As you know, social media transformed the way we interact. The transparent, rapid-fire communication they make possible means people can spread information about companies more rapidly than ever. Do organizations understand yet how to use social media effectively? Perhaps not. Only three of ten CEOs in the Fortune 500 have any presence on national social media sites. Many executives are wary of these new technologies because they cannot always control the outcomes of their communications. However, whether they are directly involved with social media or not, companies should recognize that messages are out there, so it behooves them to make their voices heard. Some experts even say social media tools improve productivity because they keep employees connected to their companies during nonoffice hours. And social media can be an important way to learn about emerging trends. For example, André Schneider, chairman of World Climate Ltd., uses feedback from LinkedIn discussion groups and Facebook friends to discover emerging trends and issues worldwide. Padmasree Warrior, former chief technology officer of Cisco, has used social
media to refine her presentations before a test audience. The first step in developing a social media strategy is establishing a brand for your communications after you define what you want your social media presence to express. Experts recommend that organizations first leverage their internal corporate networks to test their strategy in a medium that’s easier to control. Most companies have
the technology to use social media through their corporate websites and may use these platforms for communicating with employees and facilitating social networks for general information sharing. As social networking expert Soumitra Dutta of Cornell notes, “My advice is to build your audience slowly and be selective about your contacts.” Despite the potential advantages, companies also need
to be aware of significant drawbacks for them. First, it’s very difficult to control social media communications. Microsoft found this out when the professional blogger it hired spent more time promoting himself than getting positive information out about the company. Second, important intellectual capital might leak out. Companies need to establish strong policies and procedures to ensure that sensitive information about ongoing corporate strategies is not disseminated via social media. Finally, managers must be committed to monitoring motivation and interest beyond their initial forays into social media. A site that’s rarely updated can send a very negative message about the
organization’s level of engagement with the world.
11-14. Are the drawbacks of the corporate leveraging of social media sufficient to make you think it’s better for them to avoid certain media? If so, which media?
11-15. What features would you look for in a social media outlet? What types of information would you avoid making part of your social media strategy?
11-16. What do you think is the future direction of social media in business? How might emerging technologies change your forecast?
Sources: B. Acohido, “Social-Media Tools Boost Productivity,” USA Today, August 13, 2012, 1B;
H. Annabi and S. T. McGann, “Social Media as the Missing Links: Connecting Communities of
Practice to Business Strategy,” Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce 23, no.
1–2 (2013): 56–83; S. Dutta, “What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy,” Harvard Business Review,
November 2010, 127–30; and G. Connors, “10 Social Media Commandments for Employers,”
Workforce Management Online, February 2010, www.workforce.com; and L. Kwoh and M. Korn,
“140 Characters of Risk: CEOs on Twitter,” The Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2012, B1, B8.
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