Use of social media platforms as a dialogue tool: a case study of a non-governmental organisation in Gauteng.

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Mwadiwa, Kumbirai Felix
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It is of utmost importance for non-governmental organisations not only to use social media when it suits them but also learn to incorporate social media into their communication strategy. This study is focused on the use of social media as a dialogue tool by an NGO in Gauteng province in South Africa, namely, The Teddy Bear Clinic/Foundation (TTBC/F). Data was collected through ten semi-structured interviews with the participants being six full time employees and four volunteers who work in the marketing, public relations and fundraising department and manage the online communication for the organisation. The results of the study revealed that the NGO’s social ties are of primary importance for assuring active donor and stakeholder commitment whilst guaranteeing continued stakeholder engagement, therefore social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter should be treated as an invaluable communication tool. Therefore, an NGO that incorporates social media in its communication strategy influences the participation of the stakeholders in the various support, fundraising and activities that promote its cause. The results of the study also revealed that although the NGO operates several social media platforms, (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for dialogue and relationship building and nurturing with the stakeholders. It is significantly dependent on Facebook and Twitter. The majority of its employees also believed that the NGO was using social media strategically by sending key messages to the public thereby prioritising and greatly facilitating the exchange of ideas as well as understanding the position of others, so focusing on mutuality and relationships rather than on self-interest.
M.Tech (Public Relations Management, Faculty of Human Sciences), Vaal University of Technology.
Communication strategy, Relationship building, Stakeholder commitment, Dialogue