by Vijay 2016
Emergence in technology changes society and it benefits society in many ways. Internet technology is one such kind of technology that has influenced both individual and corporate personal in the society. Recent trends in Internet technology and business practices clearly indicates that most of the organisations active in the current market are showing interest towards having presence online. This is because of the realisation that organisations acquired about importance of having an online presence and its direct impact on revenues, reputation and improving quality of service for the organization. To realise benefits from online presence it is important that technology is appropriately applied. Some of the examples of Online presence of an organisation include having own dedicated interactive website, registered to social media, and having mobile apps that are developed using appropriate and flexible information technology solutions and are usually motivated towards achieving organisations vision and strategy. Social media management of an organisation transform business environment and creates new opportunities for their business. In this paper a critical evaluation done to review importance of the social media presence to an organization and it also involves discussion on appropriate implementation of the social media solution.
In the recent time most of the organisations ranges from small to medium were widely using Internet as the main source of the communication. Having business presence over internet transforms business environment and creates new challenges and opportunities for the business (Thompson, 2002). There different ways to have online presence for an organization most important among them are having dedicated interactive website and participating in social media networking. In the last decade Social media networking has evolved as a biggest and cheapest marketing source and it made several organizations across the world to have social media presence. Before discussing in depth about social media it is important to understand what actually social media is. Social media is a term that widely used to refer for websites where people get connected with their friends, family and other relations to interact and share online (IJsselsteijn, 2003). Businesses observe social media as a Web-based marketing approach that enables small business to promote over Internet at cheaper cost when compared to other traditional marketing and promotional activities. Social media has become important communication tool for the people living in the present society it is considered as an increasingly important for organisations too (Markopoulos, et al, 2003). Social media enables businesses to maintain direct communication with customers and it has the potential to perform as a virtual sales team. As many people are engaged in social media, according to statistics 62% of the adults across the globe participate in social media in one or the other form using web or mobile medium, it has become harder for organisations to ignore such potential source to create new clients or to reach existing customers (Christiansen and Maglaughlin, 2003). Among various forms of marketing “word of mouth” is most powerful and it can be successfully implemented using social media. Social media facilitates organisations by allowing customers to share their experiences regarding products and services of the organisation by simply liking the post of sharing it. New customers trust organisations having more fans, more like’s and more shares on social media and follows such promotions. It is best option for Small and medium businesses to have social media strategy that enables their businesses to get engaged with people online and create potential customers by promoting about their products and services. In the present information technology world consumers research online before purchasing the product and also seek recommendation from the family or friends to purchase best. So, in order to meet customer interests and find potential clients even technology companies like Anoto are also started using social media networking.
Some of the interesting facts about social media and its usage drive organisations to participate in such communication channels and develop an alternative marketing and advertising platform. Among various social media websites Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and Youtube are popular across the globe. It is found the every month more than one billion people actively use Facebook and 500 thousand people actively use twitter. Google plus is used more than 2 billion times in a day and every. Originally social media was started to help people to communicate with their family and friends online but now it is transformed to provide solutions for businesses and it is considered as a norm to be participated by many organizations ranging from small business entities to large technology firms. According to the Burson-Marstellar Fortune 100 Social Statistics Report 2012 it is identified that among fortune 100 companies 87% of them are using one or the other forms of social media to get connected with the consumers, 75% of them has Facebook presence, 50% of them has Google plus presence and their corporate channels on you tube has received an average 2 million views. This shows that social media is definitely a big need for organizations to as they have the potential to create new customers and revenues for the organization (Brian Honigman, 2012).
Anoto is a Swedish technology company which provides digital writing solutions to various business sectors including healthcare, facility management, pharmaceutical, education, transport and logistics and financial services. The company primarily operates in Sweden, Japan, the UK and the US. Even though Anoto has well developed interactive website for showing its online presence felt it also uses social media such as Twitter, Youtube and Flickr. This shows that like any other present businesses Anoto also trying to realise the benefits from its social media presence. In this paper a critical analysis made on various issues regarding social media presence including its development, implementation and management (Marketline, 2013).
