INTRODUCTION ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA IN BUSINESS WORLD
Though a reasonably new phenomenon, social media is turning out to be a greatly significant section of marketing in the business world and is offering a major platform for customer base development (Pace, Balboni, and Gistri 1-14). The view of social media in the business world has shifted quickly as it is not perceived as a fashionable or passing furor anymore but has turned out to be critical for all businesses seeking to succeed. The achievements of the traditional web sites have been supplemented by a racy and receptive use of social media. The major aspect of the effective application of social media in the business world is the knowledge of marketing practices. Large companies have the requirements that necessitate a dissimilar application of social media when judged against a small business; therefore, each business ought to play to its strengths.
While large corporations center on the application of social media to hook up with a huge global audience, small, local businesses can use the platform to create a loyal client base through ensuring a personal touch that leaves the customers wanting to come back later. Regardless of the size and scope of the business, the understanding of its strengths, target customers, and demand for goods or services is fundamental for effective social media marketing. It is vital that businesses nurture and capitalize on the social media platform that is most successful for its operations to avoid spreading too thin (Kim, Yang, and Kim 688-705). To ensure an effective social policy, businesses ought to familiarize themselves with the manner in which social media marketing works, the nature of audiences to reach, and the best approach of using every platform.
Social media represents computer-arbitrated expertise that enables the creation and distribution of notions, initiatives, and information through virtual networks. Social media is a vital tool that is designed to change a majority of the existing business marketing operations. The rise of social media has changed how knowledge is created, stored, and shared. Today, knowledge begins as an online dialogue and develops as more people join the conversation and situations change (Mahrous 254-260). Indeed, social media enables organizations to establish a community comprising of institutions or individuals with mutual interests. In this regard, businesses discuss and share ideas, market their products, and engage in the issuance of understanding and knowledge of the dissimilar products without difficulties. The establishment of social media has played a key role in assisting businesspersons and customers to interact and share information. Indeed, today, social media does not only serve as a means of interacting with friends but also a channel of marketing, which makes businesses successful. Social media constitute a collection of different tools like wikis, blogs, and other social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn to mention a few.
HISTORY OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Before the discovery of the modern social media, businesses mainly used traditional web sites and print and broadcast media (such as radio and newspapers) to advertise their products and pass information. Besides being more expensive, such modes of marketing and socialization had limited impacts on the success of businesses when judged against the influence of social media (Kavoura and Borges 238-240). Technology started changing swiftly in the twentieth century. Following the creation of supercomputers at around 1940, different Information Technology experts started thinking of the means of establishing networks between the computers, which resulted in the development of the internet. The first kind of internet was established in 1960 and was referred to as CompuServe. Moreover, ancient types of electronic mails also started being used around that time. By 1970, there was considerable improvement in networking expertise; in 1979, UseNet made it possible for information sharing through virtual newsletters. In early 21st century, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn were developed and became available across the globe. Other sites started cropping up to satisfy particular social networking needs.
TOP SOCIAL MEDIA SITES USED IN BUSINESS
Facebook represents the mostly applied social media platform, both with respect to its reputation and the high number of users. Having over 1.7 billion active users across the globe, Facebook has turned out to be an effective platform that links customers from around the world to the existing and new businesses. Apart from being the biggest social network, Facebook has as well been deemed the most versatile. In about twelve years since its establishment, Facebook has progressively grown from a simple site where students used to interrelate into a multifaceted web site and social network where people connect not only with their pals and family members but even with businesses and major organizations. Taking into consideration that Facebook enjoys a wealth of alternatives for any form of business, it offers a valuable starting point for companies and their customers irrespective of the industry (Hutchings 19-20).
Businesses can employ Facebook to share pictures, videos, and significant updates regarding their products, services, and customer experience. Moreover, this social network offers the greatest possibility for the success of a business marketing approach when judged against other platforms since it has no limitation on the number of words like Twitter and the information presented reaches a huge audience attributable to the high number of users. For effectiveness, the personnel undertaking marketing through Facebook should encourage existing and potential customers to comment on the company’s posts or issue compliments and inquiries by responding as quickly as possible. The failure to offer quick response weakens the enthusiasm of the clients and potential customers to engage with the business through Facebook, and they slowly drift away (Hutchings 19-20).
Twitter acts as another social media platform that businesses use to reach their existing and potential customers. However, unlike Facebook, each text update in Twitter is limited to 140 characters or less. Businesses use Twitter to share information, photos, videos, and links to mention a few (Hutchings 19-20). Moreover, the users can easily interact with each other through mentioning one’s username in an update, which makes the social platform an effective way for businesses and customers to interconnect internationally. Twitter has over 300 million users across the globe hence making it a potential site not just for marketing the goods and services in business, but as well a handy platform for addressing the concerns of customers. For example, if a business has marketing personnel who uphold an active presence in the social network, a high number of clients will get in touch with the company and articulate their concerns, share recommendations for improvement, or present compliments.
