use them for dialogue, networking and information management. They must also be considered because they present new platforms for dialogue and information sharing which are integral to the success of the mining industry. Mullard and van Zyl (2009) provide an overview of the use of social media applications in the mining industry, particularly from an industry perspective; the research conducted for this thesis is more extensive and included mining stakeholders from different sectors to better understand the opportunities and risks associated with online dialogue. This thesis demonstrates the current social media environment in the mining industry and hopes to identify opportunities to enhance meaningful engagement between companies and interested parties.  1.2 Research Approach The following section outlines the approach used to organize and gather information for this thesis.  1.2.1 Statement of problem. There is limited but growing research related to how private companies are using interactive and dynamic Web 2.0 technologies. Despite the growth of social media tools, no inquiry has been done into the unique opportunities and threats related to the application of these tools in the mining industry. Most mining companies, and businesses in general, rely on websites as part of their communication strategy; this style of communication, referred to as Web 1.0, is relatively static and formulaic. Like traditional mass media, Web 1.0 websites provide information to a broad undefined audience, which allows corporations to maintain control over the communication means and message. On the other hand, Web 2.0 Internet platforms are interactive and have the capacity to facilitate real-time dialogue. Since Web 2.0 communication tools are relatively new, they have not demonstrated their impact or their return on investment, and so companies remain hesitant about incorporating them into business communication strategies. This is particularly the case for business-to-business industries, such as mining. This research draws on experiences from different sectors but the intended audience is for the mining sector as it continues to grapple with questions of transparency, credibility and community relations.  1.2.2  Research questions.  The overall objective of this research is to explore how social media tools are currently being used in the mining industry, and to understand how these tools might shape relationships  3  between mining companies and impacted communities. This thesis posed the following three research questions, which guided the focused objectives, methodology and analysis: 1. How are stakeholders in the mining industry using social media tools? 2. Are there ways that these tools can be used to enhance stakeholder engagement in the mining industry? 3. What are the opportunities and risks associated with using these tools? A preliminary stage of research confirmed that mining stakeholders use social media tools. The majority of the research looked at the Canadian “virtual environment”, however, as mining is an international industry and Web 2.0 tools are pervasive worldwide, some case studies were included from the United States, England and a few Latin American countries. In instances where organizations were not using social media tools, the research explored the barriers to their implementation. The thesis does not suggest that all mining-related companies should apply social media at all times, but rather highlights how these tools may be used in a strategic way to meet the dynamic needs of interested parties. Rather than going into depth about a particular social media tool, an overview of diverse applications will be provided.  1.2.3  Purpose of research.  The research of this thesis had the following purposes: a) To outline the current uses of social media in the mining industry, by exploring their application by private sector, civil society and public sector; b) To provide background and understanding about social media tools, particularly how they relate to values in the mining industry and broad discussions of transparency, access to information, and communication norms; and c) To provide guidelines for how a social media strategy can be developed in the mining industry To identify common uses of social media To identify challenges related to implementing these tools These focused objectives were answered by posing the research questions previously mentioned.  1.3 Significance of Research This research has practical applications in the mining industry, as it can assist corporations and community groups to effectively use social media. These tools are user friendly, relatively cheap (often free) and are available to anyone with access to a computer (or mobile device). Because of the exponential growth of these tools, it is important to monitor their use and look for strategic opportunities for their implementation, otherwise there may be risks of losing control of the medium and message (Scott, 2009). This is particularly dangerous for mining companies that must manage their reputation in a competitive market. Some research  4  already exists on the application of social media by private companies and by the civil sector, but there is a dearth of examination of whether and how these tools facilitate interactivity and improve engagement between disparate groups interested in resource management (Farrell, Kellogg, & Thomas, 2008). Private sector companies are learning how to use these tools to reach clientele and increase profitability. The mining industry is particularly interesting to examine because its business-to-business model means that there is some detachment from the end users. Yet, mining continues to be scrutinized by the public, and can be indirectly impacted by consumer pressure. Some communications research has started to look at how businesses are using social media tools to enhance client relationships and branding in order to protect market share, but less research has focused on how business-to-business models can use social media as part of their communications strategy (Israel, November 28, 2009; Li & Bernoff, 2008). In this way, this research is contributing to the exploration of communication tools in facilitating business-tosociety interactions. This research is timely, as many mining companies are entering the virtual realm in an ad hoc manner; they are aware of Web 2.0 growth, but are hesitant to participate and unsure of the benefits. Understanding the modes of participation in the virtual realm is key to ensuring that focused conversations support the relationships between mining companies and interested parties. This research provides several angles of examination by looking at social media use by different sectors, and identifies opportunities where these tools may be used to breach traditional communication barriers. This research adds to the growing dialogue about computer-mediated communication (CMC), which explores online communities, power and resistance movements, virtual disclosure and anonymity, and the impact of communications on work environments. This research confirms the presence of “online social groups” that maintain networks similar to “real communities”, despite the lack of physical proximity (Wellman, Salaff, Dimitrova, Garton, Gulia & Haythornthwaite, 1996; Guimaraes, 2005). This research demonstrates how organizations are capturing and managing knowledge using social media tools, which is an important development of the knowledge economy and Information Society (Bell, 1973; Webster, 1995; Webster, 2006b; Frank, 2006). Castells (2000) argues that the Networked Society has the ability to build informational capital, which enables networks and resistance movements to overcome traditional media barriers. This thesis builds on research about the Networked Society as it examines how civil society groups are using social media to strengthen information capital, build networks and address concerns related to resource extraction. Some communication theories have demonstrated the benefits of anonymity on the Internet (Wallace, 1999), yet this research discovered some drawbacks of anonymity in building trust in stakeholder relationships. Research in the communications field has explored the impact  5  of communication technology on workspaces and society, and this research adds to this discourse by looking at employee relations, and externally at corporate-communities relations. This research shows some of the focused use of the Internet in Canada. A recent report from Statistics Canada (“Canadian Internet Use Survey”, 2010) indicated that in 2009, 83% of Canadians living in communities with populations larger than 10,000 people accessed the Internet from home (compared to 73% of Canadians in smaller communities). Internet users from various cohorts were surveyed: 98% of people aged 16 to 24 went online in 2009; 66% of people 45 or older used the Internet in 2009 (up from 56% in 2007). Internet access by gender was relatively equal (81% men versus 80% of women used the Internet in 2009). Internet activities varied from obtaining news and participating in dialogues to paying bills. The survey indicated that 27% of users participate in developing content by writing blogs, posting photographs or joining discussion groups. The ability to access the Internet through mobile telephones will likely also have a significant impact on the number of people connected to virtual groups. Connectivity around the world is growing and there is continuous improvement of software and technology. This research will support mining stakeholders who need to understand virtual communities in order to engage with them effectively. This research supports existing work about civil society communication strategies, which have opted towards user-friendly social media tools to create spaces for debate. These groups are effectively fostering online relationships by disclosing information about their mission, values and programs (Waters, Burnett, Lamm, & Lucas, 2009). Additionally, citizen journalists use social media tools to highlight everything from public policy to contentious issues in real time, from on the ground, sometimes before government has taken a stance. The ability to raise awareness and gather sympathizers using virtual tools means that communities may be able to escalate a local issue to the global scale. The “braiding of journalism” (Television Ontario (TVO), 2009), is when traditional media and citizen journalists act in collaboration. The rapid proliferation of new communication technologies requires all actors in a network to understand effective uses of these tools. This research is important in helping mining stakeholders use social media in a strategic manner, so that there can be effective communication within and between these groups. The Internet, and particularly interactive social media tools, tolerate the ability to share multiple perspectives on different issues, so it is important to recognize the role of these communication channels in facilitating dialogue, while understanding the risks associated with their application.  6  1.4 Definitions To build common understanding the following definitions have been provided to clarify terminology used throughout this dissertation. Social Media and Web 2.0 Technologies - A dynamic set of Internet technologies and web designs that facilitate information sharing. They are participatory in the sense that users can generate content. Some examples of Web 2.0 tools include: wikis, blogs and social networks. The terms “Web 2.0” and “social media” will be used interchangeably, and will be referred to as “tools”, “platforms” and “technologies”. See Table 1 for more details. Blog - Blogs are social media frameworks that allow one or more authors to provide information on a focused or broad theme. Blogs build networks through dialogue and hyper linking to data sources or other bloggers (creating “blog rings”). Blogs are often associated with editorials in that they are often opinion based. Social Network Tools - Social networking services describe a group of communication platforms that facilitate interactions between a group of people (called an online community) who share interests, events or activities. In general, social networks can strengthen links between likeminded people while also leading to new connections. Some examples include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Wikis - Wikis are Internet platforms that allow users to create and edit information. Hyper linking to other wiki pages or external web pages enables seamless access to information. Wikis are popular for building collaborative communities of knowledge, for information management systems, and as corporate intranet websites (Wiki, 2010). Stakeholders or Interested Parties - Any person or group that has a legal, business, social or ethical interest in the mining industry. Private or Mining Industry sector - Any private mining company, mining associations, mining chambers of commerce and mining societies. Public sector - Local, regional and federal government departments working on mining issues. Civil sector - Mining-related non-governmental organizations, community groups, and First Nations organizations. Academic sector - Authors, professors and doctoral candidates.  Table 1 is an overview of Web 2.0 tools, and outlines how some of these tools are currently being used in the mining industry (adaptation of Chui, Miller, & Roberts, 2009):  7  Table 1 – Overview of Web 2.0 (Social Media) Technologies Web 2.0 Wikis, shared workspaces  Blogs  Picture sharing and Videocasts  Tagging, bookmarking, filtering, Really Simple Syndication (RSS)  Social Networks, network mapping  Description Facilitates co-creation of content across large, distributed set of participants. A popular example is: http://www.Wikipedia.com Offers individuals a way to share information with broad set of other individuals. Offers ability to disseminate visual information (and receive commentary or ranking). A popular example is www.YouTube.com. Adds additional information to primary content to prioritize information or make it more valuable. Ranking or voting is possible, and is shown through icons or votes such as “Like” / “Dislike” (represented by a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”). An example is http://www.del.ici.ous.com. Leverages connections between people or groups to share information, updates, events and commentary. Two popular examples are Facebook and Twitter. Some associated terms include: “Follower”, “Tweets”, “Fan”, or Friend”.  Mining Example Responsible Miner (Responsible Miner, 2010) A wiki developed to build consensus on best practices in sustainable development and social responsibility. I Think Mining (Caldwell, 2010) Independent news and opinions on mining issues from around the world. Caterpillar Inc YouTube (Caterpillar inc., YouTube Channel, 2010) YouTube Video channel dedicated to promoting Caterpillar products. Protest Barrick.net (Protest Barrick, 2010) Civil society group blog with Really Simple Syndication (RSS) that allows users to receive updated news automatically http://www.miningne.ws (Miningne.ws, 2010) A mining news agglomerater that uses tagging to visually demonstrate the most popular topics Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, 2010) Use of Facebook to connect with SME members around the world.  1.5 Thesis Overview The thesis consists of seven chapters. The Introduction and Literature Review chapters provide background for this thesis, contextualizing it around related research. The Research Methodology chapter outlines the approach that was used to collect data. The chapter on Results and Analysis includes the information gathered in the research and analysis of the relationship between data sets. The Discussion and Integration of Outcomes chapter relates the findings of the research to the themes addressed in the literature review and uses case studies to highlight the significance of this information. The chapter on Recommendations and Strategic Considerations provides direction for the mining industry about how to incorporate social media into a communications strategy. The Conclusion provides a summary of the thesis chapters.  8  2. Literature Review The Literature Review starts with a discussion of social media tools and then provides a review of communication theory, stakeholder relationship management and social network analysis. The intention is to link these conceptual frameworks together and create a foundation for analyzing the research on social media in the mining industry. Communications theory is important grounding as it addresses the impact of communication technologies on society. Research on stakeholder relationship management is important to illustrate the principles that guide the way in which mining companies approach corporate-community relations (and the communication processes inherently involved in these exchanges). Social network analysis can be used to trace the relationships between stakeholders in the mining industry and understand the social capital of these communities. A review of methodology theory orients the research approach used for gathering data.  2.1 Overview of Social Media Tools The following section provides an overview of different social media tools. Statistics about growth and usage have not been included as they are changing daily. When the Internet first emerged for the public in about 1991, it was a platform for static one-way flow of information. Websites were controlled and contained "read-only" material. This type of Internet platform is referred to as Web 1.0, and lasted until about 2001, at which time a series of technological changes occurred. These changes resulted in the arrival of Web 2.03 platforms, which are characterized as being dynamic platforms subject to user-generated material (O’Reilly, 2005). Web 2.0 tools emerged alongside the open source movement, which promotes information sharing and peer production. The open source movement is aligned with the idea of the “gift economy” where exchange of ideas is the primary currency. This philosophy believes that by adding information (creating an online presence) every user contributes to collective knowledge, and in return, can access the information made available by others (Barbrook, 2007). Whereas corporations are accustomed to earning a profit by providing unique products or services (while protecting their intellectual capital), the gift economy and social media movement consider that information transparency is a way for an individual or company to gain credibility, reputation and financial stability. There are different ways to participate with social media as explained by Li and Bernoff (2008) in their book Groundswell. Their “social technographic ladder” includes: Creators - those who publish, create, upload, write; Critics - those who react to online content, rate/review, comment, edit wikis; Collectors - those who use RSS, tag, vote; 3  The term “Web 2.0” was established in 2004 at an O'Reilly and MediaLive International Conference. Web 1.0 was named retroactively (O’Reilly, 2005).  9  Joiners - those who maintain profile, visit social networking sites, (approximately 25% of American users); Spectators - those who read blogs, watch, listen to podcasts, (approximately 48% American users); and Inactives -those who do not participate at all. Li and Bernoff also outline several corporate objectives in the Web 2.0 virtual arena: Listening – researching or using Web 2.0 tools for research about stakeholders; Talking – marketing or using Web 2.0 tools to spread messages; Energizing – mobilize influencers to spread by word through their social networks; Supporting – creating a platform where customers or stakeholders can support one another; and Embracing – integrating customers and stakeholders into business in different areas, such as product design or development. Understanding the ways in which participants interact in the social media realm will help organizations create platforms that are user friendly and respond to the needs of their audiences.  2.1.1  Blogs.  Blogs are Web 2.0 platforms that allow individuals or groups to disseminate ideas and opinions in an open and editable way. The platforms can be personalized and they can receive commentary from participants. This provides an opportunity for dialogue, which is an important source of information and thermometer of interest on a particular theme. The ability to integrate Really Simple Syndication (RSS), which aggregate and systematize updates on a homepage, makes blogs an option for user-friendly news services. News and commentary on blogs can be produced at any place or time, therefore there is less staging or manufacturing of content. For this reason blogs are often associated with being authentic (MacKinnon, 2005; Hutchins and Lester, 2006). Fuchs (2008) suggests that bloggers are helping to restore the voice of citizens and are expanding the range of political discussions. Bloggers gain their reputation by providing trustworthy information to their users (MacKinnon, 2005). Although most bloggers do not pretend to be journalists, some news service providers are turning to blogs to facilitate real-time news coverage, alongside opinion leaders’ commentary (e.g. The Huffington Post). This “news as conversation” (MacKinnon, 2005, p. 57) is changing the way traditional journalism is done, leading to an age of “braided journalism” (Israel, 2009). “Bloggers [should] involve their audience in a co-authored process that includes any personal information the blogger is willing to share, the principles they stand for, and the processes they follow” (MacKinnon, 2005, p. 21). In addition to public blogs, presidents and chief executive officers of companies are setting up these platforms as a way to interact across hierarchies and to build relationships with employees. People now have more capacity to access information and determine its relevance.  10  2.1.2  Social networking services.  Social networking platforms are also Web 2.0 tools that allow people to create networks and share information. Facebook is a popular social network that continues to gain popularity around the world.4 Despite its popularity, Facebook has been criticized for having weak privacy controls5 (Fletcher, 2010). Facebook allows people to monitor others without interacting with them directly, and this explains some of the tensions around anonymity and transparency on Web 2.0 tools (Li & Bernoff, 2008). Twitter is another social networking tool that allows people to share messages that are up to 140 characters (i.e. a “tweet”). Young, mobile professionals first used twitter in 2007 and it assisted them with project management coordination with their partners (Television Ontario (TVO), 2009). Although Twitter has a smaller user group than Facebook, it continues to gain popularity. In the book “Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods” (2009), Israel described the magic of Twitter as being in touch with “a small town for each person, even though it is bigger than the universe and growing faster than the biggest metropolis.” (Television Ontario (TVO), 2009) He described how users influence their community and build reputations based on providing recommendations, posts and links.6 Yet, Twitter is criticized for being mainly pointless babble.7 Table 2 presents the results from a recent study (August 2009) conducted by the market research firm Pear Analytics, which reviewed 2,000 English tweets (from the US) over a 2-week period and developed the following categories for the contents shared in each “tweet”. Table 2 – Twitter Content Analysis Content Analysis Pointless babble Conversational Pass-along value Self-promotion Spam News  Percentage 41% 38% 9% 6% 4% 4%  4 According to Facebook’s Press Room Statistics, there are over 400 million active users on Facebook, who have shared over 160 million “objects” (including pages, groups and events); and over 250 billion “contents” (web links, news stories, posts, photo albums). 70% of Facebook users are located outside the United States (Facebook Statistics, 2010). 5 A “Quit Facebook Day” was hosted on June 1st, 2010, which raised awareness about privacy concerns but did not result in massive abandonment of the site. This indicates that many people still perceive the useful of the site despite high levels of user exposure. 6 Twitter uses a system of “following” and “followers”. “Following” gives the subscriber updates (“tweets”) from the desired source of information. When the following status is selected, this also enables the private exchange of “tweets”, or direct messages. A “follower” therefore is someone who receives “tweets” from a designated subscriber. Following on Twitter is not mutual, unlike other social network services where creating network linkages usually requires acceptance. Displaying followers is a way to demonstrate one’s network, although this can also be hidden from public view. 7 A response to the analysis from social media analyst Danah Boyd argued that the category of "pointless babble" is better characterized as "peripheral awareness" or "social grooming" (Boyd, 2009).  11  The limited numbers of characters per “tweet” reduces the ability to share extensive information, yet this tool is popular around the world for professional and personal uses. The tweets that are relevant continue to appeal to audiences, who can gather worthwhile information from their extensive online networks.  2.1.3  Wikis.  Wikis allow participants to collect, organized and edit information on interlinked web pages. Wikis allow data to be contextualized and sources to be shared. For example, Wikipedia, a wiki-based encyclopaedia established in 2001, is now one of the largest online reference websites, with nearly 68 million visitors per month (Wikipedia: About, 2010). In the book Groundswell (2008) the authors indicate that 22% of adults that access online sources in America use Wikipedia at least monthly. Over 15 million articles are available in more than 270 languages (Wikipedia, 2010). Wikipedia subject headings about mining include articles on “mining towns”, “mining accidents”, “heap leaching”, “deep sea mining”, “coal mining”, “mining in Chile”, “Vale”, Barrick Gold”, “Anglo American” and many other topics. Designated volunteer editors write articles but anyone can contribute by providing information or commentary on open discussion pages. Wikipedia is transparent about contested information through “discussion pages” where commentary and articles from editors are shared. Critics of Wikipedia are concerned about the reliability of information and tendency towards systemic biases (Criticism of Wikipedia, 2010). Wikis, social network services and blogs are the main Web 2.0 tools that will be discussed throughout the thesis.  2.2 Communications Theory This thesis applies aspects of communications theory to frame the analysis of the data compiled in the research. Communications theory helps to organize recurring themes and illuminates their importance in a larger context. This thesis uses the idea of the “public sphere” as presented by Habermas,8 which puts information at the core of public interactions. The origin of the term “public sphere” comes from the German word “Öffentlichkeit” which has been translated as “publicity”, “transparency”, and “openness” (Finlayson, 2005). The public sphere “mediates between society and state, [and where] the public organizes itself as the bearer of public opinion” (Durham & Kellner, 2001, p.102) Habermas feared that the evolution of mass media was diluting the public sphere and this was further complicated by the monopolistic and capitalist enterprises of communication companies. Communication companies, in their desire for profit, shifted towards providing information in a one-directional manner, as opposed to fostering public debate and opinion (Webster, 2002). 8  Habermas is a social theorist aligned with the Frankfurt School (based at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt) and was active in the period before and after the Second World War. The Frankfurt School consisted of philosophers, sociologists, social psychologists, and cultural critics who supported the idea of interdisciplinary and reflective research on various disciplines (Finlayson, 2005).  12  Habermas referred to this process as the “refeudalisation” of public affairs, and he noted that in these conditions, the public sphere is replaced by inauthentic displays of public relations (Webster, 2002). Although Habermas was examining communication companies and the public sector, Edelman (2009) suggests that all companies, regardless of industry, are communications companies, as it is necessary for them to communicate in order to remain competitive. Therefore even mining companies must deliberate on the virtuous use of information (Edelman, 2009). Habermas’ theory is not without critique, particularly as he sees the world in rigid dualisms, between system and the real world, and between production and interaction. He is also criticized for romanticising the humanity of democracy (Kellner, n.d. b). Habermas focused on the role of government to uphold democratic process and stimulate debate in the “public sphere”, whereas, in the mining context, all stakeholders, including government, private companies and constituents have communication roles. For this reason, Habermas’ ideas are relevant in the mining industry as constituents have expectations around access to information and opportunities to participate in public debate.  The proliferation of Web 2.0 tools has enhanced these  expectations, and community members are now able to stimulate their own debates on Web 2.0 platforms. Yet, mining companies are regulated and must continue to communicate along rigid lines. Another way to address corporate-community relations is through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, such as health programs and infrastructure development, which often overlap with government responsibilities. This can be problematic as resource dependency may arise, where communities become reliant on corporations for public services while governments stop performing their duties (Boutilier, 2008). Habermas’ theory is therefore useful when discussing the unclear distinction of corporate-community responsibilities and the tension around access to information, democratic debate and decision-making. Habermas’ ideas are useful for debate around rights to information as he emphasizes the pursuit of trustworthy, quality, reliable communication and information through genuine dialogue (Webster, 2002). His theories explore values and styles of communication surrounding democratic debate, and the impact of transitioning from one form of communication to another. While Habermas’ theory contextualizes the debate around the ethics or rational of information (1962), Daniel Bell and Manuel Castells’ ideas of an “Information Society” and a “Network Society”, focus on the different means of transmitting information. Bell and Castells’ writings, as referenced below, concern some of the changes in society that have resulted from the expansion of the Internet. The Internet has enabled virtual communities, with their own public spheres. At the same time, the Internet has also raised “new possibilities for manipulation, social control, the promotion of conservative positions, and intensifying of differences between haves and have nots” (Kellner, n.d.a, p.19). Although Bell and Castells were writing primarily during the Internet’s “Web 1.0” stage, many of their ideas are applicable to Web 2.0 platforms.  13  Bell’s “Information Society” is an inquiry into the transformation of work places resulting from advances in communication and information technologies (Bell, 1973; 2004). Castells is recognized for his ideas around the intervention of technology and information with society, which revolves around new “spaces of flows” and “flows of information” (Castells, 2000). Through forming networks, individuals and groups are able to occupy more spaces of flows, and command more power in the system, particularly in the context of Web 2.0 platforms (McGuigan, 1999). The Internet has collapsed the notions of time and space, fostering integration and closeness between actors in a network (Castells, 2000; McGuigan, 1999). Castells is interested in demonstrating how the merging of information and technology has infiltrated social and economic structures, reinforcing systems of power and control. Castells suggests that, “Networks are created not just to communicate, but also to gain position, to outcommunicate” (Castells cited in Mulgan, 1991, p. 71). Communication tools have facilitated the transformation of capitalism in the post-modern age (McGuigan, 1999) yet the open source movement continues to grow, demonstrating how communication software assists collaborative and free processes. Although there are limited large-scale cases, some successful resistance movements have been able to overcome traditional media and political oppression by mobilizing supporters in the virtual realm. Castells suggests that the Networked Society has enabled resistance movements, such as the Zapatistas in Mexico, who built collective identities and flexibly navigated the promotion of their subjugated ideas (Webster, 2006a). The Zapatista protest that broke out in 1994 in Chiapas, Mexico demonstrates how a community can garner global support through the Internet. The Zapatista’s use of the Web 1.0 Internet platforms allowed them to overcome information dissemination barriers presented by state-owned radio channels and private television companies. By controlling the means and the message, the Zapatista movement was seen to be authentic, rather than a media creation. This authenticity linked people who identified with the activists and their anti-globalization messages (Russell, 2005).9 An example of how Web 2.0 Internet tools can be used to overcome traditional media barriers between polarized groups was seen in June 2009, when Iranian citizens disseminated messages on Facebook and Twitter, in opposition of repressive government actions. Castells suggests that networks of people create “new forms of identity and inequality, submerging power in decentred flows, establishing new forms of social organization” (Castells cited in DiMaggio et al, 2001, p. 309). Therefore, under certain conditions, communications technologies can allow people to respond to global systems of power, particularly when they have lost the ability to shape their future (Russell, 2005). An interesting irony of Castells’ Networked Society is that, while communication technologies have allowed the integration of nodes and networks, they have also reinforced the 9  While there is debate over the real impact of the Zapatista movement in Mexico, the insurrection in 1994 has been recognized for shaping new political discourse and practices in Mexico (Nuijten & van de Haar, 2000; Otero, 2004).  14  polarization of groups. For example, the concept of a “digital divide” looks at the exclusion of groups to access the technological realm. Polarization can also occur between parties that have access to communication tools, but do not cross-fertilize information. Castells looks at how corporations use communication technologies to form and dissolve strategic alliances, in order to manoeuvre quickly in the dynamic globalized world (Webster, 2006). However, these shifting linkages create a surplus of unfinished information, often without accountable or verifiable sources, as indicated by Terranova (2004): Here it is not so much a question of meanings that are encoded and decoded in texts but a question of inclusion and exclusion, connection and disconnection, of informational warfare, and new forms of knowledge and power (from public relations to public communication and perception management) that address not so much the play of meaning but the overall dynamics of an open informational milieu. (p. 52) Terranova (2004) argues that there is a glut of loose information and networks, which reduces the meaning and significance of credible information and networks. Information must be assessed in the context of the chain of events that set it in motion, which ensures that there is shared meaning, or at least grounding reference points to shape debate (Terranova, 2004). In contrast, she notes that the misuse of communication tools by saturating the system with unrefined and repetitive data, leads to overtures of recycled identities. For example, building brand loyalty through repetition is important in the private sector, which uses simple, upbeat and appealing logos to market to targeted audiences. Yet this type of noisy messaging can also be overwhelming, leading to a loss of attention span, or to cynicism about the truthfulness of the information. In contrast, Web 2.0 interactivity and peer production improves the possibilities of developing shared meaning, relative to Web 1.0 where users were not able to participate with information. In order to have clear communication, social and cultural contexts are required, not simply the display of information. Terranova, like Habermas, believes that the essence of dialogue in the public sphere has been lost; the mode of communication is different but the inequities of the system have not changed. Social media tools may be one opportunity for reinvigorating genuine, authentic information flows. The following subsections have been developed around themes that arise in communications theory and social media. Transparency, disclosure, and authenticity of voice lead to credibility of information. These topics are important to discuss in relation to social media platforms because participants can be anonymous and may not be accountable for their statements, and yet they may hold some influence over publicly debated issues. Convergence is relevant in this discussion as it demonstrates how Web 2.0 tools can be integrated with one another and with traditional communication platforms. The seamlessness of information tools makes it difficult to discern where credible data is obtained. A short discussion about awareness of one’s audience is included as there is a transition from one-directional, uniform marketing to dialogue, and the ability to understand audiences and meet their communication needs allows  15  organizations to better navigate the social media realm.  2.2.1 Credibility. Research on website credibility has been undertaken in a number of fields in order to ascertain the trustworthiness of information presented online (Fogg, Marshall, Othman, Osipovich, Varma, & Fang, et al., 2001; Lowry, Roberts, Higbee, & Jacko, 2007). Clarity of information about who is hosting or moderating a website allows users to make their own judgment about the information, and this reduces the likelihood that people will spend resources trying to investigate or filter facts. Massoli (2007) indicates that for a website to be considered credible, there needs to be a clear explanation of the websites’ purpose, an indication about the approach for information review (particularly applicable to scientific research portals) and up-todate information. Maintaining links to other websites is also a way to gain credibility as outside references reinforce the trustworthiness of information (Finin, Joshi, Kolari, Java, Kale, & Karandikar, et al., 2008). Edelmen (2009) states that individuals need to see something three to five time before they trust the information, therefore it is important to allow information to be distributed through various channels and from various sources. During the research, respondents discussed the need to ensure the credibility of social media platforms, versus the assumption that traditional news and face-to-face meetings do not require such scrutiny. Yet traditional media is currently grappling with the explosion of social media news sources and citizen journalists as these sources impinge on their role of uncovering the truth. (MacKinnon, 2005; Basen, 2009). At the same time, traditional journalists are increasingly reliant on real-time news from citizens, as well documented by the US Airways Flight 1549 crash in Washington in January 2009, which was first reported publicly on Twitter by a passenger (Television Ontario (TVO), 2009). Although new media may not be fully accepted as a credible source for information, there appears to be some aspects of crossover between traditional (i.e. credible) access to information from new media and social networks.  2.2.2  Transparency, disclosure and authenticity of voice.  In addition to exploring web credibility, it is also important to discuss practices of transparency and disclosure. Waters et al., (2009) conducted a study of how non-governmental organizations are using social networks and concluded that there are three activities that assist in building strong virtual relationships: disclosure, usefulness and interactivity. Disclosure is characterised by openness about the organization and their causes. This can be done by hyper linking, using logos to establish recognition, and identifying the individuals who are responsible for maintaining the social networking site by disclosing personal information, such as a name and values. Usefulness requires the provision of diverse messages beyond key themes, which builds broad familiarity and strengthens relationships in a holistic way. Interactivity is important as it helps to develop and solidify online relationships with stakeholders.  16  In contrast, corporations try to build loyalty through brand identification rather than personal disclosure. Some corporations are associated with their leaders, such as Microsoft (associated with Bill Gates) and Apple (associated with Steve Jobs), but it is more common to build an affiliation with products or service. The use of logos helps with marketing but can also be seen as obscuring information and reducing personal disclosure. Logos, as opposed to a real person (image), echoes Castells’ idea of the “faceless capitalist collective” (Webster, 2006, p. 106). The use of logos rather than faces is demonstrated in Figure 1, which shows a section from the mining company Alcoa’s Facebook page. Figure 1 – “Corporate Facelessness” - Screenshot of Alcoa’s Facebook Page  The corporate image goes against the idea that: Social media's greatest role is that it is humanizing brands, showing that companies are comprised of people, rather than just logos. It is allowing customers, partners and observers to see that inside companies there are real people trying hard to do their jobs with integrity and dedication. (S. Israel, personal communication, March 12, 2010) To overcome this “facelessness”, corporate blogs are becoming more common and they present an opportunity for managers and employees to be candid about their relationship with the company. Yet corporations struggle to determine the “face” and “voice” that they will use on social  17  media and must constantly consider adjusting corporate-style reporting to fit with these interactive platforms.  2.2.3  Convergence.  Convergence is ability to integrate Web 2.0 platforms together, or merge them with traditional media to provide a variety of ways to share information. Convergence was suggested to be an advantage of social media in the communications theory and respondents echoed this idea. The tendency of starting with one tool and building up platforms is common, which suggests that social media cannot be run as a side activity, but rather, needs dedicated resources and ongoing updates (Television Ontario (TVO), 2009).  2.2.4  Awareness of participants.  With Web 1.0 platforms, audiences were passive, but Web 2.0 fosters interaction and dialogue. Therefore, it is important to validate one’s audience as listeners, promoters, and as active participants who may add or edit the knowledge being generated. An awareness of one’s audience through exchange can help to ensure that the message being sent is meaningful and has relevant context. Awareness of audience can be demonstrated through flexibility across time and space, as well as by adapting to new ways of receiving and transmitting information. Castells discusses the need for a social network to be able to adapt and evolve alongside the everchanging nodes that make up the network (Castells, 2000). Another aspect of being aware of one’s audience is learning about the communication tools that are most useful for them. On the one hand, computer analytical software makes it possible to trace the Internet path that is used to arrive at a website or social media platform. At the same time, because it is easy to set up several profiles or Internet personalities, it can also be difficult to confirm interactions with individuals or groups. Converging Web 2.0 platforms further complicates tracking and measuring connections and so it is important to maintain the adaptable nature of social media tools. Basen’s (2009) inquiry about the future of news in the Web 2.0 world, presented on The Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC)’s Sunday Edition, suggested that it is not the growth of technological tools that is driving audience participation but rather a change in attitude where people no longer accept being passive recipients of information. Communication technologies are simply facilitating participation therefore it is important to engage in a constructive way. The idea that, in addition to extracting raw materials, mining companies must also disclose raw data about the company to gain operational and social licenses requires bold leadership. Some cases are emerging, but the shift to increased transparency is being taken with caution. Communications technologies and the ease of access to information have required socially resilient companies to test where there is capacity and flexibility (Farrell, 2008).  18  2.3 Stakeholder Relationship Mechanisms in the Mining Industry The following sections outline some of the literature about stakeholder engagement in the mining industry.  2.3.1 Public participation and stakeholder relations. The process of public participation10 in the mining industry is a key aspect of building trust and accountability between interested parties. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) defines public participation as “a general term for any process that involves public input in decision making. It involves the process or activity of informing the public and inviting them to have input into the decisions that affect them” (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Government of Canada, 2008, p. 1-2). Stakeholder engagement and information exchange ideally occur before the exploration stage and should continue throughout the life span of a mine. Over the past few years, several frameworks have been developed to guide companies through stakeholder engagement steps, as historically, this has not been undertaken with sufficient rigor.11 Stakeholder engagement with indigenous populations has been particularly tenuous as marginalized groups often lack information and experience negotiating with companies. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has developed a Public Participation Guide that outlines how to conduct proper consultation for project proponents undergoing an Environmental Assessment (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Government of Canada, 2008). Activities that only involve a one-way flow of information do not constitute public participation, as no opportunity for exchange or ability to affect the agenda is involved (i.e. notification does not count as public participation). True participation must include two-way dialogue, which usually takes place during scheduled community hearings or consultations. The Guide points out eight elements of meaningful participation: early notification, accessible information, shared knowledge, sensitivity to community values, reasonable timing, appropriate levels of participation, an adaptive processes, and transparent results (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Government of Canada, 2008, p. 1-12). Public consultation processes are often contested, as too often in practice, they are implemented solely through informative public relations, rather than actual dialogue and  10 The terms “public participation” and “stakeholder engagement” will be used interchangeable throughout this thesis. 