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Technology and innovation have brought about many applications which are used by individuals to better their lives. Social networking sites are applications on internet that allow individuals, groups or organizations to interact and share
Information, concepts and interact with each other.
Social networking sites like face book, twitter, my space and you tube have grown to be very popular all over the world. While the these sites have primarily been used by individuals to connect with their friends and family members, many business and corporate organizations have taken advantage of them to advertise and market their products and services to their existing and potential clients.
Some of the marketing practices carried out by companies have been criticized and challenged as being unethical and raising many other concerns as far as consumer welfare and watch groups are concerned (Bloom & Gundlach, 2001).
Marketing graduates sometimes work for government, public interest, public service, and corporate organizations that endeavor to promote and enhance consumer welfare.
Consumer welfare issues in groups often have profound implications for both marketing practice and consumer behavior. The paper is an extensive analysis of the pros and cons of social networking which have implications for consumer welfare (Bourdet, 1992).
Pros of social networking
Social networking offers a cheap way of marketing products and services for advertising and marketing companies with the target groups for their products in mind.
Most forms of advertising and marketing strategies are expensive and might prove to be prohibitive to companies that want to venture in the market or those that want to ensure that clients continue spending their money on products and services they offer.
This is a big advantage for advertising and marketing companies because they can spend the funds on other strategic goals of the company such as expansion (University of Michigan, 2009).
Individuals can also use social networking sites to advertise and package themselves as brands for prospective employers. Some companies have been known of using face book and other social networking sites as a means of checking whether the profiles of the individuals that they want to employ match with the job profiles of the positions that are open at their companies.
Social networking sites are used by friends and family members to keep in touch with each other. This aspect of the networking sites is important for individuals who might want to keep on communicating but they might be separated by geographical distance.
People can even post photos of important events such as birthdays, weddings, graduations and presentations to their friends and family members which help to strengthen the connection that would make them feel as if they are not as far from each other (Panda, 2009).
Individuals can form important groups, present and share ideas from people all over the world. Through such sites, people can be able to learn about cultures and traditional beliefs that are different from their own.
This would help to promote peace and harmony in the world because people can easily understand and appreciate cultures and beliefs that are different from their own.
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Many relationships such as marriages and business partnerships have also resulted from social networking sites whereby, people start communicating through messages and learn that they have similar interests in life. Such individuals might decide to meet and strengthen their union or materialize their concepts into real practical ideas.
Cons of social networking sites
As much as social networking sites and other forms of social media might be cited as conferring benefits to individuals, some cons have also been cited as arising from the use of social networking sites. Most of the social networking sites require individuals to give a lot of details about their personal information. This places the risk of identity theft or being stalked by other people on the social networking sites.
The information presented by people on the social networking sites such as their location or what they have purchased might put them at risk of having them tracked down and robbed.
The information that individuals present on the social networking sites might also be used to track them and cause them harm especially for potential victims that might have profiles that are similar to those of victims of criminals in the social networking sites.
Various crimes have been committed over time whereby, the origin of the intent to commit the crime might have resulted from information on social networking sites (University of Michigan, 2009).
Several groups that individuals use have been used as ‘catchment areas’ for individuals that might want to pose as people with business ideas that other people can invest in. Such people are usually fraudsters that take advantage of innocent people and take their money. These people usually vanish after they cash in on the investments that are made by the victims.
Social networking sites have also been cited as wasting a lot of time for people who use them frequently. As a result, many organizations and academic institutions have been known to block access of social networking sites because they result in lowered productivity at the work place and reduced concentration for students in class.
Consumer welfare groups have argued that some of the content made available to clients is too explicit especially given the ages of the individuals that can easily access the content that is posted on the internet.
The consumer groups that advocate for the welfare of the consumer have recommended the removal of material that is excessively explicit and enacting of legislature that would make it illegal to post inappropriate content on the social networking sites.
They have also recommended action to be taken against individuals responsible for posting of illegitimate or inappropriate content on the internet (Panda, 2009).
Control of risks by social networking sites
People should not post all their personal information on the social networking sites to avoid the risk of activities such as identity theft. For example, people should be advised not to post all the information about them such as date of birth including the date, month and year.
Too much information such as exact details about where one is, exact location of work and residence should also not be provided since it allows potential criminals to predict and track potential victims for fraud (Thomas & Applegate, 2010).
Individuals should also not accept friend requests from people that they do not know because such people could be potential fraudsters posing as friends or individuals who can provide important networks. Such individuals can easily hack and access passwords to other important information such as bank account details, employment and insurance benefits information (Thomas & Applegate, 2009).
Individuals should be taught about the need to use their social networking sites in a manner that does not put them or their friends and family members at risk. For example, individuals should ensure that they log out properly from their social networking accounts after they use computers that are accessible and frequently used by other members of the public.
Corporate organizations also have the responsibility of ensuring that the information that they get from their clients is secured and cannot be accessed by any unauthorized personnel especially hackers that might use the clients’ information to access bank account details of the clients.
Corporate organizations should also be involved in the encouragement of the members of the public that are involved in their business ventures to manage their free time properly so that they still remain productive in their daily lives (Bloom & Gundlach, 2001).
The pros of social networking sites far outweigh the cons of the sites. The sites can be used for networking in both personal and professional manner resulting in good outcomes for the involved parties. The sites might also be used for family members and friends to keep in touch.
On the other hand, fake organizations might be formed which could be used in conning innocent people of their money or stealing of people’s identities by using private information that people present on the internet. Individuals should be very careful when they are using social networking sites to prevent loss of their hard earned money or experiencing a security threat.
Legislation should be enacted by the government as proposed by consumer welfare groups so as to protect consumers from fraudsters and other individuals with malicious intentions.
Bloom, P. N. & Gundlach, G. T. (2001). Handbook of Marketing & Society. California, CA: Sage Publications.
Bourdet, Y. (1992). Internationalization, Market Power and Consumer Welfare. New York, NY: Routeledge.
Panda, T.K. (2007). Contemporary Marketing: The Changing Face of Marketing in the 21st Century. Shanghai: ICFAI Books.
Thomas, A & Applegate, J. (2010). Pay Attention How to Listen, Respond and Profit from the Customer. Massachusetts: Wiley.
University of Michigan. (2009). Social Networking. Journal of Public Policy & marketing. 28 (2).