With the advent of social media in the last decade, as well as its fast growth, there has been great interest on its real value by those who wish to exploit it to further their personal, as well as public ventures.
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In this case, many authors have come up with varied compilations of the advantages, as well as the disadvantages of social media, in their quest to explore the real value of social media. All over the world, questions are being asked on how one can adopt social media to improve their social lives or to increase the productivity of their employees and profits for their organization (Jue, Jackie and Kassotakis 42).
Others on the other hand are more concerned with the negative effects that social media may have on their businesses and are, therefore, looking for a solution to these negative effects, or something that will turn the negative effects into positive effects while maintaining the use of social media.
This paper seeks to explore the advantages of social media, in relation to its application both in the social setting as well as in the business setting. This is to expose the real value of social media as it is used today in our social lives as well as in the workplace, so as to be able to fully exploit it.
Previously the modes of communication were limited as there were only a few and unreliable or constrained modes of communication. Letters took days or even more than a week to get to the receiver depending on the distance.
There were the more reliable phones and fax among others. These days it is easier to keep in touch with other people as there are more effective modes of communication such as social media, which is not only cheaper, but can accommodate a huge amount of content. It is now easier for people to befriend others they have never met or even heard of, who are in faraway countries.
It is now easy to communicate to a big congregation at very low costs or even for free. It is also possible to interact with people from different parts of the world and this has greatly contributed to online marketing. People are, therefore, encouraged to adopt these new forms of communication to improve their lives or profiles by communicating with their friends or customers with clearly set goals. This will allow them to reap the maximum benefits of social media.
This topic is specifically important for marketers who join social media to attract more clients or people who join social media to make friends. It is important to note that joining social media and befriending someone or following someone, is not enough to enjoy the true value of social media.
In some cases, companies have joined social media only to receive bad publicity and loose business through it. At times those who join social media have found themselves attracting the wrong audience. This has led to companies procuring the services of social marketers who concentrate on the social media platform of the company. This is in their quest to avert the negative without having to ignore the platform completely.
Most of us have been exposed to social media either directly or in directly. In some cases, those of us who are not party to any of the social networking sites stumble on to them in our daily internet activities or through our friends and family. Whether we like it or not, social media is part of us especially since it commands a huge following on the social front.
This has forced even businesses to adopt it since they cannot afford to ignore its magnitude. Among the advantages of social media is the simplicity that it comes with. This has meant that even people with basic knowledge of IT can access it on their phones or their computers.
The global reach that comes with social media as well as the ability to customize pages for users depending on the target market, give people as well as companies limitless capabilities. This has been witnessed where information that goes viral has reached millions of people all over the world, and this happens at no extra cost to the owner of the information. This also means that negative information can also spread the same way, which would then be disastrous to the individual or the company.
The real value of social media can be explored on the basis of the gains that one intends to get from it. The benefits are divided into two. There are social benefits as well as economic benefits, and the unifying factor in both of these is that all social network users seek one form or the other. The question of value therefore arises when a user seeks to get this by exploiting the networks that social media creates.
This therefore means that the only way one can enjoy the real value of social media is if they capitalized on the networks created. How to capitalize on the networks created is usually up to the individual since people join social media with varied goals. For those who seek to make friends they may need to go a step further and actually physically meet the new friends they have met on the social networks.
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To realize the true value of those friendships people have to leave their computers and phones and actually met the people they have befriended on social media. For companies on the other hand, they can capitalize on the networks created online by ensuring that they capture potential clients, grow their brands and also build onto their customer loyalty to increase it (Scott and Jacka 68).
The real value of social media therefore, lies in the ability to create contacts, but can only be enjoyed if a person acts on those contacts. This means that if a marketer is able to attract an audience on social media, he or she should then form a relationship with those that listen or communicate with him or her.
Though at times the meetings or the relationships don’t have to be physical the fact remains that after gaining contacts through social media the next step would be to build a relationship with those contacts. It has been noted that some people or companies usually have a huge following on the social networks, but this doesn’t add value to their lives or portfolios in any way.
According to Comm and Robbins (36), having thousands of followers on twitter doesn’t mean that all these people care about you or product. It is, therefore, important to make these people care and this can only be done by building relationships outside the social sites. This means that social site should be used as means to identify potential customers and friends and not a popularity platform in itself, if the real value of social media is to be achieved.
The knowledge on the real value of social media will help individuals as well as companies to better manage their social image, to ensure that they gain the most out of it. It will also help managers manage their employee’s activities on social media to ensure that any time spent by the employees on social sites translates to either direct or indirect profits for the company.
As far as individuals are concerned, the question of how they can gain either financially, socially or even spiritually rests on the kind of people they attract on social media. For someone who is seeking to build a professional profile and attract either employers or personal clients, the adoption of sites such as linked in will obviously give the person a platform that he or she can further his or her professional interests (Powell, Groves and Dimos 92).
The brand has to first access the needs of the particular social media community as well as its interests as far as social media is concerned. This is meant to help them in developing rules of engagement that they can refer to in the process of establishing themselves in the community.
The brand has to identify the right people who can manage their community and more specifically engage with potential customers and ensure their brand is perceived positively. It is advisable to have a platform that one can control content. It is most preferable for companies or individuals building a professional profile to use websites or blogs since they can filter any negative content that may reach their audience and cause them to lose business or credibility.
Comm, Joel and Robbins, Anthony. Twitter power: how to dominate your market one tweet at a time. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 2009. Print.
Jue, Arthur, Marr, Jackie Alcalde and Kassotakis, Ellen. Social media at work: how networking tools propel organizational performance. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 2009. Print.
Powell, Guy, Groves Steven and Dimos, Jerry. ROI of Social Media: How to Improve the Return on Your Social Marketing Investment. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 2011. Print.
Scott, Peter and Jacka, Mike. Auditing Social Media: A Governance and Risk Guide. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 2011. Print.