Social media and its impact on your business
Along with the technology age came the wave of social networking. And just how big is the wave in fact? How much do our daily activities depend on this flow of unrestrained Internet connections? People all over the world have begun to use the social networks available right from their beginning and today we find ourselves in a world were Facebook or Twitter are a common topic of discussion, no matter the context. Moreover, people are starting to replace the human relationships with the virtual ones, thus leaving themselves in the position where they cannot face the world unless via Internet.
And what about the relation business-social media? How does social networking affect one’s business? In the last decade, companies have shown a great deal of interest in using social networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Social networks represent a useful tool in promoting products and services or simply making a company known. According to Allen and Overy, there were over 40 million users of social media in Europe alone in the year 2011. The number has gone pass this number rapidly, statistics saying that by 2017, more than half the population of Europe will become social media users.
The relation between the business environment and social media is not that “cold” as it was in the first years of social networks. Nowadays, companies focus greatly on creating campaigns fit for the Internet. As a matter of fact, blogging or posting announcements about the upcoming events of a company have become a daily compulsory activity for many of the employees. Some companies even have employees that are only there to perform this kind of activities: promoting the company on social networks.
But what happens when social media act as enemies of your business? In their article, Allen and Overy discuss the many ways in which Facebook or Twitter may irreparably harm your business. This particularly happens when specific guidelines are not provided for the employees to follow in their online activity. Harm can be done voluntarily or unintentionally. More often than not, this happens on purpose and it is the managers’ job to prevent and sanction the damage.
Social media allows people to share images, video and text. The nature of this content is only established by the person posting it, therefore it is somehow difficult, if not impossible in some cases for others to control the content posted on the Internet. Some companies have blocked the access to such social networks, as they had nothing to do with the activities performed in that context. Others have restricted the access, allowing their employees to go online only in certain time intervals, when it does not interfere with their work. Unfortunate situations emerge when certain people post unwanted content on social networks about the company they work for, thus creating a series of undesired consequences. The fact that information is accessible to a large number of users and that it is there to stay represents an advantage, but also a great disadvantage for the ones the information is about.
In consequence, it is highly recommended to carefully choose the employees that manage the online promotion of your business, as well as establishing some ground rules for this activity. By having in mind the fact that “not all that shines is gold”, meaning not all promotion channels are good for a business, one can easily set the company down a good path.
- Allen & Overy (2012), The impact of social media on your business
- European Travel Commission (2013), Europe: Social networking and UGC