11 Some examples of stakeholder engagement guides include the Prospector and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) E3 PLUS (Prospector and Developers Association of Canada, 2010), the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Sustainable Development Framework (International Council on Mining and Metals, 2005), the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) process and Community Development Toolkit (Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme, the World Bank, and the International Council on Mining and Metals, 2005), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Stakeholder Engagement: A Good Practice Handbook for Companies Doing Business in Emerging Markets (International Finance Corporation, 2007), and the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada’s (INAC) Engagement Resource Kit (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009).  19  negotiation where communities can impact project plans (Whiteman & Mamen, 2002). Whiteman (2002) criticises processes that lack ongoing relationship development, which helps foster mutual trust and understanding. It is suggested that engagement needs to include meaningful dialogue, active listening and reflection, capacity building and education, reflection and learning (Whiteman, 2002). Often what is missing in stakeholder engagement is constructive, open and trusting conversation, which can lead to practical outcomes (Gunningham & Sinclair, 2009). Two-way dialogue ensures that interested parties share the responsibility of providing timely and relevant information and participate in the development of an acceptable solution. Dialogue can also help create understanding about how a company or project is perceived throughout a mine’s lifecycle, meaning that crises can be averted and reputational risk is managed over the long-term. The formal process of public engagement includes face-to-face meetings, reports being available to the public and responses submitted through online platforms. The Guide does not limit the scope of participation solely to local Canadian groups, so mining companies cannot dismiss interested parties as a result of their physical distance. Yet, online dialogue, social network groups or opinions expressed in blogs are not taken into consideration by the Canadian government as part of stakeholder engagement processes at this time. In the research, there was no indication from respondents that the possibility of incorporating Web 2.0 information in stakeholder engagement processes would change.  2.3.2  Corporate social responsibility.  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the term applied to activities of the private sector in relation to their contribution to economic, social and environmental accountability (Jenkins & Yakovleva, 2006). The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) defines CSR as “ the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large” (Wright, 1999). CSR can be used to design business models that meet the requirements and expectations of various stakeholders, including employees, their families, pressure groups, clients, local communities and society at large, without compromising the ability to be profitable (Branco & Rodrigues, 2006; Vintro & Comajuncosa, 2010). The Centre for Excellence in CSR12 indicates that CSR became part of business management theory in 1984. It was not until the 1990’s that many extractive industry companies incorporated CSR programs in Canada and abroad (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, 2010, Centre for Excellence in CSR, 2010). CSR activities in the mining industry have gained importance, particularly in low-income countries where they often help to mitigate financial 12  The Centre for Excellent in CSR is an initiative of the Canadian government that is being implemented through the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).  20  corruption, failed community engagement, health and safety hazards, and environmental pollution that leaves a negative perception of the industry. CSR has been adopted by the business sector, but at the same time, corporations now find themselves doing societal tasks beyond their traditional role of economic driver (Capriotti, 2009). Yet corporations gain legitimacy by broaching these new responsibilities. As much as companies need to engage various stakeholders, they also now need to balance CSR activities to meet the expectations and priorities of diverse interested parties. Corporate social responsibility is important for building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders. These programs have been associated with brand reputation, “which can be created or depleted as a consequence of the decisions to engage or not in social responsibility activities and disclosure” (Branco & Rodriguez, 2006, p. 111). Disclosure of CSR activities is done through a variety of mediums, including annual reports, promotional leaflets, community reports, press releases, videotapes and promoted on corporate websites (Jenkins & Yakovleva, 2006). Reporting on CSR activities has become evermore sophisticated to account for the array of activities undertaken. It is important to draw a connection between CSR and the research on social media. The validation of CSR was a process and partnership between the business community and civil society starting from the 1960’s and 1970’s (Centre for Excellence on CSR, 2010). By pressuring corporations to adopt CSR measures, civil society demanded that corporations act in an ethical and socially responsible manner and different standards and frameworks were developed to guide corporate-community actions. This thesis does not draw an outright parallel between the CSR and social media movements, but lessons are extracted about the role of civil society in pressuring and navigating acceptable corporate activities. This helps develop understanding about why and how different stakeholders are using social media tools, and what opportunities and risks are involved by incorporating them into communications strategies. Civil society will likely continue to scrutinize businesses, and understanding their communication and awareness raising channels will help businesses to be receptive to ever changing demands (Fieseler, Fleck, & Meckel, 2010).  2.3.3  Social license to operate.  Managing social issues impose constant and costly risks on the extractive industry, which works hard to meet all the permitting processes necessary to operate. In addition to tangible permits, companies also pursue the intangible “social license to operate”. “A social license to operate exists when a mineral exploration or mining project is seen as having the approval, the broad acceptance of society to conduct its activities” (Joyce & Thompson, 2000). This license is not granted by any authority or legal system and is not a product of an internal corporate process such as an audit of company practices (Joyce & Thompson, 2000). Getting and maintaining a social license requires an interactive relationship between the licensors and licensees, who  21  interpret and negotiate the terms of their working relationship (Gunningham et al, 2004). Having a social license can also affect the ‘‘reputation capital” of a company, in that this license “represents a communications bridge that predisposes non-governmental organizations (NGOs), communities and other groups to enter into open discussion rather than hostile opposition” (Gunningham, et al, 2004, p. 320). Although mining companies constantly monitor their social license to operate, unlike CSR activities, there are no reports that track their performance. Obtaining and maintaining a “social license” requires dialogue, learning, and sharing between mining companies and interested parties (Nelsen & Scoble, 2006). Information exchange and stakeholder engagement can be challenging, as often mines are located in remote areas.13 Yet, in an age of rampant and sophisticated communications technologies and highly networked societies, the opportunities for communication, as well as the expectations around access to information, have drastically changed. Social media tools provide channels for networked individuals to learn about the opinions of community members faced with mining projects and can transmit information rapidly, such that people can mobilize quickly, if needed. By using and monitoring social media it may be possible to view the ebbs and flows of securing a “social license to operate.” It is therefore important to interlace the literature about managing a social license to operate with social media, as these tools will likely play an increasing role in informing and empowering communities interacting with mining companies.  2.3.4  Reporting and transparency.  Governments demand access to specific documents and require regular reporting by mining companies. Opposition groups are also interested in scrutinizing this information closely, therefore companies may be selective about types of information made available. At the same time, making information about mining available to the public has been a major initiative in the fight against corruption, largely associated with resource-rich but endemically poor nations. For example, the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) upholds voluntary principles of transparent financial reporting in the extractive industry (Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, 2010).14 The initiative is aimed at improving investment stability, and companies also benefit by being able to demonstrate their contributions to a country’s development. Through the EITI, experience is being gained with regard to reporting and there is improved understanding around the importance of open information sharing. Transparency is tied to the need for visibility in the market. Although the mining industry operates in a business-to-business environment, it still needs to practice branding and demonstrate leadership. This is true not only in terms of reassuring the financial and public  13  The Provincial and Federal governments in Canada have formal consultation processes that require posting public notices, holding public meetings, recording responses to any concerns that are raised, and providing opportunities for the public to send letters outlining their concerns. 14 EITI works with corporations, who must publish what they pay to governments, and obtains information from governments, who must disclose revenues they receive from resource development companies.  22  sector, but also, to attract new employees in light of anticipated strains on recruitment and human resources (Montpellier, 2009). The growth of social media tools means that interested parties, from communities to future employees, are able to engage in conversations related to the themes that will shape their perception of the industry at large or of a specific operation. Community relations should determine how to incorporate online dialogue into their outreach activities, as opposed to one-directional marketing messages, to keep communication channels open (Macnamara, 2007). At the same time, transparency and disclosure is a sensitive issue in the private sector, as companies need to protect corporate proprietary information and maintain their competitive edge. Mining companies are characterized as being conservative, secretive and as keeping their cards close at hand (personal communications in various interviews). Kolstad and Wiig (2009) indicate that for there to be credible transparency and information sharing, it is necessary for groups to be able to process and act on information that they hold. In addition to voluntary mechanisms, it is important to explore standards around information sharing that can impact decision-making and organizational behaviours. Stemming from due diligence on financial reporting, there has been growth in the industry to provide public reports on community relations and sustainability. In general, this reporting is done according to sustainability frameworks structured around environmental and social issues.15 These reports synthesize information from several operations into one company report. They provide a qualitative and quantitative review of a mining company’s impacts on the natural environment, environmental protection and resource use, and social interactions with communities, employees and society at large (Jenkins, 2004). Most of these reports can be downloaded from corporate websites, as well as on the websites of the host organizations. Not all mining companies are using these frameworks, but their adoption has generally increased over the past ten years, as shown in the following figure. Figure 2 indicates the growth of the application of the Global Reporting Index (GRI)16 framework by Canadian mining companies versus mining companies from all other countries.  15  Examples of these reporting frameworks include the Global Reporting Initiatives’ Mining and Metal Sector Supplement, the Carbon Disclosure Project, and the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative of the Mining Association of Canada. 16 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an organization that manages sustainability reports from various companies and industries. Unique “Sector Supplements” have been developed so that industries can report more accurately about their operations. A Mining and Metals Sector Supplement was launched in 2010.  23  Figure 2 – Use of GRI Framework by Mining Companies Application of GRI 60  50  40 Global Mining Companies Reporting  30  Canadian Mine/Metal Companies Reporting  20  10  20 09  20 08  20 06  20 07  20 04  20 05  20 03  20 01  20 02  19 99  20 00  0  Year  The use of an assurance or a third-party verifier is a way to improve credibility of reports. The Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative is exemplary in its application of external audits, which are mandatory and operate on a rotating basis.17 While third party auditing can be a seen as a threat to a company, it has been shown to improve awareness around those positive actions, which generally do not get highlighted by the media (Capriotti, 2009). Both voluntary and required reports can be laden with technical language. Therefore, companies need to develop reports according to industry and third-party verifier standards, but also include documentation that uses transparent information for the public at large. There is a fine balance between the desire for stability enhanced through transparent operations, and the current state of competition in the mining sector. It is therefore important to examine the role of social media tools in facilitating transparency and reputation management. This thesis will discuss various ways in which social media tools are being used to facilitate monitoring, information sharing and discussion. These tools have not been widely incorporated into formal or voluntary reporting structures, although some companies are using social media to indicate when reports are available on corporate websites.  2.3.5  Financial disclosure and legal disclaimers.  There are complex and highly regulated legal requirements for disclosure on financial issues in the industry, which must meet international standards. Annual reports and corporate websites of small, medium and large mining companies provide key financial information to investors and demonstrate compliance with local laws. The US Security and Exchange 17 Some reports, such as the GRI, allow proponents to self-declare their grade; audits can be performed, but they are not required. Grading is based on alignment and accuracy of reporting as opposed to assessment of performance.  24  Commission (SEC) or similar financial regulatory systems closely scrutinize financial information with the aim of managing risk and protecting mining investments (Dando & Swift, 2003). At the same time, disclaimers are issued on websites and at conference presentations, to protect companies from information mismanagement or misinterpretation. It is important to touch briefly on financial reporting and legal disclaimers as it pertains to social media, as it is an area where transparency can be both a benefit and a risk. Social media tools, and in particular Twitter, are being used by banks and investor relations firms to provide real-time financial information. However security and fraud risks are pervasive. Therefore policies are needed to standardize information sharing and to allow investors to make well-informed decisions. There is a tension between the willingness and ability to share financial information and the need to abide by regulations.  2.3.6  Social networks.  The study of stakeholder engagement in the mining industry is complementary to research on social networks analysis, which visualizes the relationships and multiplicity of interactions (i.e. ties) between the individuals or groups (i.e. actors) within a network (Marin & Wellman, 2009). Stakeholder engagement and social network analysis demonstrates how actors involved in an engagement process are enmeshed through a variety of social, economic and political ties (Wellman & Hampton, 2001).18 The actors and their networks are a source of social capital for a community. Maintaining social ties is done through different forms of communication: direct in-person contact, telephone, postal mail, and more recently fax, e-mail, chats, and discussion groups (Wellman & Hampton, 2001). The widespread adoption of the Internet has meant that people and organizations are more accustomed to accessing information from their social networks. Computer-mediated communication has increased the number of interactions between individuals in a network and has expanded the breadth of many communities; computer technologies and platforms have also provided new ways to demonstrate, visualize, measure and analyze networks.  2.3.7  Social network analysis and stakeholder mapping.  Stakeholder mapping is increasingly being used by the mining industry to trace interactions and define relationships between corporations and their communities. Mapping connections is useful in understanding the ebb and flow of relationships as different groups are mobilized around pertinent issues. Mapping can be useful for showing spheres of influence and the strength of relationship between actors, often evaluated by the number of exchanges or resources shared. For a mining company, mapping and measuring relationships and the social capital of a network may help to determine common goals and priorities (Boutilier, 2008). 18  Ties between individual actors in a social network can be strong or weak, and there may also be structural holes (i.e. absence of connections) (Boutilier, 2007; Granovetter, 1973). Strong ties are valued for being committed and trusted sources of support and resources, whereas weak ties are useful for accessing new information from disparate networks (Wellman, Haase, Witte, & Hampton, 2001).  25  Mapping may help a company to understand the relevant concerns and priorities by analyzing communication flows, dialogue, and partnerships, thereby increasing their ability to respond to the public and move all parties towards meaningful engagement (Vallentin, 2009; Whiteman & Mamen, 2002). The process of stakeholder mapping requires qualitative and contextual information, obtained through face-to-face interactions and paper-based publications (Boutilier, 2008). Increasingly, Internet and computer-mediated communications are serving as sources of data for understanding key actors in a network. Social media tools, with their integrated analytical software, can map online social networks and provide depth of understanding about mining stakeholders active on the Internet. Embedding global positioning systems (GPS) units in communication devices is also making it possible for people to participate in the virtual social network while being traced spatially. Merging the social media network data with stakeholder maps created from face-to-face interactions may provide a company with a strong view of their stakeholders and their extended networks. This type of analysis and outreach has been used in urban planning processes, where municipalities, like mining companies, must engage the public broadly over contentious infrastructure projects (Bugs, Granell, Fonts, Huerta, & Painho, 2010; Elwood, 2006). Data mining, or the extraction and analysis of patterns about website users (stakeholders), can also help companies better understand the interests and needs of audience members (Danna & Gandy Jr., 2002). This may allow a company to explore any communication gaps or discrepancies. Social network analysis is important for understanding the interests and networks of stakeholders.  2.3.8  Networks, social capital and the Internet.  Social capital relates to the non-financial value of connections between individuals and organizations interacting in a social network. Adler and Kwon (2002, p. 23) define social capital as “the goodwill available to individuals or groups. Its source lies in the structure and content of actors’ social relations. Its effects flow from the information, influence, and solidarity it makes available to the actor,” many of which are embedded in social networks (Alder & Kwon, 2002; Gargiulo & Benassi, 2000). Networks carry social capital, in that interactions between individuals build a sense of belonging (Wellman & Frank, 2001). Research has also shown that social networks are associated with the capacity for a community to respond to environmental changes and to initiate and sustain successful co-management of natural resources (Crona & Bodin, 2006). Critics of the Internet are concerned about a decline of community civic engagement as a result of increased computer-mediated communication (Putman, 1996; 2000). Yet studies from the early 2000’s demonstrated that many positive outcomes result from online interactions including: the promotion of open, democratic discourse, the sharing of multiple perspectives, and  26  the mobilization of collective action, all of which are increasingly possible with Web 2.0 tools (Wellman, 2001). Successful online relationships that build social capital are characterized as having integrated online and offline relationships; the Internet is used to overcome space and time, and when possible, face-to-face interactions strengthen ties between people or groups (Wellman et al, 2001). The ability to virtually connect with groups that share common interests can build networks and increase the sense of belonging and identification (Chiu, Hsu, & Wang, 2006). For example, Kangas and Store (2003) argue that Internet and teledemocracy can be used to make resource management decisions, (but these communications channels should not replace existing forums for participation). Online interactions enhance the quality and breadth of information that is shared in face-to-face meetings (Wellman et al, 2001; Chiu et al., 2006). Continual interactions, unhindered by the need to coordinate meeting times and spaces, increase awareness of social capital in a network and can increase the level of support between network members (Wellman et al, 2001). Therefore, “rather than distinct online and offline spheres, people are using whatever means are appropriate and available at the moment to participate in organizations and politics” (Wellman et al, 2001, p. 450). Findings from a study conducted by Wellman et al., (2001) indicated that those people who are participating offline use the Internet to enhance, not replace, their connections, while those who are primarily participating online will over time, become involved with organizations and politics in person. The convergence of different communications software tools, as well as the explosion of Internet mobility through portable devices, are facilitating “glocalization”, or personalized global connectivity (Wellman, 2001; Wellman, n.d.). Additionally, research has been undertaken on the contributions of corporations to social capital, as they are also important actors in a community (Boutilier, 2007). Boutilier (2005) indicates that social capital of corporate-stakeholder relationships can be measured in three dimensions: the structural (i.e. network links), the relational (i.e. trust), and the cognitive (i.e. shared goals, shared paradigms). Boutilier (2007) indicates that community stakeholders, including corporations themselves, need to understand the social capital patterns of their networks, and should be able to work with alternative patterns that will help them reach desired common goals. Boutilier (2007) outlines different degrees of interactions from low social capital relationships, where a company acts independently from stakeholders and has minimal legal duties towards the community, to a high social capital relationship, where all stakeholders engage and collaborate. The varying degrees of social capital relationships will largely depend on the amount and type of communication between a company and its stakeholders. It is important therefore for corporations to determine their social network members and the social capital contained within the group.  27  2.4 The Future of Web 2.0 The Internet continues to change over time, from the first Web 1.0 websites to the dynamic Web 2.0 platforms prevalent today. The literature about communication technology suggests that there will eventually be a transition into Web 3.0 (i.e. “Semantic Web”) (Fuchs, 2008). The Semantic Web will move from the collection or amassing of data to “cooperation” of data (Fuchs, 2008). This will allow users to extract more meaning from the data through personalization, intelligent searches and behavioural advertising (Web 2.0 – Wikipedia, 2010). It is expected that the Semantic Web will enable computers to contextualize information from search engines by scanning, interpreting and prioritizing relevant data from the Internet. Augmented searching will be easier with the Semantic Web, as all the information will be categorized in “ontologies” (taxonomies), which define the relationships among a group of terms (Tasner, 2010). Web 3.0 tools may also have the capacity to rank the sentiments of content by colour-coding positive, negative or neutral responses, which would provide users with a richer and more relevant or personalized experiences (Tasner, 2010). The development of Web 3.0 is due to the over saturation of information (which makes it difficult to contextualize), too much openness, misconceptions of the tools, and evolving modes of interaction (Michael, 2010; Tasner, 2010). One of the desired advantages of the Web 3.0 system will be faster and more precise identification of information and it may be possible for computers to recommend further related searches, helping people to target data (Tasner, 2010). Web 3.0 may not require new hardware but software capacities will continue to evolve. The literature about the future of social media noted that rights and privacy might become more stringent in order to address some of the current security concerns. Therefore, while Web 3.0 may make it easier to map and integrate networks, it may also be necessary to obtain permission to link to others before gaining access certain profiles or information (Li, 2008). This may mean that monitoring websites and online groups may be more challenging in the future. The improvements of Web 3.0 will hopefully help stakeholders in the mining industry to have clearer lines of communication, as searches and prioritization of information will be better. There may be improved capacity to assess stakeholder sentiments about mining projects, as computer software will be able to contextualize positive and negative feelings. This will enable companies to better monitor opponents or “gripe” websites. Developing weak and strong ties online before stricter security rules are enacted may allow mining companies and their stakeholders to at least keep communication channels open. If mining companies are slow to enter the Web 2.0 realm, it may be even more difficult in the future to manage the tools and the virtual environment.  28  2.5 Methodology Literature Review The research methodology used in this thesis is based on various aspects of Grounded Theory. Grounded Theory, developed by Glaser and Strauss, instructs a researcher to pose questions about an existing theory, using empirical data, social structures, systems, interactions or behaviours (Babbie, 2002). In the case of this thesis, several theories (i.e. Communications Theory, Stakeholder Engagement Theory) provide foundations for posing questions related to the application of social media in the mining industry. Generally, Grounded Theory results in a critique of the theory in question or in the development of a new theory, but in this thesis, no critique was developed (Babbie, 2002). In Grounded Theory research, people or organizations that are being studied are referred to as the “unit of analysis”; in this thesis, the units of analysis were Web 2.0 platforms and interview respondents. Grounded Theory uses coding to identify key points raised in the data collection; the codes are subsequently integrated and grouped into concepts or themes that have similar properties. Relationships (i.e. links) between concepts are developed, based on Granovetter’s (1973) theory of strong and weak ties.19 This thesis used a qualitative research analysis tool called ATLAS.ti for coding data and to illustrate the links between major concepts. In qualitative research, interview methodology suggests a minimum of six to twelve interviews as this generally allows the research to attain response saturation (Guest, Bunce, & Johnson, 2006).20 This thesis included forty-one interviews, thereby complying with standard principles of qualitative research methodology.  2.6 Literature Review Conclusions The Literature Review included theories from communication studies, research on stakeholder engagement processes, social network analysis, and qualitative methodological practice. These broad topics are linked together by looking at their treatment of the flow of credible, transparent information, which is changing in the age of Web 2.0 tools. The themes that connect these theories together, and which will be explored in this thesis include: transparency, disclosure, public engagement and the public sphere, authenticity of voice, convergence and credibility; these themes will provide a foundation for analyzing the results from this research. Communication theory examines the impact of communication technologies on society. Bell and Castells’ discussion of the Information and Network Society demonstrates how the Internet facilitates connectivity between people who are empowered by being able to access information. Web 2.0 tools have increased information generation, as participants are able to peer produce and edit data. The connectivity of individuals in the Networked Society is addressed in Wellman and Boutilier’s research on social network analysis, that considers both online and 19  Strong links are based on relations with names, authors, comments, and other properties; weak links represent the relations with mixed properties. 20 Aside from the academic sector, over six interviews were conducted in each sector.  29  offline communities. Social networks have inherent social capital, which has been enhanced through the Internet. It is important to acknowledge these communities, as they may increasingly pressure mining operations by leveraging their networks and disseminating information through social media. The Literature Review provided an overview of current stakeholder engagement processes. The stakeholder engagement process is based on information sharing, which includes both listening and disclosing relevant and credible information. Hardware (i.e. cellular phones) and software (i.e. social media platforms) are making access to information ubiquitous, but ultimately, information sharing and dialogue must be done willingly and transparently in order to be relevant and credible. Grounded Theory was introduced as the foundation for the methodological approach to data collection for the thesis. This theory is a popular approach to social science research as it allows for the collection, codification and categorization of data within a theoretical framework. The analysis of the research data used a list of codes that reflected themes from the literature review (i.e. transparency, credibility, authenticity). Finally, the Literature Review provides ideas about the future of social media, which is anticipated to transition from Web 2.0 to the Semantic Web, where computers will be able to decipher the context or meaning of information provided on the Internet.  30  3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 3.1 Methodology This research used a participant observation approach and mixed methods of qualitative and quantitative data collection. The mixed method included website observations and respondent interviews with mining stakeholders representing the civil, public, academic and private sectors. By using two forms of data collection it was possible to represent a variety of perspectives (Babbie, 2002; Peshkin, 2001). There was an element of participant observation as the researcher interacted with respondents during the interviews and while monitoring the websites. This may have an effect on the final outcome but by closely transcribing respondent statements and not interpreting results until the final analysis, an attempt was made to remain objective. Respondents were aware of the researcher, as face-to-face or telephone conversations were being held, but few of the website hosts were aware of being observed and could not adjust their communication behaviour. The Literature Review provided an overview of the theories used as a framework for the thesis, which included Grounded Theory, communications and social engagement theory, and ideas about social capital. These theories were linked together by the themes of transparency, authenticity, credibility, convergence, disclosure, social networks and public engagement. These themes were used during the analysis of website observations and to review the topics that arose in the interviews. Data from social media websites, podcasts and webcasts were used; although these sources are more informal, they often present the most current information about the Internet. In the Internet era, data collection methodology has accommodated research about new virtual communities, which is done by observing participants interacting on social media platforms.  3.1.1 Study design and data sources. This study involved two approaches for gathering data: observation of websites and interviews with individuals from target sectors. 3.1.1.1  Website observations. The observational component of the research consisted of a review of social media  platforms of different stakeholder groups in the mining industry. Information gathering was unobtrusive as the websites are publicly available, although in a few cases it was necessary to join a social network to access deeper levels of information.21 A pilot period of observations was implemented for two weeks to ensure there was regular dialogue on the target websites; the selected websites had at least one posting per week. Starting in November 2009, a longitudinal content analysis was conducted over a period of six  21  Facebook pages are indexed by search engines and therefore are still in the public domain.  31  months, running until April 2010. Over the months, conversation was extracted from the websites and organized in an Excel spreadsheet, with a separate worksheet organized for each social media tool. Subsequently, the content was coded according to major themes.22 Figure 3 demonstrates how data was organized and coded from the website observations. Figure 3 – View of Website Observations  Table 3 presents the twelve websites (i.e. units of analysis) that were chosen for the sixmonth observation period. These websites were selected randomly based on a scan of small, medium and large industry groups using Web 2.0 tools, and by searching for related stakeholder groups also working online (i.e. the sites were selected by researching a mining company and finding a parallel online community group discussing the particular company or mine in question). It was important to find websites that represented civil society and private sector groups to demonstrate their different relationships and information sharing process.23 No wikis were found during the initial stages of the website observations period and so this tool has not been included.  22 23  See Table 5 for the list of codes used to categorize the themes from the websites The public sector was not included as no public sector sites were identified at the start of the research.  32  Table 3 – Website Observation Sites Site 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.  Name of Group/Organizations Society of Mining Engineering (SME) (Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration – Facebook, 2010) Alcoa (Alcoa – Facebook, 2010) Fuera Barrick (translates as “Get out Barrick”) (Fuera Barrick – Facebook, 2010) LaFarge (LaFarge – Facebook, 2010) LaFarge (LaFarge (LaFargeGroup) – Twitter, 2010) Rio Tinto (Rio Tinto – Twitter, 2010) Barrick Gold (Barrick Gold – Twitter, 2010) Argentina Mining (Argentina Mining – Twitter, 2010) No Pebble Mine (No Pebble Mine – Twitter, 2010) RightsandTitle (Rightsandtitle – Twitter, 2010) Republic of Mining (Sudol, 2010) IThinkMining (Caldwell, 2010)  Social Media Facebook  Affiliation Mining Industry  Facebook Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter Blog Blog  Mining Industry Civil Sector Mining Industry Mining Industry Mining Industry Mining Industry Mining Industry Civil Sector Civil Sector Mining Industry Mining Industry  The website observations served as a baseline for the development of the interview questions, which was the second method of research. 3.1.1.2 Interviews. A two-part interview was developed to learn about the implementation of social media for the target sectors in this study (See Appendix 2).24, 25 Pilot interviews were conducted to shape the logical progression of interview questions. The first part of the interview determined whether and how the respondent (or their organization) was using social media. The second part of the interview focused on how the respondent perceived the use of these tools by their stakeholders or constituents. The interviews followed a set of scripted questions but in some cases it was necessary to probe for responses, which was done in an ad hoc manner. Interview questions were developed for users and non-users of social media tools; a shorter list of questions was used for organizations not using social media tools. Notes were taken throughout the interviews and were later transcribed; an effort was made to capture exact wording and phrasing of the respondents in order to represent their opinion. Once all the interviews had been conducted, the transcripts were analyzed and coded using the qualitative research software ATLAS.ti (described below). To maintain respondent confidentiality interviews were assigned numbers that are used throughout this thesis (e.g. Interview 10003). A list of approximately 400 random candidates was generated through a process of research, which targeted Canadian mining stakeholders, but expanded to include respondents from across North America and internationally. Of these potential candidates, 190 (about 50%) were contacted in a randomized and on-going basis, and an effort was made to get a balanced representation from the public, private, academic and civil society representatives. From this list,  24 25  University of British Columbia Ethics certificate - H09-02403 Respondents and companies are not named to respect requests for confidentiality.  33  41 people agreed to participate in the interview. Table 4 shows the breakdown of contacts identified, contacted and interviewed, organized by the participating sectors. Table 4 – Respondent Contact Database Summary Sector  Public Private Civil Academic Total  Identified Total # 92 170 118 10 390  Contacted % (Of total) 51 55% 84 49% 52 44% 7 70% 194 50%  #  #  Interviewed % (Of contacted) 6 12% 23 27% 8 15% 4 57% 41 21%  Figure 4 provides a chart of the sectors represented in the 41 interviews. There was the highest participation from the mining sector, which included companies, mining-related associations, chambers of commerce and societies. Figure 4 – Graph of Research Respondents by Sector Respondent by Sectors Academi a  Public 15%  Public Industry Civil Academia  Civil 20%  Industry 55%  While 41 people participated in the research, two interviews were omitted from the quantitative analysis of social media tools because more than one representative from two organizations were interviewed (therefore the quantitative aspects of the analysis refer to doing 39 interviews throughout the thesis). One respondent represented an oil and gas company. Their experience was valuable as the oil and gas industry is similar to the mining sector in terms of stakeholder engagement processes around social and environmental issues. Four respondents were also hosts of Web 2.0 platforms (including blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter sites) that were part of the selected observation sites, and the ability to observe and question them enhanced the quality of information gathered. In this way, it was possible to harvest information first through observations and then confirm aspects of the design or information sharing process in the interview. Only some respondents indicated how long they had been using specific tools, so length of experience using Web 2.0 has not been a factor in the analysis.  34  The target profile of the respondents was an expert, advisor or professional responsible for communications, community relations or corporate social responsibility programs of the identified organization. Therefore, most respondents had a similar degree of responsibility and/or decision-making ability related to the choice or application of communication technologies. Information Technology specialists and web administrators were not interviewed as the research was not focused on the technical components of these tools, but in some circumstances these specialists were referenced by respondents, (who commented on infrastructure or technical capacities of Web 2.0 websites). The respondents had an array of needs for communication and different motivating reasons for participating with Web 2.0 tools. The respondents answered questions based on their own experience and the experience of the organization they were representing. The research attempted to be inclusive and attention was paid to interview respondents from both genders and from indigenous groups. First Nations groups have been included under “civil society” organizations. Figure 5 shows the breakdown of respondents by gender (based on 41 interviews). Figure 5 – Gender of Respondents  Gender of Respondents  Female 46%  Male 54%  Male Female  Interviews were held from January 2010 to April 2010; when possible, interviews were conducted in person, or they were done over the telephone for respondents located outside of Metro Vancouver. By using phone or face-to-face interviews, as opposed to online surveys, it was possible to minimize the loss of contextual details and avoid misinterpretations of the questions (Hine, 2005). In a few cases, the interview structure was not followed when time was limited or it was hard for respondents to answer all questions. A few participants responded only by email to specific questions, and these cases have been referenced as a “personal communication”. A codebook of 80 themes or categories was developed that highlighted recurring topics (refer to Table 5); the codes were used in the qualitative analysis using ATLAS.ti software. The same codes were used in the evaluation of the website observations and the interview  35  responses. Both manifest coding (i.e. coding of the visible content, such as specific words) and latent coding (i.e. coding of underlying meanings) was undertaken (Creswell, 1994). The codes were selected with the intention of identifying themes that were relevant for advancing knowledge about communications and stakeholder engagement in the mining industry.  3.2  Use of ATLAS.ti Qualitative Research Analysis Tool ATLAS.ti software was used to conduct a qualitative analysis of the research. ATLAS.ti is  a powerful data analysis tool with a workbench of features that allow the researcher to organize and manage data. ATLAS.ti develops conceptual networks from the researched material, enabling the researcher to envision the connections between ideas, as well as creating hierarchies that indicate how themes are emphasized throughout the research.26 Categorization, linking and coding allow the researcher to interact with the data and build relationships between predominant themes. Quantitative analysis of data is possible by aggregating the frequency of codes or words extracted from the interviews. While conducting the interviews, notes and quotes were recorded by hand; transcription of the interviews was not always word for word, although a close representation of the information was captured and full context was maintained. For example, a respondent may have said: “We are using Facebook and Twitter; these tools are easy to integrate with our press releases which we share with our shareholders. The press releases are required by the regulators, but they are also integral as the build support for the project.” This phrase might have been transcribed as: “Using social networking (Facebook and Twitter); easy to integrate (with other Web 2.0 tools and traditional media (press release). Press releases required (part of financial reporting and law). Web 2.0 tools build support (increase project awareness).” The underlined words indicate codes entered in ATLAS.ti. Every attempt was made not to interpret or provide alternate wording while recording the interviews. Coding was developed based on the interview questions (see Appendix 2) For example, codes were created to identify risks, benefits, policies and learning process of using social media. Codes were also created for the themes discussed in the literature review (i.e. transparency, stakeholder engagement, and credibility). Additional codes were included based on topics that were repeatedly emphasized by respondents (i.e. age, efficiency and language). The integrity of the data has been kept, but because exact wording was not recorded, it was impossible to quantify the number of times respondents mentioned certain key themes or words. Instead, quantitative analysis was based on the observation sites, where popularity and growth rates could be accurately recorded and by aggregating data from the interviews where possible (e.g. counting the number or female and male respondents). ATLAS.ti has been used to 26  The network views can be adjusted by the researcher to emphasize concepts or for easier network viewing.  