Stockholders have traditionally watched the results of the stock markets as a measure of their financial investment. Stakeholders typically watch the behavior of those corporations they support as a measure of their interest and emotional support. The level of support a business gets from people has a direct correlation to financial returns. Yet stockholders don’t typically see the things that influence the stakeholders support for a business.
A corporate stakeholder are those groups of people who can affect or be affected by the actions of the business as a whole. Stakeholders are defined as “those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist. Stakeholders include stockholders but stockholders are influenced more by financial returns while the remaining stakeholders are influenced more by their experience with the organization.
Social technology has raised stakeholder interest and made the behaviors of business transparent. Businesses cannot longer afford to chase results at the cost of their stakeholder’s interest without losing their results at the click of a mouse.
You Can No Longer Hide Behind Your Behavior
Companies are recognizing that stakeholders are getting smarter, more influential and their digital footprints can be seen and heard long after the advertisement has run. Now companies are trying to put on a human face and voice to appeal to stakeholder interest. The problem with that approach is that the new look and feel doesn’t mean the behavior has changed at all.
An AdAge article titled “The Newest Marketing Buzzword? Human” states: Jetblue this week announced the launch of a new campaign called “Air on the Side of Humanity” which focuses on the qualities that make them a carrier that cares about people. TD Bank and Liberty Mutual too, are trying to distance themselves from being seen as institutions, and have devoted more airtime to campaigns that tout being “human” as part of their brand platforms. To drive home the message, insurer Liberty Mutual goes so far as to use a cover of the song “Human” by the band Human League in the ads.
It all comes as part of a movement on behalf of many brands to be seen not big corporate behemoths, but as companies that value their customers as individuals rather than cogs. While buzzwords like “engagement” and “social” have been popular, now the latest trend for brands is to be simply be human.
The difference between being human and a brand, a corporation or an institution is one has a soul and the other doesn’t. A soul is an active, essential and intangible part of the human network. All the tangible results of business come from the ability to attract the intangible nature of the human network. Stockholders cannot be satisfied without stakeholders support. Stakeholder interest must come first but to see their interest you have to be able to measure the intangibles.
Results come from exceeding stakeholder expectation which then produces stockholder results.