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The impact of social media on tontemporary business communication

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3Impact of Social Media on Communication


Impact of Social Media on Business Communication

Social media is increasingly becoming a vital means of communication in organizations as well as with the public. Organizational frameworks are quickly adapting to the technological revolution that has gripped the 21st-century business environment. The proliferation of internet-based communications has made it easy for social media to be integrated into the daily lives of people (Dong-Hun 2010). Social media tools have made it increasingly easy to communicate with many people at the same time, and allowed the exchange of information to occur at very fast rates. The exponential growth of the internet has made it easy for organizations to improve their performance and at times, it provides the competitive edge for businesses (Edosomwan et al. 2011).

Organizational communication is an essential part of an effective and functioning system. It connects individuals to the general identity of an entire system, thus setting aside systems and structures that can streamline attitudes, mindsets and perceptions. Communication inherently helps to foster organizational identification thus enabling it to attain its individual goals in a sustainable manner. According to Modaff et al. (2007), organizational communication is considered to be a process which pertains to the creation of information, its exchange and interpretation. Interpretation is a definitive factor and may result in inconveniences if information is interpreted incorrectly. Successful organizations tend to relay information in a way that sustains the overall objectives and ensures that all people in the organization perform in line with the intended targets. Another aspect of organizational communication involves the storage of messages within an appropriate system of human interrelationships. Appropriate communication channels have served to improve organizational effectiveness (Edosomwan et al. 2011).

One of the benefiting issues that social media technologies have been able to bring to an organization is effectiveness. Organizational effectiveness is a function of communication and its utilization to various situations. Kreps outlines that organizational effectiveness is dependent on the nature of communication that occurs in a system and the way in which relevant information gets to the right people (Edosomwan et al. 2011). Computer-mediated communications (CMC) has served to improve both internal and external communication capabilities of an organization. In looking at systems development, it is crucial to ensure that all elements of groupthink mindsets are eliminated so as to ensure that all opinions are factored in decision-making processes (Melton and Hicks 2011, p. 43). CMC has enabled all members of an organization to participate in equal measure and to provide their opinion on various matters that pertains to an organization at a particular point in time. Through CMC, there is less need for social pressure in deciphering information and concerns to leaders (Safko 2010, p. 43).

Systems Theory provides a framework for understanding the impact of social media technology in an organization. Based on this theory, the organization is presented to be a dynamic system that is composed of various processes that have multiple interactions taking place. These interactions take place both within the organization as well as outside it. The constant interactions that take place in the organization, and those that surround it, are responsible for its survival or downfall. The efficiency of communication structures is the determining factor that helps in understanding the functions of the individual aspects of an organization and the way in which they relate to the overall mandate. With systems theory, one gets to have a holistic view, and this bodes well for communication strategies.

Communication is an important aspect as it helps to create permeable boundaries that allow for the transformation of various entities in an organization, thus helping to further strengthen the openness of an organization. The transfer of information in an organization gives an organization the ability to adapt quickly to market demands as well as institutional demands. Systems theory shows that the flow of communication gives intuitive knowledge in an organization that makes it able to know when, as well as how, to adopt some strategies in reference to products and services. Modern organizations have developed their own forms of communication channels that determine the way in which they interact with the environment. In looking at social media techniques, these are usually comprised of web-based techniques and internet networks where users share information and communicate with one another in a collective effort (Edosomwan et al. 2011). One of the biggest advantages of social media is that it allows for communication using more than just words (Dong-Hun 2010). Social media techniques nowadays involve the use of pictures, audio files, and videos. The best known social media websites include websites such Facebook and Twitter, and many companies have risen to use these websites to expand their profitability further in the market (Qualman 2010, p. 54).

It is easy to see that the biggest impact of social media has been on the marketing dimension. The consumer experience for most organizations has increased in value since the adoption of social media services (Melton, and Hicks, 2011). The dynamic capability has allowed for the adoption of techniques that have led to organizations being adaptable to the shifts in the marketplace. The exchange of information between customers and organizations has become more relational as it is now easier to create emotional bonds (Lievrouw and Livingstone 2002, p. 43). These bonds are increasingly becoming stronger, and the end result is that customers have become advocates of companies’ products. A great example is the Share-A-Coke ad campaign, which was aimed at improving the marketability of the Coca-Cola brand to the millennial generation. Coca-Cola as a brand had successfully marketed itself to various generations in the past. However, the millennial generation proved to be different since it did not respond to the same marketing tactics as the older generations. The use of the social media proved to be a powerful and effective strategy and galvanized the young generation to identify with the Coca-Cola brand in a new way. In countries such as Australia, the household consumption of Coke jumped by a factor of double to triple digits, thus showing the impact that social media has on a brand.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a field that has grown in stature with the advent of these social media applications. Real-time online connections with existing as well as potential customers imply that organizations are now forced to create structures that can sift through large amounts of data so as to gain meaning from information (Eyrich, Padman and Sweetser 2008, p. 413). CRM means that an organization can effectively configure itself to generate the necessary information to the right users. Tesco, as an organization, has used the power of CRM technologies to identify the nature of customers in a specific geographical location and resulted in the establishment of intuitive information dissemination platforms (Dong-Hun 2010). As a result, products are now delivered in unique Tesco outlets so as to meet the rising demands of the market. CRM through the use of social media has led to an improvement in customer retention capacities of organizations (Lievrouw and Livingstone 2002, p. 21). Research shows that brands that use social media such as Twitter have seen a rise in customer retention capacities. The research shows that 67% of Twitter users who follow a certain brand are more likely to buy the brand as compared to those who do not. Organizations are now designing social media strategies that focus on the consumer’s experiences. Social media has allowed for multiple voices to be heard simultaneously as well as increased the reach and richness of rhetorical content. Many times, the spread of this information has come to impact both customers as well as workers of the organizations. Social media technologies have made it easy for the professional lives of worker easily mesh with their personal lives. The boundary between the professional and the personal life has increasingly decreased and impacted the organizational culture (Mangold and Faulds 2009, p. 357).