36  help visualize the relationships between themes, however as this research was qualitative in nature, it should be remembered that the researcher’s ideas could have shaped the interpretation of data. Table 5 – Research Codes and Definitions Code Accountability Advising On Implementation Age (Demographics) Audience / Lack of Audience Authenticity Barrier Benefit Blog Challenge Collaborative Computer Infrastructure (IT) Cost Effective Credibility Decentralize Discomfort or Don't Understand Efficient / Inefficient Events Experimentation External Face-To-Face Facebook (or Similar) Government/ Regulators Images/Flickr First Nations General Comments Impact (Negative Or Positive) Information Gathering/ Sharing Information Management Integrated (Convergence) Interactive Internal Investors/ Shareholders Language Litigation / Law Marketing / Promotion Monitoring Motivation For Development Official Media/traditional Media Policy Privacy Protection Real Time/Timeliness Recruitment/ Human Resources (HR) Risk Stakeholder Engagement Training and Learning Transparency  Trust Twitter Unproven Useful Verification Wiki YouTube / video  Explanation / Definition Reference to Web 2.0 tools building or hindering understanding of actions or statements Reference to sources of learning or advice for implementing Web 2.0 tools Reference to age or demographic of users Reference to participants or lack of participants in virtual realm Genuine, original, reliable Something that impedes the application of Web 2.0 tools (no solution possible) Advantages or gains of using Web 2.0 tools Reference to web log Difficulty of using Web 2.0 tools (but solution is possible) Produced by two or more people/organizations working together Reference to technical infrastructure or parameters of Web 2.0 tools Efficient investment of resources; references to financial investment in Web 2.0 tools Reference to information presented on Web 2.0 tools being trusted or believable Transfer of power from centre to diverse groups or departments Unease or unfamiliarity with how to use Web 2.0 tools Maximum productivity with minimum expense or waste; Ability (or inability) to harness tools for increased productivity or service Reference to organizing activities using Web 2.0 tools Pilot stage/ trials of implementing of Web 2.0 tools Use of Web 2.0 tool beyond scope of organization (uncontrolled participation) Reference to interactions in person or word of mouth Reference to Facebook or similar Web 2.0 social networking platform Public sector representatives Reference to image sharing Web 2.0 platforms Reference to interactions with First Nations communities General comments regarding social media Positive or negative outcomes of implementing Web 2.0 tools Reference to collecting or disseminating information using Web 2.0 (vs. monitoring only) Reference to information management systems Combining of Web 2.0 tools (or weaving Web 2.0 with traditional media) Ability to have two-way flow between people/organizations through tool (across silos in an organization or with stakeholder groups). Use of Web 2.0 tool within organization (controlled) Reference to investors or shareholders of an organization Reference to Web 2.0 considerations for different languages Reference to legal consideration or implications of Web 2.0 tools Reference to promotional or marketing uses of Web 2.0 tools Observation and/or listening to activity on Web 2.0 tools without participation Reference to project or process that instigated use of Web 2.0 tool Reference to formal channels of communication, such as press releases, newspaper notices, public hearings, public radio announcements, email, letters, etc.. Reference to principles that guide behaviour online with Web 2.0 tools Reference to practices to protect individuals or organizations participating online Ability to share information in a useful time frame; opportune Reference to use of Web 2.0 tools for human resources purposes Reference to threat or negative exposure associated with use of Web 2.0 tools Reference to involvement or participation of interested parties Reference to process of learning about Web 2.0 tools Reference to open, inclusive information exchange or dialogue. Sharing and flow of information that is concise, clear and honest (in terms of accuracy, uncertainty etc.). Accessible information (recognising that some information requires protection) Reference to belief in the reliability and truth of a statement Reference to Twitter Web 2.0 tool Reference to Web 2.0 tools as not working toward goal; not tried and tested Demonstration of Web 2.0 tools serving practical purpose Process of establishing truth, accuracy or validity of information Reference to wikis Reference to video sharing Web 2.0 tools  37  3.2.1  Interpretation of ATLAS.ti.  The analysis of the interviews was done based on the coding and linking of major themes described by the respondents. The website observations were coded in Excel but not input into ATLAS.ti. Visualizations of the codes and themes are represented in the analysis of the research data. The following section provides an orientation on how to interpret the figures that were obtained using ATLAS.ti. The ATLAS.ti program demonstrates “named links” that express the nature of the relationships between codes. The names are based on six pre-set relations (i.e. link types), which have been drawn from Grounded Theory methodology. Relationships such as: “isphenomenon”, "is-context-of,” "is-consequence-of,” "is-condition-for,” "is-strategy-for," define how concepts described in the data relate to the collection of codes. The named links and the symbols used in ATLAS.ti are listed in Table 6. Table 6 – ATLAS.ti Legend of Named Links Named Link Code1 is-associated-with Code 2 C1 is-part-of C2 C1 is-cause-of C2 C1 contradicts C2 C1 is-a C2 C1 is-property-of C2  Label == [] => <> Isa *}  “C1” and “C2” refer to “source” and “target” nodes, respectively. The source node is where the link starts and the target node is the end point. For example, the ATLAS.ti could show the following diagram: Isa  C1 = Facebook  C2 = Web 2.0 Tool  This demonstrates that Facebook is the source node, which “is a” part of Web 2.0 tools. Links are the lines drawn between the connected nodes (codes or quotes) in the presentation of a network.27 A link between two nodes may be directed or undirected; a directed connection is drawn with an arrow. Links are created either explicitly by the user, or implicitly (when coding a quotation, the quotation is automatically "linked" to a code). There may also be circumstances when a relationship exists between codes (called a “relation”) but there is not a direct link. This occurs when codes co-exist, but the relation is inferred. Co-existing codes lack a linking line. A network figure is created to represent the connections between codes. Each code is accompanied by two numbers in curly braces – “{}” – which represent “groundedness” and “density”, respectively. Groundedness is the number of quotations linked to the code (i.e. respondent statements); density is the number of connections to other codes (i.e.  27  Links relate to Granovetter’s theory of strong and weak ties; strong links only occur between codes or between quotes and weak links occur between quotations and codes or between codes and memos.  38  interconnectivity of codes/themes).28 For example, the term “Recruitment {9 -3}” has a density of three, meaning the code “Recruitment” is connected to three other codes, as seen in Figure 6:  28 These numbers should be considered approximations of the real data collected, as the interviews were not recorded word for word, although statements were transcribed as accurately as possible. Every attempt was made not to interpret or provide alternate wording while recording the interviews.  39  Figure 6 – Representation of "Density" of the Term Recruitment  Figure 6 shows that the code “Recruitment” is directionally associated with Facebook, Marketing/Promotion and Social Network; Social Network is directionally associated with Facebook and Recruitment, but not Marketing/Promotion. This relationship occurs because none of the respondents indicated that they use Social Networks (such as Facebook) for marketing, but they do promote jobs through these tools. This Figure also demonstrates the problem with analyzing the interviews, as it could be determined that outreach to shareholders is a marketing activity, and this type of outreach is done through social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. In the following chapter, transcripts of the interviews are provided in order to demonstrate how the analysis was done, as there are possibilities for alternate coding or interpretation.  40  “Recruitment {9-3}” has a groundedness of nine, meaning nine references were made to recruitment in the interviews, as demonstrated in Figure 7: Figure 7 – Representation of “Groundedness” of Term Recruitment  This figure shows the nine quotes from respondents that were coded with the term “Recruitment”. The numbers identify the section of the text from the source data.  41  A complete representation of the network associated with “Recruitment” is shown in the following figure: Figure 8 – Network View of Groundedness and Density for Term “Recruitment”  This network view of “Recruitment” shows how Social Network tools (such as Facebook) are used for Recruitment and Human Resource processes in the mining industry. The interview responses are quoted, showing how Web 2.0 tools are used for Human Resource purposes. Additional linkages have been shown connecting quotes to the Social Network code, demonstrating the groundedness of this term and indicating the interrelation between the data codes and quotes.  ATLAS.ti generates a hierarchy of codes, but the researcher has re-organized the following  figures to reveal the codes and quotes more clearly.  42  3.2.2  Reflections on ATLAS.ti  ATLAS.ti is a useful tool for evaluating research data. The software is comprehensive and user-friendly, however proper instruction is necessary to maximize the interpretive features. Video instruction is available through the ATLAS.ti website and a user forum is available to learn from the experience of other researchers. Some reflections, upon completing the research and interpretation of the data, have been included below to help future researchers. ATLAS.ti is primarily focused on facilitating qualitative data analysis, but the ability to quantify aspects of the data collected provide an interesting option for deeper interpretation. In order to be truthful to the quantification of words or codes, recording and transcribing the interviews word for word would be recommended, rather than only taking notes. An alternative way to collect exact wording is to use a survey to be filled in by the respondent. These methods would ensure that coded statements were precise, and could be counted and interpreted exactly. Due to the limitations and potential misinterpretations of using a survey and the confidentiality complications of recording interviews, these methods were not selected. The data analysis program allows different types of files to be uploaded for interpretation, including audio and visual files. This research may have benefited from visual analysis of Web 2.0 websites, such as the wikis, blogs and social network observation sites. The use of 80 codes provided enough breadth to cover the major themes of interest and other topics as they arose. Using fewer codes may have allowed more in depth analysis of specific terms and their networks, but the scope would have been limited.  3.3 Limitations of Research There are a few limitations of this research, which are largely related to the dynamic nature of the Internet technologies being explored. Web 2.0 tools are constantly evolving and so the applicability of the results of this research may be time limited. For example, Facebook regularly adds new applications (such as allowing users to upload videos, photos, create discussion forums, analyze website metrics, etc.), which improve online interactions and the overall capacity of the tool. Several respondents raised the question of whether these tools are merely trends of communication, and they wondered whether similar tools will be used in five to ten years. If the tools become obsolete, this research may no longer be useful. The methodology is not time limited, but it may require adaptations depending on which major communication tools exist, and observation may be more restricted by increased privacy settings. There is a geographic limitation to the application of this research. Most of the data was gathered from sources based in Canada, although there were a few international respondents. There was an attempt to create balance between the sectors from across Canada, but there were no willing respondents from Quebec, Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, which are provinces with substantial  43  mining industries. Different levels of Internet penetration, limitations to accessing computers or mobile devices, and lower literacy rates may also mean that the findings in this research are not applicable internationally. Another limitation of this research may be the random selection of candidates. A systematic process may have helped bring a more balanced group of representatives. For example, most of the corporate respondents were from medium and large companies and there was not adequate representation of junior mining companies. Equally important to note is that the mining industry consists of different business groups, such as mineral extraction, processing and smelting; each of these companies communicate differently with their audiences, but the research did not probe into the social media application of different business groups. This thesis primarily addresses operating mines29 although some projects were still in the feasibility stage; research could have been more systematic about getting an even representation of mines in different life cycle stages. The thesis borrows the idea of the “public sphere” (which was developed for discussion about democracy and the public sphere) and applies it to analyze stakeholder engagement, information sharing and the private sector. Transferring the concept of the public sphere onto industry is acceptable, as mining companies often have community responsibilities that overlap with government services (i.e. CSR programs that support health care initiatives). The community may not be aware of the distinction around public or private funding for the programs, but maintains their expectations of service and information access. Therefore transferring the idea of the public sphere to apply to the mining industry is admissible in this thesis, but could be a theoretical limitation.  3.4 Methodology Conclusions In summary, this thesis used a qualitative mixed method approach to gathering data. Twelve websites were used as observations sites, representing the private and civil society sectors. Fortyone interviews were conducted with representatives from the private, public, civil and academic sectors in order to ascertain if and how social media was being implemented to address miningrelated topics. ATLAS.ti, a powerful analysis tool, was used and allowed the researcher to draw network views of the relationships between codes.  29  A single interview was conducted for a mine in the closure stage; the respondent indicated that no social media tools were being used.  44  4. RESULTS AND ANALYSIS This chapter provides the results of the website observations and interviews. Some analysis has been included and in-depth discussion will follow in Chapter 5. It is important to note that the intention was not to compare experiences across different Web 2.0 tools, but rather, to highlight common themes and current applications. It is difficult to differentiate the experiences of respondents from different sectors therefore all interviews have been included.  4.1 Website Observation Results The research included observations of social media websites managed by private and civil society organizations. As described in Chapter 3, during six months, websites were monitored for commentary, dialogue with users, and membership growth.30 The following section is an analysis of the observations.  4.1.1 Blog website observations. Observations were made for two blog sites that focused on mining issues: IThinkmining.com, The Republic of Mining.com.31 It was harder than anticipated to locate a blog site managed by a civil society group, focusing on mining concerns or a particular mining project. It was not possible to measure audience growth or ascertain the quality of interactivity between bloggers and participants, as this information is not available to the public. Some qualitative reflections about the blogs are shared in the following paragraphs. “The Republic of Mining” and “IThinkMining” cover a wide range of topics related to mining. Relative to traditional media communication, which generally focuses on mining when controversial issues arise, these blogs present alternative perspectives on the industry with both promotional and critical views being explored. The author of the Republic of Mining is based in Ontario and many of the posts are focused on industry news for that region. Events, labour issues, new research and important figures from Canada’s mining history were featured during the observation period. This blog includes a mission statement, which orients participants to the purpose and biases presented online; the mission of this blog is “to build awareness among the media, the general public and political decision makers about the economic and social benefits of sustainable mining practices in the 21st Century.” (Republicofmining.com, 2010). The profile of the blogger (author of the blog) describes his authority to discuss mining related topics. There are video links to live interviews, which build further understanding about the blogger. The blog includes articles from other authors, which diversifies the styles of writing and points of view presented. Many of these articles had been previously published  30  Measuring growth of membership was only possible for some social networking sites that made the information available to the public. It is not possible to measure growth of the blogs without access to specific metrics maintained by the host. 31 A third site, Protest Barrick.net was considered, but the website does not foster dialogue and therefore was not used in the blog analysis.  45  but posting them online makes them more easily accessible to the public (i.e. they are searchable online, rather than only through past news articles or mining journals). Despite the contributions from different authors, the blog does not demonstrate many examples of dialogue with the audience, as no interactions are apparent. Topics are easily searched as every article has “tags” (i.e. categories), which are visible on every page. There is also a historical and chronological aspect to the blog, making it possible to track issues over time. For example, an article from February 2008 about mountain top mining was posted, allowing viewers to gauge how management of resources has changed, by comparing the article to current news on mountain top removal. Articles were not posted daily and there were some gaps in writing. When interviewed, the Republic of Mining blogger indicated that the blog developed as hobby. Although the blog does not generate income or drive employment opportunities, there has been a return on the investment of time and energy, as personal credibility, recognition and reputation have increased, and new global relationships have emerged. Public relations and television appearances have resulted from blog readers, demonstrating the “braiding” of communication technologies (Israel, 2009). The blog ““IThinkMining”” also covers a wide range of topics, ranging from publications on technical mining issues to discussions about employment issues in the industry.32 Questions and commentary about employment in the industry are popular and have become almost a weekly topic, whereas other topics arise from the daily experiences of the blogger. In an interview, the blogger mentioned that by monitoring the analytics of the blog, it was possible to cater to the interests of the audience. For example, the day after writing about climate change, there were 377 hits of the blog, indicating a strong curiosity in the relationship between mining and climate change. This suggests that while blog participants can be somewhat anonymous, by using the analytical capabilities of social media tools, it is possible for hosts to shape their writing to meet the needs of their audience, thereby continually building credibility and strengthening the knowledge of the social network. The “IThinkMining” blogger includes images in all postings. “Tagging” is used to orient a reader towards related articles or for easier searching. There were comments made about many of the articles and in some cases, dialogue occurred between the blogger and participants. For example, participants provided corrections or additional information, and the blogger was appreciative for the feedback. Some discussion also occurred about the use of social media in the mining industry, as the blogger posed a reflection about the experience of using a blog to discuss mining. A discussion emerged around the potential use of Twitter (in addition to blogging), and a participant strongly encouraged this form of communication, as it was suggested that: [Twitter builds a] network of colleagues of who may be informing you of their delectable lunch choice more oft than you would like, [but] their posts show you they are still active in Twitter and available as a resource should you 32  This blog has existed since March 2007 and all archived articles are available to the reader.  46  have a question. This reason alone is why I think you should get a Twitter account, esp. if there aren’t any in your field currently posting to Twitter. Someone like me may like to follow you and have the opportunity to shoot you a question or two. (CannibalPanda, 2010) “IThinkMining” articles were posted regularly, with approximately two or three entries per week; this regularity is helpful to maintain readership and interest. An interview with the blogger revealed that this writing is performed mostly as a hobby, but as in the case of the Republic of Mining, it has been beneficial for building professional contacts. Observations of the blog sites suggests that these platforms provide some freedom for individuals to write in their own style about topics of interest, and there appears to be an active audience for the array of themes. Labour and employment issues were present in both blogs, suggesting that perhaps there is a need for dialogue and accessible information about this topic. These blogs organize information in a chronological and thematic way, building a large body of free and certified material (i.e. hyper linking to original sources or other blogs/websites) that may be useful for research by all stakeholder groups in the mining industry. While many of the comments are opinion based, they tend to be substantiated with links, and in cases of disagreement, blogs present a platform for discussion.  4.1.2  Facebook website observations.  Facebook sites of four organizations were monitored: Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME), Lafarge, Alcoa, and Fuera Barrick. Of the four organizations, only Fuera Barrick represents a civil society group (opposed to mining), and is specifically focused on Barrick operations in Latin America. All of the sites received commentary by participants from around the world. Both mining companies, Lafarge and Alcoa, used Facebook primarily to inform users about the company, providing updates about plants and mine sites, and personnel or financial information. General information about their specific industries (cement and aluminium respectively) was also announced. Both companies used Facebook to announce recognition and awards, such as receiving a high ranking for business management by Forbes magazine. Lafarge used Facebook to promote corporate actions and dialogue related to climate change; they also used the site to host discussions about their corporate social responsibility programs, which included an interactive discussion about AIDS. Alcoa had almost no commentary from users, but was able to promote community aluminium recycling initiatives that it supported. Both companies announced corporate education initiatives, which are important for building relationships with students and prospective employees. Employment opportunities were also posted on the Facebook groups of each company. Videos and images were present on both companies’ Facebook profiles. The Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME) used Facebook to generate discussion with its membership. Users posted questions and SME staff answered publicly so that other people could benefit from the information. SME, like the mining corporations, used the  47  organization’s logo on the site, however disclosure was possible by having personnel post images and work related announcements. SME invited members to visit them at events and conferences, thereby encouraging both online and face-to-face interactions. Reports, new publications, scholarship news, employment opportunities and event updates were all present on the SME Facebook page. The Fuera Barrick Facebook group included regular dialogue between members. The Fuera Barrick group included members from around South America and was written in Spanish; this language flexibility demonstrates global scope of social networking tools. The host of the site provided responses, but other members also shared news, information and supportive commentary. Opinions were discussed, demonstrating how Facebook can be used as a tool for authentic and personalized communication. This group converged Facebook with traditional news sources (i.e. online newspapers and television clips) to share in depth local investigation done by journalists. Videos and images were regularly posted, along with strategic information and updates on campaigns, protests and events. Several events and protests were promoted, which tried to galvanize action in different regions affected by mining. Efforts were made to link with protest groups, building off face-to-face interactions of members. Figure 9 displays how membership grew for each of the four Facebook sites over the six months of observation. Figure 9 – Growth of Facebook Users during Observations33 Growth of Facebook Members  SME Alcoa Fuera Barrick  Ju l10  Lafarge  Fe b10 M ar -1 0 Ap r10 M ay -1 0 Ju n10  N ov  -0 9 D ec -0 9 Ja n10  5000 4500 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0  Date  Table 7 presents the growth of membership based on the number of comments provided by each organization, from November 2009 to May 2010.34 Lafarge’s membership grew rapidly over the course of six months with an increase of over 2100 members (relative to Alcoa, which only gained 57 members). 33  Additional data on growth is included up to July, although observations were no longer officially captured (observations only lasted until the end of April 2010). 34 The number of comments is a minimum as not all responses, “thumbs up”, or other supportive gestures were captured.  48  Table 7 – Facebook Membership Growth and Commentary 35 Company Lafarge Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME) Fuera Barrick Alcoa  Growth 2102 1149 708 582  Minimum # comments 103 107 66 57  Table 7 suggests that providing information via social media tools is a good way to gain support. While SME provided slightly more commentary than Lafarge, Lafarge gained almost double the amount of members, demonstrating the power of viral networks, as users tend to recommend sites to other interested participants. Fuera Barrick also gained a significant number of supporters, which may be a result of connecting with other protest groups both virtually and at events. It is worth noting that Fuera Barrick is an online civil society group where no one is paid or responsible for updating information regularly; the other sites likely have at least one person dedicated to communication via social media.  4.1.3  Twitter site observations.  Six Twitter sites were observed during the research period: Rio Tinto, Barrick and Lafarge represented the corporate sector, and Argentina Mining is an aggregator of information that promotes mining in South America. “No to Pebble” represented a civil society group using Twitter to oppose the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska. The sixth site was “Rights and Title”, which is run by an individual dedicated to disseminating information about indigenous land rights and title issues across Canada, and includes mining related commentary. Similar to Facebook, the three mining companies (Lafarge, Rio Tinto and Barrick) were observed as using Twitter for corporate promotion through highlighting news releases, reports and industry announcements. Twitter announcements (i.e. “tweets”) generally directed followers to corporate web pages for more extensive information. Several references provided financial information and corporate management decisions, which would be of most interest to investors. Often these “tweets” were linked to public press releases, thereby complying with U.S. Security Exchange Commission (SEC) regulation to release information first through formal media channels. The corporations made no invitations for face-to-face meetings at events. Lafarge was the only company to use Twitter to disseminate information about employment opportunities. Further research showed that Barrick had several Twitter sites including: “minerabarrick” (Peru, Chile and Argentina related news), BarrickArgentina (only Argentina news), Barrickpv (Barrick Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic), and Barrickgoldjobs (focused on recruitment). Each of these Twitter profiles use the Barrick logo, but provide focused information in local languages. This suggests that there is a need for specialized information to get relevant participation on Twitter. 35  These numbers only correspond to observations from November 2009 to May 2010.  49  However, using different profiles may reduce the overall audience size, which complicates measuring the returns on investment and the statistical information of a company’s social media use. Rio Tinto’s Twitter presence included links to corporate webpage updates about the arrests of four Rio Tinto employees in Shanghai on July 5th, 2009. These employees were accused of bribery and stealing commercial secrets, which contradicts the company’s “The Way We Work” ethical guidelines (which were promoted on Twitter). A historical review on Rio Tinto’s Twitter account shows that Twitter has been in use since 2008; in regards to the news of the arrests, the first report was provided on July 13th, 2009, eight days after the arrests. There was a slight delay in notification, but Twitter was eventually used to show transparency about this issue. Both Argentina Mining and RightsandTitle use outside sources of information to generate their “tweets”. Articles covering a wide array of indigenous land rights and title topics were drawn from municipal and national newspapers and referenced by RightsandTitle. Argentina Mining presented information from different companies active in the region. In March 2010, Argentina Mining expanded to include news from other South American countries. The expanded South American scope may have been an attempt to fill a void of regional mining-related news on Twitter. Argentina Mining promoted mining related events and when possible, issued invitations to “followers” to visit them, thereby creating opportunities for online and offline interactions. Argentina Mining made comments of appreciation to followers, suggesting that the hosts were trying to build strong and lasting relationships by recognizing the participation of their audience. The Twitter group “No Pebble Mine” is centred on resistance of Pebble Mine, a proposed copper mine in Alaska.36 Members of “No Pebble Mine” are concerned about the mine’s potential impact on the local fishery. Although the title of the group is one of protest, observations of the site demonstrated that the group members have personal connections, as they shared technology questions, volunteer requests, photos, messages about fishing events and other demonstrations of personal disclosure. There was also a focus on fishery related updates. For example, a resolution requiring increased stewardship of the Alaska fishery was announced on a local news channel, and this update quickly circulated through the “No Pebble Mine” group, who provided a link to the television clip (demonstrating how convergence can be done on Twitter). The “No Pebble Mine” group may not yet feel the need to attend protest activities offline as the mine is in the project evaluation stage, but by disclosing their discomfort with the project and building relationships between group members, they may find it easier to mobilize, should the need arise. As many communities are far apart in Alaska, the ability to build trusting relationships and to share validated information quickly is an opportunity enabled by social media networking. The group made concerted efforts to connect at events across the country, making local issues a part of broader and global concern. A campaign to build membership on the “No Pebble 36 The development of Pebble Mine has not been confirmed and the mine site owners, Pebble Limited Partnership, (a partnership between AngloAmerican and Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd), is taking measures to include stakeholders in evaluation and decision-making about the project.  50  Mine” Twitter group was started to raise more awareness about the potential mine. The campaign ran from mid-January to early March 2010, and raised membership from 200 to over 500 followers, demonstrating the viral nature of social media and power of social networks. Throughout the course of observation, sites were monitored for the growth of followers. Growth of followers is considered a way to measure the usefulness of a site (Edelman, 2009). Similar to Facebook, which tracks “fans”, an increase of Twitter followers may indicate that there are participants interested in accessing real time information about mining. Figure 10 indicates the growth of Twitter users for the observation sites over the course of six months. Figure 10 – Growth of Twitter Users 37, 38 Growth of Twitter Users 1800  Rio Tinto  1600 1400  Barrick  1200 1000  Argentina Mining No to Pebble  800 600 400 200  LaFarge Ju l10  Ju n10  ay -1 0 M  r10 Ap  M ar -1 0  b10 Fe  Ja n10  -0 9 D ec  N ov -0 9  0  Rights and Title  Date  The outcome of the previously described membership campaign undertaken by “No Pebble Mine” can be seen in the steeper trend line between January and March. Considerable growth is also visible for Argentina Mining in the last months of observation, which is when the host diversified messaging to include updates from around South America. Table 8 shows that Rio Tinto’s Twitter followers grew considerably (406 new followers) when the host only posted 36 “tweets”, relative to Argentina Mining and No Pebble Mine, which both posted over 80 messages. Table 8 – Twitter Comments and Growth of Users Observation Site No to Pebble Argentina Mining Rio Tinto Lafarge Barrick Rights and Title  Member Growth 476 433 406 285 225 N/A  # Tweets 87 110 36 145 26 85 (39)  Growth Rate/Tweet 5 4 11 2 9  37  Additional data on growth is included up to July, although observations no longer officially were continued. Only two data points are shown for RightsandTitle as this information was hidden from public viewing during part of the observation period and was later made public. 39 Only mining-related “tweets” were extracted during the observation period, but over 85 messages were shared with followers. 38  51  Argentina Mining and No Pebble Mine tended towards sharing personalized interactions when compared to the corporate users of Twitter, and they have relatively good growth of membership per “tweet”. The growth rate per tweet of two companies (Rio Tinto and Barrick) was very high, suggesting that Twitter a good way to generate interest without having to generate new information; LaFarge did not have a significant growth rate, however Twitter may not be their primary social media site.  4.1.4  Twitter versus Facebook website observations.  Twitter and Facebook are different platforms, but are both social networking tools. Throughout the observation of websites, both Argentina Mining and No Pebble Mine started Facebook profiles and promoted these groups with their Twitter audience, however comparisons were not made between these sites for this thesis. However, Lafarge was the only mining company observed that used both Facebook and Twitter during the six months. Figure 11 shows the different rates of growth of these two platforms based on the extended observation period (November 2009 to July 2010). Figure 11 – Lafarge’s Social Network Platform Growth – Facebook vs. Twitter Lafarge Social Network Platform Growth - Facebook Versus Twitter  5000 4350  4000  Facebook  3000 2000  Twitter  1424  1000  551  Ju l10  Ju n10  0 ay -1 M  10 Ap r-  -1 0 M ar  b10 Fe  0 Ja n1  D ec -0  -0 9 N ov  9  100  0  Date  This figure shows that growth on Lafarge’s Facebook page is stronger than on Twitter. In part, this may be because Facebook is an older and more established tool, however it may also be a reflection of the depth of interactions and information that is facilitated by Facebook versus Twitter. Lafarge established its Facebook presence on June 26th, 2009, and their Twitter profile was launched on October 19th of the same year. While there was a delay establishing the two sites, the difference in participant population (fan or follower) is considerable. Within the first five months on Facebook, Lafarge gained an audience of over 1400 people, versus the 385 it gained on Twitter in the first five months. Promotion of the corporate Twitter page was disseminated on Facebook, but no attempt was made in this research to determine how many people were using both tools. Further inquiry into the experience of users on each Web 2.0 platform may be useful for mining companies to help them  52  cater to the needs of participants on each platform. There is also a need to understand audience expectations for each tool, as low growth rates may be a reflection of inefficient use of the tools.  4.2 Interview Results Interviews were used as a second form of data collection. There were two parts to the interview: Part One focused on how social media tools are being used; Part Two discussed the details of online communication with stakeholders. At the start of the interview, in order to ensure common language all respondents were familiarized with the terms “social media/Web 2.0 platforms” and “stakeholder/interested party” (See Definitions, Chapter 1, Section 14). The following sections provide an overview of the results of parts One and Two of the interviews and follow the general structure of the questions (See Appendix 2), although not all sections have been included.  4.2.1 Use of social media tools. Respondents were asked if they were using social media tools. Figure 12 demonstrates the number the respondents (by sector) that use social media tools (based on the 39 organizations that participated in the research). Figure 12 – Use of Social Media by Sector Use of Social Media by Sector 12 10 8  Using Not Using  6 4 2 0  Public  Industry  Civil  Academic  Sectors  Twenty-four respondents of the 39 interviews were using social media.40 The largest number of users was from the mining industry (11 of the 22 mining industry respondents were using social media). Within this group, eleven respondents represented private mining companies; five companies (45%) were using social media and six companies (55%) were non-users. Based on the responses of the 24 social media users, Figure 13 shows the popularity of the communication platforms (based on 39 interviews).  40  As two respondents answered from two companies, their answers were merged, so although 41 interviews were provided only 39 have been considered for the quantitative analysis.  53  Figure 13 – Web 2.0 Tools Used by Respondents  Other 9%  Web 2.0 Tools Currently Being Used Blogs 24%  LinkedIn 11%  Blogs Wikis Facebook (or similar)  Flickr 6%  Twitter Wikis 6%  YouTube 7%  YouTube Flickr LinkedIn  Facebook (or similar) 20%  Twitter 17%  Other  Table 9 – Web 2.0 Tools Used by Respondents  Tool Blogs Facebook (or similar) Twitter LinkedIn YouTube Flickr Wikis Other Total  # Public Sector Users 3 1 1 1  1 1 8  # Industry Sector Users 4 5 4 4 3 2 1 23  # Academia Sector Users 1 1  1 1 4  # Civil Sector Users 6 4 3 1 1 1 1 2 19  Total # Of Users 13 11 9 6 4 3 3 5 54  % Of Total Users 24 20 17 11 7 6 6 9 100  A total of 54 instances of social media tools were being used, representing at least 7 different platforms. The most commonly used tools in the mining industry are: blogs (13 cases), Facebook, or imitations of this tool (11) and Twitter (9). LinkedIn, social networking Web 2.0 tool, was also popular for both internal and external communication.41 Several respondents mentioned that video and images were being integrated, but very few were using YouTube (a video sharing Web 2.0 website) or Flickr (an image sharing Web 2.0 website). Those respondents who were not using social media tools were asked what was preventing their application. It is noteworthy that some of “challenges” mentioned by social media users were the same as the reasons that others answered for not implementing social media at all. For example, difficulties with resource allocation, organizational learning and unproven nature of the tools could be  41 Research was not conducted specifically on LinkedIn, as it was not hypothesized that this communication tool would be as prevalent as results indicate. LinkedIn is a social networking tool and may be subject to many of the characteristics of Twitter and Facebook (also social networking tools).  54  seen as a challenge or barrier to implementing social media. Table 10 lists the reasons for not using social media mentioned by non-users: Table 10 – Reasons For Not Using Social Media Reasons for Not Using Social Media (Provided by Non-Users) - [Our] members are not using them - Not sure how to incorporate them; Unaware of them; Need to know more about them; Unfamiliar with them; Overwhelmed (“mind boggling number of tools”) - Not comfortable using them - Do not have the infrastructure for them; firewalls; bandwidth access is problematic - Do not have the resources (human/time and financial) for incorporating them - See the tools as “dumbing” down media - Demographic barrier (older generation running the organization is not familiar with them) - Concern about their misuse (internal or external); Organization is too risk averse; open channels of criticism - Do not allow enough control of messaging; messages can be taken out of context - Concern about speaking on behalf of membership - there is not a united voice, and must look after diverse needs of members - Concern around public disclosure of information, particularly financial, that may present legal challenges - Opposition can mobilize using the tools therefore do not want to create opportunities for exposure - Not enough time to learn the tools - Do not want to contradict messages presented in face-to-face meetings - Do not want to create false expectations with stakeholders - Cultural/language barriers - Fear - Resistance to change - Unproven - Timing is not right - No need; Traditional media (including information on corporate websites) is sufficient - Sceptical about transparency (anonymity) of tools One respondent indicated that it is not a question of incorporating every tool, as this may only add to online “noise”, but rather, narrowing down to the specific tool or combination of tools will build the desired audience and participation (Interview 10028). Learning the intricacies of each tool and determining the best combination is a challenge when operating in a technical environment that is constantly evolving.  4.2.2  Convergence.  Several respondents mentioned that social media tools are easy to integrate into communication strategy. Figure 14 is a visualization developed from ATLAS.ti that demonstrates how  55  the tools mentioned in this thesis are interconnected. The analysis was conducted for the most frequently used tools.42 Figure 14 – Inter-correlation of Web 2.0 Tools  ATLAS.ti Legend Relationship C1 is-associated-with C2 C1 is-part-of C2 C1 is-cause-of C2 C1 contradicts C2 C1 is-a C2 C1 is-property-of C2  Label == [] => <> Isa *}  Figure 14 shows that Twitter, YouTube (video tools), wikis, Facebook, and Blogs are all Web 2.0 tools. YouTube is part of Facebook and Blogs (often as additional applications), however video is not included in Twitter or wikis. RSS feeds are part of blogs so that users can get automatic updates, but this tool does not get used for Twitter or Facebook and is not, in itself, a Web 2.0 tool. Twitter is associated with Blogs as they often reference or link to one another. The respondents discussed convergence of tools. Figure 15 shows how many of the 39 respondents are converging social media tools.  42  The figure demonstrates the two dimensions of groundedness and density, which are indicated in the brackets. Groundedness, the first number indicates the number of quotations linked to the code and density, the second number indicates the number of interconnected codes.  56  Figure 15 – Convergence of Social Media Tools Convergence of Social Media Tools  Two or more Social Media Tools 38%  No Social Media 39% No Social Media One Social Media Tool  One Social Media Tool 23%  Two or more Social Media Tools  Figure 15 shows that from the 39 respondents, 24 (62%) have incorporated one or more tools. The maximum number of communication tools being implemented at one organization was four (including a blog, Flickr, LinkedIn and a Web 2.0 platform developed internally). The majority of these Web 2.0 tools were available to external users; only three organizations were using the tools for internal audiences only. This convergence of tools may be a demonstration of positive returns from using social networking sites. For example, one respondent explained that since starting with Facebook for human resources purposes, the company has developed a Twitter site, YouTube Page and a blog, demonstrating how one pilot tool can inspire the application of another channel for dialogue (Interview 10019).  4.2.3  Social media and mine life cycle.  The flexibility and adaptability of the social media tools should be considered by all organizations when developing their communication strategies. Based on the interviews, an analysis was conducted to explore how the application of social media tools during the different stages of the mine’s lifecycle. Table 11 illustrates in what mining stage social media communication tools were being applied (based on the responses of five of the eleven mining companies using social media). Table 11 – Life Cycle Stages and Social Media  Company 1 Company 2 Company 3 Company 4 Company 5 Total  Exploration/ Development  Shareholder Relations  X  X  X  Recruitment/HR  X  X  Closure  X X X  X 2  Operations  2  4  1  0  The two companies using social media in Exploration and Development also use social media for Shareholder Relations, which is important for raising capital in the early stages of mine development. Two of the four companies using social media in the Operations stage have also used  57  these tools for Recruitment and/or Human Resources processes, suggesting that perhaps once a relationship has been developed, it may be possible to maintain communications with employees during their career lifecycle. Applying social media tools at different stages of a mine’s lifecycle may help improve communication flow to stakeholders. There may be more potential for companies to promote interactivity using social networking sites internally. At the same time, there is debate about this practice, related to the effectiveness and impacts of social media on workplace productivity (Robert Half Technology, 2009).  