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Investigate and Evaluate Social Media Tools, Research Paper Example

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Words: 1558

Research Paper

What is Social Media

Social media is one of the main channels used in today’s society to connect people and businesses around the world. Social media is defined as self-regulated, authentic conversation through the use of social networks, blogs, forums, and interactive dialogues has promoted the sharing of valuable of information (Gillin, 2008). From a business perspective, social media has provided infinite opportunities for companies to promote their products and services. The use of social media even allows consumers to provide feedback about services or products they have used.  When most people think of social media, they automatically correlate Facebook and Twitter with the term. Nonetheless, social media is so much more than social networking sites; it is also blogs, forums, message boards, podcasts, search engines, and video sharing (Gillin, 2008).  In recent research, it was found that almost 75 percent of all Internet users are members of a social network (Gillin, 2008). As a result, social media has a great impact on the way organizations communicate. Social media provides a different experience to every organization, so there is no one definitive definition of social media.

Blogs

Blogs are gaining popularity in the business world because they are given writers independence from traditional editors and other forms of media gate keeping (Weber, 2007).  Blogs are being used to share and gather information about various topics. Writers are free to publish what they feel rather than what the public wants to hear when using blogs. With this form of social media, the practioner is able to write directly to the public, view their responses, and make posts or remarks accordingly. For example, when a customer posts a comment or blogs about a bad experience they had at a particular restaurant, the company can view the comments directly and respond accordingly to try to satisfy the customer in hopes that the customer will post another comment about how the restaurant went to extreme lengths to make the customer happy.

Benefits of Social Media

Many businesses are using social media to market their company because it is a cause effective method. Social media can be used essentially free and is quite easy to use. The most common purpose of social media is to increase the public’s awareness of a company and the services or tools it has to offer. According to one report, 57 percent of companies that use social media as a marketing tool agree that it is beneficial to their company (Wright & Hinson, 2009 ) Another 83 percent agree that social media has been an intricate part of growing their business (Wright & Hinson, 2009  ). When businesses set up pages or channels on social media sites, they are ensuring that their brand or product is viewed by a wide variety of consumers. Social media provides consumers with an opportunity to read descriptions of the product or service, watch videos and see photos, and read the reviews of other customers about the particular product or service (Wright & Hinson, 2009). Social media increases the awareness of a product by enhancing its online presence. According to Weber, brand awareness and exposure is the most essential step in building a company customer relationship (Weber, 2007). Being exposed to the product or service can lead to consideration and purchase of the product. Eventually, customers become loyal purchasers and advocates for the company.

Marketing Tool

One of the greatest advantages of social media as a marketing tool is the ability to specifically target customers based on various factors (Gillin, 2008). Social media sites store all sorts of information about their users, like age, gender, interests, geographical location, and hobbies. This data can be used to help a company reach its target audience. As a result, marketers can gear messages directly to the group of people who are likely to click on them. The transfer of knowledge is a vital part of any organization. Often there is a breach of knowledge when one employee leaves one organization and goes to another competitor. With the use of technology and social media, often this knowledge can extracted before the employee departs. According to Kwak, Lee, Park, & Moon (2010), when one person transfers from one company to another, they have a positive influence the know transfer. The new employee benefited from the knowledge when he/she was a member of the old organization, and now members at the new organization can benefit from that knowledge as well (Kwak, Lee, Park, & Moon, 2010   ). This is also true when member rotate within an organization.

Linked in

LinkedIn is a social networking site that is business focused and was created in 2003. The main purpose of LinkedIn is to help professionals network and the basic service is free (Gillin, 2008).  There are several ways the LinkedIn can be used to help a business grow professionally. First, many companies use the site to brainstorm about concerns. Instead of having everyone go to a designated area, employees are able to post and respond when it is convenient for them. Once everyone has responded, the manager is able to read all the posts and consider them before making choices that affect the company. For example, for many working people there never seems to be enough hours in the day to complete everything that needs to be done. Consequently, sitting in a meeting for an hour seems endless. It is a great convenience to be able to attend the meeting virtually and maintain a hectic schedule.

Advantages of Twitter

Companies reap many advantages for using Twitter. Comcast, Southwest Airlines, and Starbucks all have Twitter accounts (Kwak, Lee, Park, & Moon, 2010      ). This helps these companies share specials, interact with the customers, and increase customer loyalty (Kwak, Lee, Park, & Moon, 2010     ).  One advantage of Twitter is the use of hashtags-this allows the reader to see what the content of the tweet is about without reading lengthy information unnecessarily. Another advantage of Twitter is that videos and photos are embedded in the tweet, so users do not have to leave the site to view additional information. In the long run, this save companies time and money. Many companies are using Twitter to provide professional development and trainings. Employees have the privilege of viewing the information at their convenience. A final advantage of Twitter is the 140 character limit for tweets. This limitation ensures that all tweets are short and precise.

Disadvantages of Twitter

There are several disadvantages for companies that use Twitter. For some information that needs to be passed along within a business, more than 140 characters are needed. For those instances, vague messages and tweets may leave employees confused or mislead. Another disadvantage of Twitter is feed hacking. When information is hacked, the spread of misinformation is eminent. This misinformation can damage the company’s image and mislead consumers about a brand. When using Twitter for an organization or business, hashtag campaigns can be hacked by competitor companies. McDonald’s was recently in the news with a similar case. Negative publicity was drawn to the company by disgruntled workers and animal rights activists. A final drawback of Twitter is the fast pace. A person can follow hundreds of people are companies and messages are often lost in the shuffle. Consequently, repeating one’s self is necessary in order to make sure all stakeholders have viewed the tweet.

Facebook

Many companies have closed groups with Facebook. When the group is closed, only persons invited can view information on the site. Group member can view pictures, videos, view proposals, and instant message each other. This also gives the company flexibility. Employees can communicate and have input from virtually anywhere they have Internet connection. Recent research conveyed that there has been a 7 percent increase in the number of organizations using Facebook notifications systems, a 77 percent increase in the use of instant messaging, and 5.9 percent increase in overall organizations that use Facebook to communicate with its employees (Gillin, 2008).

Conclusions

Social media and other forms of technologies can be a great enhancement to any professional organization to help facilitate communication within the organization, as well as promote the organization’s products and services. Organizations can utilize social media in a variety of ways. Some of the ways include forums, instant messaging, webinars, training, and even weekly meetings. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most popular forms of social media currently (Gillin, 2008). Departments within companies can host brainstorming sessions using social media sites. This is beneficial because an employee may come up with a great idea after a meeting has been concluded. With social media sites, posts or tweets can be made at any time. Managers and CEO’s can pre-record podcasts to relay important information to employees. A 2011 study revealed that about 20 percent of business CEO’s used LinkedIn, 17 percent used Facebook, and about 9 percent used Twitter (Gillin, 2008  ). Social media is growing as a corporate communication tool.

References

Gillin, P. (2008). New media, new influencers and implications for the public relations profession. Journal of New Communications Research, II (2).

Kwak, H., Lee, C., Park, H., Moon, S. (2010). What is Twitter, A Social Network or a News Media? Conference paper World Wide Web Conference 2010, April 26-30, 2010

Weber, L. (2007). Marketing to the social web: How digital customer communities build your business. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Wright, D., & Hinson, M. (2009). Examining how public relations practitioners actually are using social media. Public Relations Journal, III (3).

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