The Challenge…

No matter what we do in life there’s, more often than not, a challenge to meet us along the way.  This is no different with social media and businesses.  On one hand, social media allows announcement-1019756_960_720businesses to reach out and connect with potential consumers they would never have reached by using traditional methods of advertising and promotion, but on the other it opens the doors to vulnerabilities such as anyone and everyone voicing their opinion, be it good or bad, true or false.

And then there is the question of your staff using social media, should it be accessible from the organisations computers? Will they abuse it? Will it effect productivity? If you decide not to allow it will they just go ahead and use it anyway ?  When using social media, how can you ensure high level of security?  What about malicious activity? All these are real insecurities which many employers face.

 

Some facts and figures

  • Facebook recorded a staggering 800 million active users as of December 2011
  • More than 25% of large organisations (500+ employees) developed and use social networkingchart-1296049_960_720.png
  • 68% of organisations use social media to communicate with potential consumers and potential employees
  • 43% of employers are involved in monitoring the internet usage of their employees

So if over 800 million active users are signed up to Facebook any business would be crazy to ignore this database of potential consumers! Opening up your business to social media can be very effective if caution is used.  For example one of the most precious resources of a business is that of tacit knowledge, the experience and knowledge held in the heads of those experienced staff and often difficult to record or document.  Social media can be a very effective tool to assist with sharing this knowledge, it encourages relationships to be built within the organisational community. Building teams that feel at ease with one another and who interact well,  creates an environment where asking for help and sharing tacit knowledge is common place. Surely this is what every company aims for?

Numerous companies form their own social media which is closed to those outside of the company, this way the information remains private and secure to employees of the organisation.  This closed social media allows more control by top managers who are often very skeptical  about allowing employees to use social media as a form of communication in case it encroaches on effective work time.  Again, by introducing this simple method of sharing of knowledge, helps resolve issues more effectively by learning and developing from others past experiences.

 

Taking this one step further is a company called Best Buy.  The management encourage twitter-566341_960_720and request that the staff use Twitter to communicate with customers, discussing their queries and resolving any complaints. Best Buy have obviously embraced social media by recognising  every one of their employees are a potential spokesperson and so have encouraged this.  As an outsider looking in, I love this idea.  It empowers the staff to build relationships with customers and by encouraging this the management have stated which platform this discussion should take place on and therefore gives them the ability to monitor the interaction…perfect!

 

My feelings on the whole social media at work was once of skepticism but I really believe there is so much which can be achieved by embracing it and actively encouraging social media  into the organisation.  Not so sure I would encourage discussion with customers on Twitter to the same extent as Best Buy’s but I applaud them for encouraging this, after all in todays world it is highly beneficial to show people that yes ok you make mistakes but look at how we deal with them rather than playing your cards close to your chest and trying to keep control of everything. It is control, I believe, is holding many organisations back from the positive attributes that social media has to offer.

 

References

Mello, J. A. (2012). Social media, employee privacy and concerted activity: Brave new world or big brother?

Miller, A. (2011). Cultural barriers to organizational social media adoption. In J. Girard & J. Girard (Eds.), social knowledge: Using social media to know what you know (pp. 96-114). Hershey, PA: doi: 10.4018/978-1-60960203-1.ch006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Government ‘Tweets’ & ‘Posts’

architecture-931070_960_720.jpgIt’s not just businesses and individuals who post tweet and blog about their lives, many government personnel also use social media for a number of reasons.  Some have their own personal account only on Facebook and others use their own account as well as having a separate page which represents them in a more formal way.  It promotes their political standing to anyone who wants to listen.

 

Is anybody out there????          

There are two main differences in the accounts you can have on Facebook, an individual would have a personal account which they can search for friends and request Facebooalone-on-the-beach-1357494k friendship whereas a business opens a page, this page doesn’t have friends like the personal account, instead it is up to individuals to make the conscious decision to like your page, which then subscribes them as if they were a fan. So unless you are putting yourself out there and sharing good quality posts you’ll never be found!