Social media is a Web-based technological approach that enables people to communicate by sharing information online. As it is mentioned above social media is used by the organization identifying it as a one of the important potential marketing sources. There are certain important reasons which drive organizations like Anoto to use social media and are understood as business benefits that are offered by social media and are discussed as below:
Showcase for Brand
Having reputation and brand value in the market is considered as strategic object use of any organisation. Most of the organisations consider an efficient way to build reputation and showcase business aspects is having social media presence. Organisations can build their reputation by updating their prospects about their products and services and brands over social media create an authority for the organization (Jason Boies, 2013). Organisation should have their own motive and objective for their social presence such as creating brand awareness, creating sales drive and building customer relationships. Once the objectives framed it becomes easy for the organisations to such objectives. However to showcase brands of an organisation is one of the important aspect that push organisation to maintain their social media presence (Dean Ramler, 2013).
Developing loyal community of prospects for the organization
Some of the studies content that customers would purchase products and services from an organisation only if it has an active Facebook fan page (Alex Knapp, 2012). This shows that there is an emotional connection between accepting people to become part of the business and it creates prospects for the organisation which later on considered as business reputation. Social media offers a powerful branding force ‘community strength’ and it enables organizations to have limitless relationship building opportunity (Brent Leary, 2013). If organization planned perfectly it results in creation of massive loyal active customer base who promotes organization’s brands.
In the current information technology era it has become important for the organisations to represent over online and enhance their social presence. Social media presence of an organisation enables it to have worldwide access times as social media has sharing capability and it is actively accessed by billions of people daily. Social media sharing capability delivers instant information sharing worldwide and it helps organisation to advertise about their products beyond the borders in a fraction of time (Jason Boies, 2013). Some of the statistics show that organisations sharing about their brands over social media 2 to 3 times a week can also bring significant change organisation presence over social media.
Enhance company trustworthiness
Company trustworthiness is considered as a key tool for customer retention and creation of a brand value. Social media presence enables organisations to improve their trustworthiness (Jiliang, et al, 2013). Social media provides a capability for organisations to frequently communicating with their customers and provides an opportunity to share trusted information which creates awareness and credibility on organisation. Social media acts as important source to transform negative experiences of customer to positive outcomes.
Responding quickly to the consumer issues and having speed access to customer feedback undoubtedly show its impact on sales results of the organisation. If organisation respond to prospects based on their specific requirement then there is more possibility that prospects to become customers (Dean Ramler, 2013). It is also important that specific requirements of the prospects are deled promptly and in personal manner to make them customer. Social media enables organisations to understand consumer preferences, special needs and expectations and respond accordingly (Pritam, 2012). It also provides facility to research about competitors. Such practices by businesses definitely convert their efforts into money.
Boost traffic and search engine ranking
It is a known fact that it is social media has large traffic and it also maintains active visitors. Integrating social media websites with business websites enable organisation to bring massive traffic to their websites and it helps organisation to transform leads to prospects. Website builders across the world have started providing an option that enable business organisation to share their business updates with just a simple click (Pritam, 2012). Organisation has two participate in more number of channels (social media channels) to receive more and more traffic for their websites. Search engine optimisation efforts (SEO) are also used by organisations to receive more traffic from the web search engines. A combination of SEO and social media is considered as a powerful medium, which ensures benefit for the organisations that has online presence.
Cut marketing costs
When compared to the traditional marketing and promotional ways social media provides more benefit in terms of reducing marketing costs. Originally, large investments are required to continue traditional print marketing and advertising activities and organisation. But to promote organisational products and services over the social media is very cheap and by creating potential customers community it increases the return on investment (Jason Boies, 2013) (Dean Ramler, 2013).. Organisation having social media presence provides exponential advertising opportunities and improves public relationship without huge investments but still presents time commitment.
In the previous section, various benefits, and important driving forces of social media presence of an organisation is discussed, like any kind having head and tail social media presence also has certain security concerns that are to be addressed otherwise businesses resist to show their presence. The risks that may rise for business due to social media participation are classified into reputational risks, legal risks and operational risks.