When a business comes up with new products or interesting information, Twitter offers a great platform for swiftly sharing with customers across the globe. Retweeting and spreading information from other users on Twitter in extremely easy; since hashtags assist in boosting the distribution of posts, if a customer who has a high number of followers retweets a company’s information, such content has a high probability of going viral further marketing the business and its products. Nevertheless, it is essential for a business to understand how to establish balance in Twitter by not sharing the company’s links and media only but also other attractive and germane content such as customer experience and advantage of its products over those of its competitors. This will avoid room for monotony and make customers to have the urge of regularly wanting to know and share what the business has updated on its Twitter account (Hutchings 19-20).
IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN BUSINESS WORLD
Technological growth has led to the use of social media as a valuable marketing tool. In 2003, companies started to use LinkedIn as a marketing tool. Later, businesses began to market their brands through other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. Today, health and business organizations use social media marketing in an effort of reaching millions of people across the globe. The use of social marketing has not only helped the organizations to reach a broad client base but also cut down on marketing cost. The benefits of the application of social media in marketing include increased visibility, better return on investment, and effective targeting. Social media platforms enable organizations and businesses to communicate, connect and collaborate to enhance their success (Knoll and Proksch 1-13). Besides, they help organizations to build vibrant, sophisticated informational infrastructure that allows quicker, easier, and more fruitful distribution of information. Businesses use social media to collate knowledge from customers. Furthermore, companies use social media to connect individuals with diverse skills and experiences thus pooling together their knowledge and controlling it from a central location.
Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms have turned out to be an inevitable experience for many businesses and clients across the globe. Such social media platforms have made it easy for businesses such as American Airlines to reach its customers who book their tickets from their smartphones or computers. Moreover, studies have established that about 75% of the clients update their social media accounts while en route to their destinations hence further advertising the company (Knoll and Proksch 1-13). Incorporation of social media in business acts as a low-cost strategy to boost awareness and inclusion of target market. Particularly, some Facebook and Twitter accounts would be revamped to give the distributed information a wide reach, justify the credibility of the business, respond to inquiries from the clients, and update the customers on new matters. The social media platforms may not just assist in the communication with clients but as well reinforce the reputation and operations of a company. The professionals operating the social media accounts should ensure that they are functioning effectively since they are important platforms for attracting and enticing both existing and would-be clients through such actions as posting beautiful pictures of the different products and happy clients. In this regard, all the platforms employed in social media marketing will assist in promoting both the company and its products to assist in raising the knowledge of the customers.
The staff dealing with social media should make use of every opportunity within the company’s ability. Such platforms will assist in the provision of advice, direction concerning the use and attractiveness of dissimilar products, and useful tips. For example, the Facebook account could inform the customers of the things that they are required to do or not do with a given product. Altogether, Facebook and other social media platforms will be enjoyable, informative, and most considerably attract clients. In this regard, different businesses will not only develop a strong relationship with its clients but as well enhance the brand loyalty. As a section of client relationship management, businesses should employ social media marketing to issue germane and convincing details to the target customers. This will possibly require the clients to generate their social media accounts in order to hook up with the company. On this note, the details of communication and significance of the dissimilar products will remain in the account, and customers can refer to them in the future purchases or while informing their friends regarding a given product or information (Gallaugher and Ransbotham 10-15).
Social media is active in promoting intra-organizational knowledge sharing. According to Gallaugher and Ransbotham, employees prefer sharing knowledge on platforms that are easy to manage (15-17). In this regard, social media platforms offer the workers a variety of flexible ways to interact. They enable employees to identify with colleagues, especially in terms of sharing knowledge or expertise. Gallaugher and Ransbotham maintain that social media is useful in knowledge management especially in businesses that promote a culture of information sharing (19-20). It allows organizations to create groups of employees that work together to accomplish certain objectives. Currently, many organizations have social media platforms that enable effective communication and collaboration amid employees in different departments or branches. For instance, most companies create portal sites that allow employees to share knowledge regarding the customers, market conditions as well as the competitors.
Social media platforms provide an inexpensive means of promoting business practices and attracting customers (Knoll and Proksch 1-13). They also act as successful targeting alternatives that enable businesses to link up with the right audience. For instance, if a company embarks on marketing through LinkedIn, it can limit its reach by region, age, or gender to mention a few. Moreover, marketing through Facebook can be done in groups that could target new markets with respect to location, demand for a given product, consumer behavior, and interests. Through social media assessment, a company may obtain crucial knowledge of the customers’ needs and competitors’ tactics. Such form of intelligence enables businesses to create strategic business decisions that facilitate their competitive benefit in the market. Anchored in marketing research through social media, a company can improve its business practices with the aim of ensuring product enhancement, improvement of services rendered, and staying ahead of the competitors. The management of social media marketing offers businesses a cost-efficient manner of promoting their operations by using affordable campaigns that reinforce their online presence and enhance interactions with current and potential customers. Since social media marketing does not demand a huge amount of money, it establishes a fair ground where small, local businesses can compete with multinational corporations successfully.