Social media has also given rise to increased customer power in a way that organizations are yet to respond to exhaustively (Dong-Hun 2010). Before the spread of social media, the negative experiences of a person with regards to a particular product would remain with the person and his close circle of friends. There was little room for many people to hear of the grievances and this would do little to harm the reputation of a company. However, the spread of social media applications has meant that negative experiences can quickly be shared among millions of people in an instant (Edosomwan et al. 2011). A picture on Facebook or a tweet can quickly lead to dwindling fortunes if a matter is not handled appropriately. A company can generate positive feedback, but at the same time, it can be difficult to contain the negative publicity it receives from aggrieved customers (Eyrich, Padman and Sweetser 2008, p. 412).

Another issue with social media tools is that a company can easily be misrepresented by employees. Unauthorized employees can choose to speak on the company’s behalf, thus influencing the perception of the organization to the people. This raises the issue of human resource monitoring policies since it is difficult to monitor the activities of employees on the social networks actively. In the past, it was possible to track the behaviour of personnel since operations were localized and action could be taken promptly (Eyrich, Padman and Sweetser 2008, p. 412). However, it is now easy for employees to create different accounts on social media channels and actively destroy the reputation of an organization. Employees may have insight into key processes in an organization, and this inside knowledge might be the difference between survival and extinction. An employee’s post can actively be presumed to be the policy of an organization; thus, can be damaging if it is allowed to persist unchecked (Qualman 2010, p. 67).

Social media can also lead to accidental release of confidential information to members of the public. It is important for a business to maintain its competitive advantage and at the core of this priority is secrecy. Human resource policies are now drafting new laws and directives that determine the way in which people should behave on social media. In the past, the mistake of sending a letter to the wrong address could be solved quickly and quietly. However, social media has made it impossible for confidentiality to be maintained once information is channelled to the population. It is a herculean task to arrest the spread of information on social platforms such Twitter and Facebook which have a global reach. As a result, communication strategies in an organization are well orchestrated events with clear “Official Accounts” being created for companies that determine which information is released to the public (Meredith 2012, p. 85).

However, with intuitive planning and deliberation, communication using these channels can prove to be a bonus for businesses since it can lead to the generation of more revenues for the organizations that use them. Social media platforms are less costly forms of engagement with the media yet they have the ability to reach millions of people at the same time. Customer service queries can be handled by using the official social media handles that generate information at radical speeds unlike in previous regimes where any potential queries needed long interactive queries with customers through static media tools such as newspapers. Social media tools can also be used to increase media communication with potential employees. A formidable online presence can quickly position an organization within reach of potential talented employees (Meredith 2012, p. 87).

In conclusion, social media has both positives and negatives on their impact on business communication. Business, as an entity, must position itself in a way that attracts the best talent and the best customers who will lead to a healthy turnover in terms of sales. Systems theory provides an intuitive way for analysing the impact of social media on both the internal and external aspects of a business operation. The overall implications imply that businesses are currently poised to increase their influence in the marketplace as they intimately interact with their customers leading to high customer retention rates. It also assists in managing the internal environment of the organization (Qualman 2010, p. 67).

Reference List

Dong-Hun, L., 2010. Korean Consumer & Society: Growing Popularity of Social Media and Business Strategy. SERI Quarterly3(4), p.112.

Edosomwan, S., Prakasan, S.K., Kouame, D., Watson, J., and Seymour, T., 2011. The history of social media and its impact on business. Journal of Applied Management and entrepreneurship16(3), p.79.

Eyrich, N., Padman, M.L. and Sweetser, K.D., 2008. PR practitioners’ use of social media tools and communication technology. Public relations review,34(4), pp.412-414.

Lievrouw, L.A. and Livingstone, S. eds., 2002. Handbook of new media: Social shaping and consequences of ICTs. Sage.

Mangold, W.G. and Faulds, D.J., 2009. Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix. Business horizons52(4), pp.357-365.

Melton, J., and Hicks, N., 2011. Integrating social and traditional media in the client project. Business Communication Quarterly, p.1080569911423959.

Meredith, M.J., 2012. Strategic Communication and Social Media An MBA Course From a Business Communication Perspective. Business Communication Quarterly75(1), pp.89-95.

Qualman, E., 2010. Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. John Wiley & Sons.

Safko, L., 2010. The social media bible: Tactics, tools, and strategies for business success. John Wiley & Sons.

Veil, S.R., Buehner, T. and Palenchar, M.J., 2011. A work‐in‐process literature review: Incorporating social media in risk and crisis communication. Journal of contingencies and crisis management19(2), pp.110-122.