The reputational risks that social media can cause to the businesses are equal or may exceed the recreational benefits it could offer to the organisations. Because, social media is accessible daily by millions of people across the globe and it let them to communicate at very high pace of promotional opportunity. If something unexpected happened it is not possible for organisation, social media to stop unwanted risks rising due to such unexpected thing. For example, in 2009 employees of national pizza delivery chain has created a prank video that shows delivering of a tainted sandwich to their customers and posted it on YouTube. It was just a prank video, but in a matter of hours the video was viewed by millions of viewers and shared across other platforms. In not more than 48 hours. Customer perception towards national pizza has turned upside down from positive to negative. Company has tried its best to control the situation, even CEO of the organisation personally address a public mentioning about the prank video to answer their concerns that still it caused harm to the organisation badly (Stephanie Clifford, 2009). So having social media presence is not only enough for the organisation. It is very important for them to manage it efficient. Having appropriate implementation and management of social media presence avoids employees from posting embarrassing information that causes serious negative impact on the organisation. According to Miami Daily it is not appropriate for the employees of the organisation to share negative or praise too much about the products, services and brands of the organization as both causes negative impact on reputation of the organization (Miami Daily, 2010).
Business managers of the organisation have to understand the legal risks associated with social media presence before engaging with social media presence. Some of the important legal risks include employment risks, security risks, privacy risks, intellectual property risks and media risks. It is better for the business managers to acquire prior knowledge from information technology law council about social media legal strategy before getting into engaged because having forethought about the risks enables businesses to plan and manage them.
- Employment Risks: as it is mentioned in the previous section employee communication over social media because reputational risks for organisation. So keeping in mind, many organisations investigating about employee social media activities while appraising or recruiting (Allentown Morning Call, 2010). For example, in one case register to the National Labor Relations Board, an employee sharing innovative comment about the supervisor in Facebook was fired because such activity is considered as violation of National Labor Relations Act (Boris Segalis, 2011)
- Security Risks: security risks are very common when organisations are using social media sites to reach their customer base. Generally it causes during social media activities performed by the organisation. It could be malware downloaded, a phishing activity, or a click jacking (Graham Cluely, 2011). Spoofing is in the security risks that causes serious impact on the organisation due to loss of organisation authentication details or customer information.
- Intellectual Property and Media Risks: it is important for an organisation to train a social media team to know about what they can and cannot do with copyrighted information of others. Posting and reposting intellectual information belonging to others without their permission causes serious legal issues for the organisation (PR News, 2010).
- Defamation Risks: Defamation Risks very similar to reputation risks. It is very common activity happens over social media network. Organisation should be aware that they are liable to defamatory statements made by its employees on their social media fan pages about its competitors.
- Privacy Risks: privacy risk is a common problem observe while dealing with information technology solutions. Like the organization deal with customer information provided to their organizations by securing and hiding unauthorised access they have to deal with the information provided over fan page. It is also important for the social media websites to take care of privacy concerns and they usually maintain certain guidelines to organizations promoting over their social media. For example, Facebook stringent guidelines for organizations (Facebook, 2014)
when employees of the organisation (including the members of social media team) tries to access social media website there is endanger of downloading malware and spyware and it causes serious issues to the company’s security as they directly attack on computer network. Social networking sites are playgrounds for such fraudsters and once they attack then the next step is infiltrating entire system of the company. According to McAfee more than 60% of the organisations having presence over online have suffered losses operational risks (due to viruses, malware, and spyware). A survey conducted by McAfee shows that most of the organisations having presence over online show their concern towards the security issues related to social media and blogging (McAfee, 2010).
