social media is a hype these days which has enabled businesses to actually change the way they operate. Social media networks especially Facebook, Linked in, Twitter and now Google Plus have enabled businesses to reach out to those people with whom they want to build long-term customer relationships. A lot of research has been carried out to devise the impact that social media has on businesses. This has enabled business schools to develop a new form of customer oriented relationship building, a further addition to the B2P (Business to Person) communications.
In this regard, traditional business environment has changed drastically with the impact of social media. A newer economic and business environment now exists over the business world and has deeply affected traditional marketing tactics, public relation, selling and communication activities. This has not only lead to companies having lesser control over their reputation but has also given the dictation of reputation to masses and crowds that exist over the internet.
In fact, it's not only the marketing departments that have changed their functioning over the time, but rather, the key decision makers of the companies have also revised their strategies on their decision making. The tools and mediums that were used by decision makers years ago have changed drastically with the advent of social media so much so that the social nature of their decisions have strengthened immensely (Kaplan et.al, 2006). This has not only lead to stronger and concrete decisions but also has connected generations of professionals with one another, causing them to get accustomed to this dynamic world of social media.
If we look at some general facts, it is quite evident that over a billion people are now connected with the internet, more than 4 billion people have access to smart mobile phones and devices and what's more is that more than 400 million people are connected with each other via the internet, exchanging information, experiences and products all over the world.
Social media has not only led to dynamics in the business world but also has caused business information to travel at a speed that was never seen before. Professional networking, emails, SMS services and social networks have enabled business owners to now participate in a multi-channel communication that has enabled not only individuals to be a part of a huge collaborative network but has also ensured a work environment where professionals learn from a variety of influences. Business relations are now changing drastically and newer business ecosystems have developed with in various communities, leading to such complexity that is now becoming unmanageable (Benkler, 2006).
The vast connections and networks of people have enabled them to be at more than one place at the same time while being virtually anywhere in the world. Moreover, social media has not only affected business world but has curtailed to developed stronger human relationships. Connectivity is now an asset for businesses that enables distances to be reduced and gives rise to infinite opportunities. Formation of networks and communities online has led people to manage their public profile and image even more stringently. The content and networks that your social networking accounts show determine who you actually are. This idea sharing and collaboration of people in the virtual world has not only led to increased collaboration with the partners, suppliers and consumers but also has led one to create an important public profile of oneself.
A research was conducted by an agency to find out why the CEOs of companies tend to rely so heavily on the social media networks. It was found that amongst many reasons given, the CEOs tend to reply on the professional networks to be an important decision making tool. The online networking enables them to gather more opinions through their networks and also to read the public responses via forming online blogs. Almost all of them thought that the traditional decision making tactics used by them are being highly disrupted due to the emergence of social media. Demographics show that younger people are more likely to have more trust in the information that is obtained from these networks as compared to older people. Moreover, people these days have identified a greater need for input of their peers while making decisions, which has further justified the needs of social networks. The research conducted on the social media concluded with the fact that people who are laggards and believe that handling customer relationships in the conventional way would be better might soon lose out their competitiveness and market share. Moreover, these laggards would also not be able to connect with their customers in the ultimate manner that fulfills their business needs.
SMPG -- Social Media Peer Groups have now developed which have turned out and made the traditional business ways almost obsolete. Ideas, experiences and lots of information is now being exchanged through the discussions of business professionals. The B2P -- Business to Person relationship systems have enabled the SMPG to integrate with them so as to instill the fact that those who use these channels to communicate are successful. That is why, strategies are now used to develop these business relationships and ultimately gain the maximum market share. When a company knows its strengths and matches that with their customer needs, then it is more likely to create the best formula for success. This not only leads to gaining higher revenues, but also meets the customer expectations, leading to brand loyal customers. Companies use the information gathered from these communities to identify the weakness of their customers and target their actual needs. These social media activities do not only tend to act as point of sale avenues but also enable the companies to know what the customers like and dislike about their products.
There are certain elements of businesses that social media specifically targets upon. These are mentioned and detailed as under:
Increasing demand for business transparency has led to further use of social media. The traditional methods of advertising are still functioning but at a slower pace as compared to social media websites such as Facebook and twitter (Gentle, 2009). A large number of followers is reached through these websites that the traditional business methods are not able to capture. That is why, those businesses which do not follow this trend are normally left out of the competition and are not able to gain the desired market share. Moreover, their personal relations with customers are also built quite slowly. Therefore, due to enhanced transparency in this regard, businesses tend to be open in their communication channels and focus more on their interactions with customers rather than their advertisement sizes.
Being on the social media, a company or a business has its own broadcasting network which not only saves its extra advertising costs but also gives an unlimited access to different modes of communications. The businesses are therefore shifting trends from large campaigns towards smaller actions. These small actions are referred to their activities on social media that are used to create their social presence (Story, 2008).
Social media is quicker as it is relatively faster for a person to tell others about the good or bad experiences that they have had with a company. All Facebook friends and Twitter followers are alerted within a matter of minutes about what happened with the company. That is why, even smaller issues tend to become more important.
Huge companies such as Southwest Airlines, Comsat and Seesmic strongly believe that using twitter can enable them to know their customers concerns and enable them to address them. These companies realize that bad experiences of customers are spread across faster; therefore, these companies pay special attention to customers' concerns and believe that better communication enable to develop stronger relationships.
The purpose of major professionals such as Ann Curry from…