4.2.4  Purpose of social media tools.  Respondents that were using social media explained how they integrated these communication tools into work processes. Table 12 provides an overview of the application of the most common social media tools and their application by both industry groups and their stakeholders.43 In many cases the tools were implemented for one purpose, but have evolved to meet other communication needs. Case studies have been developed that provide more details about the integration of these tools (See Chapter 5). Table 12 – Application of Social Media Tools Application of Social Media Tools by Mining Industry Respondents Communication Tool Purpose Target Audience Facebook (Social networking) Recruitment Graduates, students Crisis Communication Employees, media and community Facebook and/or Twitter Investor/company news Investors, investor news forums Raising Awareness General public LinkedIn Project – Event Colleagues (invitation required) management Blogs Raising Awareness/ General public Reflections (Industry promotion) Project updates Community (subscription required) Wikis Knowledge creation, General public or directed at specific discussion and retention industry/profession Information Intranet (internal to organization) management Application of Social Media Tools by other Stakeholders Communication Tool Purpose Target Audience Facebook and/or Twitter Raising Awareness General Public Mobilization General Public/actively concerned individuals Facebook Membership updates Members Blogs Reflections, protest General Public Wikis Knowledge creation, General public or directed at specific discussion and retention industry/profession  43  Table 13 includes a column indicated “Target Audience”, but the information is open to the public, as few of these applications required membership status.  58  4.2.5  Experience and sentiments of using social media.  The following sections include tables with excerpts from the interviews that qualify the experience and sentiments related to using specific social media tools. The sentiments have been organized under different categories, based on the ATLAS.ti codes. Several statements are repeated under different codes as more than one theme was present.44 Many of the statements include direct reference to the associated code, while some instances were inferred, based on the context explained in the interview. These statements have been drawn from the interviews from all sectors (public, private, academic and civil) in order to demonstrate the range of sentiments and perspectives about social media communications in the mining industry. Further analysis of the relationships between the tools and themes will be included in Chapter 5. 4.2.5.1 Sentiments about blogs. Table 13 provides examples of the sentiments expressed by respondents, qualifying their impressions of using blogs.  44  Coding quoted various times affects their groundedness and density.  59  Table 13 – Respondent Sentiments – Blogs Code /Theme Analytics  Audience/ Lack of Audience Authenticity  Build Relationships  Collaborative  Cost Effective  Response - Hard to track print media, but able to track hits on blog, therefore know that this year had more traction than in years without blog (i.e. more viewers online than published material printed). - The blog has some elements of freedom – but you will be called to task [by audience] if you post wrong information, but you also can get away with some stuff. - See the benefit of a blog as allowing you to post own writings, and you are not constrained by circulating through others, but not sure if the blog adds more value than current website. - Blogs are more personable than traditional media channels. - A benefit of blogs is that you are able to express opinion. - For blogs, you need to adjust style of writing as it is different than formal reporting - A blog may be applicable to a CEO or a company where CEO is “face” of organization and where they are able to shape communication to fit style, but not so with government organizations where there are many managers. If using a blog, you must defend the opinion in an authentic voice, and it is difficult for a “government person" to represent whole organization. - Blogging expands thought process and ideas. - The Deputy Minister has a blog (internal access only). It has been well received as it allows lower level employees to connect and feel part of bigger decisions. - Having a blog doesn't specifically build relationships, but sometimes clients pick it up. For example, an article on jobs in Mining Women hit nerve and has continued to draw interest with comments. - People are talking about the blog; It’s been referenced during consulting work. - The blog has provided a place for people to freely express concerns. They can use the network [established through the blog] to verify information that arises from one source or another. - The blog links to other sites including anti-mining groups. It is ok to have dialogue but sometimes the environmental movement has gone too far (by saying “No mining is the only good mining”). The environmental movement has been positive for mining and improved practices, but now has to deal with reality of good work mining companies are doing - The blog is not affecting decision-making but opens up opportunities. For example, can use it to advertise that looking for project partner and get lots of feedback/potential contacts. - I've been able to move from blog dialogue to email and build global relations. - There is not a lot of dialogue on the blog – perhaps because not posting as often as should (but it's a side project not a money maker). - You can build relationships by connecting to other stakeholders (and get cross linked) – helps to build traffic and increase hits on subject matter. - The collaboration of tools (Blog, YouTube, Flickr) has had an impact. It has increased the intensity and amount of support for project. But it's hard to determine impact of online and print campaign as both launched at the same time. - The blog website has cost them [Oil/gas company] billions in lost sales [as a result of different campaigns developed by gathering and sharing information].  60  Table 13 – Respondent Sentiments Blogs Continued Code /Theme Credibility  Discomfort Events  Experimentation  Gather/Share Information  Information Management  Interactive  Monitor  Privacy  Response - The blog has some elements of freedom – but you will be called to task if you post wrong information, but you also can get away with some stuff. - We could say whatever we want, but use control to maintain credibility. There is a contact within the company who receives information and who communicates any special requests. We respect wishes to maintain certain boundaries. - Providing what you say is true and powerful it can attract attention. Focus on making an impact. - The blog has furthered my reputation because ubiquity of web (gets hits from around the world). I am able to move from blog dialogue to email and build global relations and this increases credibility. - Don’t feel technically savvy, so not sure of difference between emailing and blogging interactivity. If I see commentary, will deal with it face-to-face. - We use a Blog for a corporate event for the second year. - Use a blog around time of big conference, but not really good at keeping it updated. - The blog is selectively used to push messages about conferences - It is the first government body doing a pilot project that will start with radio conversations on land claims in the North with a parallel blog to share commentary from radio station. - Started blogging on own and has expanded communications ability and now able to cross-fertilize with news column that [I] write. - Use blogs for research on stakeholders to get a sense of feelings and concerns. They can be useful to verify information gathered on the ground. - Blog are another source of information but nothing new. - I refer to community websites to learn about specific context but not sure you can always trust those sites. - I will give consideration to blogs but no groundswell influence on triggering a reaction from government. - I have had responses to action via blogs, so remain mindful of what people are saying via these media (although don’t engage). - Use blog and analytics to look for what people are looking for - Harvest information and attract people interested in same issues. - Using information from blogs and extract data for technical components – which is used for website material. - Not integrating information further into information management system because not enough time (especially as not main business). - It's not an interactive blog – just platform that is user friendly to post. - Through the blog, an idea of voluntary reduced work week was suggested to management for those with family/retiring, to save money during economic downturn. It was implemented, saving $1.5million in human resources. - Blog having positive impact. There is some dialogue (but worried about disclosure as some people are providing personal information in the discussion). - If blogs come to attention then will monitor but not actively looking. - Use blogs for research on stakeholders to get a sense of feelings and concerns. They can be useful to verify information gathered on the ground. - Not monitoring blogosphere, because not public company. I don’t think people are paying much attention to the company. Only the real media is watching. - I have had responses to action via blogs, so remain mindful of what people are saying via these media, although don’t engage. - Use a privacy statement that indicates that personal information will be stored when sign up for the blog online. - Private information is kept safe. We are trying to get away from protecting information but as advocacy organization need to keep conceptual ideas secret (for fear that drafts will be taken as final documents)  61  Table 13 – Respondent Sentiments Blogs Continued Code /Theme  Response  Real time / Timeliness  - Blog is great way to promote ideas and perspective in a quick way – immediacy of tools is the benefit as gets ideas and dialogue on web in real time. - Timeliness of releases needs to be right – can’t release everything without some protocol/process. As an advocacy organization, sometime ahead on issues, therefore concerned that blogs by others are not really timely as they have already been working on issues (behind news releases). Blogs therefore are good for getting reactive opinions but not new news. - First government body doing a pilot project that will start with radio conversations on land claims in the North with a parallel blog to share commentary from radio station. - Have a President Blog for internal use for messages to all company members.  Transparency  Trust Unproven  Verification  - There is an extensive and public policy on how and what information is gathered about visitors [to the blog]. - If not prepared, then may not be able to properly handle responses on the blog, and it’s open to public, so must be careful. Blogs can get negative comments and you need to know how to deal with them. - Blogs/stories generally tend to be expressions of anger or rage. They are like an “electronic open line” of former radio, but allow for anonymity. - Build trust by leaving legitimate criticism posted on blog. - I'd like to see more about what these tools can do [organization with blog and social networking service]. - This is how I feel about blogs … if a reporter (columnist) wants to say something but is afraid to say it and scared of public scrutiny, they can use blogs. I see these tools as dumbing down of media. - Some interest in blogs as well – but need demonstration of blog with constructive conversation. - Risky and difficult for a mining company to use the tools – blog within a company may allow employees to comment but wouldn’t open up to public. - When I write, I attempt to verify the information by looking at other web topics – look for consensus. I'm inherently sceptical, therefore don’t usually believe what I read, and am sceptical of others if balance not present – are they being paid or censored to write a certain way? - I was supplied an email - a motivational email that sounded very military-like, and passed it on to the Financial Times in the UK. It was discovered that whole paragraphs were taken from a General Patton speech - showing a case of mass plagiarism and he [company executive] was forced to resign. - Providing what you say is true and powerful it can attract attention. Focus on making an impact. - Personal discretion must be used but since already using publicly available information that is written by others it is already vetted. - Working with limited audience, am better able to deal with accuracies and ensure non-misrepresentation. - On case by case basis, deal with follow up in case of inaccuracies - e.g. CBC announcement will follow up with any problems and have correction announced on blog (and other media channels). - It doesn’t matter how small a blog it is, what is said can become fact if not corrected. - Not sure if information is accurate so must check sources (each person must do and own quality control).  62  4.2.5.2 Sentiments about Facebook. Table 14 provides examples of the sentiments by respondents, qualifying their impressions of using this social media tool. Table 14 – Respondent Sentiments - Facebook Codes Age  Audience / Lack of Audience  Build Relationships  Responses - Older generation nervous about using tools. The board of the organization is made up to CEO’s of mining companies who are not sure of tools and don’t know where opportunity lies. - Most think Facebook is for kids/teenagers. - Good for connecting to younger generation. -We're not dealing with young constituents but focus on opinion leaders who have set communication channels. But we recognize that many First Nation are younger and looking for jobs and could be a swing vote for the project – therefore need to ensure have information available to them. - Learned about new application from a young employee and just being rolled out (therefore not sure impact but got general sense of enthusiasm for them). - Senior members comment that their kids are on Facebook, and using it at work allows them to see activity. - How do we engage the next generation of employees (high school age)? Try to evolve to meet needs of target audience. - Started a Facebook group in last year. Content added from website and hope to expand messages to broader audience (including employees and beyond). - There are different audiences: a) Employees - feel comfortable with activities of mining company and want to help improve image of industry. They can provide images from work to their networks. They are engaged and help to disseminate message. b) Communities – we send information and will now try to use Facebook as many members are young people - they are the future employees in the community so need to link and educate early. Need acceptance from community. - In areas where mines are operating, most people know what is going on, but in urban places, people are removed. But, people in urban centres are connected to new media, so good opportunity to engage in their comfort space. This is important because these groups represent big voting populations and influence public opinion. Trying to appeal to city folk. - Internally, the organization has a “Facebook” like system – the idea is to get to know your colleagues better. - Facebook was first used as recruitment tool (target young grads). Using to know about career fairs; for students to contact and ask questions about jobs and training; recruiters use to ask questions – very successful. - Facebook implementation has been interesting - meeting new people. - Facebook has had positive reception for internal communication. Company has opened 5 new mines and grown quickly to over 3000 employees, and Facebook is a way to share and collaborate across divisions. - Posting on issues as emerge and able to engage young people (keep top of mind). Allows new connections with work people. - There is a well-funded opposition to the project; but there is also core support for responsible mining so building an online support group with them. Have about 2000 Facebook members committed to project. Hard to measure coalition but used to encourage letter writing and to attend public meetings. - Allows regional operations to provide information from sites – videos, information sharing from site to site across whole company.  63  Table 14 – Respondent Sentiments Facebook Continued Code /Theme  Collaborative  Cost effective  Crisis Communication Discomfort/ Do not understand  Events  First Nations  Gather/Share information  Response  - Facebook has had positive reception for internal communication. Company has opened 5 new mines and grown quickly to over 3000 employees, and Facebook is a way to share and collaborate across divisions. - Facebook is being used as a platform to build coalition of project supporters. - Considered Facebook risks to be minor, and no financial risk – only needs time – but really only 15 minutes a day per platform. - Facebook is so useful to stay connected between meetings. You can find out who is going to be at a meeting/event (can plan ahead). - As communication team that put platform in place, we had to show value to management. We found ROI on recruitment: Number of new hires who had been on company Facebook page based on a survey showed that 80%, 18-35 age group, had been on Facebook page around recruitment process and were able to get quick answers. - Facebook has a role to play in Crisis communication (although haven't had one). We are ready to use for information dissemination (quickly). - Unfamiliar. - Not sure how to manage expectations of communities if messaging constantly – need to temper/pace the expectations of community and that of the investors – so can’t oversell or undersell. - Facebook is effective for getting information out about activities going on. - Can use Facebook to follow local politicians and keep them accountable to promises. This can be done as politicians post their events online. Posting on issues as emerge and able to engage young people. - Events need to go right to email because updates on Facebook change so rapidly [events get drowned in noise]. - First Nations promote mining as good employment – provide live view of facilities and hear employees. - Shus Nadiloh Facebook group has reclaimed traditional name of local mountain. The group hosts discussion and questions but dialogue really only between about 10 people. Can monitor as Facebook, and allows you to record development of conversation. Also, group has questions that could have been answered [by project proponent] on the Facebook page - is this an opportunity to establish credibility, start dialogue? - Facebook primary means for sharing information about community - effective for getting information out about activities going on and adds to existing communication. - Over the past 6 months, more online collaboration is occurring to help break down silos and increase understanding of who is in the organization. - Information for Facebook is generated internally and then shared. E.g. CEO interview – sent link to employees and investors who want to know. As articles and photos come through office, share externally, but still a "pushing tool". - Executive Department saw opportunity to integrate all departments and ability to engage people through encouraging posting. Staff members have created and maintain individual pages (and deal with own Q+A).  64  Table 14 – Respondent Sentiments Facebook Continued  Code Information Management  Interactive  Language  Marketing / Promotion  Monitor  Response - Not a radical departure from information dissemination methods but worth trying. - Practices have moved from just tracking news clippings (often done by volunteers) and now moved to include online news and sharing through new medium [Facebook and Twitter]. Now just storing information on line. - Storing of information is done automatically through stakeholder engagement process, which is formal and archived. Tracking stories and opinions from Facebook along with traditional media but not considered part of formal consultation process - just part of "sense" of project. - Not good for records management (information gets too diluted). - Have discussion forum in Facebook (therefore no blog) but don’t cut and paste from one area to another [between Twitter and Facebook]. - Facebook and Twitter allow for more interactions with clients. - Executive Department saw opportunity to integrate all departments and ability to engage people through encouraging posting. Staff members have created and maintain individual pages (and deal with own Q+A). - Started [Facebook] in June 2009 and have 420 fans (about 58 new fans per month, from 9 different countries, including Canada, Mexico, Finland and USA). Now each division has one administrative person responsible for posting information in local language and sharing information from local newspapers and sharing that around the world. Have Facebook in Finish, Spanish and French. - Great in English world but not necessarily applicable to all people (languages, ages and cultures), and especially when deal with First Nations Elders. - Have international outreach – some translation problems but able to at least start dialogue and then deal with issues. - Not just serving for recruitment anymore, it is more of a conversation piece, an opportunity to showcase what companies does, corporate values, and corporate initiatives (e.g. corporate garbage collection initiative). Can show what company has to offer and work atmosphere. - Facebook is another tool for public relations, branding, and information dissemination. Mining industry can use the tools to show what they are doing to protect the environment and provide information. - What is said about the project (no matter of platform) is public record. The values of company are very strong - this is a benefit but critics are not always "enlightened" therefore need to watch what is being said. Can't control what others say, but can impact reputation so need to monitor. - Does searches on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to find members and companies. Workforce/employees of companies are on these tools and sometimes disappointed when company doesn’t follow their lead or has empty corporate page. - NGO’s in Philippines watching site, so also monitoring branch and what is being said, but not engaged in discussion on their site. - Monitoring some sites – and got a warning of a protest at a public hearing. Was able to warn public sector as well, and can prepare a strategy for dealing with people if necessary.  65  Table 14 – Respondent Sentiments Facebook Continued  Code Policy  Privacy  Real Time/ Timeliness  Recruitment/ Human Resources  Response - [The organization] has no confidentiality policies, no codes of conduct, so there is the potential for not using information appropriately because people don’t know full context. - No plans to set up guidelines. User beware policy applies to these technologies. Free for all, so careful what you post. - No formal policies - organization is small (5 people + volunteer) therefore policies use common sense and we are accountable. - No policy guidelines at this point but building communication team that will likely expand policies to external processes. - Currently policies are in draft mode – implemented for 3rd quarter. When started, I didn’t think about it, just dove in and got started; but online presence has grown and decided to continue (not just pilot). Decided to create policy to protect corporation and employees. Prior to that just had internal policies about access to website. There is limited access to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter at work on work hours – so had to reconcile this because had to do on off time. - Very conscious that what once available it is in public forever – so careful about what to post; but mining companies are used to this because always in public eye. - Maintain a level of privacy – as determined by tool. Facebook is open though – don’t need approval to be a member. - Have used Facebook privacy setting – blocked information about age, relationships. Restrict personal info being shared. - Feedback from students is positive – get answers quickly, have way to interact. - Community members on Facebook and Twitter are talking on daily basis - it's much quicker than waiting for meetings. - Facebook first started as recruitment tool (target young grads/university students). Using to know about career fairs; for students to contact and ask questions about jobs and training; recruiters use to ask questions and make contact – it has been very successful. - Opportunity to harness employees as they are the ones in the communities and responsible for information flow (keep them as part of the flow). - Perhaps will start with employee us. For example, could use for fly-in/fly-out operations because people away for so long. So this way they could keep in touch with family, but depends on Internet coverage. - Pilot project with company to do Facebook style tool. Will start with just globally located communications teams and see value (or distraction) before expanding more broadly.  66  Table 14 – Respondent Sentiments Facebook Continued  Code Stakeholder Engagement  Transparency  Response - Storing of information is done automatically through stakeholder engagement process, which is formal and archived. Tracking stories and opinions from Facebook along with traditional media but not considered part of formal consultation process - just part of "sense" of project. Not cross-referencing information from stakeholder engagement process with Facebook support group. - Main risk is that you might get backlash when putting yourself in public (you’re at the mercy of people’s comments) and can’t control what comments will be made. There are two ways to respond: A) delete; or B) embrace the dialogue. May not fit corporate thinking but will engage in the conversation and demonstrate their standpoint. - In theory, we have different relationship and are more engaged if able to comment but haven't really seen these tools as being used this way by stakeholders yet. - Fish Lake has a Facebook page with over 1000 members - but I’m not sure what that number means (does it send a message?) It serves nothing to "care for a cause" online if you don't do anything about it. How can one differentiate between superficial engagement and a real sign of support. Those who engage in real world likely to engage in virtual one as well - but not necessarily vice versa. Activist community is using online forum more and over time, more people and groups (corporate) will migrate to that space too, therefore they are potential medium for communication. - Every mine has a strategy for stakeholder engagement - who to talk to, what to say. For 2010 Facebook is not on list of tools to include in strategy but should be. Social media in at corporate level but not at mine site level (which is where it could be very useful). - Not engaging with anyone on social media tools – none of our stakeholders, including us, are at stage of being able to use them. - Facebook is a new channel of communication – it brings closer affinity with stakeholders and can personalize information. This builds credibility, personalized information and loyalty. - Make technical experts available to stakeholders through chat rooms. - Don't think that meaningful public engagement can happen on line - but can serve as a supplement to meaningful sharing and reflecting (vs. current state of reactionary website stuff). But requires time and space to develop trust. - Forming community relations and want to be transparent, but not all information is relevant to public. - Established [policy] that will not delete comments but rather embrace and be transparent. Have had some comments but were able to put back factual information so that negative comments became irrelevant. Opening up for more scrutiny by public and regulators, but want to be transparent and not scared of showing numbers and operations. - Try to keep all information public. If shareholder emails a question, I will cut/paste question and answer and put into Facebook to ensure that everyone has equal access to information. Keeps accountability to all. - Have become more transparent and more accessible. Building relationships online means you don’t have to wait to send an email or scroll through website – so more accessible, more access and fast easy questions.  67  Table 14 – Respondent Sentiments Facebook Continued  Code Trust  Unproven  Verification  Response - Don't think that "meaningful public engagement" can happen on line - but can serve as a supplement to meaningful sharing and reflecting (vs. current state of reactionary website stuff). But requires time and space to develop trust. - Not sure how to manage expectations of communities if messaging constantly – need to pace the expectations of community and that of the investors – so can’t oversell or undersell. - Limited access to direct conversation with band (public hearings), but would like to increase understanding, especially around permitting process. Toyed with idea of blog or Facebook as way for messaging but need to go through formal processes and build trust through [face to face] dialogue. - Not sure that can be used to build trust but can be used to read comments. - Can’t afford not to tell the truth as people are on site taking photos and have evidence. - Fish Lake has Facebook group with over 1000 members - but not sure what that number means (does it send a message?) It serves nothing to "care for a cause" online if don't do anything about it. How can you differentiate between superficial engagement and a real sign of support? Those who engage in real world likely to engage in virtual one as well - but not necessarily vice versa. Activist community is using online forum more and over time, more people and groups (corporate) will migrate to that space too, therefore they are potential medium for communication. - Not sure how things have changed over time - but now doing the inevitable [using Facebook and blog] but not sure if the right effort going into it yet. - Too soon to say if process and practices changing. - Some consider it a waste of time and question use/process. Once shown it has been positive there is more buy-in and senior leadership encouraged by what is being demonstrated. - Not sure that can be used to build trust, but can be used to read comments. - Executives don’t see the value of the tools –see Facebook as teenage social interaction. - Don't connect [to Facebook] very often because don't feel like it’s useful – but as result, harder to stay in touch and use strategically. Only have 5 Facebook administrators who can write others can post images but everything is reviewed first. Questions are open but not allowing anything unconstructive. - If people state facts we go and check where and what have said. For example, if they mention a study, we’ll go and check (i.e. in order to properly engage – refute or confirm_. - Not really fact checking because comments tend to be short and not stating opinions. But if off the mark, then will respond. - Information for Facebook from organization website, so already verified. - Check any and all numbers that are posted with staff researchers. Have issues reviewed by committees and by legal department as well. - Re-circulation a lot of news therefore assuming that has been checked (traditional media sources) but in general need to use personal judgment around news that is received (on Facebook).  4.2.5.3 Sentiments about Twitter. Table 15 provides examples of the sentiments expressed by respondents, qualifying their impressions of Twitter.  68  Table 15 – Respondents Sentiments – Twitter Code /Theme Analytics Audience/ Lack of Audience  Discomfort or Do not understand Events Experimentation  Interactive Marketing / Promotion Monitor  Privacy Real time/ Timeliness  Response - Everyone needs different ROI measurements, but you do need to measure each tool and show good return. - On Twitter you can see who is following whom. - I would like to think that more people are getting news through these mediums [Twitter and other social media tools]. There is hype and emphasis through the tools, but have not done assessment to determine if true. - Using Twitter and other social media helps bridge diversity of membership. - Can use Twitter to create more awareness and make more linkages through discussions. - Looked at Twitter – not sure what to use it for. It works for those who have access, but maybe to hard to be meaningful as not enough characters allowed. - Use Twitter to provide updates. - Use Twitter for events, executive updates. - Trying to get more staff involved (how to tweet as a group without repeating messages). (Need to learnt to use them) - Just started using social media – since mid Jan (2010 on Twitter) and have Blog (for an event). Twitter is being tried for outreach to individuals, members, media, and businesses. - Trying to get more staff involved (how to tweet as a group without repeating messages). - Twitter is another tool for public relations, branding, and information dissemination. - Just monitoring at this point – policy not to respond but keep records – Watching analytics and statistical mentions as well (but not incorporating info from these sites into information management system (i.e. just a temperature reading). - Tools used by stakeholders – for information gathering. - Checked Twitter for members companies and to see what they are up to. Learned more about communications practices of companies by joining these tools. - Does searches on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to find members/ companies. Workforce/employees of companies are on these tools and sometimes disappointed when company doesn’t follow their lead or has empty corporate page. Privacy ok because reposting information already made public. Biggest benefit of Twitter is the instantaneous access to information. Listserves still good but passé as not able to provide real time access to information (usually packaged and sent once a week). - Twitter is good for getting answers quickly. - I anticipate that impact of use of these tools for users is that they are direct, succinct, and immediate (especially Twitter as not wading through lots of issues, which you must do with other group subscriptions). - Community members on Facebook and Twitter are talking on daily basis - it's much quicker than waiting for meetings. - Implementing tools for people working in [country] has helped them to learn to exchange more information in timely manner.  69  Table 15 – Respondent Sentiments of Twitter Continued  Code Shareholder/ Investor  Unproven  Response - Going to use Twitter for financial information and quarterly announcements. - Shareholders are interested and monitoring many different sites. We can also monitor these sites (can see who is monitoring what on Twitter). - There is limited understanding of Twitter - most think it is just like Facebook (social) but lots of potential other uses and could be harnessed by corporations. - Looked at Twitter – not sure what to use it for. It works for those who have access, but maybe to hard to be meaningful as not enough characters allowed. - Don’t like Twitter – mindless and not interesting and overwhelming anything useful that is being put forward, like info about protests, activities, alerts (information gets lost in the noise).  4.2.5.4 Sentiments about wikis. Table 16 provides examples of the sentiments expressed by respondents, qualifying their impressions of using wikis. Table 16 – Respondent Sentiments – Wikis Code /Theme Collaborative  Efficient / Inefficient  Experimentation  Gather / Share information  Response - Using a wiki to get ideas on policies and research methods, and to have conversation on ideas and how things are working. - Wikis serve as a knowledge bank and allows people to link to knowledge and defend what they say and how they think. The dialogue is part of the depth of information, rather than just the final outcome or decision. - Wiki is the oldest tool at the organization, implemented 2.5 yrs ago. It is used for exchange of information between working groups – able to exchange documents, information management for a project. - Allow better version control of documents. - Wiki used for exchange of information between working groups – able to exchange documents, information management for a project. But the tools are becoming more powerful (Sharepoint) so going to phase out use of wiki for projects (but maintain as intranet site). - Set up a wiki, which links information to investors and investments. Wanted to provide advice on how to avoid investing in mining pitfalls, improve investment choices and provide technical advice within the industry. Originally aimed to invite closed group and build their trust, then open to more and push out but used a commercial launch for financial reasons. - The wiki is new but is being used for internal (Intranet) using open source. Using a wiki to get ideas on policies and research methods, and to have conversation on the ideas and how things are working. - Use the tools to create discussion documents.  70  Table 16 – Respondent Sentiments Wikis Continued  Code Information Management  Interactive  Unproven  Verification  4.2.6  Response - Documents are circulated and posted in one place (organized). - May be as a result of living in a "library culture" that has a hierarchy and decisions around organizing information on relevancy (not always leaving room for interpretation or dialogue). Now have opportunity to use wikis as interim collection of thoughts (like SharePoint). - Social media is largely notional and not being used widely, because not part of peoples habits and not how we traditionally construct knowledge in engineering. Engineers generally work on a report and it stands as a document on a shelf (physical) and doesn't maintain itself as part of a broader body of knowledge. - Wiki not primary information storage – everything is backed up - Some departments use wiki as their intranet platform (and getting rid of intranet). - Wikis serve as a knowledge bank - and allows people to link to knowledge and defend what they say/how they think. The dialogue is part of the depth of information (rather than just the final outcome/decision). - Allow people to provide input based on their perspectives. - Hoping to get feedback from the network of people using wiki to stimulate discussion on better practice. - Use the tool to create discussion documents. - Unless you understand how Wikipedia has been misused to promote anthropogenic cause of climate change, you may not realize the need to go to original sources that have been peer reviewed. - Unless you understand how Wikipedia has been misused to promote anthropogenic cause of climate change, you may not realize the need to go to original sources that have been peer reviewed. - Ensure that maintain credibility by fact checking.  Social media and stakeholder relations.  All of the respondents were interacting to some degree with stakeholders of the mining industry. These stakeholders included: mining companies (members of associations or societies), employees and labour groups, public service representatives (from the municipal, provincial or federal level) and regulators, First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders and community members, community members at large (the public), advisory panels, property owners, the media, business clients and suppliers, non-governmental organizations, investors, academic institutions, environmental groups, church groups, and lawyers, etc. Many of these groups continue to use traditional communication channels, which include: press releases, email, face-to-face meetings, phone calls, public hearings, notices, and newspaper advertisements. Respondents were asked if there had been any impacts on their stakeholder relations as a result of incorporating social media into their communication plan. Table 17 lists the responses about the impacts of social media communication on stakeholder relations.  71  Table 17 – Respondent Perspectives on the Effects of Social Media  -  4.2.7  Response Less need for face-to-face meetings. More (supplementary) information exchange; consistent information exchange. Better aware of member activities. More sharing of information between departments and levels of government. Connected to more people (expanding stakeholder network). Better able to react to stakeholder groups because monitoring them. Created some efficiencies of information exchange. Better able to have voice heard amongst stakeholders. No impact on decision-making. Diversified communication process to meet needs of audiences. Contributed to removing human element of information exchange. No effect/no impact on stakeholder relationships. Unsure of impact.  Risks and challenges of using social media tools.  Each respondent was asked to identify risks and challenges associated with the application of social media tools, whether they were using the tools or not. A “risk” has been defined as a threat or negative impact as a result of using the communication tool; “challenges” have been defined as problems that can be resolved, as opposed to barriers that cannot be surmounted. It is noteworthy that none of the non-Web 2.0 user respondents indicated that risk management had been a driver for their decision against using these tools. Table 18 is a list of statements from the respondents regarding the risks and challenges of social media. The categories have been assigned to amalgamate similar comments that were collected from the respondents. Table 18 – Respondent List of Risks and Challenges Category Statement Internal (within an organization/project) Training and Technological - It can be a challenge to ensure there is sufficient level of Understanding technological understanding, which may drive the use of these tools – and can be frustrating if all participants do not know how to use them properly. Training and raising awareness for team members is necessary. Learning the language of social media is difficult. Conflict of interest - Challenging if employees post information that puts organization in situation of conflict of interest. Policies and procedures should be predetermined. Ramifications / Censorship - Challenge to decide boundaries of using social media prior to engaging, in order to avoid situations that may require censorship. Alternatives (other platforms) exist and management will need to understand the risks associated with censoring employees hosting Web 2.0 sites; need to know ramifications if defaming statements are posted. IT infrastructure - Firewalls and limited access to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter at mine site/in offices– make it challenging to use them.  72  Table 18 - Respondent List of Risks and Challenges - Continued Category Statement Integration of tools - Challenging to determine what tool(s), where and how they will be applied in appropriate and relevant work spaces. Privacy and corporate safety - Challenging to determine and managed risks and safety measures of social media world. Need to understand legal implications and considerations if applying social media tools. External (Platforms managed by others) Security - Challenge to moderate sites to avoid spam. Lack of control - Challenging to handle unanticipated changes/upgrades; Be aware of platform changes/upgrades that may occur on third party Web 2.0 without notification; Relearning of platforms may be necessary. Evolving tools - Challenging to handle new and evolving tools, which are constantly being developed to enable more “intelligent information providers/services. Technical problems - Overuse or technical problems may occur. ("Twitterbug" - locked out for username issues or “Fail Whale” when Twitter is being overused). IT infrastructure - Not all third party platform structures are user friendly. Terminology - Challenging that no standard terminology (webinar vs. web cast). It is necessary to learn different languages of each tool and manage participant expectations. Socio-cultural Uncertainty Risk of transparency - Mining companies are conservative and just getting into mindset of using tools and sharing information; Fear participating in conversation with opponents (may be misinterpreted, misrepresented). Demographics - Tools are associated with younger generations; older generations/leadership nervous about using tools/ misunderstand how to use tools. Lack of control - Difficult to control intangible audience (that is very broad and can be anonymous). Unproven / Uncertainty - Tools are unproven for public engagement; Need evidence that business model lends itself to tools (or vice versa); Not sure of effects of posting online; No proof that tools are effective; not sure how supplements or serves as another form on communication. Lack of context - Challenge to get whole context and myths can be created with partial information (and can be distributed in viral, uncontrollable way). Learning curve - Challenge to manage steep learning curve in large distributed organizations. Language - Tools not necessarily applicable to all languages or cultures. Style - Challenging to adjust writing style to suit tools. Resistance to change - Organizational discomfort with change. Representation/Authenticity - Problem with representing various industries within sector – One Voice/ Several Voices from smelting to exploration; Difficult to answer needs of diverse stakeholders. Need to defend the opinion in an authentic voice and difficult “government” person to represent whole organization.  73  Table 18 - Respondent List of Risks and Challenges - Continued Category Statement Nuances and interpersonal - Computer mediated communication reduces ability to read communication personal nuances and connection; Easy to cut out human elements of commentary (if only seen online); online may be less courteous or less personal than phone or face-to-face interactions; interactions may be superficial. Financial and Human Resources Human Resources - Challenge/lack of time to learn tools; lack time required to develop strategy and implementation plan; must ensure there are resources and infrastructure for follow-up; need to keep fresh and unique postings. ROI - Challenge to develop ROI measures; No financial income from the tools. Time - Developing tools and processes can be time consuming; time required to monitor posts/address commentary. Interdepartmental strategy - Need to engage communications department, Human resources, scientists, engineers, etc. Efficiency and Productivity Waste of Time Managing Expectation  Diluting Messages/ Information Relationships and Audience Need for Face-to-Face  Trust  Authenticity/ One voice for many Credibility of host Lack of audience/ Intangible audience  Diverse stakeholders needs / Managing Expectations  - Tools considered a waste of time and question process and purpose. - Once information is available, there is an expectation that it has been read. Need a system to track all posting and not get lost in “noise.” - Noisy online environment; Too much useless information; need for prioritization; overwhelmed with information. - Not a replacement for face-to-face and may reduce face-to-face time; Can run parallel to an engagement process but not replacement. - Challenging to first establish credibility and earn trust – hard to do without personal relationships; Need to be receptive of personal/professional boundaries. - Concern around speaking on behalf of membership; need to balance voice of individual representing organization/department (while remaining authentic). - Challenge to certify credibility to share certain information; criteria of site must be transparent. - Challenging to ensure presence of participants (stakeholders may not be ready or interested in online dialogue); hard to ensure participants are present; Risk to have site without an interested audience (site with no comments not attractive to future participation). - Challenging to ensure that all perspectives are represented/ Tools may be more relevant to some audiences or others (rural/urban, etc.). - Challenge to manage expectations of audience; need ability to respond to people with care and understanding – not tools for nurturing relationships (just informing).  