Social Media for Managers

by Theresa Truscott

The impact of social media on organisations

Social media is all about using the internet to interact with people. With websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr, we can speak directly with these friends, be entertained by them, comment or pass on knowledge and, ultimately, we can be influenced by them.

As a result, the concept of ‘key influencers’ has become a powerful tool that has changed the business landscape, both for companies that have capitalised on them and for those who have not.

Almost all social networks have incorporated a measure of social media, allowing users to become stewards of interesting content, helpful links and images, plus personal stories or experiences of places, individuals and businesses. This has literally raised some companies from obscurity to celebrity and brought others from popular to infamous.

Businesses that have learned to create content and engage in conversations are already ‘in the stream’ – and, more and more, internet users have the expectation they will be able to interact with their favourite brands.

Guiding the conversation

For authenticity, a business does not control ongoing conversations; rather, they are able to guide communication through engaging content and positive conversation.

It is becoming increasingly common for customers to voice their thoughts and opinions to friends, relatives, colleagues and even strangers over the internet. More and more people are realising that they no longer have to accept poor service and can ensure that others are aware of their experiential wisdom. The power of the consumer has moved from local to global networks. When someone says ‘I’ll tell all my friends’, they no longer mean only a few dozen people. The threat now means their dissatisfaction can reach thousands of people. With this level of publicity, companies nowadays can’t afford to make mistakes, because the chances are that they will quickly be called to account for the whole world to see.

Luckily, this not only pertains to negative publicity, it can also incorporate very positive responses from even a casual visitor. No longer does one need a devoted following to circulate praise. A well-worded ‘tweet’ or prominent post can accomplish the same as an extensively planned-out marketing strategy.

A learning tool

It is not only customers or patrons on whom social media can have an impact: for workplace learning professionals, there is a multiplicity of social learning and associated tools that can help achieve business goals.

The transfer of knowledge has always been a social activity. Social learning, or sharing knowledge, has several positive effects on business outcomes:

  • Productive employees
  • Speed of business
  • Flexibility in planning and process
  • Innovation.

All of these are imperative for business success.