DISADVANTAGES OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Opponents of social media marketing maintain that it is a waste of time and money. They claim that although the public may engage businesses through social media platforms, such interactions offer little or no gain at all. Besides, they allege that many businesses abandon marketing through social media after they realize that it does not yield positive results. In spite of social media providing a new way of creating and managing knowledge, it also presents a myriad of difficulties for shielding private information. A few scholars have focused on knowledge protection. Besides, many researchers have sought to understand security-related knowledge management practices that are associated with social media. One of the critical challenges of using social media in knowledge management is information security. An organization can hardly manage the knowledge shared on social media without allowing other people to access the information. The effectiveness of knowledge collection and distribution depends on the number of people that have access to the social media platform. Allowing many people to access a social media platform leads to the rise of security challenges (Hutchings 19-20).
Not all people that access a company’s social media platform are interested in sharing their experience. Some people access the platform to steal information or share malicious data that could negatively affect an organization. Presently, social media platforms are prone to identity theft, phishing, scams, and disclosure of private details. These challenges are worsened by the fact that social media audiences are unpredictable, which makes it difficult for business enterprises to manage the safety of their knowledge base efficiently. In most cases, organizations do not even know who has access to their information. They also do not know who and when information is posted on their social media platforms. Thus, it might be impossible for organizations to guarantee the security of information shared on their social media accounts. Many companies lose valuable knowledge to rival businesses through identity theft (Hutchings 19-20). Staff from rival companies disguise as customers or experts and access information from employees.
Until today, most organizations do not have the capacity to control the kind of information that passes through their social media accounts. Moreover, not all staff members are conversant with social media. As a result, it is sometimes hard for some businesses to use social media to collect data from all workers or share information with customers. Organizations also encounter challenges when sharing vital information with employees that do not know how to use social media. Because a majority of the organizations use Twitter, blogs, and Facebook to gather and manage knowledge, it is hard for the companies to keep an eye on their core business experience (Hutchings 19-20). Organizations are at the risk of ruining their reputation because they do little to influence how knowledge is shared on social media. Information shared through social media is spread to a huge audience at a very short time. Thus, it might be hard for an organization to correct any negative information before it reaches people. In other words, even though social media facilitates knowledge management, it can cause a considerable damage to the reputation of an organization within a short span of time.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO IMPROVE BUSINESS, AND INCREASE PROFIT
The success of a business in different economic sectors is dependent on the effectiveness with which it undertakes its marketing activities. To improve business operations and increase profit, the management team in a business has to incorporate various marketing concepts. According to Knoll and Proksch, firms engage in social media marketing with the intention of interacting with their customers and understanding their needs in a bid to satisfy them and make them loyal (1-13). For a firm’s products and services to be successful in the market, they must meet the customers’ expectations. Through a consumer market research on social media, a firm can be able to understand the customers’ interests and product requirements more clearly than in traditional media or any other method of interacting with clients.
In promoting their brands through social media platforms, organizations should incorporate a number of building blocks (Gallaugher and Ransbotham 10-15). Such building blocks should aim at creating brand clarity. The initial step should entail making the customers understand the different products to boost sales and consequently profit. The products should be relevant to the target customers in any given market. After successful development of a brand, a firm’s management team should be committed to ensuring that there is sufficient market awareness. The market communication campaign through social media ensures that the consumers are continually aware of the brands’ existence in the market. Moreover, to deal with the competitive forces in the market, the firm should incorporate an effective, aggressive strategy in an effort of enhancing customer loyalty.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT
Business institutions use social media to liaise with both the suppliers and customers. For instance, Starbucks use numerous social media platforms for knowledge management that facilitate marketing and branding. Besides, the hotel uses social media to redefine the benefits and responsibilities of its clients. The clients cease to be inactive beneficiaries of beverages and contribute to the company’s innovation and growth. Starbucks gathers feedback from customers through social media, which plays a key role in enhancing customer relationship (Gallaugher and Ransbotham 10-15). Other businesses use social media platforms to obtain the views of clients concerning their products and services. Social media has not only helped business operators to reach new populations of customers but also tap into the different mutual knowledge bases. Organizations appreciate the role of customers’ experience in enhancing organizational performance; this makes business marketers use social media to converse and learn directly from clients. Integration of social media in business operations has helped to establish an informal communication platform that facilitates customer relationship, which is essential for team building.
Companies are progressively using social media to identify new business opportunities and positive relationships with customers. Information published on social media enables business people to comprehend and project customers’ needs. In return, the entrepreneurs enhance their operations to ensure that they meet consumer needs. Goodrich and de Mooij (2013) claim that enhanced customer relationship through social media platforms enables businesses to position themselves successfully in the market and overcome competition. According to Goodrich and De Mooij (2013), social media use enables entrepreneurs to become more customer-centered. The use of social media to gather customer feedback helps businesses to enhance product development and service delivery. Additionally, business people use social media to evaluate customer behavior. According to Goodrich and De Mooij (2013), understanding customer behavior helps an organization to retain competitive advantage. In conclusion, knowing customers’ taste and preference helps entrepreneurs to produce goods and services that are marketable. Moreover, through social media interactions, business people across the globe can quickly analyze and classify consumer ideas and thoughts. Such ideas and demands facilitate the improvement of future products as well as the formulation of successful business strategies.
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