74  Table 18 - Respondent List of Risks and Challenges - Continued Category Statement Security and Confidentiality - Challenging to ensure safety/confidentiality of participants; need to understand how to treat traditional environmental knowledge or cultural information shared online; Breached confidentiality. Access to technology Criticism Timing of Dialogue  Reputation Protect reputation  Authenticity vs. Marketing Defamation/ Corroboration / Alterations  Maintaining values Legalities and Formalities Alignment with regulations Legal frameworks / Policy  Public disclosure International law  Leadership Lack of leadership  No exit strategy Policy makers  - Difficult to ensure that audience has technological devices and bandwidth (expensive in some places). - Difficult space to deal with difficult questions. - Challenge to ensure timing of messages does not contradict messages that are being said face-to-face and during negotiations; Challenge to determine when is appropriate (based on stage of mine life). - Challenge to maintain control of dialogue and protect reputation - Challenging to manage public comment/citizen journalists can create buzz and can influence conversation (although not part of formal process). - Web 2.0 can be used to corroborate a social license to operate or legitimize a project – drown out the voice of opposition. - Concern around defamation; Potential backlash when accessible to public; Information can be misused by all sides. - Tools can be used to drown out voice of opposition or falsely legitimize a project. Risk that others alter what is being said. - Challenge to portray and maintain values in open space. - Challenge to ensure use of tools is aligned with regulatory disclosure rules. - Challenge to align Web 2.0 tools with legal guidelines for public engagement, reporting, etc. - Policy makers not able to incorporate social media dialogue, therefore reluctant to have part of policy and process. - Concern around public disclosure of information – particularly related to financial commitments. - Challenge to know laws around information crossing many boundaries (especially when dealing with corporate entity that is treated differently by country laws). - Industry has been slow to get voice on line; hard to implement something new; resistance to change; Economic climate not encouraging innovation (risk averse climate). - Difficult to exit, so better to stay out than enter if not ready. - Policy makers not able to incorporate social media dialogue, therefore reluctance to have part of policy/process.  Non-Participation in Social Media Ignoring tools - Biggest risk is to ignore the communication tools and dialogue; a risk to not engage in the tools that are at everyone’s fingertips; important to be part of information sharing and conversation. Reduced service  - Reduced service if not sure what others are saying (Gap in understanding).  75  Table 19 indicates some of the reoccurring comments made by respondents about the risks and challenges of using social media. This table demonstrates some of the pervasive perceptions about social media by stakeholders in the mining industry. Table 19 – Comments about Risks and Challenges of Social Media Risk or Challenge Loss of control of communication /vulnerable to public debate Firewalls blocking access to Web 2.0 tools Reduced human interaction (risk of misunderstandings) Technical risks (i.e. spam, bandwidth, overuse of Web 2.0 tool) Unproven (and no leadership in industry) Lack of resources (human and financial) Increased laziness towards courtesy or etiquette Potential for employee defamation No risks  # Of Comments 21 6 6 4 4 4 2 2 2  Three comments were made suggesting that ignoring social media tools would be a bigger risk than implementing them. “The Internet and search capacities of Google have changed the nature of research and information sharing therefore it is important to be a part of conversation” (Interview 10035). These respondents noted that missing the opportunity to participate in dialogue reduces the ability to understand and service stakeholders. Embracing the new culture of new communication tools is a significant challenge for all stakeholders in the mining industry. Some respondents indicated that there is resistance to change, particularly with the older generation, especially as there are no legal requirements for using social media. Training on Web 2.0 platforms could improve the use of these tools, yet ten of the respondents indicated that they started using social media without any formal education about them. Getting consensus from different departments, including obtaining legal advice, about how social media communications may reduce the risks of using these tools. Managing audience expectations and learning how to contextualize online information so that it remains relevant is an important way to overcome these challenges. Social media is not about disclosing secret information but rather it is about two-way conversations with constituents; transparency about mining operations should not increase the reputation or business risks (S. Israel, personal communication, March 12, 2010).  4.2.8  Benefits of using social media tools.  Respondents were asked to provide examples of the benefits gained by implementing social media platforms. According to respondents, blogs are most useful for sharing opinions. For those respondents currently blogging, it was suggested that these tools help build discipline of thoughts and force individuals to gather evidence and write in a style that meets the needs of broad audiences. The  76  information stored on blogs provides a working database of accessible researched material. Blogs implemented by corporations can be useful for garnering support for a project, as they reach audiences that may not otherwise attend public hearings. Images, video and links to other blogs can be integrated, demonstrating the flexible nature of these platforms. Commentary by respondents indicated that social networking services improve understanding between members of an organization or within specific departments, thereby diminishing silos or hierarchies.45 Social network tools can be useful for outreach with younger generations; this builds corporate reputation with young employees who may view the implementation of social media within an organization as being forward thinking. Respondents from the mining industry sector indicated that social network tools could be useful for personalizing information and for building loyalty with stakeholders. In addition to creating new channels of dialogue, monitoring social networks can provide industry with insight into important questions being raised by stakeholders and are spaces to clarify misunderstandings and misconceptions. Social networking tools can help provide real-time access to news and events from global sources. Combined with other communication outreach, the strategic implementation of these tools can be seen to benefit many stakeholders within the mining industry. Table 20 is a list of benefits indicating the tool and the sector that could be most assisted by its implementation, based on respondent views.  45 Some respondents, particularly with the public sector, were only discussing social networking tools that are being used internally. Often these tools mimic popular publicly available tools, such as Facebook. By using “inhouse” software, concerns around firewalls that block websites are avoided.  77  Table 20 – Respondent List of Benefits of Social Media Tool Blogs  Social Network Services  Benefit Helps to express opinions and improved discipline of thoughts. Reaches larger and more diversified readership. User friendly technology/easy to set up. Option to comment on news being circulated. More personable than traditional newspapers. Channel for telling “good news” stories from mining industry counter voice to negative reporting from traditional media. - Opportunity to address negative mining reputation and image especially as NGO’s/ anti-mining groups are so prevalent online. - Raises reputation of blogger because ubiquitous audience. - Provides access to a body of researched material. - Easy to integrate with other communication tools to increase intensity and amount of support for project. - Useful for promoting events. - Reduces paper use. - Improved understanding of members of the organization/department. - Increased online collaboration. - Reduces silos. - Able to promote event notices, circulate articles, letters to editor and raise awareness about particular stance/policy statements. - Tools have helped ensure consistent relationship with those already engaged in the movement. - Use to get people to come to events. - Able to follow local politicians and issues (can hold politicians accountable of promises). - With close-knit communities that meet face-to-face, can be used for discussion and decision-making. Able to raise and follow different issues without diluting conversation. - Strengthens existing ties. Recruitment - Positive feedback from new recruits - getting answers quickly and ability to interact with potential employer. - Able to target new professional recruits and meet their needs for timely, relevant information provided that they can digest. Relationship Management - Can personalize information - closer affinity with stakeholders. - Personalized information builds credibility and loyalty (especially related to investors). - Able to engage broader audience in their comfort zone (at home) therefore can help education on mining. - Employees and contractors can interface. - Can monitor community groups, therefore able to prepare for meetings with relevant information; see warnings of protests. - Helpful to interact with broad members of communities that will be going through transition and anticipating new opportunities. - Provides transparent channel of communication, if unfiltered, all questions and comments are live. - Better awareness of members and their activities. - Easy to integrate different parts of organization so that each department can post relevant information to their clients engage people through encouraging posting. -  Sector Industry  Government  Civil Society  Industry  78  Tool General  Wiki  Table 20 Continued – Respondent List of Benefits of Social Media Benefit Sector - Facilitates dialogue. - Rapid exchange of information and impressions about ideas. - Social media interactions can be fun. - Easy to integrate with other tools (photos, videos). - Can track/measure people connected virtually. - Can demonstrate leadership in industry and opportunities for promotion/brand/reputation enhancement. - Increases transparency of organization (able to share questions and answers if not made public). - Accountability to all (ensure that everyone has equal access to information). - Able to stay on top of current affairs (gets info and also has search tools that provide links to be reviews and posted on Twitter). - Instantaneous access to information. - More online collaboration. - Participants are more prepared for meetings; able to provide input/feedback before meeting. - Better document management. - Able to cross reference past documents or meetings. - Larger audience. - Able to build an epistemic community of knowledge very quickly. - Able to diversify messages to different/targeted audiences. - Can be used to increase transparency and help stakeholder engagement. More informed about issues in the department. Government Fewer emails to review. More information sharing. Improved attitude about information sharing. Better version control of documents.  Those respondents not using social media also provided some speculations on how the tools might benefit the mining industry. Their comments echoed the sentiments of social media users. Table 21 indicates the speculated benefits of social media: Table 21 – Speculated Benefits of Social Media Response - Ability to build a mining company’s capacity to participate in online conversation. - Web 2.0 tools provide windows to educate society about mining and metals; Could be useful to garner broader audience. - Useful for reducing travel for meetings and conferences. - Could be used for crisis communication to keep communication lines open. - News can provide early warning for issues/community meeting therefore can help company adjust plans and roles. - Provide ability to reach citizen journalists who may influence conversation on mining.  79  4.2.9  Policy and privacy issues of social media tools.  Respondents raised important issues regarding the development of policies to guide their online social media interactions, particularly in light of managing risks and challenges previously discussed. Figure 16 shows how many organizations have developed Web 2.0 policies. Figure 16 – Social Media Policies Social Media Policies  Informal Policy 27% Have Policy 46%  Have Policy No Policy Policy in Development  Policy in Development 9%  Informal Policy  No Policy 18% Almost half of the respondents46 using social media have developed a formal policy (46%); these policies range from blanket policy statements (often paralleling legal disclosure statements available on corporate websites), to rules that govern accuracy, relevancy, truthfulness and honesty. It was noted that 27% of respondents had informal policies (i.e. nothing explicitly written but general sense of how to conduct affairs online). Considering the perceived risks that surround social media, it is noteworthy that almost one third of respondents did not have a policies or guidelines currently in place (18% with no policy and 9% waiting for a policy to be developed). Policies should be in place to ensure that online dialogue and information does not present a conflict of interest for the organization.  4.2.10 Information management and social media Web 2.0 tools have the capacity to store vast amounts of information online, which can be sorted in different ways. Respondents were asked to comment on the use of social media for information management processes. Three respondents use wikis for collective information generation and information management. One respondent noted that wikis provide user-friendly mechanisms for developing, editing and storing information in the “post-library world” (Interview 10008). This respondent stated: “Wikis serve as a knowledge bank and allow people to link to knowledge and defend what they say or  46  Three respondents did not answer directly and have not been included in the statistical analysis.  80  how they think. The dialogue is part of the depth of information, rather than just having the final outcome or decision” (Interview 10008). This respondent continued to explain how engineering could benefit from social media, as information and dialogue is traceable, meaning that everyone can be a part of the knowledge generation and interpretation, based on the opinions that are openly presented. This sentiment has also been acknowledged in the literature: “Increased participation and interactive knowledge-making may improve accountability and lead to more credible assessments of science and technology,” (Jasanoff, 2003, p. 243). Wikis present an opportunity for organized dialogue and collaboration in both social and applied sciences. Facebook and Twitter were not mentioned as tools that could be used for information management. In fact, three respondents mentioned that these tools were unhelpful, as events updates, pertinent information and news get lost in the “noise” of all the other commentary. One respondent suggested that blogs are a platform for chronological information management (Interview 10020). News, opinions and commentary can be captured and stored online and “tagging” allows users to search organized information.  4.2.11 Impressions of future integration of social media. There was a wide range of perspectives from respondents about the future of social media applications in the mining industry. A common feeling was that meaningful public engagement could not happen only through social media, but that these communication platforms complement other forms of engagement, sharing and reflection (Interviews 10007, 10012). One respondent emphasized that online engagement cannot be considered part of the formal and traditional engagement process, which requires collecting and archiving stakeholder opinions, but noted that social media platforms can serve as a barometer for companies to gain a sense of how the public perceives a project (Interview 10020). Web 2.0 platforms may be places for gauging opinions, accumulating links, and collecting stories on a specific project, but dialogue around controversial topics should not be focused solely in the virtual realm (Interview 10009). In order to have trust, a strong relationship must be developed first (often through face-to-face communications), and a parallel communication process might be integrated to support the engagement process. Disagreements or on-going negotiations should not be done through social media dialogue (Interview 10022). Respondents using social media gave the impression that both industry and civil society were heading in positive directions around online engagement and information exchange. One respondent noted that it is unlikely that stakeholder groups in the mining industry will ever all align on a particular project, but where there is some agreement, Web 2.0 tools could be used towards their common goals, and for documenting successful negotiations and agreements (Interview 10022).  81  4.3 Conclusion of Results The observations and interviews resulted in the following conclusions: Website observations showed that both private and civil society stakeholders are using several social media tools. Industry proponents are using blogs and social networking services as an extension of their traditional messaging, (i.e. promotional corporate news, including financial updates, corporate news and reviews). Some dialogue can be facilitated online, generally on a focused topic or event. Corporations tend to use their logo, which limits the degree of disclosure or personalization. Regardless of this “facelessness”, there continues to be rapid growth of followers and fans on these pages. Website observations of civil society groups also show growth of membership and dialogue through Facebook and Twitter. Dialogue includes information exchange as well as invitations for offline mobilization activities. Participants tend to disclose personal information, which helps towards building a sense of community, although it is hard to know the extent of online versus offline interaction. The interviews supported the results of use and growth of social media tools; twenty-four respondents from all the represented sectors were using social media for work purposes. These social media users have incorporated different tools, with blogs being the most popular, followed by social network services. Many social media users had converged communication tools, with the maximum of four tools being used by one organization. The tools were being used for both internal and external information dissemination and management. The respondents provided a range of sentiments about each social networking tool. There continues to be a degree of scepticism and uncertainty about the role of social media, particularly related to stakeholder engagement, but many respondents also indicated that efficiencies and benefits had resulted since incorporating Web 2.0 tools in their communications strategies. Respondents repeatedly noted their concerns related to the security and the age-orientation of these tools. Challenges and risks associated with the incorporation of these tools were discussed and respondents highlighted the need to develop strategies to reduce the potential lack of control of messaging, the need for sufficient resources, and continuous organizational learning to better understand how to incorporate Web 2.0 tools. In order to address the challenges of incorporating social media, respondents spoke about the policies that were being used to guide their online activities; almost half the respondents had guiding policies but many others were taking a trial and error approach. Social media tools have the capacity to store vast amounts of information, yet very few organizations were using them for information management. Wikis were the only tool directly mentioned for information management, while the other tools were criticized for the overwhelming “noise” of irrelevant information, making them hard to be used for efficient management purposes. Despite the hesitancy and drawbacks related to these tools, many respondents indicated that they would continue to assess the social media realm and several organizations planned to further incorporate them.  82  5. DISCUSSION AND INTEGRATION OF OUTCOMES I’m fascinated to see what the future of the industry will look like with the emergence of these [social media] tools. The biggest risk is to ignore the communication tools and dialogue. Imagine if we had ignored the fax machine – it would be impossible to compete in business today (Interview 10017). This chapter addresses the remaining purposes of the research and discuss the findings about the application of social media in the mining industry. The research purposes were: a) To outline the current uses of social media in the mining industry. The previous chapter provided the results from the website observations and interviews about the application of social media in the mining industry. The upcoming chapter provides further analysis of the social media tools, which include ATLAS.ti network analysis and case studies from the research. This chapter will demonstrate how a variety of tools can be integrated into communication strategies. It is important to determine when social media applications are appropriate tools of communication and to ensure that participants are active in meaningful dialogue in the virtual realm. b) To provide background and understanding about social media tools, particularly how they relate to values in the mining industry and to engage in broad discussion of transparency, access to information, and communication norms. This has been discussed in the literature review about communications theory and stakeholder engagement processes in the mining industry. c) To provide guidelines for how a social media strategy can be developed for stakeholder engagement in the mining industry. This final objective has been discussed in the previous chapter through discussions of risks and challenges of social media applications. Commonalities and key themes will be addressed through the analysis and case studies that follow. Strategic considerations will be provided Chapter 6.  5.1 Discussion and Analysis of Blogs Blogs were the most frequently mentioned Web 2.0 tool being used by the respondents in the research, although only three respondents were actually blogging.47 This means that the other respondents were using blogs as a source of information but not developing content themselves. Blogs were noted for being easy to set up, cost effective (often free) and can be integrated with other media tools, such as RSS feeds, images, video, and analytical software. Several respondents stated that their organization started by experimenting with a blog, which provided the foundation to develop policies and strategies for integrating other Web 2.0 tools. This suggests that blogs are considered a more controllable messaging channel than other Web 2.0 realm, and these tools can help build familiarity with the Web 2.0 realm. Some respondents mentioned corporate blogs available to internal 47  Two blogs were public; one was available upon subscription and was focused on a specific mining project.  83  staff only. Other public blogs were set up in coordination with mining events and used for daily event promotion, as blogs allow for instant and broad dissemination of news. Blog subscriptions can be set up, allowing the host to access background information about the audience and they can better track audience participation. Registration to access a blog was used by corporate and civil society respondents, which helps them to learn about their participants and ensure that information remains relevant (Interview 10011, 10024). Both internal and public blogs were mentioned as building relationships between an organization’s leadership and its employees to break hierarchies and silos, and expanding communication to stakeholders. Respondents mentioned that it was necessary to have strong leadership before implementing a blog, as several factors, such as the style and “voice” of the blog, need to be determined. The ability for bloggers to collaborate by linking to one another (i.e. a “blog ring”), to promote stories and issues related to common themes, is one way to increase web traffic, and was suggested as a way to build credibility as well. Linking to related blogs allows people to searching related themes and quickly track commentary. No respondents mentioned that they used blogging for direct stakeholder engagement, but rather complemented information exchange using this medium. They indicated that exchanging information through blogging helped to build relationships. Figure 17 demonstrates a network view of codes associated with blogs collected during the research, obtained using the ATLAS.ti Qualitative Research Analysis tool.48 Statements related to the use of blogs were provided in Chapter 4 (See Table 13: Respondent Sentiments - Blogs). As discussed, the figure shows that blogs are associated with the codes Timeliness, Interactive, Collaboration, Authenticity, Experimentation, Integration and Gathering Information. Integration is considered a property of blogs, as these tools can incorporate images, video, hyperlinks and other methods of convergence. It is noteworthy that Transparency, Credibility and Trust occur in the figure, but are not directly associated with blogs, but are connected though Gathering Information. This shows how properties of blogs can be correlated and used by different stakeholders. Building relationships also does not have a direct link to Blogs because respondents suggested that they have not fostered relations through blogs, but are aware of audiences listening and gathering information. Cost Effectiveness is a “co-existing code”; this code appears in the figure but is not linked to other codes because there was not a direct relationship made as part of the respondent statements.  48  Groundedness and density numbers have not been included in the following network views as commentary related to specific tools were not differentiated in the ATLAS.ti analysis. Instead, these comments have been extracted and included in tables included in Chapter 4. Table 13 provides specific sentiments related to Blogs (i.e. the groundedness of blogs).  84  Figure 17 – Network View of Blogs  ATLAS.ti Legend Relationship C1 is-associated-with C2 C1 is-part-of C2 C1 is-cause-of C2 C1 contradicts C2 C1 is-a C2 C1 is-property-of C2  Label == [] => <> Isa *}  85  5.2 Discussion and Analysis of Social Network Services The following sections include an analysis of Facebook and Twitter, two social networking services.  5.2.1  Analysis of Facebook.  Facebook continues to grow in popularity worldwide, so it was not surprising that respondents mentioned this social networking Web 2.0 platform. A range of characterizing comments about Facebook demonstrated the mixed feelings about social networking, as respondents discussed everything from, “fear of risk management on such an open platform" (Interview 10011), to awe, as demonstrated by one respondent who said, “like it or not, Facebook is a powerful tool” (Interview 10019). Other sentiments regarding Facebook have been shared in the previous chapter (See Table 14 - Respondent Sentiments - Facebook). Several respondents were able to incorporate Facebook by using a targeted strategy related to Human Resources and recruitment purposes. This allowed their organization to capitalize on the association of Facebook as a tool and virtual space for young people. Having a virtual presence where potential employees interact and look for career opportunities is good exposure during recruitment campaigns. Respondents commented on the demographics of Facebook users, while age did not seem to be such a predominant consideration for other social media tools. Facebook was associated with a level of discomfort or misunderstanding about how this communication channel could benefit the mining industry, and privacy and security concerns made respondents reluctant to embrace this tool. A respondent recommended that organizations become familiar with international laws of disclosure and libel before they implement this communication tool (Interview 10031). An example of how Facebook can be used to generate a legal proceeding is the recent litigation filed by Vale Inco against the leadership of the Union of Steelworkers. In March 2010, Vale Inc. started a one million dollar lawsuit against leadership of the Steelworkers Union Local 6500 for doing Facebook postings of pictures and personal information of employees, contractors and security personnel who crossed the picket lines, putting them at risk of harassment, intimidation, and other threats (Vaillancourt, 2010). This case demonstrates how parties can use social media platforms to promote their cause, but also how this information can be used against oneself in legal actions. In light of privacy and legal concerns, respondents suggested that disclaimers should be made online in order to protect organizations from having online conversations or information used against them. Figure 18 provides a network view of the themes related to Facebook, obtained using the ATLAS.ti Qualitative Research Analysis tool. The figure summarizes the predominant codes that were raised in the interviews.  86  Figure 18 – Network View of Facebook  ATLAS.ti Legend Relationship C1 is-associated-with C2 C1 is-part-of C2 C1 is-cause-of C2 C1 contradicts C2 C1 is-a C2 C1 is-property-of C2  Label == [] => <> Isa *}  87  Figure 18 shows that Facebook is associated with the codes Build Relationships, Human Resources, First Nations, Internal and External, Unproven, Marketing, Monitoring, Age, Collaboration, Transparency, Privacy control, Language, Litigation, and Audience/Lack of Audience (although few respondents mentioned the lack of audience). Strategic uses of Facebook include recruitment, crisis control and promotion. Facebook was seen to contradict Face-to-Face interactions, although the research showed that some organizations use Facebook to invite stakeholders to visit them at conferences and events. Facebook and imitations of this social networking tool appear to have some role in the mining industry and should be considered for building awareness about careers, environmental and social issues and creating spaces for dialogue and transparency. However, like blogs, this tool has not demonstrated how it can be used for hosting stakeholder engagement, particularly in a litigious environment such as the mining industry.  5.2.2  Analysis of Twitter.  Twitter was mentioned as a social media tool that mining-related organizations are using for information dissemination. One respondent suggested that a benefit of Twitter’s limited characters (140 characters) means that it is “harmless”, as there is “less information to wade through” (Interview 10025). This makes Twitter a potential tool for sharing immediate and direct information. Twitter was generally being used for news and event updates, rather than serving as a tool for discussion. Several respondents mentioned that Twitter is useful for sharing financial news (Interview 10013, 10028). In these cases, it was important for financial teams to determine how to control the flow and contextualization of information to align with formal disclosure processes prescribed by the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) (Interview 10013). Sharing financial information was unique to Twitter. Two respondents spoke directly against Twitter, mentioning that it seemed mindless and that “any useful information gets lost in the noise” (Interview 10040). Despite the unbalanced perception of the tool and the sentiment that its usefulness is still unproven, nine respondents mentioned they were using Twitter and another three had plans to integrate it in the future. Figure 19 provides a network view of some of the codes related to Twitter, developed using the ATLAS.ti Qualitative Research Analysis tool. Figure 19 shows that Twitter is associated with Discomfort and misunderstanding, Shareholder/Investor Relationship, Marketing, Unproven, External, Timeliness, Audience/Lack of Audience and Monitoring. Similar to Facebook, there were few comments about lacking an audience on Twitter, but the ability to specify or narrow audience members was challenging. Experimentation, Event, and Analytics were part of the benefits of using Twitter. Some respondents indicated that they are not sure how to differentiate between Twitter and Facebook, but recognized there may be potential uses both tools. Privacy concerns did not arise in discussions about Twitter, which may be in part because Twitter has not developed a financial strategy that includes selling user information to marketing companies.  88  Figure 19 – Network View of Twitter  ATLAS.ti Legend Relationship  Label  C1 is-associated-with C2 C1 is-part-of C2 C1 is-cause-of C2 C1 contradicts C2  == [] => <>  C1 is-a C2 C1 is-property-of C2  Isa *}  89  The ability to converge Twitter with other social media tools was mentioned by several users, who cross-post information on blogs and Facebook pages. Creating a smooth workflow on Twitter has been improved by the use of free software platforms, such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuit (Interviews 10006, 10011). Some Web 2.0 tools were directly associated with information management, but it appears that Twitter is better suited to information dissemination and propaganda, rather than as an efficient space for information storage or stakeholder engagement.  5.2.3  Social network comparison.  Facebook and Twitter are both popular social networking services. Eleven respondents were using Facebook and nine were users of Twitter; six out of the eleven Facebook users (55%) had incorporated both tools into their communication processes, suggesting that there are different but complementary applications. Using the ATLAS.ti Qualitative Research tool, Figure 20 shows common associations of these Web 2.0 tools.  90  Figure 20 – Network Comparison of Facebook and Twitter  ATLAS.ti Legend Relationship C1 is-associated-with C2 C1 is-part-of C2 C1 is-cause-of C2 C1 contradicts C2 C1 is-a C2 C1 is-property-of C2  Label == [] => <> Isa *}  91  Some of the themes unique to Facebook include: Age of users, Privacy, Language capacities, Building relationships (both external and internal), Transparency, and Recruitment services. In comparison, Twitter is associated with the codes: Timeliness, Cost effectiveness, Shareholder outreach, and Discomfort or misunderstanding. They both share characteristics of being Interactive49, easy to Integrate with other Web 2.0 tools, provide strong Analytical capacities, and being useful for Marketing and external outreach, and yet both tools are still considered to be Unproven for engagement, despite their uptake in the industry. Experimentation continues to determine how these tools can be used strategically and what policies should guide their application. Neither Facebook nor Twitter was directly connected to Information management, although they have some capacity for storing and sorting news, events and updates. Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter, appear to be most useful for monitoring stakeholders, gauging interest in different issues, and gathering information. While social networking continues to gain popularity, it appears that there are still many areas for innovation to bring participants together in these virtual spaces.  5.3 Discussion and Analysis of Wikis Wikis are an important social media tool for bringing information and debate to the public realm. These tools are interesting for hosting discussion on a specific topic, where the individual audience members or organizations are able to maintain integrity of their voice while adding to the debate. Figure 21 provides a network view of some of the codes related to wikis, obtained using the ATLAS.ti Qualitative Research Analysis tool. The figure shows that wikis are associated with Verification, Information Management, Integration, Experimentation, Efficiency/Inefficient, Shareholder/Investor Relations, Interactivity, and Collaboration. Although there is a link between wikis and Information Management (e.g. wikis are replacing Intranet systems), some respondents noted that this tool is still Unproven.  49  Respondents mentioned that Facebook was interactive, but website observations showed limited audience participation in several cases  92  Figure 21 – Network View of Wikis  ATLAS.ti Legend Relationship C1 is-associated-with C2  Label ==  C1 is-part-of C2 C1 is-cause-of C2 C1 contradicts C2  [] => <>  C1 is-a C2 C1 is-property-of C2  Isa *}  93  The use of wikis was seen primarily as being an internal tool, serving technical or research groups or being incorporated as an Intranet platform. As an internal tool, wikis provide a good platform for an organization to become familiar with Web 2.0 tools, where users can increase their comfort levels with posting and sharing information. Wikis are seen to be collaborative and efficient, as edits are openly seen and discussed, providing better control of changes. There was no mention of Audience when discussing wikis, perhaps implying that most users were participating, as opposed to monitoring them for information. Wikis are useful for building and contextualizing organizational knowledge with background information. As described by a respondent, in the field of engineering, physical reports of a project are developed as stand-alone documents (Interview 10008). However, this respondent also noted how information in all these reports is connected and ought to interact with a broader body of knowledge that can now be captured through computer platforms, such as wikis. While the Internet stores masses of individual pieces of information, until this data is organized and interlinked it is difficult to create a full body of knowledge. As with the other social media tools, wikis can be integrated with other tools to include videos, images and hyperlinks (although the respondent did not mention social media convergence in the interview). The capacity of a wiki to build linkages and engage participants in discussion may enhance understanding and knowledge in the mining industry. In the academic sector, wikis have been used to keep information current, while storing the evolution of that knowledge (Interview 10004). A wiki can serve as a “live and interactive dictionary” as people obtain and share information on developments in the mining industry (Interview 10004). A respondent from the public sector discussed the implementation of a wiki in a government department over two years ago (Interview 10027). The wiki is used internally for exchange of information between working groups, for document control and for effective information management for projects, often alongside “Sharepoint” programs.50 The acceptance of the wiki has grown steadily and is replacing the intranet. Wikis were predominantly mentioned for the interactive and collaborative nature of developing information. Collaboration and discussion also occurs in the verification process as most wikis allow users to participate in editing information or in discussion forums where inconsistencies or contested topics can be shared openly. Wikis have not demonstrated their application for stakeholder engagement, however respondents did mention their usefulness as communication and information management tools.  50  Sharepoint is a social media platform that allows individuals to share PowerPoint presentations and other materials, which can be distributed to wide networks, and feedback can be received online.  94  5.4 Analysis and Discussion of Major Themes ATLAS.ti Qualitative Research Analysis tool was used to connect Web 2.0 tools with particular themes of interest. The following discussion provides a summary of the relationship between major themes that emerged through the research. Figure 22 demonstrates some of the interrelations between the codes “Authenticity”, “Transparency”, and “Credibility”, although the discussion explores other important themes. Case studies shared by respondents serve as examples for how social media tools relate to these themes.  95  Figure 22 – Social Media Tools and Major Themes of Authenticity, Transparency and Credibility  ATLAS.ti Legend Relationship C1 is-associated-with C2 C1 is-part-of C2 C1 is-cause-of C2 C1 contradicts C2 C1 is-a C2 C1 is-property-of C2  Label == [] => <> Isa *}  96  Figure 22 shows that only Facebook is directly related to the theme Transparency, and only blogs were associated with Authenticity. Transparency is not associated with blogs because of the chance for anonymity of either the blogger or participants. Twitter and wikis are not included in this graphic; their absence could be a result of being less popular tools, or for reasons of misunderstanding. The theme of Trust is associated with social network services in general, but does not have a direct link with Facebook, as privacy concerns are prevalent. Credibility is not directly associated with any of the tools, but is related to Transparency and Verification, suggesting that credibility needs to be built through disclosure of data sources and by sharing the intention behind each Web 2.0 tool. Respondents raised questions about the Accountability of Web 2.0 hosts and tools, but the graphic shows that the term Accountability is not actually associated with any of the tools. Therefore, while the communications tools are being adopted, there remains a degree of scepticism, as they have not been proven for efficient information provision or for meaningful engagement. It is also noteworthy that the codes Marketing and Traditional Media do not connect to any of the themes; Marketing is associated with Facebook, but is not seen to be a part of transparent, authentic or credible communication. Traditional media is also present in the figure as respondents compared social media to tradition communication, although this research did not aim to make a direct comparison. Figure 22 demonstrates some of the tensions that surround the integration of social media communications tools in the mining industry, particularly as they relate to Transparency, Authenticity, and Credibility. The following sections include case studies and discussions of important themes related to the integration of social media.  5.4.1 Authenticity and credibility. Blogs, unlike other Web 2.0 tools are associated with the term Authentic, largely because they allow the author(s) to provide opinions and write in their own style. Blogs may provide some independence to a writer, but information may not be trusted until credibility has been established. A respondent mentioned that, “blogs have some elements of freedom, but a blogger will be called to task [by participants] if they provide misinformation” (Interview 10002). At the same time, blogs can be used as a platform to post news of a divisive nature. As one respondent said, A company is only credible if it posts both good and bad comments [on their blog]. Although the company does not expect everyone to be in favor, they created guidelines that address how to engage participants to ensure a more transparent process (Interview 10024). There is no requirement for training or professional certification for blogging, therefore, no standards or ethical principles exist to uphold their verification. Three respondents mentioned that blogs require verification before being considered credible (Interviews 10002, 10020, 10033). The anonymity of bloggers was a concern, as unidentified sources of information reduce their credibility (Interview 10033). Therefore, there is apprehension about the role of bloggers, who are  97  not necessarily accountable for what is written, although what is online is deemed to be “authentic”. The need for verification was confirmed by the bloggers who mentioned the gravity of providing misinformation and how it could affect their reputation. Research on blogs suggests that although there are no clear answers about how credibility is won, lost or retained, bloggers depend on a transparent, open and trusting relationship with their users (MacKinnon, 2005). One respondent said, “it is hard to find a balance between being provocative enough on a blog to build conversation and not risking the reputation of the department or organization” (Interview 10025). Although there are some tensions around the factual and credible nature of blogs, blogs remain a good channel of communication for promoting ideas and getting a quick overall perspective (Interview 10020). Credibility was also discussed in relation to wikis, and particularly Wikipedia, an online and interactive encyclopaedia service. One respondent indicated their distrust in Wikipedia as a tool for information by stating, “ Unless you understand how Wikipedia has been misused to promote anthropogenic cause of climate change, you may not realize the need to go to original sources that have been peer reviewed” (Interview 10005). At the same time, respondents mentioned wikis as a tool for internal idea sharing and project organization. Therefore, once contributors have been certified or accepted, the tools can be useful. Providing information through social network platforms has allowed companies to educate people about their activities, values and projects in a voice that represents the organization. Whereas a company website may be reserved for official documents, social network sites tend to be more interactive and can be used to inform about an array of issues, from the living conditions at a “fly in fly out” operations to technical aspects of a project. For example, social network platforms with videos have been used to provide a live view of facilities where employees live (Interview 10004). The ability to show on-the-ground views of operations may be considered part of the “authenticity” awarded through social media tools. Web 2.0 tools have the capacity to tolerate many opinions but they can also be platforms for propaganda, making their credibility hard to discern. Readers must make their own evaluation of the material and can either engage with questions or concerns, or additional research can be done (Interview 10006). Authenticity seems to be one way to earn the trust of participants, but it was suggested that Web 2.0 users should verify sources of information, either through other Web 2.0 services or through traditional media (Interviews 10002, 10033).  5.4.2  Transparency.  