Social media presence of an organization has both pros and cons that are discussed in the previous sections of the document. From the critical analysis of the benefits and risks of social media presence of an organization it could be claimed that business manager of an organisation should have prior planning for implementation of social media strategy for the organization to achieve maximum benefits and to avoid risks. In this section implementation of the social media strategy is discussed in detail. Optimal development and implementation of social media strategy for an organisation reduces risk and maximise return on investment. Important steps involved in implementation of optimal social media strategy for an organisation is discussed as follows:
Mapping Social Graph:
First step of implementation of social media strategy involves mapping organisation’s brand with stakeholders of the company. Public relationship practitioners of the organisations are capable of understanding brand value of the organisation and mapping their brand with importance to stakeholders who really interested about the brand (Courtney Seiter, 2013). Identifying to which social media such stakeholders are connected plays crucial role in mapping brand with social media. For example Anoto has shown Twitter, Flickr and YouTube on their website because its stakeholders might be largely connected to those social media.
Listening to conversations and analysing the content:
It is a known fact that marketing research is fundamental approach for marketing success. Social media with makes marketing research and easy task for researchers, by allowing them to know what people are talking about organisation, its threats and opportunities, its competitors and most importantly about its products and services (Cassie Kreitner, 2014) (Courtney Seiter, 2013). Based on such conservations and content present over social website, business manager can take an appropriate a decision about selecting such social media. For example, Anoto, it is observed that people largely speaking and sharing content related to digital writing solutions over Twitter and YouTube and it might be one of the important reasons for the company to choose such social media websites.
Setting goals and measurable benchmarks
Next step of the implementation of the social media strategy involves of setting goals and measurable benchmarks. Because it should be clear from business manager that for what purpose they are planning to go online. Some of the important goals that a social media strategy can have include research and development of new products, advertisement and marketing, building customer relationships, and providing customer services (John Heggestuen and Tony Danova, 2013). Some of the examples of goals of social media strategy are:
Brand reputation: Dell computers has started blogging with strategic objective to reverse negative talking about their customer care services
Brand awareness: Reed’s is popular brand involved in producing ginger beer products and it has chosen brand awareness as their objective to set strategic goal
Finding Key Influencers of the social media
Next crucial step is selecting appropriate social managers who can influence people online. Because, the range of influence that a social media manager create directly show impact on the marketing success and return on investment (Brittany Berger, 2014). For example Friskers are involved in manufacturing scissors for more than 360 year but were failed to create brand image for their products. It is identified by the business managers that there is lot of passion towards crafting online, so, Friskers identified five influential crafts trainers online and handled responsibility to build fan community over online. Friskers become successful and their successes lead to product development, marketing and sales (Sally Falkow, 2011).
Developing Content Strategy
Success of the social media presence of the organization also depends on the type of the content it is sharing on social media web. Appropriate and understandable content should be shared on social media web (Sally Falkow, 2011). For example, documentation used by mortgage companies contains content that is quite confusing. Some mortgage companies help their consumer over social media to understand certain words exactly mean.
Tactical Planning and engage in conversation
There is wide range of social media tools available over online such as Facebook (social networking), Twitter (micro blogging), podcasts, blogs, and Youtube (video sharing portals). A tool optimally suits for the organization should select based on the type of the content shared over media and understanding its competitors and other participants of the social media. It is also important that feedbacks provided by the customers are to be addressed by engaging in the conversation such that it creates reputation and trust for the company (Sally Falkow, 2011) (Brittany Berger, 2014).
Measuring and Reviewing
Last step of implementation of social media strategy discusses about measuring and reviewing the success of social media presence of an organization (Jean Folger, 2013). The achievements of the social media strategy is measured and reviewed so that if required outcome is not achieved from the social media strategy then it could be reviewed and re-implemented to achieve desired goals.
Social media presence has become one of the biggest and needs for small and medium scale organizations because of its benefits, such as low-cost marketing and promotional capabilities. It is found from the critical analysis study conducted about that, due to peculiar characteristics of social media it offers certain benefits and risks to organisations that are using social media tools. Both driving forces of social media presence and key risks that organisation might face due to implementation of social media presence are critically presented in the paper. From the analysis it could be claimed that if organisations have a planned social media strategy then it is possible to mitigate various risks mentioned in the document and achieve all the positive benefits that a social media website can offer. Social media manager has to take the responsibility to control the rise of such challenges at various operational levels of that are using social media presence.
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