Faith, Hate and Fake: Understanding Three Stakeholder Relationships

We all know that engagement is essential and is what truly helps to build loyalty and trust in a brand, business or organization.

With the gaining use and popularity of social media it is imperative to maintain positive communication and monitor negative interactions in online engagements with customers or stakeholders. Social media gives an organization’s stakeholders outlets for expressing their views to large audiences. By using social media as an avenue for communication, stakeholders increase their power and value as long-term assets.

Finnish Professor Vilma Luoma-aho, Ph.D. distinguishes between three different types of stakeholder relationships: the positively engaged faith-holders, the negatively engaged hateholders, and fakeholders the unauthentic persona. Her article (available here) suggests that it is the future task of public relations practitioners to support the faith-holders, engage the hateholders and reveal the fakeholders.

By understanding these relationships marketing and communication strategies can be developed and executed. Identifying these relationships also gives the organization a tool to use against negative online engagement.

1. Faith-holders

Faithholders are those customers who are most loyal and have favorable experiences with a business or organization. Faith-holders are gold. They have a very high level of trust and their loyalty is not easily broken.  Faithholders make more purchases and can actually influence the buying decisions of others.

2. Hateholders

Hateholders are individuals who have had negative interactions with an organization. Hateholders are angry. Their attitudes towards a business or organization can be volatile at times, but their dislike is usually targeted at a specific person or transgression.

3. Fakeholders

Fakeholders are simply nonexistent. The opinions, reviews and interactions of fakeholders are created artificially by people, software or algorithms to draw support or opposition on a specific issue. Although fakeholders usually only appear in small amounts, their influence is great.  They can sway new stakeholders into becoming hateholders and can cause an organization’s message to be ignored.

The 3 types of stakeholder relationships are crucial to maintaining positive engagement and positive engagements is vital to positive public relations. Knowing which customers are the most loyal gives an organization a strategic advantage when handling crisis events or negative social media engagement. An organization or business will be better equipped for a multitude of PR failures when it begins to thoroughly understand these relationships and what they mean to public relations.