Social media provides tools for sharing much of the knowledge which is not necessarily formally documented, it is more that of tacit knowledge and by sharing it often provides a great insight for both the hierarchy of the organisation as well as others (Mergel 2010). Numerous representatives of political parties have a Facebook page or Twitter hands-1167618_960_720account etc and this without doubt helps to reach those people they wouldn’t normally be able to address.  Once upon a time (not so long ago actually) if you were wanting to find out about the different parties and question their agendas you would attend the local government meetings which were often held at the community centre, those of us who couldn’t make it for whatever reason had to rely on other forms of information such as that provided by the media, which is renowned for its bias.

Social media then, cuts out that middle man and gets straight to the people (or their PR people who are running their social media pages) for their replies to your questions, these replies are straight from the horses mouth, so to speak, not slanted in anyway which often can happen when it is noted by reporters and is then rewritten for the daily paper the next morning. It was President Obhama who called for increased openess throughout politics back in 2009 (Lee, 2012). Social media can definitely be credited for assisting in breaking down the political silos by encouraging the sharing of information and making these members easier to access and therefore I think they become more accountable, which can only be a good thing right?

Who controls who can say what on these platforms? Where does privacy come? Who decides it is Ok to reply to a question which has been asked on Social Media and include a recently discussed government document?  These are all real drawbacks of Government representatives using Social Media to communicate with members of the public. The World Wide Web is huge and policing it is practically impossible.  The tools available on the web means that news, good or bad, is able to travel real fast! This is something that applies to us all, not just those posting and tweeting about their political lives and campaigns, was we hit that share, tweet or post button the information is out there, anything which makes governments more transparent can only be a good thing!?!

Here’s a link to a video which is quite interesting,  I think its worth a look.

http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/39577

 

References:

Lee, G. & Kwak, Y. H. (2012). An open government maturity model for social media-based public engagement. Government Information Quarterly, 29, 492-503. http://ezproxy.massey.ac.nz/login?url=http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740624X1200086X

Mergel, I. (2010). The use of social media to dissolve knowledge silos in government. Accepted for publication in Public Administration Review  http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/iamergel/files/Mergel%20-%202010%20-%20Minnowbrook.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Size Really an Issue?

How it is…

First thoughts are that ALL businesses, regardless of size, should be using social mediatape-measure-145397_960_720.png.  It’s obvious….go out and shout about your product, use the platform to promote your product and spread your good business name, interact with your customers and reach new potential customers ….it’s bound to produce positive results, isn’t it?  Apparently it’s not that simple.  According to research, small and medium sized businesses who joined the flow of companies signing up to social media and began ‘tweeting’ and ‘posting’ have seen little or no results from their efforts.  Large companies, however, continue to value this tool and integrate social media into their marketing mix.  So whats going wrong???

Social media is very much about interaction and not so much about advertising what you want.  It is user driven, so if the user has no interest in your posts then that is where the message will stop.  If however, the posts are intriguing, inviting etc then this will trigger response from the user and interaction begins.  This can be a very slow process which requires patience and regular posting, few small and medium sized businesses have the resources to commit to such relationship building but that is exactly what social media is about….relationship building.  It builds brand loyalty which may not show in monetary terms on the bottom line instantly but customer retention and loyalty is often worth a great deal to businesses in the long term.

And then of course there is the other factor of larger companies being able to employ specialised team members who understand the latest tools available on the different social sites and are dedicated to this part of the business alone.  Often in smaller companies, it is the owner who sets up the social media pages and writes the posts, thus not maximising the capability of the available tools to their full potential.

 

How it could be…

Not all companies have a budget dedicated to social media, in particular small businesses and non-profit companies fall into this category, but that doesn’t have to exclude them from reaping the potential benefits of social media sites.  LinkedIn, for example, is a particularly good site where individuals post their professional profiles, this offers great potential for networking with like minded people and small companies and non-profit companies should take advantage of this facility when recruiting.

Small businesses are often operated by someone who has technical skills in a particular field but may not necessary be educated in social media.  Chances are there is a young person close by, either a teenage son or daughter or even an employee, who is very comfortable with the ins and outs of social media sites….get them on side and start building meaningful relationships with your customers!

