Social media has become one of, if not the most widely used methods of advertising the world has ever seen. The effects of this trend can have enormous consequences to your business, both positive and negative. There are advantages and disadvantages to the increased use of social media.

I had to take a step back from my personal opinion of social media. My personal belief has been that social media is a potentially dangerous tool and needs to be used with caution and discretion. I also believe that the spread of misinformation is a trend that is harmful on a personal level as well as to businesses. Despite the fact that my research did not change my opinion on this topic, I now see that social media is vital as a tool for advertising and brand recognition and to stay competitive.

Although I did agree with most of the articles and books that I read, I found it difficult to distinguish between what the authors offered as fact versus opinion. The line is blurred because even though there are experts and studies cited, the information they use is often unverifiable, even if it is logical and yes, probably true. For instance, there is a citation in the article titled Social Media: Are the Benefits Worth the Risk for Business? that states ‘The company is able to analyze potential employee’s personal profile on social media and decide if that person can represent the organization competently (Root & McKay, 2014).’ While it may be fact that the company is able to analyze potential candidates, there are too many variables to be able to make a determination from a candidates Facebook profile as to whether that person is able to represent a company competently.

There were, however, two articles that I believe have given verifiable data and gathered it from companies that are customer based and rely heavily on word of mouth. The first is an article titled Gargantuan and Growing: The Digital Economy from a book titled The Social Executive: How to Master Social Media and Why it is Good for Business. The second is Social Media: Are the Benefits Worth the Risk for Business which is published in The International Journal of Business and Public Administration. These are both written specifically for business owners and professionals and reference companies that have previously dealt with this situation. I believe these mediums coupled with the genre of expository writing give us the facts that are necessary to form an educated opinion. There were two other articles that I read, The Real Risk of Fake News and Misinformation on social media: Can technology save us. I appreciated these articles on a personal level, but news, in general, should not be used on a company site, therefore they were not usable resources. And given that these article are persuasive and opinion based, I would not feel comfortable using them as a resource for this subject.

Following are several statistics from Gargantuan and Growing.

  • 63% of brands have multiple Twitter accounts. (Mashable)
  • LinkedIn has 259 million users. (CNET)
  • 16 million small businesses actively used Facebook pages in 2013 (Small Biz Trends)
  • 52% of all marketers generated a lead from Facebook this year. (HubSpot)
  • The World Bank says three quarters of the world is on mobile and is most often used for social activities and accounts for one in every ten e-dollars spent.

These facts weight heavily in both my change in belief that social media can effectively be used as tool to increase brand recognition and a final recommendation to move forward with a plan to use social media as an advertising outlet for businesses that have not already done so. With so much of the competition being engaged with so many different outlets, it would be a wasted resource that could allow for competition with companies that are already using these resources.

Social Media: Are the Benefits Worth the Risk for Business goes in a different direction and gives examples of issues that could be a problem for businesses. The article states ‘When promotions start to intrude on personal time and begin to annoy customers, not only does this marketing method become ineffective, it can ultimately become damaging to the brand (Hutter, Hautz, Dennhardt, & Fuller, 2013).

There is also a study on customer complaints that gives good feedback on how to manage complaints. ‘A study conducted on Twitter confirmed that the positive effects a well-managed complaint handling system could have on customer satisfaction. They revealed that 83% of customers that received a response from a negative comment they posted online within a few days were satisfied with the management of their complaint. The study also concluded that 73% of those customers would continue to engage in business with the company despite their negative experience (Istanbulluoglu, 2017).’ (K. M., J. S., & J. F. (2017)

It is extremely important to remember that the company pages or profiles must be strictly professional and cannot be used to voice opinion on matters outside of the company purview. False information, unpopular opinion, or even just a passing comment can be construed as company policy and has the potential to damage the company’s reputation. As long as social media campaigns are closely monitored, this can be a very useful tool to refine your brand image, connect with our customers, manage customer complaints and promote new goods and services.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

References:

Root, T., & McKay, S. (2014). Student Awareness of the use of social media screening by prospective employers. Journal of Education and Business, 89(4), 202-206. Retrieved from doi: 10.1080/08832323.2013.848832

Kasian-Lew, D. (2014, September 15). The Social Executive: How to Master Social Media and Why It’s Good for Business. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/ productCd-0730312895.html      Chapter 1: Gargantuan and Growing: The Digital Economy.

K. M., J. S., & J. F. (2017). Social Media: Are the Benefits Worth the Risk for Business? International Journal of Business and Public Administration14.1, 87-98. doi:http://www.iabpa.com/IJBPA/index.htm

Hutter, K., Hautz, J., Dennhardt, S., & Fuller, J. (2013). The impact of user interactions in social media on brand awareness and purchase intention: The case of mini on Facebook. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 22(5/6), 342-351. Retrieved from 82.doi:10.1108/JPBM-05-2013-0299.

Instanbulluoglu, D. (2017). Complaint handling on social media: The impact of multiple response times on consumer satisfaction. Computers in Human Behavior, 7472- Retrieved from: 82.doi:10.1016;j.chb.