The term “transparency” is associated with Facebook, despite its challenges around privacy controls. In this situation, Facebook may be considered as “transparent” because information is mostly available through search engines, (unless privacy settings are maintained by a group or individual). As previous mentioned in the sentiments about Facebook (see Chapter 4, Table 14), Facebook allows organizations to form a network with their community where broad  98  information dissemination can occur. Organizations must develop policies about the transparent treatment of commentary (e.g. a policy not to delete challenging questions), otherwise there may be accusations that the tool is being used to obstruct dialogue. One respondent suggested that Facebook helps build a commitment to truth and transparency, which is necessary in an era where cameras and video can capture real-time actions (and any environmental violation) at mining operations (Interview 10028). Although Twitter was not directly linked to the code “transparency”, two respondents noted that Twitter is useful because “followers” (i.e. members in a network), can be easily seen (Interviews 10006, 10011). The ability to see the community that is sharing specific information could contribute to opportunities for transparency, stronger alliances and sources of social capital. Several respondents discussed the tension around information sharing and the need to remain competitive in the mining sector. This suggests that although social media may open the industry to audiences that can be educated about technologies and social contributions, they are also vulnerable to other companies that could steal ideas or manipulate relationships with stakeholders. The transparency afforded by social media is being shown by the ability to remove information sharing barriers, although the tools are still proving their capacity to create safe spaces for meaningful dialogue. While risks exist, social media presents a forum for reaching new audiences and engaging with them over both the successes and the challenges of the industry (Interview 10015). 5.4.2.1 Accountability. In addition to looking at the themes of transparency and credibility, it is also important to consider how the mining industry and stakeholders are held accountable for public information. One of the benefits of social media is its capacity to host real-time information exchange and as a channel for opinions or authentic commentary. Yet, corporations and associations cannot take advantage of this, as there are many regulations that guide the dissemination of information. Mining companies in Canada are strictly governed by disclosure policies and procedures to safeguard the public and investors from fraud or misuse of information. The policies apply to all company employees, management and directors. The legalities of disclosure have an impact on external communications, no matter what the medium (i.e. traditional or new media channels). Corporations generally designate only certain individuals to communicate with different stakeholders, on behalf of the company. These individuals must receive approval before responding to any request for information, beyond the normal reporting duties, in order to ensure that the response is truthful and accurate. Board members of mining companies are bound by legal responsibilities, making them accountable for all decisions and communications. These strict rules make it challenging for a company to host social media platforms as all public information needs to be certified by a “qualified person”. Information distributed outside of these  99  rules and policies can put company directors at risk of legal actions. These rules have been put in place to protect civil society by keeping companies accountable, and yet they present limitations for companies to benefit from the opportunity for dialogue on social media platforms. An example of regulation is the National Instrument (NI) 43-101, which is the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) framework that governs technical disclosure by mining companies. A “qualified person” must certify the technical information prior to it being disseminated to the public. This report includes oral statements and written documents (including websites) about all reserves and resources related to mine sites. Therefore company employees and directors must ensure that any public information is consistent with the NI 43-101 statements. The strict guidelines of the NI 43-101 ensure that companies are accountable by law for all the information that is distributed to the public (CSA, 2005). Boards of directors of civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations also have duties to uphold the legal and ethical integrity of the organization. These boards of directors are responsible for decisions that maintain the best interest of an organization, for approving major contracts or grants, for ensuring that financial statements are properly reported, and must stand aside if there is a conflict of interest (Ingram, 2009). On the other hand, there are no legal documents that make individual bloggers or informal social network groups accountable for the information that is disseminated on their Internet platforms. These groups may gain credibility by being transparent about their sources and by encouraging debate, however, there are no accountability measures in place to hold individuals responsible for disseminating opinions or ideas. As a result of the rules that guide mining company disclosure, the timing and distribution of information via social media platforms is challenging, as they must abide by the laws that govern accountability and material disclosure. Informal groups that form together around a particular issue are not bound by the law and information sharing and dialogue can be free flowing, as they are not held legally accountable for their public statements. There is currently not a balanced approach to holding organizations accountable for information and dialogue hosted on social media platforms. 5.4.2.2 Monitoring. Transparency may be considered a reciprocated effort to remove barriers, but social media tools also allow groups to monitor one another, perhaps without one group’s knowledge of the ongoing surveillance. Many respondents mentioned that they monitored social media sites as a way to track the actions, concerns and interests of different stakeholders (Interviews 10001, 10013, 10019, 10023, 10025, 10028, 10035, 10040). Blogs were mentioned as a tool for getting a barometer reading of stakeholder interests, as their feelings about contested issues are open to the public. Facebook could be used to monitor dialogue on discussion pages of the platform.  100  Monitoring Twitter was also mentioned, yet as previously discussed, there is a degree of transparency afforded by Twitter in that “followers” cannot be hidden from public view. Searches on any of these tools allow an organization to garner information and monitor dialogue without necessarily having to contribute to the dialogue. At the same time, respondents also suggested that this information should be verified through other means (i.e. through face-to-face meetings). In a personal communication (T. Nace, personal communication, Jan 22nd, 2010) it was suggested that this research on the application of social media in the mining industry sounded “too much like a way for the mining industry to become more sophisticated at co-opting and overcoming public opposition”. This supports the idea that although many opportunities for transparency exist through social media, the capacity for mining companies to monitor critics could endanger communities and civil society groups who use these tools actively to gain exposure and promote their ideas. Another form of monitoring is to track corporate brand reputation on social media, and a respondent said that they had started to monitor Wikipedia as part of reputation management (Interview 10019). Bernoff and Li (2008) state that Wikipedia could be considered a threatening social media tool, as extensive corporate information is presented online, including commentary related to human rights abuses or poor environmental performance when controversy exists. Just like consumer-based companies, social media tools, especially those that have taken a marketbased approach, are subject to public pressure and popular perception, as users can generate content with information that they perceive to be important. Although these tools can improve the transparency of information, the ability to track stakeholder activities by monitoring their virtual community relationship could be considered a violation of trust or manipulation of these flows of information.  5.4.3  Audience engagement.  As discussed in this thesis, social media tools are useful for hosting information exchange and dialogue. Although there is no official role for social media in stakeholder engagement processes, the research attempted to evaluate if stakeholders in the mining industry were using these platforms to complement prescribed outreach processes. Audience engagement and interactivity did not appear to be a prominent theme for blogs. Respondents mentioned that they were still waiting to see “demonstrations of blogs with constructive conversation” (Interview 10014). The blogger respondents mentioned that although they have not developed strong relationships with participants who comment on their blogs, being involved in writing blogs has provided professional opportunities and clients have referenced their work, suggesting that more meaningful engagement occurs offline, although initial contact may be online. An interesting way to engage an audience is to host a discussion forum on a social network site. For example, during the period of conducting online observations, Lafarge, an  101  international sand, gravel and concrete company, used two discussion forums on Facebook to address global issues linked with the mining sector. The forums were open for one hour, during which time a dedicated expert moderated the discussion. The first discussion, entitled “Have your say about HIV/AIDS”, was led by one of the company’s Africa Health Coordinators. Ideas on health and safety were provided and several Lafarge programs were explained. Thirty exchanges by eight people were made during the one-hour discussion. By checking the forum participants’ Facebook profiles, it was possible to see that they came from several countries, including the United States, Egypt, Nigeria.51 The second forum focused on climate change and was timed around the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December 2009. Again, an internal expert, Vincent Mages, Lafarge’s Climate Change Initiatives Director, led the discussion. Climate change is a sensitive issue for the cement industry as it is well documented that cement production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Rehan & Nehdi, 2005). As seen in Figure 23, technical and detailed responses were provided to questions raised by participants, and original sources were cited to increase credibility.52 Figure 23 – Excerpt from Lafarge’s Facebook Discussion on Climate Change  The discussion is officially closed, although questions continued to appear on the forum platform, many of which remain unanswered.53 The discussion forum demonstrates how a company can do public education broadly while controlling the channel for debate. A question arises in terms of strategy around where in the virtual realm to host a conversation between a mining company and a community of interest such that information sharing and participation is considered credible. Should dialogue be hosted on a corporate Facebook page or on a page managed by a civil society group? A respondent suggested that it is possible to monitor civil society Facebook pages and bring the conversation back to the  51  Participant country information was checked on Facebook profiles. It was not possible to track their exact location during the discussion. 52 Without conducting in depth research and contacting individuals, it is impossible to tell whether the questions were “planted” or what their relationship is relative to Lafarge. 53 Respondents mentioned that managing expectations and ensuring sufficient human resource support for social media could present risks to Web 2.0 users. The unanswered questions could be considered a risk to Lafarge, although Lafarge was explicit about only having the discussion for one hour. The open discussion may provide a space for participants to raise questions that can be monitored by the company, or for other participants to share their perspective.  102  corporate web page, but they must be transparent about this process in order to reduce accusations of co-opting the conversation (Interview 10030). Ensuring that the audience follows the conversation to a new virtual space could be difficult; maintaining a level of confidence and exchange on an “opponent’s” website could be complicated. Third party (neutral) hosts may be a consideration to reduce accusations of information manipulation and for increasing trust between participants. An important stakeholder group to include on social media platforms are the employees of an organization. As one respondent indicated, these tools can be used internally to communicate with employees, who in turn do part of the external communication with communities (Interview 10015). What makes this model of information sharing more authentic is that employees, who are comfortable with the day-to-day operations, are able to actively provide messages about the industry and are able to help improve the image of mining through their stories and photos. Freeman and Miller (2009) refer to employees as important conduits between the company and the community, as they are able to both disseminate messages and help to maintain corporate reputation through their social interactions. Blog analytics help to measure participation, which can be useful for learning about audiences. By monitoring the web traffic, bloggers can assess the interests of readers and learn how participants are accessing their site (allowing bloggers to set up blog rings for increased influence). The use of images, such as photos of people or events being profiled, maps, and logos, has helped break down barriers between bloggers and audience, particularly when discussing technical topics (Interview 10002). Stakeholder engagement is an important and supervised process in the mining industry. Social media tools do not appear to have a formal role in these processes, however the tools do foster dialogue, and could help shape community relations and outreach activities. Focused dialogue and working with communities of interest may be one way that social media influences stakeholder engagement processes. 5.4.3.1 Communities of interest. As previously mentioned, wikis have not demonstrated their application for stakeholder engagement, yet these tools are being used to garner audience participation with particular communities of interest. An example of a technically focused wiki is the recently launched “Global Acid Rock Drainage Guide” - (GARD Guide) (GARD Guide, 2010), created by the International Network for Acid Prevention (INAP).54 Developed with contributions from global experts, the GARD Guide provides current references and best practices for acid prevention in 54  Several mining companies sponsored INAP for the development of the GARD Guide. It is noteworthy that although several of the corporate sponsors that were interviewed mentioned that they were not convinced of the purpose of using social media within their own organizations, however they are supporting its application in third-party initiatives.  103  the field of acid rock drainage (ARD). Although the pages are not directly open for editing, public commentary is permitted and suggestions are available for viewing, ensuring transparency and the opportunity for dialogue or debate. Figure 24 is an image from the comments page of the GARD Guide, demonstrating how certified individuals contribute to a community of interest: Figure 24 – Communities of Interest, Credibility and Wikis  This wiki enables practitioners to access information, ranging from country regulations to geochemical testing program components, as well as allowing people in the field to submit new and relevant information to other practitioners. In addition to sharing technical information, wikis are being used to build capacity and share learning around human rights and community relations. The “Business and Society Exploring Solutions” – BASES Wiki, is a collaborative, multi-lingual initiative on dispute resolution between business and society (Business and Society Exploring Solutions (BASESWiki), 2010). The wiki is based on current case studies, many of which involve mining operations. This wiki openly discusses how businesses and stakeholders are effectively solving problems. Working with communities of interest may reduce the chances for false information to be provided yet biases will exist. This suggests that Web 2.0 tools may be best suited for groups that are traditionally aligned, rather than breaking new ground on controversial issues or between divided communities. 5.4.3.2 “Twitter” not “talk”. Stakeholder groups in the mining industry have realized the importance of using the Internet to shape public views on mining issues. As these tools continue to evolve, groups will learn how they can most effectively be applied to gather information and strengthen networks. However, whereas the public sphere focuses on the need for democracy and debate, this research demonstrates that information exchange through social media tends towards more homogeneous interactions that happen with established social networks. Evidence of using social media tools to build confidence with stakeholders (including shareholders) was brought up by respondents and was seen in the website observations. For example, Facebook updates by Lafarge, were made about corporate social responsibility initiatives and partnerships with recognized environmental non-governmental organizations,  104  which may be a strategy for reducing the risk profile of a company in an era when shareholders are acting on concerns related to environmental or human rights abuses. However, directing messaging at supporters is different than openly engaging in conversation with critics, and few demonstrations of bridging controversial divides were seen during the research. Only Lafarge’s discussion forums on climate change and HIV/AIDS (as previously discussed) seemed to invite challenging questions to their platform. Throughout the research, civil society groups working on mining-related issues were consulted about their use of social media applications. They discussed how social media was used to raise awareness at the local, national and international level. These respondents focused on building relationships with concerned constituents in order that sympathetic and informed people could be mobilized for public hearings, events and protests. The ability to inform constituents and overcome traditional news barriers was a motivator for applying social media. Targeting audiences in the social media realm is an important part of communications strategy. The research showed that mining stakeholders are targeting their supportive (strong) ties (such as employees, members, shareholders), echoing the interactions that occur face-toface. For example, this was demonstrated by a respondent who used Facebook’s discussion forum to answer particular shareholder questions, and in the website observations of “No Pebble Mine, which uses Twitter to promote news and events against the mining industry. There were no demonstrations of collaboration over tenuous issues where conversation could result in shared problem solving. Further research to map the social networks of the respondents might help to determine if and where intercommunication between these polarized groups is occurring. Therefore social networking tools may be reinforcing norms and emphasizing dialogue that already occurs between people and groups. Yet, research on social networks has demonstrated that frequent interactions with a stakeholder will shape how individuals and groups see the status of natural resource management in their area (Crona & Bodin, 2006). Therefore it would be worthwhile for polarized groups to venture into new realms and expand their sphere of influence. Although some respondents noted that mining companies should be wary of social media, as companies need to protect private information, in fact, it may be necessary for corporations to be transparent in order to be competitive. It may be necessary to seek out debate and challenging questions to demonstrate their willingness to be transparent about their unique actions in a community (Interview 10028). Although somewhat reluctant, mining companies are starting to accept the need to provide more information and engage in dialogue with various stakeholders in order to obtain both legal and social approval. Finding a balance and rhythm for sharing information effectively will require flexibility, experimentation and learning. It is hard to determine whether social media has removed imbalances between profit-driven mining companies and issue-driven social groups, but new communication practices are emerging  105  around transparency, disclosure and dialogue, all of which may eventually lead to fairness in the public sphere. More often, the public is turning to the Internet and social networking tools to gather information or to publicly voice their concerns (Hutchins & Lester, 2006). The need for institutions and organizations to speak with stakeholders that are both critical and supportive of their operations will be a true demonstration of transparency. Gary Hamel, an important theorist on strategy and business management, said “any problem that is pervasive, persistent or unprecedented is unlikely to be solved by hand me down principles” (Hamel, 2006, p. 78). Social media tools may provide a new platform for the mining industry and their stakeholders to access previously unavailable information, and to discuss community issues.  5.4.4  Industry and event promotion.  The opportunity to use social media for positive messaging was mentioned by several respondents (Interviews 10013, 10020, 10024). Blogs are being used to share information about mining projects on an on-going basis (Interviews 10024, 100020). This has allowed the dissemination of positive site-level news as it occurs, rather than only getting media attention when controversial issues arise, which is often the case when only traditional media is relied upon. Blogs have been used during conferences for up-to-date information about events and workshops (Interviews 10002, 10025). The flexible and integrated nature of blogs enables people to use different styles of reporting, including interviews, summary of sessions, photos and video coverage (Interview 10025). These blogs act as public records of events, and conference coverage remains accessible to the public. Conference participants may also have the opportunity to comment and rate sessions using this framework. Facebook and Twitter are also used to promote events. Website observations showed that some organizations promoted events and encouraged members to visit them face-to-face at conference booths. Respondents also noted that using social networking tools allows them to keep in touch with stakeholders between events (Interviews 10032, 10029) Social media tools are good to promoting events and industry news at a relatively low cost. If they are transparent about their motivation and biases, there may be few risks associated with this type of social media application.  5.4.5  Reflection and raising awareness.  Two respondents started blogging as independent experiments (Interviews 10002, 10020). They both noted that the blogging experience has allowed them to reflect on the industry in a fresh way and to think about how to relate mining news to current affairs (i.e. discussions about mining and climate change during the Copenhagen Climate Change Convention). Although bloggers cannot predict how people will react to different topics, the goal is to present a balance of ideas (Interview 10002). Blogging about mining is like having a public diary about the industry  106  and can provide a helpful space for reflection on current issues that may not otherwise get regular attention. An example of raising the profile of contentious mining operations is the Twitter group entitled “No Pebble Mine” (as discussed in Chapter 4), which run membership campaigns, attended recreational and industrial fishing events, and promoted anti-mining movies in the hopes of building stronger support against the proposed project. By disclosing information and attitudes about mining, online communities are able to share interests and values that build familiarity, perhaps making it easier to mobilize in the future, should the need arise.  5.4.6  From raising awareness to mobilization.  It has been documented how social movements are experienced at using social media to mobilize sympathizers and this was echoed during the interviews (Interviews 10013, 10017, 10021). What differentiates civil society groups from private sector organizations within the mining sector may be their desire to not only inform, but to also mobilize people on an issue. As previously discussed in Chapter 4 (Section 4.1.1 – Facebook Observations) the “Fuera Barrick”55 group is using Facebook to overcome media censorship. Members have been asked to share information and opinions specifically regarding mining but exchange goes beyond awareness raising, as people have been inspired to attend protests as a result of their online participation. For example, a member aligned the group with the Union of Citizen Assemblies (UAC), a national union focused on empowering people against corporations, after attending one of their events and receiving support on mining concerns. Crossing from the virtual realm to physically attending meetings, showed an opportunity to gain momentum on the environmental front by finding symmetry between anti-corporate activism and environmentalism. A link to the UAC blog was provided, connecting the Facebook members with resources and to UAC-led workshops available across the country. This member strengthened the commitment to social action, and recruited new activist members to the “Fuera Barrick” dialogue. Another “Fuera Barrick” Facebook member made a call for “virtual militancy”, done through a coordinated email campaign, sending strong manifestations of discontent and filling the inboxes of government and local newscasters. Other actions were promoted, including a university-hosted public debate (Foro Debate Minería y Sociedad) and a road blockade (Asamblea en la ruta a Veladero) that was reportedly attended by 150 people (Temblores de Asamblea en Iglesia y Jáchal, 2010). This demonstrates how social network tools can empower individuals to take action at a local level towards a common goal. The United Steel Workers of Canada have also used social media to stimulate action for an international cause. Napoleon Gomez Urrutia is an exiled Mexican miner and the SecretaryGeneral of the National Union of Mine, Steel, Metal, and Allied Workers of Mexico (Los Mineros), who is working in collaboration with international worker union groups to raise global awareness 55  The translation of “Fuera Barrick” from Spanish to English is “Get out Barrick”.  107  about labour rights violations in Mexican mines. As a result of this support, a letter has been issued by the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mining and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) and the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) to the Council on Ethics of the Government Pension Fund of Norway, encouraging the divestment of holdings in the Mexican mining conglomerate Grupo Mexico (International Metalworkers’ Federation, 2010). Paradoxically, as previously discussed, Vale Inco has a legal case underway against the United Steelworkers Union in Canada as a result of their actions on Facebook, which resulted in on-theground harassment and mobilization. It is apparent that the unions have been able to use social media platforms to mobilize members and sympathisers internationally around common causes. In addition to using social networking tools for mobilization, blogs can also be used for raising awareness. A respondent from the blog “RoyalDutchShellplc.com” discussed how the site was set up to highlight ethical issues in the business management of Royal Dutch Shell plc, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies (Royaldutchshellplc, 2010). The respondent had been involved in a campaign against the company that initially consisted of letter writing and leafleting, but now relies on outreach through a blog. The development of this blog has enabled the host to store masses of information, including 24,000 corporate documents, which have been useful to other claimants working on cases against the company. The respondent indicated that a result of sharing these controversial documents has had an overall cost of billions of dollars in lost sales to the company (Interview 10003).56 The website has been used by lawyers in the “Reserve Scandal” of 2004, where several attempts were raised to initiate class action against the company as a result of its misrepresentation of oil reserves to the Security and Equities Commission (Interview 10003). There are plans to integrate wikis, social networking and video into the blog to diversify the way information is shared. Maintaining a strong reputation by controlling messages and verifying information through an informant network are ways that the gripe site maintains credibility and continues to have an impact. Social media tools are powerful broadcasting tools that allow people to access persuasive perspectives and opinions from an array of actors. Building a community of interest that is dedicated to active participation and mobilization both online and offline requires transparent, focused objectives, as well as personal disclosure and authenticity to build trust. Civil society movements have best demonstrated the use of social media for mobilization and this represents a challenge that should not be overlooked by mining companies.  56  The blogger indicated that massive sales have been lost to the company as a result of exposure of information from the blog, yet the cost of maintaining the blog is only $120/month for the server; the technical developer now volunteers time as a result of having become engrossed in the issues after ten years of involvement.  108  5.4.7  Recruitment and human resource management.  Mining provides an important source of employment around the world yet it is anticipated that the mining industry will face human resources challenges in the upcoming decades, as a large proportion of engineers will be retiring (Montpellier, 2009). Therefore it is important for companies to focus on recruiting a base of loyal employees, as there may be increasingly competitive options. A respondent shared their experience running a hiring campaign through Facebook. Facebook is commonly associated with younger generations and so it presented a natural option for connecting with young graduates and potential employees (Interview 10004). The respondent noted that the idea to use Facebook came from young employees who suggested that a social media presence would be an important way to establish a connection and demonstrate an understanding of the communications interests of younger generations. The respondent said: Mining companies should and need to use these tools – at least one. For recruitment purposes they help to overcome biases of mining being dirty and only about people with hard hats, and help demonstrate that there is a need for technical people and office staff. These tools provide an opportunity to show the array of jobs in the industry (Interview 10004). An assessment was conducted on the return on investment of the Facebook page, which discovered that 80% of all new hires, in the 18-35 year old category, had visited the corporate Facebook page for information (Interview 10004).57 Another group that uses social media for recruitment is the United Steelworkers Union. It is rare for all union employees to gather together at the same time, as they have alternating shifts, and so social media platforms help to overcome the challenges of arranging meetings and can be used to facilitate information sharing and voting. As explained in an interview, “the mining company has eight hours a day (minimum) of the employees’ attention, while the union has maybe four hours a month” (Interview 10031). These tools are important for engaging union members and gathering their opinions about collective opportunities. The tools facilitate dialogue, improving the ability of union leaders to respond to their members, and to better represent the group as a whole. Social media platforms also allow employees to speak on behalf of the company and represent the industry to their networks. A social network site offers the “opportunity to harness employees, as they are the ones in the communities and responsible for information flow” (Interview 10019). Allowing employees to speak candidly about their relationship with the company may be one way to fulfil the goal of “authenticity” that is characteristic of social media  57 It may be an area of future research to compare the retention of the employees recruited through Facebook versus other traditional means to assess the strength of these bonds (i.e. to determine if weak bonds become stronger or if there are cases where no bonds were formed)  109  tools (Heaps & Joyce, 2010; MacKinnon, 2005), however it also poses risk in terms of presenting an appropriate voice or tone for the company.58 Social media present new opportunities for recruitment, as well as to engage employees or members. Similar to the cases of mobilization through social media, the ability to build relationships online and cross over into the physical realm, may strengthen social networks and build social capital.  5.4.8  Crisis communication.  In addition to human resource management, three respondents suggest that social networking tools could be used for crisis communication, although none were able to provide cases studies (Interviews 10004, 10022, 10023). These respondents only represent a small percentage of the research, but their enthusiasm for these tools being used during a time of crisis may imply there is some faith in the information sharing capabilities. In order to use Web 2.0 effectively in a crisis, training and policies need to be developed. The advantages of using social media for crisis communication mentioned by respondents included the ability to gather information and responses quickly. These tools may be useful for bridging large distances and tracking flows of communication, perhaps in instances of remote locations, underground mines or triage. In order for companies to reduce risks of uncontrolled public attention, it may be necessary for social media crisis communication tools to be used within a closed network. Crises generally cause financial strains, so the opportunity to deliver efficient communication on free platforms is worth considering. Although not directly related to the mining industry, one example of crisis communication that arose during the research was the response to the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th, 2010. Shortly after the news was announced, a Facebook page was established entitled the Deepwater Horizon Response, which has the goal of providing information about the response operations (Deepwater Horizon Response – Facebook, 2010).59 Since the site was established on April 29th, 2010, over 38,000 people joined the page (as of July 18th, 2010). The Facebook site presents a direct link to dialogue with the public about the emergency. YouTube and Flickr have been integrated into the Facebook page and members are able to comment on images and videos that are being shared. There is extensive commentary on the site, often with over 50 responses or “thumbs up” to various postings. The site also provides links to news stories from traditional communication sources, such as national and local newspapers, demonstrating the convergence and flexibility of these tools. This crisis  58  While several respondents mentioned the risk of inappropriate commentary on an institutional site, only one (Interview 10032) had to remove a public comment (for conflict of interest, not inappropriateness). 59 The Facebook page is maintained by a Unified Command Joint Information Center (JIC), which provides the public with timely information about the response from agencies working on site (Deepwater Horizon Response – Facebook, 2010).  110  communication site may provide an example for the mining industry about how to disseminate information to a concerned public using social media.  5.4.9  Reputation and brand management.  Respondents spoke about the risks of social media and their fears related to losing control of the message, which would impact their reputational capital. Reputational capital refers to the measurement of respect granted to a company at a local and global level, often related to the business management strategy, openness of communication and social license to operate (Thomson & Joyce, 2000). Reputational capital provides financial and social advantages, although often it is not measured with financial methods. Reputational capital can also be gained in the Web 2.0 realm and is related to the degree of collaborative information sharing practised by an organization. As discussed by Edelman (2009), engaging in social media is not a risk proposition but an information service. Providing information, intercepting or participating in discussion, and dealing with the consequences of transparent information is an important perspective on managing risk and reputation. A few respondents mentioned their desire to participate on Wikipedia, either by submitting information about their company or commentary on mining-related articles. Managing public information about a company by participating in discussion forums or by sharing information with the editors of Wikipedia may one way to manage corporate brand or improving reputational capital.60 An example of the potential use of social media to address reputational capital is to examine Barrick Gold’s Wikipedia page, which has public disputes over the accuracy of information presented, as seen in Figure 25: Figure 25 – Barrick Gold Wikipedia Page  On the discussion page, criticisms are made of the article (see “neutrality discussion box”), including concerns of non-neutrality of information, misinformation about the Pascua Lama project61, and overall lack of valid referencing or relevant information. The discussion occurs between editors who comment and critique the article in their attempt to provide the most honest  60  In this way, Wikipedia (or another wiki) may serve as a third-party site for dialogue over contested issues. Accusations arise as Wikipedia information does not align with what is presented by corporate or Chilean government web pages 61  111  portrayal of the company (Barrick Gold - Wikipedia Talk Page, 2010). However, it is up to the wiki visitor to review the “talk page” which is embedded in Wikipedia, and unless thorough verification is done, some might accept the disputed information as accurate. A representative of Barrick Gold would have to dispute the claims on Wikipedia via an editor, but there is no evidence that any of the editors have been contacted to correct the information or join the discussion about contested issues. Managing corporate information on third-party websites, such as Wikipedia, is a challenging task, but companies should be listening to these perspectives as part of their reputation and brand management strategies. How to address any controversial topic raised on a social media platform remains open to each organization, but unless they are engaged in social media, they may be missing part of the discussion and therefore put their organizations at risk of slander or misrepresentation. As one respondent said: If you go the route of social media you lose a bit of control, which is unnerving. But you must continue to do the right thing. Try to use the forum to bust myths quickly and engage with the new generations. (Interview 10015) This sentiment was echoed by another respondent who said, “at some point, you have to dip your toes in or at least open your eyes to see what is being said about you" (Interview 10009). Even if not partaking in social media, monitoring the virtual realm can be important for reputation management and for understanding the ebbs and flows of a social license to operate. The mining industry is starting to incorporate social media in different aspects of their operations but the industry must continue to learn from other industries, that have “found the use of social media improved communications by changing monologues into dialogues” (S. Israel, personal communication, March 12, 2010). This means that embracing social media can facilitate meaningful engagement in the virtual realm. Finding a balance between traditional communications channels and online tools may be challenging but are integral to company’s reputational capital.  5.4.10 Investor relations. Several respondents from mining companies mentioned that they were using Twitter to disseminate financial information. The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 of the United States has already been amended to facilitate the use of electronic shareholder forums, as they promote real-time communications among shareholders and the companies, which builds transparent and accountable management of funds (Securities and Exchange Commission, 2008)62, 63. It was  62  New Rule 14a-2(b)(6) clarifies the exemption of a communication on an electronic shareholder forum that could potentially constitute a proxy solicitation in connection with an annual or special meeting of shareholders, which would otherwise be subject to SEC regulations. 63 New Rule 14a-17 clarifies that if a forum is conducted in compliance with the federal securities laws, a shareholder or company that establishes, maintains, or operates an electronic shareholder forum will not be liable under the federal securities laws for any statements made by another person participating in the forum.  112  reported that financial managers are evaluating how Twitter can be used in a way that does not interfere with the disclosure processes prescribed by securities administrators, such as the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA). Companies need to ensure that they first issue press releases over “recognized” wire sources, as required by law. Afterwards, they can duplicate this information and disseminate it using any platform (Interview 10028). A respondent explained how they have been able to enhance shareholder relations through social media (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube are all being used). TVI Pacific, a mining company with operations in Canada and the Philippines, set up their social media sites in November 2009 after designing a comprehensive strategy. All information is cross-referenced on the platforms, and any answers from privately emailed questions are posted online to be transparent (Interview 10028). This is increasing the distribution of all information and generating various discussion threads on their Facebook page, which had 44 discussion topics, many with five to ten “posts” or comments from users and responses from the company (as of June, 2010). TVI Pacific is using social media to exchange information with shareholders, and they have also used their platforms to overcome a situation where the company’s credibility was misrepresented on a website called Stockhouse (Stockhouse, 2010) (Interview 10028).64 The company attempted to amend the information, but the Stockhouse administrators did not make the correction. However, through online conversations and disclosure on their social media forums, the correct information was eventually distributed. As a result of their efforts, misrepresentation on Stockhouse has stopped (Interview 10028). So, while it was not possible to participate in the Stockhouse website discussion, the company was able to rebuild credibility, earn respect by being transparent and forthcoming with information, and maintain relations with shareholders. These case studies support findings from the Whitepaper on the State of Social Media and Investor Relations, which stated that: It’s not just about populating social networks with certain company metrics like financial information alone. It is about providing context around all areas of the business to enable investors to gather comprehensive, credible information to piece together a complete picture of the company (Heaps & Joyce, 2010, p. 3) The immediateness of information exchange on social network platforms can help shareholders and investors stay up-to-date on company or stock news. Yet, these tools are risky as the spread of any misinformation moves rapidly, with no ability for recall, which could be highly problematic for a company.  64  Stockhouse (www.stockhouse.com) is a website that targets investors. The objective of the website is for members to gain stock market advantage through information sharing of filtered (evaluated) user generated content.  113  5.4.11 Return on investment (ROI) and social return on investment (SROI). The management of corporate reputation and strong investment is linked closely to an organization’s financial, social and environmental standing. Companies, like investors, are always assessing their return on investment to ensure that the most profit can be gained from the resources that are committed. A return on investment (ROI) is a calculation that looks at the difference between the benefit and cost of an investment. ROI is calculated as: ROI = Gain from Investment - Cost of Investment Cost of Investment Companies can also calculate the social return on investment, or SROI, which is defined as “the social impact of a business or non-profits’ operations in dollar terms, relative to the investment required to create that impact and exclusive of its financial return to investors” (Lingane & Olsen, 2004, p. 118) Social media can generate benefits such as a return on influence or increased awareness. Industries and communications organizations are working on creating frameworks to measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media, which calculate the profit received as a result of social media relative to the investment in social media technology, design, communications employee salaries, etc. Determining the financial impact of “transparency” or “dialogue” requires nonlinear thinking, but models that clarify the connection between a company’s fiscal standing and information disclosure may help to prove the usefulness of these communication tools. The investment in social media can be relatively low, as the platforms are generally free, yet, as discussed, the gains are accompanied by potential risks, such as loss of control of messages, or reduced corporate reputation. It is therefore hard to determine if the financial and social benefits overcome the risks associated with using social media. In an interview with TVI Pacific, a respondent explained how the return on investment for various social media interactions (including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr) was measured. The platforms were launched in November 2009, and by early January the results on all their web pages were apparent. Table 22 shows the growth of followers on different social media platforms, which have been used to determine the ROI for these platforms:  114  Table 22 – Table of Growth of Social Media – TVI Pacific Social Media Platform Twitter (Bennetto, 2010)  You Tube (TVI Philippines – YouTube, 2010)  Month November 2009  # Of Followers 8  January 2010  87  February 2010  100  May 2010  136  November 2009  288  January 2010  912  February 2010  1,224  May 2010  1,683  The combined outreach methods increased the number of unique visitors to the company website. For example, in January 2010 they had over 3,300 visits to their corporate web page; in February 2010 almost 4,000 visits, which included 41% new visitors. There are many factors determining the share price and number of followers of a stock, however during the active social media period (January –February), the company’s average daily trading volume increased 55% and their share price rose from $0.06, prior to the social media launch, to $0.12 (Q4 Blog, 2010).65 Photos provided by employees have been posted on Flickr and have received 1,519 views in the first two months; there were 696 views of their videos on YouTube. The company is able to trace how visitors arrived at their website and can demonstrate that significant website traffic is a result of their YouTube and SlideShare sites (Hobson, 2010). These measurements are important indicators that social media is accomplishing the intended goal which was to get  65  During the period of November 2009 and May 2010, there were many factors that might have resulted n the increase of share price and followers on social media platforms. Some of these events include: receiving a Permit to Advance at the Tamarok Copper-Gold Project Approved (December 2009), a 5 star investment rating from Globe & Mail MorningStar (December 2009), a new partnership with DACON (part of the DMCI Group of Companies) and plans to work together on a number of mineral exploration projects in the Greater Canatuan Tenement Area in the Philippines (January 2010 – finalized in February 2010), the cancellation of expired options (January 2010), a Director changing the name of the indirect holding company and transferring 143,174 existing options (January 2010), resuming drilling at Balabag Gold Project (February 2010), receiving an amendment to its Environmental Compliance Certificate (increases the daily maximum allowable production rate and maximum annual extraction rate, allowing the company to process additional ore from other sources) (March 2010), and making a voluntary loan payment to reduce debt to a total of 66% (April 2010). There was also a global jump in copper prices after an earthquake in Chile disrupted supply.  