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The impact of social media on contemporary business communication

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The impact of social media on contemporary business communication


Jin et al (2011) define social media as a change on how individuals discover, read and share information and content and elaborates that social media integrates technology and sociology, changing the flow of information from monologue to dialog. Social media uses technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, among other social networks where users interact and connect with each other (Jin et al, 2011). The flow of information in social media involves active communication among users in multiple directions. Recently, social media has become an important aspect of organizational marketing and platform for base development. According to Baird & Parasnis (2011) about 94% of organizations with marketing department utilize social media as an important element of their advertising and marketing platform. Additionally, most organizations have dedicated social media platforms which they use as essential constituent of their advertising and marketing strategies in order to increase their market exposure. With a high number of people embracing social media, businesses are integrating social media within their business-level and corporate-level strategies (Jin et al, 2011). Nonetheless, as Kaplan & Haenlein, (2010) provide, there are various challenges allied to the usage of social media by business organizations. The focus of this essay is on the impact of social media on contemporary business communication. The essay will further explore the opportunities and challenges that social media has created for modern businesses with reference to a sample case study.

Worldwide, it is evident that social media has had a big impact on multinational organizations. Companies have embraced the fact that social media is less costly and a convenient means of communication as well as a way of attaining business growth. This is because organizations are able to communicate and develop brands easily and inexpensively by use of the persuasive and influential nature of social media. A study carried out by Baird & Parasnis (2011) found out that social media accounted for more than 15.8 billion advertisements in 2012. Social media has transformed business communications and global marketing where organizations use social media as a means of communication in order to influence people. Social media is also perceived as a cheaper means of communication and hence it aids in reducing marketing costs (Nekatibebe, 2012).

Generally, social media has brought enormous opportunities, especially in terms of positive impacts on customer relationship management, customer retaining, expanding customer base, market research as well as public relations. Kaplan & Haenlein, (2010) is of the opinion that social media challenges almost all suppositions regarding how businesses should communicate with their stakeholders. The most significant change to comprehend and to accept that social media allows those stakeholders to communicate with each other and the businesses they support (Taubenheim et al, 2008). Previously, communications were limited to groups on a small number of people when compared to social media which allows communication with a very large number of people (Schein et al, 2012). This indicates that with social media businesses are able to converse and communicate with their customers on a broader number of issues as well as to exchange first-hand experience. In addition, with social media, the power of persuasion certainly moves from opinion leaders to peer influencers. Opinion leaders are perceived as influencers that utilize their professional and social status in brand endorsement (Baird & Parasnis, 2011).

According to Schein et al (2012), social media contains Web 3.0 which are web technologies that integrate large scale applications. Social networks have networked digital technologies that support human collaboration that assist companies in responding to changes very fast through information integration from various resources and provides companies with the ability to infer relationships between diverse sources (Cammaerts, 2008). With the use of social networks, companies can effectively utilize information collected prior, during and after contact with customers suing techniques like data mining or customer relationship management; this information can be called from different set of information from various social network sites. Companies can in turn use this information to adapt and personalize their products and services in accordance with the customers’ preferences which means that social media allows businesses to meet their customers’ needs much better (Taubenheim et al, 2008). This is because once the information is gathered from social media networks through warehousing or data mining; this information can include suggestions from customers which in turn are used to implement critical changes in order to satisfy customers much better (Cammaerts, 2008).

Furthermore, social media is a vital source of knowledge that allows businesses to create content value chain (Nekatibebe, 2012). Businesses achieve this by connecting complementary companies and respective firms with their customers, suppliers and distributors as well. With social media, businesses can communicate and network with other organizations simultaneously. The key reason for networking between companies is development and implementation of technology solutions and processes that increase the organizational added value as well as bringing added value to customers in the form of utility value (Taubenheim et al, 2008). Companies that link using social media utilize the value chain to make decision on strategies of increasing the added value such as acquiring materials and communicating with their partners. Social media has enabled business to carry out successful participation within the value chain and thus this enables businesses to identify common business goals and trust each other as well (Schein et al, 2012).

Communication using social media has positive impact on added value as long as the information that customers and partners receive is of high quality, accurate and updated (Dubina et al, 2012). The increase in the successful implementation of the communicated information through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or YouTube increases the distribution of information on advertised products or the targeted information. Companies should make sure that communications through the social media is appropriately secured and that no knowledge is lost (Nekatibebe, 2012). This ensures that communication through the social media increases reliability of the information and also enhances the loyalty of the customers and organizational reputation. As a result, this results to increased added value especially in service and knowledge based industries such as Research in Motion (RIM). RIM is an example of a company that has consistently used social media to increase added value and also improve its brand name. RIM is a tech savvy brand that has largely integrated social media into its communication with stakeholders. The company uses social media platforms such as the BlackBerry YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to communicate with their stakeholders and customers.