It is important to recognise how social media has changed.  Gone are the days when people  would check their social sites as a past time in the evening, hands-1167618_960_720maybe even just a couple of times a week, but with the development of android phones and tablets people are now constantly connected, they leave their home where they were connected to the WIFI and their 3G or 4G kicks in until they reach their place of work which will then connect them via WIFI.  This instantaneous connection to the web gives people more opportunity to access their social sites, email, chat etc as and when they like, meaning that businesses need to be proactive and ready to respond and interact with their customers.

 

Some Observations…                                                                                                       idea-1019741_960_720

Increasingly I am viewing the social sites I belong to in a different light.  Once over I would log in at any spare moment and check what friends and family are up to. Now however I often find myself looking beyond that.  For instance one thing I have been drawn to is the way many large companies are increasing their reach of potential customers.  Many of these large organisations post a competition to win a prize of sorts and all you have to do to enter is to ‘like’ their page, comment on the post then ‘share’ the post with friends.  If only 5% of friends do this from each share the amount of visibility that one post would get is incredible and suddenly because those taking part in this are ‘liking’ the page the organisations reach has grown considerably too.  This is an incredible easy way to grow the number of people who are listed on a companies data base at relatively low cost (just the give away prize, as it is an incentive it should be exactly that and not just a $50 voucher!). Very easily implemented by any business whatever the size. If you have any other ideas how small businesses can use social media effectively I would love to hear, clearly it is not as simple as creating a page and leaving it roll!

Every time I research another blog it never ceases to amaze me how technology is developing at an ever increasing rate, so it’s understandable that many of us find it  difficult to keep up.  What is being highlighted is how important it is to not get left behind! Keep sharing!

 

References:

Casserly, M. (2013). Why small businesses are losing on social media. [Article] Forbes.com, 31-33 Forbes.com 4/17/2013 Page 31

 

 

 

 

 

Loving Social Media…

This morning I was sat in the waiting area at the Doctors, in the corner there was a neatly stacked pile of magazines which were all in pretty good nick. I looked around and not one person had picked up a magazine and was reading it. Instead, 5 out of the 6 people who were sat in the waiting area were flicking through their mobile phones.

I find it exciting but unbelievable how times have changed! I remember my mum taking me to the Drs and the magazines in the waiting area were dog eared due to the amount of people handling them (eeek! to think how easy it was for all those germs to spread!) but now very few people actually bother to even to look at them to see if there is anything of interest, and why should they? Everything they need is at their fingertips. Gone are the days where marketers, journalists and alike would create and publish a document or article on a website or in a newspaper and the audience would simply read the article, Web 1.0. The internet has moved on far from there to Web 2.0, which is a platform that allows and very much encourages interaction between the author and its readers. Examples are sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia and Instagram to name a few.

 

cell-phone

Social Media plays a huge role on Web2.0, it provides a way for people to connect, communicate and participate. It is well known that word of mouth advertising is incredibly powerful but this has been taken to a whole new level with individuals sharing their experiences with the world via social media.By embracing the communication power of social media, businesses are able to extend their reach to people they may never have been able to target before. Just imagine, the lady sitting opposite me could have been ‘tweeting’ about the amazing service she received in the cafe where she had just been for breakfast, this post is shown on her friends news feed, of which she has 200 within the local area. A couple of her friends then shares her post, which allows 200+ friends to see on their Facebook and suggests to a friend they should try it next week…..and so it goes on. Powerful advertising for that cafe! We must remember it can also work in the opposite way!

 

Now for some technical stuff..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             STES-Planning

In practically every work place sits a computer ( if there isn’t one, there should be!), however the computer alone is purposeless. It is only when a person operates the hardware to activate the software, does the system become meaningful. It is this interaction which develops between the individual using the hardware, to access certain software, and following certain procedures, in a specific work-space, whilst working within the reams of societies rules and laws, which is known as a Socio-technical system.

Socio-technical systems is  a term which refers to the complete ‘system’ from the technical components to the human operating systems and society. For businesses it is important to realise how the components of the system are interlinked and one can not function to its full potential without the others. Once this seamless interaction is developed the impact on the business is very positive.

Remember…..It’s good to share!