115  “the share price of TVI to a fair and sustainable value” (TVI Pacific Discusses ROI of Using Social Media for IR, 2010). In the case of TVI Pacific, the company was able to measure the ROI for the communications effort by looking at the relationship between “increased web traffic, improved liquidity, increased institutional holdings and improved investor sentiment” (TVI Pacific Discusses ROI of Using Social Media for IR, 2010).66 The chain of events between launching social media platforms and the increase in share value demonstrates how companies can measure the ROI of social media. Each organization using social media needs to define how it will measure its ROI for social media, and this will differ based on the organization, the communications objectives and the audience (Interview 10028).  5.4.12 The public sector and social media. Most of the case studies presented have come from the private, academic and civil sectors. This section addresses some of the specific issues raised by respondents from the public sector, as their implementation of social media is pivotal to the broader acceptance of these communication tools for stakeholder engagement processes in the mining industry. It is well known that part of the success of President Obama’s election campaign was the efficient use of social media to harness public support (Edelman, 2009). Governments around the world have been moving towards electronic resources for several years (i.e. e-government), but the incorporation of social media tools is still in the early stages. This research included interviews with respondents from different federal and provincial government departments to ascertain how they are approaching the application of social media communication tools in relation to mining and permitting activities.67 While it was clear in Obama’s campaign that he was the “face” of the campaign, in general determining who represents government departments may be more difficult due to highly fragmented roles and responsibilities, as well as detailed hierarchies in government departments. Deciding who or what represents the “face” of an organization, and how this primary communicator will engage participants is necessary for building credibility on these communication tools. Respondents from the public sector also mentioned the difficulty of adapting the writing style from formal government reports to Web 2.0 platforms. In addition to style, at the federal level in Canada, Web 2.0 services need to be available in both French and English, and for  66  While the primary objective was outreach to shareholders, one of the company’s mine sites in the Philippines has used the established social media tools to demonstrate how they are following up on social commitments to civil society groups that are watching. 67 Respondents represented Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Indian and Northern Affairs, Environment Canada, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Resources (Provincial Government of British Columbia), Energy and Resources (Government of Saskatchewan).  116  departments working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis groups, the use of local languages must be considered for them to be truly inclusive. The process for obtaining environmental permits in the mining industry is controlled by several government departments. Public consultations as required by law, should be extensive and must include opportunities for communities to receive and comment on project information. Mechanisms exist for the public to provide input on project proposals, but only specific communication channels are considered valid by the government, such as face-to-face conversations that are recorded and submitted by the project proponent, public hearings and letter submissions, which are made public on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) website. Letters or petitions should not be submitted anonymously, as this reduces their credibility (Interview 10033). Editorials in newspapers, blogs and online social network pressure groups are not considered credible ways to comment on a project under review. Project proponents must demonstrate that they have engaged in meaningful dialogue with interested parties and show the feedback that was provided about the proposed project. Social media discussions and opinions are not included in this evidence. Since there is no formal acceptance of online community voices in the public engagement process, there is no way for the government to weigh the population of an online protest group to that of a public hearing. For example, the formal stakeholder process for the proposed Prosperity Mine in British Columbia can not account for the 1670 Facebook members of the “Save Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) – Facebook page” (as of July 18, 2010), although only 400 people attended a public hearing about the proposed mine on March 22nd, 2010 (Save Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) – Prosperity Project/Taseko Mines Limited Facebook, 2010; Haynes, 2010). It has been argued that online communities are “real” when compared to physical communities, yet the CEAA stakeholder engagement process does not allow these groups to have any influence over government decisions. Regulators mentioned that they do not have the capacity for full online monitoring or engagement, especially as social media sites are not included in the project review approach. Time and resources are limited for communications officers or community relations personnel who are not given time spent gathering information, maintaining social media relationships or responding on Web 2.0 websites (Interviews 10000, 10033). In the research, credibility of information derived from Web 2.0 websites was stated to be a concern for the government. Respondents were wary of anonymous postings, politically charged commentary, and unclear Web 2.0 objectives. It was suggested that if Web 2.0 websites have clear criteria and authors can prove their expertise in providing specialized information, (i.e. by providing professional certification), it might be possible to build a trusting online relationship, although there was no indication that commentary would then be considered in public engagement processes (Interview 10033).  117  Timing is also a problem for government institutions looking into Web 2.0 tools. Web 2.0 websites can provide real-time information and permit instantaneous commentary, however, government often needs to cross-reference with other departments to present complete information. This process can be time consuming, meaning that participants in the virtual realm would not reap the benefit of real-time exchange, even if social media tools were incorporated. Timing is also an issue for advocacy groups working with the government on mining rules and regulations, as neither party should reveal information about new policies or procedures until it has been approved. Accommodating negotiations and formal processes into the context of instantaneous information exchange of social media is challenging (Interview 10025). Despite the challenges around the application of social media by government departments, respondents suggested that some Web 2.0 tools are being integrated, but only after sufficient risk-based analysis has been conducted (Interviews 10000, 10010, 10035). For example, some communication tools are being incorporated internally for strategic reasons, such as ministerial blogs to break to down silos, and “Idea trees” that allow participants to present ideas and receive commentary from colleagues (Interview 10000). Some departments have developed internal networking tools similar to Facebook, with the goal of increasing understanding within departments or cross-departmental working groups. Rules and regulations need to be established and training provided before the tools get fully adopted. Also, only specific people may be designated to use these tools, in part to reduce the possibility of distractions at work. In the research, a Canadian respondent noted that the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (INAC) was preparing to launch a pilot project focusing on land claim issues. The pilot project combines the use of a local radio program on land claims in the North with a parallel blog, where ongoing commentary can also be posted68 (Interview 10010). The intention of this campaign is to better understand the questions related to land claims and to better gauge the feelings from different community members. The project will be presented in both official languages (French and English) and will use images to enhance the online user experience. Only Federal government employees will be allowed to answer questions to ensure that messaging and timing is appropriate; this helps the Department maintain an element of control and information verification on an open platform. The audience is narrow in scope in order to test the efficiency of this combined communication approach. This pilot project may be useful to representatives from the mineral industry as they will also be able to gain understanding about land title concerns in the north. There is evidently a desire to enhance interactivity between the regulators of mining and stakeholders. Social media tools may provide opportunities for enhancing relationships as they 68 Intended date of launch was April 2010 however research online has not been able to locate the blog. However, an INAC Twitter account was located (http://twitter.com/INAC_AINC), with the earliest post from May 7th, 2010; the site had 48 followers, as of July 7, 2010. (INAC -AINC – Twitter, 2010).  118  serve as a fulcrum for gathering and disseminating information. They provide new ways to reach stakeholders, receive comments and allow citizens to participate in shaping newsworthy issues, thereby enhancing the government’s understanding of relevant community issues (Interview 10035). Yet, there continues to be apprehension around incorporating social media into government-community communication processes. Some government employees indicated that they are monitoring blogs, but no groundswell influence of social media will trigger a reaction from the government (Interview 10035). Although Web 2.0 tools are not currently being used in the environmental review of mining projects, important reflections from respondents of the public sector indicate that the Canadian government is attempting to incorporate these communication tools where possible (Interviews 10000, 10010, 10035). The ability to develop best practices in social media communications may enable the government to do expansive citizen outreach.  5.5 Aligning Cultures on Social Media Social media culture was born of a philosophy that is incongruent with traditional business models as discussed in the Literature review. Corporations are accustomed to providing extensive formal reports, often presented in a promotional and positive manner, but social media platforms tend to be conversational, and critique and ratings are as omnipresent as positive feedback. Stylistically, the presentation of the information may need to change; a respondent noted how terminology of “The Company” is used in official press releases, while “We” is used more informally on the Web 2.0 interactions (Interview 10028). This flexibility enables the company to maintain their professional reputation in the formal processes while being authentic and personable in the online realm. Companies need to rethink their communications strategies and outreach venues if they want to create an effective social media spaces. Decisions need to be made about the voice (or voices) that will represent the companies. Developing a personal style may help solidify a unique and authentic personality for a company.  5.5.1 Social media and first nations culture. The rapid adoption of social media platforms is occurring in indigenous communities located in remote places around the world. Understanding the syncretism of new technological communication platforms with traditional cultural will require research on a case-by-case basis. However it is important to recognize how these tools are supporting the exchange and management of information within traditional cultures, and how they can be used to maintain traditional environmental knowledge. Many of the Web 2.0 platforms present interesting opportunities for communities to build and share collective knowledge about their land, and to converse about changes to an area. Organizations interested in capturing generational information that is often highly guarded will require a respectful and delicate approach to  119  determine the boundaries for accessing and portraying this information online while respecting its sacred nature.  5.5.2  Languages.  In addition to determining the “voice” and style of an online platform, language must be considered for encouraging dialogue in virtual spaces. For example, one respondent explained how their corporate Facebook page has stimulated information sharing between the company’s different regional operations. Employees are sharing videos from mine sites and news stories are being circulated in various languages. As a result of this activity, since starting in June 2009, the Facebook page gains approximately 58 new fans per month, with representation from nine countries including Canada, Mexico, Finland and the USA (Interview 10019). Each operation now has dedicated social media administrators responsible for posting information in the local language (including in French, Finnish and Spanish). Relevant stories from local newspapers are shared which gives them global reach, as the articles get translated and distributed broadly (Interview 10019). In this case, Facebook has strengthened the culture of information sharing between mine sites and headquarters. Considering the international scope of mining, it may be necessary for companies to learn about different social media platforms that are popular in countries around the world. Understanding how each tool caters to cultures and languages around the world is important for developing communication strategies. Mass media is often associated with broad messaging and ubiquitous audiences, but social media allows users to adapt to the needs of their communities while still reaching global audiences. Accommodating different languages can be useful for engaging participants in local communities and international organizations.  5.6 Conclusion of Discussion and Integration of Outcomes This chapter provided an analysis of social media tools and how they relate to the themes of authenticity, transparency and credibility. Network views of blogs, social networking services, and wikis were presented to demonstrate the relationship between the tools and research themes. Case studies were used to illuminate how stakeholders in the mining industry are using the social media tools. The analysis showed that blogs are considered to be a good way to gather information and to gauge feelings about projects and issues as they arise, but they have not proven their role for online engagement in the mining industry. Some respondents mentioned that trust can be built through social networking sites, but this was generally mentioned when relationships were already established and when both the online and physical community are small. Facebook has been useful for information dissemination, industry promotion, and recruitment, as well as for mobilizing communities. Twitter is associated most strongly with accessing timely information, although it is generally a conduit,  120  not a space for dialogue. Both Facebook and Twitter are regarded with a certain degree of apprehension due to privacy concerns and the fear of being overwhelmed by information. Wikis are recognized for knowledge creation and information management. They are not seen as a tool for stakeholder engagement, however within a community of interest, they can be useful for fostering idea sharing and dialogue. Effective use of social media includes the ability to measure their impact by examining the ROI or SROI of each tool. There is no prescribed way to make these assessments and each social media user requires a flexible approach to assess the influence of the tools being used. The public sector is starting to use social media informally in regards to gathering perspectives and information about mining projects, but there is no formal role for these tools. The public sector is a key stakeholder and their acceptance of these online communities could drastically affect public engagement and environmental assessment processes undertaken by mining companies.  121  6. RECOMMENDATIONS AND STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS This chapter outlines recommendations and strategic considerations for the mining industry in regards to applying social media as part of an overall communications plan. The recommendations are based on the research outcomes and are intended to serve as guidelines only. Each organization should take account of the unique aspects of their operations and stakeholders before implementing social media platforms. A different strategy for each communication tool, for example using a wiki versus Facebook, will help a company narrow their focus and better target participants online. It is not recommended that social media tools replace face-to-face interactions or serve as independent spaces for stakeholder engagement. Rather, these tools may be useful for enhancing communications, as they present additional channels for feedback. Some tools offer the capacity to judge stakeholder feelings around a particular issue. They may also be useful for continuous public education about mining issues. Edelman (2009) states that companies, regardless of their industry, need to take the perspective that they are also a media company, and what they offer to the general public is their depth of knowledge in a core area. Engaging in online conversation is a way to continuously build this depth of knowledge. Social media communication is not about advertising or marketing but rather it is about conversations, and expectations about these tools should be focused on the extent and impact of dialogue. A social media strategy may need to change over time as a company, its participants and the tools evolve, but dedication to a sustained engagement model will build resilient online relationships where parties can benefit from the information sharing. Based on the analysis and case studies, there appear to be three strategies that mining companies have taken in regards to the application of social media: 1) Ignore social media: The first strategy is to ignore Web 2.0 tools and rely only on traditional and regulated communication channels. This strategy assumes that traditional media is sufficient, and avoiding social media exposure protects corporate risk. In this scenario, these tools will not be used for internal communication, as this may create expectations with employees, exposing the company to potential risks of uncontrolled dialogue. There may be some monitoring of social media sites, however online dialogue will not have an impact on decision-making. The research showed the public sector and some industry-related groups are still at this stage; at least four of the respondents indicated that they had no intention of integrating social media. According to Li and Bernoff’s (2008) technographic ladder, these companies would be considered “Inactives” and “Spectators”. 2) Full incorporation of social media: The second option is for mining companies to design a flexible but rigorous strategy for the application of social media tools as part of overarching communication plans. In this scenario, there would be a desire for dialogue (both internally and externally), while recognizing the potential risks involved. This requires an  122  understanding of the connections and dimensions of exposing the company to dialogue and the impact of social media on the financial stability of the company. Outreach to employees, stakeholders, investors and other interested parties would continue with regulated processes as well as through one or more social media tools. The research indicated that most civil society groups and a growing number of industry-related groups are incorporating social media tools in this way. Li and Bernoff (2008) would consider these groups to be “Creators” and “Critics”. 3) Testing the Social Media Waters: The third way is neither a commitment to social media, nor an outright dismissal of these communication channels. In this scenario, social media becomes an extension of traditional communications and promotion, and in so, allows the company to be a part of the conversation, yet messaging is controlled and one-directional. There is recognition of the popularity of these tools, but misgivings and misunderstanding persist, therefore experimentation and learning continue; policies may not be fully implemented. Yet, without the foresight of a strategy or policy for handling difficult questions, these tools may pose challenges to corporate risk management. This is the current scenario of many mining companies, which have decided to “dip their toes” into the realm of social media in order to explore the potential gains, while recognizing the inherent risks. This approach on the technographic ladder would be considered “Joiners”. Once social media platforms are developed, gaining an audience can be viral and participation tends to increase over time, as demonstrated in several growth trends. There is a need to critically assess information in order to transform it into meaningful knowledge such that it builds understanding and inspires others to participate. Social media applications may help to prepare the industry about changing attitudes of transparency and openness. As communication technologies evolve, it will be necessary to continuously assess the benefits and risks entailed with incorporating them into work processes and social outreach. Mining companies interested in employing social media should understand the principles of social media tools and develop strategies and frameworks for measuring their effectiveness, yet it will remain important to be flexible to the changing expectations of participating stakeholders. The following sections provide key considerations for implementing social media.  6.1 Objectives and Strategy Before embarking on social media a company must establish its communication objectives, which will shape its strategy. These objectives will help an organization determine the appropriate communication tool(s) to use and will also guide the indicators necessary to measure success.  6.1.1  Establish objectives.  Objectives should remain flexible, as the virtual environment is changing and companies cannot predict the outcomes of these tools. At the same time, because the virtual realm is  123  oversaturated (noisy), having focused objectives will help an organization target and attract participants to their Web 2.0 platform. Examples of objectives for the application of social media platforms from the research include: raising awareness about positive impacts of mining, raising awareness about concerns related to mining operations and mining companies, increasing dialogue between employees of an organization, increasing visits to corporate webpage, increasing interactivity with shareholders and promoting events and developing new channels of communication in case of a crisis. The objectives should be communicated transparently to participants so that expectations can be managed and aligned; if necessary, changes in communication processes can be adjusted without interrupting the flows of dialogue.  6.1.2  Design a strategy.  The social media strategy should include a review of the scope and scale of each Web 2.0 tool selected. The size of a network may be difficult to control, but every attempt should be made to predict some possible interactions, as well as strategies for dealing with interactions beyond the prescribed scope or scale. Considerations of the geographical scope of a mining company’s operations and the diverse language needs of stakeholders should be taken into account and sufficient resources should be allocated. In addition to scope, the scale of social media implementation must be decided. For example, companies should decide at which point in a mine’s lifecycle will social media be the most appropriate. Gaining support from all departments, including information technicians, legal departments, communications departments, as well as mine and/or mill managers will help form the culture and language of social media, and will build baseline participation from audience members. Legal advice should be sought prior to launching social media platforms and learning from other mining companies about relevant disclaimers may be of interest. The strategy will determine the degree, platform and role a company is going to play in the virtual realm. These communication tools cannot be “turned off” or easily disbanded, so a long-term, engaged and sustained model of communication is necessary.  6.1.3  Flexible approach to control.  One of the challenges of social media is the potential loss of control of dialogue. Having a flexible approach to social media implementation can help a company manage the process of losing some control, and handling the repercussions of unexpected online dialogue. Relinquishing control may be difficult, but every group must make this sacrifice to help reduce the fears of participation. Though unanticipated interactions may occur online, companies should not recoil, as participation the social media realm may prove to be as challenging as remaining uninvolved. Mining companies interested in incorporating social media into one or more aspects of their operations must create an adaptable work plan, which will allow participating departments to provide feedback and suggestions. The need for flexibility when using social media is paramount  124  as changes may be necessary to improve messaging. Transparency about any change is important; no one will fault a company for trying to improve its communications and engagement process, but they may criticize it for not trying, for lying, for being disingenuous (S. Israel, personal communication, 2010). The strategy should include ideas about how an organization will manage changes to online platforms, as this enhances long-term online stakeholder relationships.  6.2 Manage Social Media Platforms It is important to have dedicated resources allocated to social media platforms. Human resources are necessary to manage the technical aspects of the tools, as well for content management, and ensuring that real-time content is available. Someone must have the time and the responsibility of responding in a timely manner on each platform and verifying information that is generated online. Managing social media platforms does will not only consist of populating the websites with new content, but also listening to the dialogue that is generated. An active listening approach should assess what is being said and what is not being said, either because stakeholders lack information or trust in discussing topics openly. If an assessment is conducted which determines that an organization does not have sufficient resources for social media engagement, it may be worthwhile restraining from full participation, as an incomplete or inauthentic online presence may affect corporate reputation. The development of a social media strategy should include the allocation of human and financial resources necessary to maintain the desired level of participation.  6.2.1  Build and maintain relationships.  Edelman states that, “the average person uses eight sources of media each day. That same person needs to hear or see something three-to-five times to believe it” (Edelman, 2009, p. 2). Therefore, incorporating social media into communications platforms is a way to increase exposure to stakeholders, and for a company to distinguish its voice, its message and increase its credibility. Establishing a space that provokes meaningful engagement will be a key factor of success. Before initiating an online relationship, organizations should identify online audiences and participants. This should include an assessment of the “technographic” standing of potential participants to determine their capacity for online social interactions (Li and Bernoff, 2008). It will be essential to do outreach to the online community, rather than waiting for participation in a passive manner. The benefit of social media platforms is that the engagement can be viral, so once key influencers have been engaged, their networks will subsequently join. Mapping virtual social networks alongside stakeholders may help to determine where strong and weak ties exist, which could help to shape conversations. When a social media presence has been established, authentic and genuine interactions will help maintain a constructive and trusting relationship. An advantage of social media is the  125  ability to have participants add opinions, share information with their networks and endorse verified information. Whereas mass media marketing programs interact in the same way with a broad audience, social media requires sharing relevant information in meaningful and convenient ways. Establishing a style and voice will allow participants to build confidence with the site and will strengthen relationships. Social media has the capacity to empower and engage stakeholders. When a company asks for ideas or suggestions from stakeholders it demonstrates openness to information sharing that could enhance overall relationships, but this approach requires follow through. Allowing social media participants to speak to one another, on behalf of a company, requires trust and a strategy should be developed that determines the degree of interactivity between participants in these types of conversations. Although this “dispersion of authority” (Edelman, 2009, p. 2) may feel threatening, it is a demonstration of transparency, as each participant is able to impart an authentic voice and perspective. It is also important to allow participants of social media to maintain the “social” aspect of these tools by engaging their audiences in different ways, such as issuing invitations to meet at events, providing news releases, having dialogue with organizational staff, and driving campaigns etc. Interactions that mimic the authenticity of face-to-face dialogue will be appreciated, as this demonstrates the ability to personalize corporations through these tools. Another important consideration for building relationships is assuring the security of online participants. A company should make every attempt to protect participants from any repercussions of online interaction, such as identity theft or being ostracized by the community. Stating the mechanisms that are being used to protect personal information will help build trust and confidence with audience members, as well as protecting a company from possible legal challenges as a result of online participation.  6.2.2  Cost of implementing social media.  There are several factors that determine the costs related to the application of social media tools. Joining existing platforms, such as Facebook, or setting up a blog on an established framework, such as Blogger, have no associated development costs. Some organizations are developing their own internal tools, and must include the costs of development, programming, and maintenance. If a company is dedicated to managing communications via social media, it will be necessary to carefully account for all the time and expenses resulting from this decision, (e.g. it has to determine how many hours are spent developing or redistributing content and how many hours are spent fostering relationships by replying to commentary). For organizations and companies that require the approval by a board of directors for certain communications, the time spent by the board should also be calculated. The value of this work will help to determine the return on investment of social media.  126  6.3  Third-Party Groups and Social Media Neutrality Companies should consider the role of third party groups in developing the strategy  around building and maintaining relationships. Although very few respondents mentioned the need for a third-party to mediate social media platforms, this may be a way to increase the acceptance of neutrality on a social media platform. Using a third-party group to host a social media tool focused on mining issues may improve trust and credibility in the dialogue, as any assumptions about filtering messages or staging conversations may be removed. The involvement of a third-party would require more resources, but may improve the legitimacy of a platform. Mining societies or chambers of commerce may consider the role of hosting Web 2.0 platforms to garner conversations about mining-related topics. Alternatively, a civil society group, mediation group or non-governmental organization could take the role of impartial third party, to ease participation and reduce levels of scepticism related to the engagement of the mining industry. They could also help with the process of information verification about existing stakeholders participating in a social media network.  6.4 Measure Success Once a company has determined their social media objectives, it is important to decide what indicators will demonstrate success or failure. Appropriate indicators should be established for each tool and analytics should be monitored closely to understand how participation is occurring. Quantitative and qualitative measurements of social media platforms should be considered. For example, quantitative measures include counting the number of interactions recorded, such as comments, links, page views, or votes received on a particular date and relating these numbers to share prices. Analysis may include mapping virtual linkages while identifying key influencers and their networks. Another measurement to be considered is tracking the share of conversation, either on a social media platform hosted by a company, or on another organization’s Web 2.0 websites. Companies can do qualitative analysis of the content and effectiveness of the social media tools by evaluating the sentiments of participants, which is performed with sophisticated software that identifies negative, positive or neutral commentary. Understanding the public’s reception to a mining project by monitoring sentiment or community opinions may assist a company in determining its social license to operate. Regardless of the selected measurement, it is important to always relate online activities to business actions or outcomes.  6.5 Timing and Alignment of Tools Social media tools can be used for different aspects of stakeholder dialogue and public relations, however these should not be the only forms of outreach. It is important to coordinate  127  the application of one or more social media tool to reach the desired audience, at the appropriate time. One of the challenges associated with these communication tools is timing. There is a tension between the slow and cautious approach to information verification by some stakeholders’ (particularly government) and the immediacy of social media, which traverses time and space effortlessly. Creating the space to review, filter and answer dialogue in the realm of social media requires sufficient resources. As previously discussed, timing is challenging for advocacy organizations to determine a role for social media until a resolution has been made, at which time, the real-time capacity of social media is no longer relevant. In these instances, it is necessary for stakeholders to be sensitive to properly determine the timing for social media discussions.  6.6 Mine Site versus Headquarters The mining industry is made up of dispersed business-to-business groups operating in synergy around the world. Each business group has internal and external audiences with varying degrees of communication needs. For example, there are communication needs between employees working at a mine and those based at corporate headquarters, and different communication strategies for a CSR officer working with community members located near a mine or smelter. These information flows need to be monitored at all stages of mining. Social media communications tools may build understanding between disparate groups by facilitating dialogue across divisions or stages of the mining process or between corporations and communities. Reporting is an extensive and ongoing process that occurs during a mine’s operations. Some reporting tools are problematic because they require a company to consolidate and represent all the distinct industries within the mining sector. Social media tools may be applicable to enhance dialogue and understanding between the industries comprised within the mining sector, and could provide some comprehensiveness and integration of reporting.  6.7 Social Media and the Mine Life Cycle Mining projects pass through a series of stages, starting with exploration and resource development, and then undergo permitting processes. If the mine proposal is approved, it will be constructed and become operational. When a mine’s resources are depleted or can no longer be extracted in an economical manner, the mine will undergo a closure and post-closure process.69 The following sections provide ideas about how social media tools could be applied at each stage of the mine lifecycle. If a precedence of using Web 2.0 tools is set in earlier in a mine’s life cycle, then it may be advisable for a company to continue outreach in this way. Any decision to close a 69  In some circumstances, mines are closed temporarily for social, economic or political reasons prior to exhausting the ore body.  128  social media platform as the mine moves from one life cycle stage to another should be explained to online participants.  6.7.1 Exploration. Social media applications may be useful for extending the notification process to members of a community who may not otherwise be consulted in the preliminary stages of exploration. For example, there may be opportunities to reach younger generations of a community who may not be involved in community-decision making process, but are active on social networking sites. These young people may be potential employees, as well as residents later in the closure stage of a mine, and social media presents a new opportunity for involving them in the generation of knowledge about a mine over its life cycle. A concern from corporations around the use of social media applications at this stage may be their fear of displaying information to competitors, but it is important to remember that these tools do not need to focus on company secrets, but rather, they should foster discussion and debate. Once a company is connected to stakeholders, it can monitor community blogs and social network groups to gain understanding about how people feel about their operations, making it easier to assess their social license to operate. Both mining companies and interested parties may use social media tools to enhance their stakeholder engagement during this stage of the mining life cycle, as this is a critical time for developing relationships.  6.7.2  Permitting and environmental assessment.  The environmental assessment and permitting process will involve many stakeholders therefore a comprehensive assessment of opinions should be undertaken. A strategy for converging social media tools with traditional engagement processes may be useful for ensuring broad communication outreach so that no stakeholders lack access to key information. During this stage, social media platforms could be used to host videos of public hearings from each consulted community, thereby broadly sharing information between groups that may not otherwise have access to these conversations. With the consent of the community, videos could capture traditional environmental knowledge and historical testament from elders in indigenous communities and provide a mining company with useful documentation for the restoration and closure process, while also providing a community with historical archives. All mining stakeholders may want to consider the opportunities for social media application during this stage. It may be useful for a government department to host a Web 2.0 site alongside the formal permitting websites, in order that chronological and searchable information is available about the project. This Web 2.0 site could remain open to the public over the lifespan of the mine, or may be re-opened if there are any changes to the permit or closure plans.  129  6.7.3  Operations.  During the operational stage of a mine, it continues to be important for a company to manage stakeholder relations. A mining company may want to set up one or more social media sites about the project to meet the different needs of stakeholders. Other groups, such as local newspapers and employee unions, may also be providing information about the mine, and it will be a priority for the company to monitor these articles and any ensuing conversations. Throughout the operating stage, rules concerning information provision to shareholders should be followed closely to maintain reputation risk management and avoid any issues concerning financial disclosure. There may already be information flows on social media platforms set up by departments or inter-departmental teams who have adopted these tools for additional work support. Incorporating social media platforms around specific projects may increase work efficiencies and improve interpersonal relations between colleagues. Web 2.0 interactions and space for new communication lines may improve internal information flows. It is during the operation stage of a mine’s lifecycle when various monitoring and reporting activities must be undertaken. This includes formal and technical reports to the regulators, as well as issuing voluntary reports, such as the GRI Mining and Metals Sector Supplement or a sustainability report. The social media website observations demonstrated that companies are using social networking platforms to alert participants about the release of new reports. Social media platforms may also be used for rating reports, or for gathering testimonials from stakeholders involved in monitoring activities on the ground. There may also be options for presenting the materials in a social-media friendly manner, such that documents do not need to be downloaded and material can be found using Internet searches or on mobile devices.  6.7.4  Recruitment and employee relations.  Throughout a mine’s lifecycle, there are ongoing employment campaigns and social media presents a new channel of outreach to existing and potential employees. Social media recruitment campaigns can be used for targeting younger demographics. These communication tools may also be useful for information storage, mentoring, and training between older, experienced employees and new staff. In this way, social media may be a new tool of communication with employees as they move through their careers with a mining company. The mining industry in Canada has the largest number of workers in the 45-54 and 55-64 age ranges, who are set to retire in the next decade (Montpellier, 2009). It is particularly crucial for mining companies to prepare for the largest projected number of retirements in the industry’s history by recording and storing the knowledge and skills of the retiring employees in a manner that is easily accessible by their replacements. Social media communication tools that allow for information exchange and dialogue present innovative platforms for companies to get younger and older generations sharing knowledge, while building and diversifying talent with new  130  communication capacities. Figure 26 is a hypothetical representation of how an employee at a mining company could benefit from social media tools throughout his or her career. Figure 26 – Human Resources Life Cycle and Social Media  Adaptation of yHRCT Employee Lifecycle (2007)  This Figure is an adaptation of an employee lifecycle showing possible social media applications being used at each career stage. For example, social media can help an employee with continuous learning, contribute to mining knowledge, make changes to protocol, access archived knowledge, share information learned at conferences, recruit colleagues to participate in events, and share information with their communities, to name a few. As new tools emerge, there will be opportunities to engage employees in increasingly innovative ways.  6.7.5  Closure.  By the time a mine reaches the stage of closure, the regulators, company and community have already negotiated many of the physical and environmental conditions that will remain. Social media could be used at this stage for dialogue about the restoration, closure and transformation of a former mine site, and would provide a valuable historical record for a community. These platforms could also be used for future land use planning, particularly as it is increasingly possible to integrate spatial tools with online dialogue. Social issues, such as employment transition and the mine’s legacy could also be discussed, allowing the company to remain in touch with the community over the long term.  6.8 Strategic Policies and Procedures Policies and procedures should be developed by organizations to guide their actions, reactions and interactions on social media platforms. These policies should be made public, as this demonstrates transparency about the intended use of the social media tools. The policies should remain flexible to account for the changing nature of the social media tools.  