Social media has also been used by businesses in communications during crisis. The potential of social media is far much higher when compared to traditional media and hence the penetration rate of news is much faster and higher. Therefore, during a crisis businesses have opted taking advantage of social media to virally communicate their messages. Accordingly, during a crisis business can use social media to transmit their messages and communicate to their audience much faster (Nekatibebe, 2012). A good example is RIM which being a techno savvy company uses social media to navigate through crisis. During the crisis at RIM, the company used Facebook and Twitter to communicate to their customers and other stakeholders as well. In this particular crisis, the company used social media to announce restoration of full service, apologizing to their stakeholders as well as posting links to enable their customers to confirm that they could use their service and receive emails (Cammaerts, 2008). This indicates how social media has changed the way businesses communicate and navigate during crisis.

Dubina et al (2012) further argue that businesses that integrate social media in their activities personalize their broadcasting aspects without spending a lot of money. Previously, customers would take a long time to communicate their positive or negative experiences regarding business transactions but with social media customers are able to communicate their grievances in a matter of minutes. This provides organizations with an opportunity to respond to their customers fast and maintain contact with them (Benkler, 2006). As a result, companies are able to acknowledge compliments or solve problems much faster and more efficiently. In case of a problem, the companies are able to correct the situation and inform the stakeholders and the public at large that they are addressing the problem (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Back again at RMC, the company kept updating the public regarding the crisis on the social media and that way the stakeholders were kept on the loop.

Organizations are also using social media to maintain connections (Nekatibebe, 2012). Apart from posting information regarding their services and products, organizations have embarked on using social media to communicate with their customers by connecting with them (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The focus is on engaging the customers and sharing information and details regarding their new products or offers and this way, customers can engage the company to find more information regarding the products and services and thus they will be informed through social media (Taubenheim et al, 2008). In addition, through social media companies can communicate regarding their corporate social responsibility activities or other social issues organizations are interested about such as environmental conservation. This way, organizations are able to create and develop trust with people and hence this increases the likelihood of people doing business with such organizations (Nekatibebe, 2012).

However, social media has come with some challenges in contemporary businesses. For example, employees tend to log into their social media accounts during work time and this tends to decrease workplace productivity which costs companies millions of money. For example, in Australia studies show that employees accessing Facebook during working time costs Australian companies more than 5.6 billion every year. In addition, Schein et al (2012) explain that social media has impacted contemporary businesses ethically. Companies that use social media have often had their privacy and repute and honesty, and security. Organizations mostly use social media to gather personal information for advertisements which is a form of privacy violation. Companies have often used social media to misrepresent themselves in order to promote their businesses. Moreover, usage of social media in business encompasses credibility and honesty when marketing and advertising and thus several issues ought to be considered (Benkler, 2006). For instance, organizations should avoid spams along with other misrepresentative advertising and marketing methods to ensure that they are dependable, truthful and trustworthy to their customers. An example of company that used social media to give misleading information is Research in Motion (RIM) when there was a Blackberry crisis. The company posted on their Facebook page that the BlackBerry email services had been restored. This information was misleading because at the time the company communicated this information, the crisis was far from being solved. This is a clear example of how organizations can use social media to communicate misleading information to their customer and hence this might affect the organizational reputation among its customers (Dubina et al, 2012).


Social media is a developing phenomenon that is being used by many businesses in their communications. Many organizations are integrating social media in their communication strategies to connect with their customers and stakeholders and also market their products and services. With the growth of social media, there has been enormous transformation in regard to communication and distribution of information. Social media has not only enabled businesses to manage information but also provided a platform for organizations to access information. Companies can chat with their customers and respond to their concerns through social media. Additionally, companies are able to advertise their products and services using social media platforms as well as using the networks to communicate during crisis. Social media facilitates access and dissemination of information to a wide range of potential customers. The appropriate marketing and advertising communication approach using social medial facilitates lasting presence within the technological ecosystem as well as fast response to any complaints from customers and public at large. However, social media has its own challenges such as privacy invasion due to data mining and because the information can be accessed by anyone in social networks. In conclusion, social media is a less costly means of communicating to reach a comparatively high number of people when compared to traditional media. Accordingly, social media impacts the higher value added to companies and their business activities.


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