Craig is in Antofagasta, northern Chile this week – presenting a paper “Social Media Adoption in the Australian Energy and Resources Sectors” at the SRMining15 conference.

The paper was co-authored with Adeline Tubb, Darien Simon and former UCL Australia MSc students (Will Trott, Owen Sharpe, Chris Bartley & Helena Wu) and stems from a research project done as part of Craig’s SERAG011 Social Licensing course  – looking at what social media channels Australian mining and energy companies do (or in many cases don’t) use to communicate with stakeholders.

A full text copy of the paper will be available on UCL Discovery soon, but here is the abstract:

Social media is revolutionising the ways many companies interact with their stakeholders, but like any engagement strategy, needs careful planning and appropriate effort to execute well. Even then, social media may not be an effective means of engagement for all industries, and strategies should be evaluated regularly. We surveyed the use of social media by Australian energy and resources companies for their effort, diversity and history of adoption, assessing the 100 largest energy companies listed on the Australian stock exchange in 2013 plus Australian operations of the six super-major oil and gas companies, and the 100 largest mineral resources companies listed in 2014. Patterns were similar across both sectors – nearly all companies assessed had publicly accessible websites but ~40 % had not adopted any social media. Not many companies (<35%) used more than one social media channel, though a few companies were using up to six. In contrast to past studies of other industries, LinkedIn was by far the most commonly adopted social media channel across both sectors, used by ~45% of companies. Similarly, companies that sell energy to customers appeared to have greater uptake than companies focussed on exploration and development. There was little evidence of two-way interactions between companies and stakeholders via social media, with companies mainly broadcasting company-centric information. By contrast, customers of downstream energy companies used Facebook or Twitter to lodge complaints, bypassing official grievance mechanisms. Overall, the use of social media in the energy and resources sectors appears to be limited and rates of adoption are not accelerating. In addition to providing a historical baseline of social media use in the Australian energy and resources sectors, this data provides a basis for comparison to other industries to understand what role social media could have in engaging stakeholders for the extractive industry.