131  6.9 Conclusion of Recommendations and Strategic Considerations It is recommended that any organization interested in using social media ensure that the use of these tools will not replace any face-to-face interactions, but rather, social media can complement ongoing outreach. This is particularly important, as the dialogue generated on these platforms does not have any influence in formal stakeholder engagement processes. Once a decision has been made to use social media, an organization should follow some basic steps to align their goals with the implementation of social media. The basic stages for implementation include: Establish objectives: Clear objectives for the social media tools will help guide strategy, implementation and website maintenance. Examples of objectives include raising awareness with new audiences or increasing the number of shareholder for a company. Design a strategy: The strategy should look at both internal and external stakeholders of an organization and ensure they can be used by for all groups. In light of the evolving nature of these tools, the strategy should remain flexible. Manage social media platforms: Managing social media platforms requires adequate resources and clear policies that guide online interactions. Ongoing assessment of the timing of new postings relative to current affairs should be done. Privacy and security considerations must be evaluated. Regular review of new tools should be done to ascertain that relevant tools are meeting the needs of stakeholders. Develop measurements for success: Measuring the success of social media platforms can be done in a variety of ways. Each organization needs to determine the best framework and set of indicators that will allow them to assess the effective use of these tools over time. Other considerations: In order to address concerns around authenticity, credibility and transparency of information, neutral third party social media hosts should be considered as they may reduce instances where information is filtered or ensure there is equal representation of different opinions. Social media tools can be useful at specific times in a mine’s life cycle or throughout the entire process. Familiarizing interested parties with social media platforms is important for building dialogue, but these tools can also be used internally throughout an employee’s employment cycle. Regular review of social media tools should be conducted to align communication goals with business objectives.  132  7. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, FUTURE RESEARCH AND CONCLUSIONS We are ending a decade of social media disruption. In the coming years the noise will quiet down. People will stop talking about the social media tools themselves and just use them to get their jobs done. Social media teams will stop being enterprise anomalies and be woven into workflow (S. Israel, personal communication, March 12, 2010). The mining industry is constrained by traditional communication processes that are often guided by regulation and so this thesis tries to understand the transition of communication practices, through the exploration of communication theory. The principles of meaningful engagement continue to evolve according to contexts and location, but these practices do not incorporate Web 2.0 communication technologies. At the same time, these Web 2.0 tools have demonstrated effectiveness for raising awareness and garnering support around social issues, and so it is important to understand the power shifts created by online communities.  7.1 Summary of Findings The following sections summarize the thesis chapters.  7.1.1 Theoretical framework and methodology. This thesis used theory from communication studies, research on stakeholder engagement processes in the mining industry and social network analysis to frame the analysis of social media. These topics were linked together through the themes of transparency, disclosure, public engagement and the public sphere, authenticity of voice, convergence and credibility. The data collection was comprised of a qualitative mixed method approach. Data collection was done through the observation of twelve websites, (representing the private and civil society sectors) and by conducting 41 interviews with representatives from the private, public, civil and academic sectors. These methods were used to ascertain if and how social media was being implemented to address mining-related topics. The use of the ATLAS.ti research analysis tool enabled qualitative analysis of the data, and network views were created to illustrate the relationship between major themes of this research (i.e. transparency, authenticity and credibility). There is a time limitation to the applicability of the findings in this research due to the changing nature of social media tools.  7.1.2  Results.  The Results of the website observations showed that both private and civil society stakeholders are using social media tools. Industry proponents use blogs and social networking services as an extension of their traditional messaging, and there is rapid growth of followers on these pages. Civil society groups also showed growth of membership and dialogue using these  133  means of conversation; their strategy included information exchange and opportunities for building relationships. The results of the interviews found that 62% of respondents were using social media tools; blogs were the most common, followed by social network services. Industry was using social network services, Flickr, and YouTube more frequently than the other sectors. Civil society relies on blogs and social network services; the public sector was using blogs and had minimal application of social networking services. The tools were being used for both internal and external information dissemination. Despite the growth of social media applications, respondents had a range of sentiments about each social media tool and there continues to be a degree of scepticism and uncertainty about them. At the same time, respondents indicated that benefits had resulted from incorporating these tools in their communications strategies and work plans. Challenges and risks of these tools highlighted the potential lack of control, misunderstandings around the use of these tools, and the need for sufficient resources to properly integrate social media. Policies and procedures are being developed to guide the use of social media, although many respondents were taking a trial and error approach. These tools are complementary to stakeholder engagement process, as they are not accepted within any formal consultation process. Although social media sceptics exist, there is still an interest in the potential of these tools and their integration in communication strategies may present a holistic view of how stakeholders interact. The current use of these tools showed that: Blogs are used to gather information and to gauge feelings about projects and issues as they arise, but they have not proven their role for online stakeholder engagement in the mining industry. Wikis are recognized for knowledge creation and information management. They are not seen as a tool for stakeholder engagement, however within a community of interest, they can be useful for fostering dialogue. Social networking sites are considered to be most effective when relationships are already established and when both the online and physical community are quite small. o Facebook has been useful for information dissemination, industry promotion, and recruitment, as well as for mobilizing communities around different issues. o Twitter is associated most strongly with accessing timely information, although it is generally a conduit of information, not a space for dialogue. Companies are using Twitter to circulate financial information. o Both Facebook and Twitter are regarded with a certain degree of apprehension due to privacy concerns and overwhelming amounts of information. The case studies helped to shape some strategic considerations that mining companies and stakeholders can use for the implementation of social media.  134  7.1.3  Recommendations and strategic considerations.  Recommendations and strategic considerations were developed based on the research. Mining companies interested in employing social media should understand the principles of social media tools, and develop strategies and frameworks for measuring their effectiveness. Developing objectives, an outreach strategy, a management plan and the capacity to evaluate the success of Web 2.0 tools are all important considerations for launching a social media platform. The social media strategy should consider both internal and external stakeholders of an organization. Managing the social media platform requires adequate and dedicated resources. The protection of privacy is important to consider as in the future, it is probable that online security measures will be enhanced. Measuring the return on investment can demonstrate the usefulness of each Web 2.0 tool. Each organization needs to determine the best framework and set of indicators that will allow them to assess the effectiveness of social media tools. Social media must not replace any face-to-face interactions, but rather these tools can be used to complement ongoing outreach. This is particularly important, as currently, the online dialogue does not have any influence over formal stakeholder engagement processes.  7.2 Recommendations for Future Research As computer mediated communication technologies develop, new areas of research will emerge. The mining industry should continue to assess how Web 2.0 communication devices can be leveraged for stakeholder engagement, particularly as younger generations, accustomed to using these tools, start working in the mining industry. The following topics should be considered for future research around the application of social media in the mining industry.  7.2.2  Evolving and new social media tools.  Social media tools are being regularly updated and there is no way to determine which applications will be adopted by stakeholders in the mining industry. Some examples of social media platforms that my be considered by stakeholders in the mining industry include, but are not limited to: Delicious - Social bookmarking allowing users to locate and save websites that match their own interests LinkedIn – A social networking tool that is being used by the mining industry for working groups and inter-departmental teams. LinkedIn appears to be trusted by corporations due to its professional orientation; an invitation is needed to join a network.70 Innocentive – Web 2.0 platform for research and development problem solving, used by engineers, scientists and designers. One Climate- Social networking and knowledge collaboration on climate change 70  The site boasts that executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members, a strong indication that this tool has benefits for corporations.  135  ScienceStage - Science-oriented multimedia platform and network for scientists Research will be required to determine which social networking platforms are trusted and useful for constructive dialogue between mining stakeholders. Learning how organizations determine the trustworthiness of a Web 2.0 platform could complement this research. Monitoring trends and tools on an ongoing basis, and learning to navigate the ebbs and flows of popular social media sites will be important. Web 2.0 platforms aim to be user friendly, but there is also an opportunity for research about how organizations of different sizes and cultures learn and teach social media communication.  7.2.3  Understanding audiences and stakeholders.  This research included interviews with stakeholders from different perspectives, including the civil, academic, public and private sectors; respondents were targeted at the management level to gain information about the decisions that shaped the application or rejection of social media. Future research should be conducted to gain an understanding about the impressions of social media communication by other participants, including employees, union members, community members, First Nations youth, and non-English speakers. This research could explore if social media dialogue changes the nature of the relationship between management and employees, which would serve the fields of human resource management, leadership, business management and communications theory. Understanding how mining companies integrate and differentiate social media to engage stakeholders on different priorities will be important.  7.2.4  Geographic and longitudinal research.  It may be useful in the future to repeat this research to assess how the application of social media has changed over time. This would provide insight about the prevalence of social media tools in the mining industry. The research could also investigate whether attitudes about social media tools change over time. Contacting the same group of respondents or their organization would provide insight into changes in the application of social media in the mining industry. In addition to longitudinal research, it is important to look at the geographic significance of social media. Research could be conducted in different countries to see whether social media tools are being used. Gaining broader perspectives about the scope and role of social media and the flow of information in the mining industry will help companies meet the needs of their stakeholders.  7.2.5  Strength of online relationships.  Future research could be conducted to compare the impact of different communication channels on the strength of relationship between participants. For example, assessing the strength of a relationship that emerges from strictly online communication versus ones that includes face-to-face and virtual communications may help organizations shape these  136  interactions. This research could be used in human resources management to monitor the loyalty of a relationship with new employees, noting if recruitment occurred primarily in the virtual realm or face-to-face, and how interactions online have shaped the experience of new employees. In light of the anticipated strains on employment in the mining industry, it will be important for companies to quickly learn how to leverage social media to build constructive relationships with employees. Global positioning systems (GPS) are being put into computers and mobile devices, so it may be possible to monitor where conversations are occurring both physically and spatially. Future research could look at aligning stakeholder mapping processes with visualizing social media networks. Tracking where the relationship first starts (face-to-face or virtually) and mapping the network will assist companies with stakeholder mapping processes and allow them to determine ways of strengthening ties.  7.2.6  Mobile devices and social media.  Access to social media platforms on mobile devices, such as cellular phones, will mean that more people participate in online dialogue. Similar to computers, these devices can capture and display images, browse the Internet, and send messages. In many countries the cellular phone market is growing, meaning that more people are able to connect online and will contribute knowledge and ideas from the convenience of their phone. Many mining companies operate in low-income countries where previously, it was challenging for stakeholders to access or distribute information, but now these communities can garner global support and information from sympathetic communities, at a relatively low cost. Future research could explore whether access to social media platforms through portable devices is empowering mining stakeholders, and how mining companies are reacting to the global networks. In places where wireless infrastructure is not established, mobile devices, such as telephones, may still present opportunities for mining companies to engage with community members. For example, mining companies could send mass text messages to community members to enhance any crisis communication strategy. Future research should consider the risks and opportunities associated with mobile devices and their popularity in mining-impacted communities.  7.3 Conclusions Mining is an important part of the global economy, yet the industry is mired by negative perceptions and continues to be scrutinized by regulators and civil society alike. Managing stakeholder relationships is therefore an important yet delicate aspect of successful business, and mining companies take a cautious approach to control flows of information. The introduction of Web 2.0 platforms, with their architectures of participation, has ushered in a new era of technological interaction and information exchange, which is having an impact on business and governance. Web 2.0 platforms give users the ability to generate data collaboratively, which is  137  changing the nature of communication and expectations for online dialogue. In light of these changes, this thesis explores the application of social media in the mining industry. There were three foci to the research which are outlined below: a) To outline the current uses of social media in the mining industry, by exploring their application by private sector, civil society and public sector. Case studies from the private, civil and public sectors show a range of applications of social media in the mining industry. These uses include: marketing, raising awareness about mining issues, employee recruitment, expanding shareholder and investor relations, project management (particularly around events and conferences), knowledge creation, information management, informing and mobilizing protesters. The private sector is cautious in its approach to social media and applications generally mimic marketing campaigns. Civil society is using social media to build relationships between individuals and organizations interested in particular issues; the use of authentic voices and full disclosure are helping to strengthen these communities. The public sector is starting to monitor social media platforms but has not integrated these tools for external communications. b) To provide background and understanding about social media tools, particularly how they relate to values in the mining industry and broad discussions of transparency, access to information, and communication norms. This thesis demonstrates that stakeholders are using social media for broad information dissemination primarily directed at those communities where strong ties have already been established. This means that online interactions parallel the communication activities offline, and in most cases, social media is being used for marketing (i.e. in a one-way information flow). At the same time, the implementation of Web 2.0 platforms increases transparency and access to information. Stakeholders identified risks and challenges of using social media, such as loss of control of information and cultural barriers. Social media is becoming part of communications strategies, however these tools do not have a formal role in stakeholder engagement practices in the mining industry. c) To provide guidelines for how a social media strategy can be developed in the mining industry. Many organizations are embarking on social media applications in a haphazard and experimental manner, in part because of the changing nature of these communication tools. Yet, strategic communications plans will help organizations to target audiences and foster meaningful dialogue such that these tools benefit all interested parties. Organizations interested in using social media must first evaluate the benefits and risks of social media and must be comfortable relinquishing a certain level of control of information. A social media plan should include clear objectives, a flexible strategy for reaching target audiences, sufficient  138  financial and human resources, a mechanism for measuring success, and the ability to learn over time. Social media platforms should not replace face-to-face interactions, but rather enhance communication to relevant stakeholders.  Social media platforms have changed the spaces and flows of information; they allow online participants to be interactive with information, rather than just recipients of mass communications. Web 2.0 platforms are new models for electronic collaboration that can enhance independent or interconnected networks. These platforms have raised the public’s expectations around sharing experiences and perspectives and make it possible for groups to galvanize energy around problems and issues. For the mining industry, this ubiquity of data can be seen either as a threat or an opportunity, and the expansive online dialogue should not be over looked. It is important for mining companies to start exploring the long-term practical implications and opportunities presented by social media tools.  139  REFERENCES  Alcoa - Facebook. (2010) Message posted to http://www.facebook.com/alcoa Retrieved June 14, 2010. Alder, P. S., & Kwon, S. (2002). Social capital: Prospects for a new concept. Academy of Management Review, 27(1), 17-40. Areva Resources Careers - Facebook. (2010). Message posted to http://www.facebook.com/pages/AREVA-Resources-Careers/35158880592. Retrieved June 14, 2010. Argentina mining - Twitter. (2010). Message posted to http://twitter.com/argentinamining. Retrieved June 14, 2010. Babbie, E. 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Corporate Citizenship Conference, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London.  151  APPENDICES Appendix 1 – Respondents Sentiments about Social Media (General) The following table provides commentary and sentiments from respondents regarding social media tools in general. Codes Audience / Lack of Audience  Authenticity  Build Relationships  Respondent Sentiments about Social Media (in General) Responses - Audience will change over time. The “millennials” are experienced with texting and communicating uses, and we must be mindful of these groups and way they communicate. The way people obtain news has changed – Web 2.0 has transformed public relations. - Must go to where people are located (virtually) although the interactions can be quite superficial. - Tools may be a way to reach more constituents that may not be up to date on current news on coal. - If you want the regulators, investors, other to engage on website then you need to tell them your objectives and ensure that it’s worth them spending time to visit site. - [In extractives, we are dealing with a] different demographic work force – with different education that “don’t get it”. - Have a Young Leaders group (those under 40) who have “resisted the resistance”. Have developed LinkedIn but not officially sanctioned by the organization. Using for communication – particularly around events, news and organizing conference sessions. Includes about 250 people. - If go the route of social media you lose a bit of control which is unnerving but must continue to do the right thing. Try to use forum to bust myths quickly with new generation. - Concern around speaking on behalf of membership – not one voice necessarily united and must look after membership. - The tools are managed by communications, public affairs, community relations people, who work to legitimize the company, therefore it can be dangerous to implement Web 2.0. - Well-written letters from public are important and are taken seriously because by writing a person has demonstrated time and thoughtfulness therefore deserve honest/fair answer. “Time in/time out”. - Who mediates the tools? Who oversees them? Rarely or never see 3rd party monitor tools/blogs, etc… but needed to really ensure they are legitimate. - Able to build an epistemic community of knowledge very quickly (as information travels, you are able to connect to groups and meet people fast). - Web 2.0 allows you to personalize information. That builds credibility and loyalty. - Electronic tools shape relationships - it's easy to cut out human elements of commentary (if only seen online). - Connecting to other stakeholders and getting cross-linked. This helps to build traffic and increases hits on subject matter. - Analytics show that social media [Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr] has had explosive impact in relationships.  152  Appendix 1 – Respondent Sentiments about Social Media Continued Codes Responses Collaborative - Social media allows organization to inform all about bargaining process and terms that are being negotiated. Get responses from people (2 way dialogue now but could go between members). Use to encourage people to attend meetings. Easier to access people. - Collaboration of tools [Blog, YouTube, Flickr] has had an impact – increased intensity and amount of support for project. But hard to determine impact of online and print campaign, as both launched at same time. - Over the past 6 months, [with Web 2.0 tools] more online collaboration is occurring to help break down silos and increase understanding of who is in the organization. Cost -Tools are good because the organization has a limited budget, therefore some Effective ability to interact, but prefer face to face. Cost effective because reduces need for travel time and costs. Credibility - Web 2.0 allows you to personalize information, which builds credibility and loyalty. - Companies could use social media for benefit – especially dealing with perception of mining and countering biases of traditional media. - Can be used to increase transparency and in theory help stakeholder engagement. - Need to know criteria of website administrator – can you trust the information (is it honest)? Is there anonymity? That reduces trust because could be political postings (i.e. government having people anonymously post articles to push political messages). Once familiar with authors can determine if worth reading. - Where do you want those comments to be? On line (and not considered part of review process) or in public meetings and recorded (therefore validated)? - Tools need to be assured as “credible” – especially because mining is a vulnerable industry. Need to know what could do online because need to protect community. Developing credibility of site is both barrier and opportunity. - Want to ensure having legitimate commentary. - Who mediates the tools? Who oversees them? Rarely or never see 3rd party monitor tools/blogs, etc… but needed to really ensure they are legitimate - Openness comes with scrutiny and close management - but that is the cost of business. - From industry side - going to have to engage in this dialogue to retain credibility or counter misleading information Discomfort / - We need to know if safe to enter social media world - What are legal Do not implications (what is a legal statement to protect organization)? What are other understand considerations if go online? - Unease. - Unfamiliar. - Presented idea of using social media to Board of Directors but fell on deaf ears because they misunderstood idea and the tools, therefore were not able to really give blessing. - Misunderstanding of information and terminology. It's hard to breach technical barriers from industry to communities. - There is misunderstanding and no education on tools. - There have been challenges internally about how to integrate tools [blog and wiki] and some confusion about how they help and where to integrate them. - I need to know more about them, I'm not comfortable with them yet. Events - Have a Young Leaders group who have “resisted the resistance”. Using LinkedIn but not officially sanctioned by the organization. Using for communication – particularly around events, news and organizing conferences  153  Appendix 1 – Respondent Sentiments about Social Media Continued Codes Responses First Nations - It's a challenge to access traditional environmental knowledge from First Nations, until relationship is established – but also need to capture that information as generations age. - Duty to consult with First Nations and Métis on mining-related issues. As regulator, need to be monitoring and mindful of issues going on around us and with communities of interest. Mining companies also need to be aware of conversations going on – especially at international level (because so many operations are global). Gather/Share - Journalists using these tools for gathering information, so need to provide information information through this medium as well. - New ability to reach out and comment. Citizen journalists have been empowered. They influence conversation but this helps regulators who can be privy to what is going on the ground. - Sometimes will launch campaigns virtually first to see reaction/get input, and then launch for real (with traditional and new media). - Useful for casting a wide web to collect information - important with a diminishing workforce and retirement. - Can get information on projects from the ground once connected to lists - get direct information. - Use social media [blog] and analytics to look for what people are looking for Harvest information and attract people interested in same issues. Interactive - If everything was online and everyone contributing new material, it's great - But must fit into technological information and interpretation. Online people can see how things fit together and any disagreements are visible. Marketing / - Mining companies often have very good PDF’s with lots of information, but they Promotion don’t necessarily show up in searches because Google doesn’t deal with materials like that the same way – materials not aligned with search medium. - Companies need to be online to promote their side of the story and good work going on. - The tools are managed by communications, public affairs, community relations people, who work to legitimize the company, therefore it can be dangerous to implement Web 2.0. - Using YouTube to promote application of clean energy, etc. So does have dissemination/education capacity. Monitor - Need to do online domain name monitoring and brand monitory (Google alerts to pick up blog commentary). - Being monitored from all fronts so best to just share the information and keep the truth available. - Use Web 2.0 tools to learn what others are saying, especially through optimized searches (Google). Colleagues scan websites and news releases of think tanks, conference board, and institutes for reports and what is being said. - Duty to consult with First Nations and Métis on mining-related issues. As regulator, need to be mindful of issues going on around us and with communities of interest. Mining companies also need to be aware of conversations going on – especially at international level (because so many operations are global). Therefore need to be monitoring and mindful. - Not [using social media] at this point but at some point, you have to dip your toes in or at least open eyes to see what is being said about you. - Scanning to get feeling on how things are being said regarding land title issues - What is said about the project (no matter of platform) is public record. The values of company are very strong - this is a benefit but critics are not always enlightened therefore need to watch what is being said. Can't control what others say, but can impact reputation.  154  Codes Monitor continued  Appendix 1 – Respondent Sentiments about Social Media Continued Responses - Just monitoring at this point.  Policy  Privacy  - Learn about others using the tools through searches, media monitoring, Google alerts, and “Social mention”. - Personally monitoring sites, but limited time. Watching brand management to see what is being said. - Monitoring web for mention of the company – using social mention and back tweets, Google alerts, searching, to get alerts on mentions of company – but not responding. - Policy not to respond but keep records – analytics and statistical mentions as well (but not incorporating information from these sites into information management system. - User beware policy applies to these technologies - free for all so careful what you post. - Need ground rules and policy about what is socially acceptable. Unacceptable to make unsubstantiated and unconstructive comments. - Policy is: Be accurate, truthful and honest. - The policy is: Do not post if inappropriate, unrelated or offensive. - No policies that that are known but probably guided by Freedom of Information Act. Need to be self-limiting around comments because of public presence and accountability. - No confidentiality policies, no codes of conduct. - No privacy concerns, if it can be accessed on the web, its any one’s game! - Very conscious that what once available it is in public and forever – so careful about what to post; but mining companies are used to this because always in public eye. - Can't put information out to public due to anti-trust issues, therefore control all messaging. - Use a privacy statement that indicates that personal information will be stored when sign up online. - Some stuff has to be private, but how does a company use privacy disclaimers online considering they are 4000 words (they can’t be entered into a tweet). - [The organization] has no confidentiality policies, no codes of conduct, so there is the potential for not using information appropriately because people don’t know full context. - Don’t post things that aren’t ready for public viewing.  Real Time / Timeliness  Recruitment / Human Resources  - Because fast [exchange], need to ensure that not reactive impulsively (need to ensure time for reflection). - Face-to-face is good for the ability to filter information and time and space to develop analysis of ideas - vs. immediacy of Web 2.0 tools (which are instant). - There has been a “sea change” of how people feed information into government, but the drawback is increased expectation of instant response (reaction) when often government needs lag time. - Employees are engaged in process by taking photos – can send to be uploaded (as only one person managing the social media work).  155  Appendix 1 – Respondent Sentiments about Social Media Continued Codes Responses Stakeholder - Relationship with external groups has changed as a result of using these tools: Engagement More information exchange between provincial government and municipalities but less face-to-face. The level of technological savvy may drive the use of these tools – and it can be frustrating if people/communities don’t know how to use. - Can run social media parallel to an engagement process but not replacement. For controversial issues can get comments, links, stories and information but not usually seen for dialogue. - If information or feedback not provided within the formal process (re: project concerns, etc) then doesn’t count. - When uranium industry came along there wasn’t a lot of public involvement - no one was sure how to get information and it was hard to engage with regulators. Now people are more involved and trying to get information out to others. Communication technologies have promoted involvement and suggestions of how to access: who to call, open (free) conference calls, website information and reports, maps, information. The Internet makes all the difference in the world for environmental organizations that can work as public interest group. - All oil and gas companies dealing with how to engage online. What policies and procedures are appropriate, considering the risks and reputation management required? Challenge of what to say and the impact it might have on share price. - Not able to facilitate public engagement process or manage relationships [using social media]. That requires face-to-face. The tools are ok for getting some issues on the table. - In theory, we have different relationship and are more engaged if able to comment but haven't really seen these tools as being used this way by stakeholders yet. - Overall, get sense that both industry and activists are using Web 2.0 and heading in right direction. Industry not quite as engaged as civil society. These are tools though, and can be used in a specific project based way for information exchange, for feedback, and dialogue. - Engaging with stakeholders across all sectors – including government, and indigenous groups. Have a balanced approach to engagement. No bias but willing to advocate on issues once a claim is proven. Transparency - Open source mediums designed to share information (not meant to constrain). This philosophy goes beyond technology - but applied to all information. - Tools can be cross-linked so that information and thinking is shared and transparent. - Fear in participating in conversation with opponents – opens up difficult issues. - Concern over public image. Mining companies have been secret in past and don't need to advertise, but that approach hasn't worked. So need to get out and tell about the measures, processes, and care being applied in projects. Address and reform negative impression. Fight fear of opening up. - Opening up makes companies vulnerable to criticism and debate but can't avoid those things. Need to share territory and resources with neighbours, therefore they should know what is going on can only obtain social license to operate if people are aware and educated. - Openness comes with scrutiny and close management - but that is the cost of business.  156  Appendix 1 – Respondent Sentiments about Social Media Continued Codes Transparency continued  Trust  Unproven  Responses - Being monitored from all fronts so best to just share the information and keep the truth available. - Where do you want those comments to be? Online (and not considered part of review process) or in public meetings and recorded (therefore validated)? - Online there are substantive comments on sensitive issues related to mining – it’s good to know what, who and how. - [Using social media is a] way to demonstrate commitment to transparency. - [My organization] has the approach that all public information should be available to all. - Don't think that "meaningful public engagement" can happen on line - but can serve as a supplement to meaningful sharing and reflecting (vs. current state of reactionary website stuff). But requires time and space to develop trust. - Hope that companies don't spend time and effort in this forum to speak against the truth. - Who mediates the tools? Who oversees them? Rarely or never see 3rd party monitor tools/blogs, etc… but needed to really ensure they are legitimate. The can be used to increase transparency and in theory help stakeholder engagement, but can also be used to corroborate a social license to operate or legitimize a project – they can be subtle but could drown out the voice of opposition. - Good for mining industry to use whatever tools allow them to speak to the public; social media tools provide an opportunity to break stereotypes with employees and public. - Need to know criteria of website administrator – can you trust the information (is it honest)? Is there anonymity? That reduces trust because could be political postings (e.g. government having people anonymously post articles to push political messages). Once familiar with authors, can determine if worth reading. - The Internet doesn’t allow people to judge (reduced visibility builds trust). - I'd like to see more about what tools can do. - If I can identify value of social media tools, I will incorporate them more into processes. - Only use traditional media as it allows for a structured process to engage with stakeholders. Allows for control of messaging. - Too soon to say if process and practices changing how engagement happens. - Not sure if there are impacts of using tools yet. No way of evaluative how big the population online is - who is present or who is missing? - Not sure how things have changed over time, but now doing the inevitable [using Facebook/blog] Not sure if it's the right effort going into it yet. - Some consider it a waste of time and question use and process. Once shown it has been positive there is more buy-in and senior leadership encouraged by what is being demonstrated. - Electronic tools shape relationships - it's easy to cut out human elements of commentary (if seen only online). - Unknown (don’t know what and how can be used). There's been no proof that tools are effective. - Need evidence that business model lends itself to tools (or vice versa). - Generally members are bidding on projects and don’t see how tools can assist with this process. - Extractives are a different kind of company – how to use social media for business-to-business companies is different than business-to-customer. In mining, there is no direct contact with consumer.  157  Codes Verification  Appendix 1 – Respondent Sentiments about Social Media Continued Responses - Personal discretion must be used, but we are using social media to transfer information that is already publicly available (already vetted). - Responsibility to back up all that is said (internally). - Verify by looking at source of information; if reliable source and can understand the bias that is brought to story, it can be used to fill in any gaps. - Fact checking is individual responsibility. - Not doing any verification. - Need to know source and understand their bias (are facts checked?). - Be on guard – many false claims and incorrect information. There is misuse of information and tools. Need to determine if not trying to benefit the general public (what is the modus of individual).  158  Appendix 2 – Interview Questions The interview will consist of 2 parts: Part I – looks internally about how communication technologies are used for organizational purposes Part II – looks externally at how other groups use communication technologies for interactions (within the mining industry). A few technical terms will be used – we will try to have common language. Please ask questions for further clarification. Interview Questions: 1. Are you familiar with the terms social media or Web 2.0 technologies? (yes/no) i. If yes, how would you define these terms? Common language: I will refer to “social media” throughout the interview, understanding that this term can be interchanged for “web 2.0 tools”. These tools are a new dynamic set of Internet technologies and web designs that aim to facilitate creativity and information sharing. They are: participatory, dynamic and can have user generated content. Ex: Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter 2. Does your organization use social media tools for work purposes? (yes/no) If yes – i. What tools do you use? ii. How do you use these tools? iii. How have you integrated these tools into your work (or at the organization or department level)? iv. Have you experienced any impacts as a result of using these tools? Please qualify as negative or positive impacts. 1. Can you quantify impacts (financial impact, hits per website, etc.)? v. Can you identify any risks associated with using these tools for work? vi. How have your practices or processes using these tools changed over time? vii. Has there been training in your work place on how to use these tools? 1. If yes –How did the training occur? (How often?) 2. If no – How do people learn to use these tools? viii. Are there policy guidelines for how to use of these technologies? 1. If yes, can you share them? (Or describe them) 2. If no, why not? Do you plan to develop guidelines in the future? ix. Do you verify (fact check) information you distribute through these tools? x. Do you verify information you receive through these tools? 1. If yes, why and how? 2. If no, why not? xi. Have there been problems related to implementing new communication technologies into your organization? Such as: a. Technical/ Malfunction of technology b. Cultural c. Language d. Misunderstanding of application e. Disgruntled users f. Profanity/Inappropriate uses g. Other? (Please describe) 2. Please explain what the problem was and how it was addressed and/or resolved. xii. Is information generated by social media tools stored or incorporated into your information management systems? 1. If yes, how?  xiii.  xiv.  xv. xvi. xvii.  2. If no, why not? Do you have plans to do so? Have these tools impacted organizational decision-making processes? 1. If yes, how? 2. If no, why not? Have these tools impacted personal decision-making processes? 1. If yes, how? 2. If no, why not? Who do you turn to for advice when developing social media interface tools for your company? (And why?) Have you incorporated any measures to protect personal privacy or corporate proprietary information? Do you see social media tools being further incorporated into your business in the future? 1. If yes, How? 2. If no, why not?  If not using social media – i. Why haven’t you incorporated these tools for work purposes? 1. Do you see negative consequences from using these tools? a. If yes, what consequences? 2. What barriers have you identified or do you foresee? ii. Do you see these tools being incorporated into your business in the future? 1. If yes, in what form? 2. If no, why not? If respondent answers, “not using social media” before moving ahead, I will provide some context and typical issues about social media and stakeholder engagement in order to create common ground before moving ahead with the next sections. If PART I includes the use of social media for dialogue with interested parties, some questions in the following section will be skipped over quickly (the same applies if they answered “No” to Part I). PART II 1. Can you define “interested parties” in the context of mining? i. If yes, Please provide your definition I will verbally share a definition of interested parties/stakeholders and ensure that there is common ground before continuing. An Interested party is anyone who may be impacted by a mining operation. They are an interested party if they have a legal, business, social or ethical interest in the area. 2. Do you have experience dealing with interested parties in your work? (yes/no). If yes i. Who are the interested parties? ii. Are any of these interested parties using social media to engage in discussion? iii. What has been the impact of using these tools for engagement? iv. Would you qualify the process of using these tools as neutral, satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and why? v. Has your relationship with interested parties changed as a result of using these tools? 3. Are you aware of interested parties using social media tools to address themes related to the mining industry? i. Which group(s) are using this these communication tools and which tools? 1. How did you become aware of their use? 2. Do you think this mode of communication is effective?  160  Organization  Tool  How did you become aware (member?)  Effective? (Yes/No)  Why? / Why not?  If no, 1. 2.  Why not? What tools do you use for communicating with interested parties? i. How would you qualify the experience of using these tools as neutral, satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and why? ii. What tools do they use to communicate with interested parties?  Do you have any general comments related to the application of social media tools in the mining industry? General Information Confidentiality of the following information will be discussed. Names and organization names will be kept confidential. Disaggregated data about age and gender will be summarized. i. Affiliation (corporation, civil society, government) ii. Title iii. Location iv. Age Range Under 20 20 – 30 30 – 40 40 – 50 50 – 60 Over 60 v. Gender Male Female Interview subjects will be asked if they have suggestions of other people/organizations who might be interviewed (in which case, I will ask that my contact details be forwarded – I will not be asking for contact details). Proper Third Party approach will be used to contact any additional people for the interview.  161  Appendix 3 – Ethics Certificate  162  

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