In the past few years, there has been a tremendous and dramatic increase in the use of social networking sites and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. This is particularly because of the low-cost, user-oriented, and highly collaborative means of communication that continues to evolve through its own impetus. Consequently, social networking sites or social media are based on certain principles that the corporate or business environment can learn from. There is an assumption that the widespread adoption of social media in people's personal lives can be moved to the professional environment where they can be used to develop unprecedented knowledge bases in which people, industries, and the society can be empowered. However, many businesses still consider social media and social networking sites tools as frivolous to an extent that they have prohibited their use in the working environment. Actually, these companies still frown on the notion of employees spending some of their time at work on the social networking sites.
Use of Social Networking Sites in the Business Environment:
As the human species has survived very well for several millennia without electronic social networking sites, there main question or concern on why these communication tools have suddenly become so important. The answer to this question is the rapidly increasing complexity of contemporary life, particularly the complexity of the modern global business environment. The modern global business environment is characterized by individuals whose coworkers, customers, and vendors may be located in the various places across the globe. Furthermore, business processes have become increasingly complex to an extent that they must be automated as humans can no longer conduct the necessary tasks within the available time.
In the modern global business environment, people can no longer work in a vacuum, which implies that people must collaborate in their respective job tasks in order to get things done. The other layer of complexity in the current business environment is mobility as the person that should be contacted may not just be working in another country, but they could be working at home, in a coffee shop, or in a car (Hutley, 2009). Therefore, there is an increased need for people to contact their vendors, co-workers, and customers regardless of where they are in the world and where they are working from. As a result, social media or social networking sites as well as tools like instant messaging or conferencing applications are largely considered as effective means of communication that overcomes the underlying complexities.
Despite of this need, there are several businesses that have prohibited the use of the social networking sites in the working environment because they consider these tools as frivolous. One of the initial social networking tools i.e. instant messaging was largely blacklisted at the outset as many companies are increasingly frowning at the idea of employees spending part of their work time in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. The main reason attributed for the prohibition of these tools in the workplace is due to the potential negative effects they are likely to have on the employee and organizational productivity. Some of the potential negative impacts of the use of social networking sites in the workplace include fears on whether social media would take up too much resources and time ("Social Networking in the Business Environment," 2010). The other possible negative impacts include whether it's not just applicable to the companies and that they companies haven't thought about the use of social media. In addition, security issues have been the dominant factors with regard to the use of social networking sites in the business environment.
However, since human beings are social animals, workers and companies still employ social networking sites though not for negative reasons. As a result, prohibiting the use of social networking in the workplace is pointless because workers still use the tools. Many organizations and businesses discovered that prohibiting the use of instant messaging resulted in employees' use of a grab bag of instant messaging tools. This contributed to a classic nightmare in information and communications technology because the tools had no control or security in place. Through embracing social networking tools and developing policies, processes, standards, and security measures, businesses can ensure that social media are used in ways that are consistent with the wishes of the business.
Effects of Social Networking Sites in the Business Environment:
Regardless of the attempts to ban the use of social networking sites in the business environment, many employers are using social media for professional reasons. Most of these employers have stated that they use social media for various purposes such as public relations, marketing, and brand awareness. The increased use of the social networking sites is attributed to the various benefits it offers to the businesses and their potential effects. Some of the effects that the use of social networking sites has within the business environment include & #8230;
Development of Knowledge Bases:
According to proponents of the use of social networking sites in the workplace, social media is likely to result in the development or creation of unprecedented knowledge bases. This is primarily because these tools promote collaborative online communication. Generally, the principles of social networking have the ability to develop the knowledge bases that empower people, industries, and the entire society. This is mainly because these networking sites have transformed people's lives, work, think, and communicate with each other. As a result, these sites have the potential of real and long-term positive impacts on the business environment.
Enhanced Employee Productivity:
If used properly, social networking sites have significant benefits to businesses since they can enhance and enrich business processes and significantly enhancing the productivity of employees. The increased employee productivity originates from the fact that the use of social networking sites would promote personal contact that help to achieve a business outcome. Moreover, the social networking sites enable employees to build healthy work-related relationships with their co-workers, which enable them to work more effectively as the network on work-related issues.
Achievement of Business Outcomes:
According to the findings of a survey, social networking sites may contribute to the achievement of business outcomes in the business environment. In this case, managers and employees accustomed to social networking sites have greater job satisfaction and enhanced job performance as compared to those without these tools. Secondly, the use of social media in the business environment contributes to the achievement of business outcomes through facilitating communication and knowledge-sharing among existing and new employees. Thirdly, this effect is likely to occur because the social networking tools lessen costs for the business, lessen paperwork, and streamline operations.
Presence and Collaboration:
Through the use of social networking sites in the business environment promote the ability to locate a co-worker, determine the availability of the person, and identifying the most suitable way for contacting him/her. On the other hand, the use of these tools in the business environment facilitates collaboration as they allow people to meet and share documents and give presentations.
Information Access and Access to Expertise:
Social networking sites provide necessary tools for accessing fresh and relevant information regarding the current events within the business. The social networking sites permit and encourage workers to post personal information, their experiences, and skills. Since these sites are highly interactive, the posted content can be pushed to individuals who have stated specific interest, which is likely to contribute to access to expertise.
Numerous benefits to the Business:
As the use of social networking sites in the business environment is being encouraged and increasing, the major effects of the practice is that it has numerous benefits to the business enterprise. Some of these benefits include generating revenue, enhancing cross-selling, eliminating inefficiencies, improving productivity, enhancing career paths, and improving the allocation of resources.
Damages to a Brand:
While social media can help in the rapid development of a company's brand, its other probable effect is that it can easily crush an organization's brand. There are several potential challenges and difficulties associated with social networking that can result in damages to a brand. Some of these probable challenges include regulatory and compliance requirements, privacy issues and concerns, data security, and concerns regarding employees' use of work time and company tools to get to social networking sites.
Types of Businesses that Use Social Networking for Competitive Advantage:
Generally, the use of social networking sites in the business environment has transformed the relationship between customers, businesses, employees, regulators, and suppliers through shortening the time it takes to conduct various business processes. Organizations and businesses of various forms and types are increasingly using social media for various purposes and objectives. Some companies use social media to enhance efficiencies in their supply chain while other use these tools and sites to develop new business models and new types of relationships between the various stakeholders in the business processes. On the other hand, there are others that use social media to boost employee morale and enhance internal communications while other use it to foster their…