Monday, June 17, 2013

Does the use of social media give businesses useful information?

Social Media 101

                Social media exists in various levels of social presence and self-presentation.  Various forms of social media will vary by how much interaction someone has with it and how much you disclose of yourself.  Something like Wikipedia has a low level of social presence due to how little one would interact with the program (essay format); it would also have a low level of self disclosure because by participating in the project you would not share much about yourself.  On the other hand you would disclose more of yourself on Facebook or Second Life while also engaging in a much more enriched experience.
                While blogs such as this, social networks or interactive social experiences such as Second Life vary in their format, they all have one thing in common: they increase the amount of social interaction people have with each other, even though that interaction is virtual.

Social Media and Business

                With the rise of social media sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Reddit and others, businesses have to manage their brand in new and innovative ways.  Teri Kojetin believes that social media can help businesses define their image, share the brand message and engage with customers.  These are probably the most beneficial things that social media can do for a business.
                The difference between social media today and the way people have traditionally communicated is that in today’s digital social world businesses can be an active part of the conversation rather than a passive bystander.  This can have some good or bad outcomes depending on how a company handles situations.

Social Media Errors

                Because some people don’t have experience using new technology, it is common for some businesses to make mistakes.  During the 2012 Super Bowl, Toyota created several twitter accounts and used them to tweet promotions rather than discuss the football game.  This caused many people to have ill feelings toward Toyota due to the spamming of their twitter feed.
                During the 2012 presidential campaign, many accused President Obama’s campaign of overusing social media and email.  While experimental or innovative, this can lead to image problems.  As one Penn State student put it: “We don’t think Obama’s cool because he’s managed to infiltrate so many outlets of social media... those of us who don’t think he’s cool are probably just annoyed.”
                Many companies have improperly or insensitively used Twitter or Facebook in promoting their brands.  In October of 2012, the Gap and Urban Outfitters used Hurricane Sandy to try to promote their brand, for which they received negative publicity.
                Recently, when Abercrobie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries made statements about only wanting “thin and beautiful”  people wearing his line of clothing, a backlash of social media memes proceeded to do harm to the company that they may never recover from.

Counter Arguments

                Because of some mismanaged social media campaigns, some people think that social media should be ignored.  Is it better to simply let people say what they want online and when the smoke clears the brand will still remain strong as it always has?  There are many reasons to think that this is wrong.

Ignoring Social Media a Bad Idea for Businesses

                A big mistake businesses can make in using social media is by not responding to criticisms. When a company makes a mistake, it can quickly go viral.  In 2009, United Airlines had a headache when they had to deal with Dave Carroll, a musician whose guitar was broken by the mishandling by the baggage carriers.  After he made a music video about the experience, United Airlines had to deal with the fallout of his video going viral.

Just be Smart

                It’s important for businesses to use the resources they have for managing their brand.  Today, marketers have the resources of the Internet that allow them to reach out to customers or potential customers in ways that Don Draper in Mad Men could only dream about.  If companies have these tools, then why not use them?

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