13/03/2017

Could dig deeper: An analysis of the effectiveness of corporate websites in the mining sector

BY Clare Bennett

The mining sector is an industry that affects all our lives. From the cars we drive, to the cell phones we use, the utensils we eat with, and the money we spend – these all rely on the extraction of valuable minerals, metals and resources from the earth.

But over the years, extractive industries of all kinds have faced both public and expert criticism for everything from failing mine infrastructure and machinery and environmental damage to inconsistent safety track records and even human exploitation.

Given this background, Gather looked at the websites of 20 mining companies – to see how effective they are being in using their digital communications to manage stakeholder expectations – and their reputations.

Methodology

Our benchmark, based on criteria we specifically designed, reviewed 20 companies of varying sizes across the globe, who mine for a number of different resources. A large percentage of these are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

We focused on three key areas that we identified as being important, in our experience, to meeting stakeholder demands, as well as being useful in building a companies’ reputation:

Stakeholder engagement

We looked at how effective the site design and content was in meeting audience interests and needs. Criteria reviewed covered the brand story, values, channels and tailored content for key corporate audiences.

Content experience

We analysed content execution and delivery across the website and other channels. The research reviewed design, imagery, graphics and interactive content along with information architecture, signposting, calls to action and related content.

Sustainability and governance

We reviewed the critical information that companies must make available to aid business trust and transparency, elements that comply with FRC and GRI standards. These included environmental impact, employee and labour relations, human rights and community relations, as well evidence of reports, risk approach and community contribution.

The results

A few companies stood out, including Anglo American, Trafigura, Vedanta Resources, Antofagasta and Barrick Gold. They present coherent, thoughtful, tailored and designed user- experiences that encourage exploration of information across channels and positively invite stakeholders to interact with their brand online.

Elsewhere, within the 20, while there were some flourishes of good content experience and audience engagement directed at customers, jobseekers and investors, overall there was a lack of in-depth content about the company. We found insufficient information about its story, values, operational setup and future investments and what made it different. Tailored and relevant content to support jobseekers was minimal and often missing a useful job search or practical vacancy and application information. In addition, social media was overlooked as an engagement tool for these and other wider stakeholder groups.

Overall, sustainability and governance content was treated seriously with subject matter including the breakdown of key issues and company approach. However, even when this was done well, many companies didn’t quite deliver the breadth of content and transparency of information that effective CSR requires.

In general, we concluded that there was little evidence of the sites being actively or strategically managed beyond the uploading of press releases and announcements. This has led to many sites being static, unchanging entities, that lack content variety, engagement and effective design execution.

It seems mining companies could dig deeper if they want to make their corporate websites really effective.

For a presentation of the findings – and our recommendations – email Clare Bennett, Digital Strategy Director at clare@gather.london or call 020 7610 6140.