The Communication Advantages of Social Media: ATSICR
Social Media presents challenges and opportunities, but the opportunities far outweigh the challenges. What can be achieved through adoption of sensible and organized Social Media policy and practice can be summarized in the following phrase:
Effective communication with increasingly diverse and discerning publics.
Social Media has several unique qualities that distinguish it markedly from all other media and earn it the popularity and influence it commands. These qualities elucidate the phrase stated above and illustrate the appeal of Social Media from the user’s perspective, and the potential power of Social Media from the corporate perspective. These qualities overlap considerably, and taken together describe what this company can achieve through Social Media. For simplicity, I have separated these qualities under the following six titles:Authenticity – Typical communication in the world of Social Media is to the point, unfiltered, and blunt. Reviews and comments are positive or negative; seldom moderate. A corporation wishing to present itself positively has to communicate honestly and in a forthright, but modest, manner.
Through Social Media, the corporation can demonstrate integrity and authenticity.
Social Media is inherently democratic and public: contributions made in the Social Media world might not be everlasting, but they create impression. All exchanges are visible and liable to archiving, cross-linking, and referencing. Corporations who communicate transparently are likely to be perceived positively, as they are making a conscientious effort to reach the public through a democratic medium.
Through Social Media, the corporation can show itself as a transparent and, by implication, honest and sincere business.
Social Media policy has to be carefully devised, but once the policy is established and the communicators are fully briefed, actual practice is spontaneous. Communications can be issued according to a schedule, but responses to criticism or thanks for praise can be offered spontaneously, as necessary. Communication through Social Media is timely and prompt. Spontaneity expresses informality, and this is attractive, as informality gives the corporation a human face. For providing users with real time Help and urgent responses, there are few better communication methods. Social Media allow speedy updates that are publicly viewable and retrievable.
Through Social Media, the corporation demonstrates its willingness to respond spontaneously to both positive and negative messages.
Through their input, external audiences can become direct participants in corporate planning. Social Media can provide ideas and guidance on all aspects of products and services. Social Media allows unlimited opportunities for a corporation to gather information from consumers and informally research complaints and respond to negative feedback. Consumers appreciate the corporation's participation; and the corporation reaches the user personally while achieving public recognition for its efforts.
Through Social Media, the corporation showcases its interest in individuals as much as groups, and demonstrates appreciation for its stakeholders by interacting with them and responding appropriately.
Social Media is organic. Users of Social Media network directly and indirectly. This connectivity is a major reason for the explosion of Social Media adoption. For corporations, the connectivity provided by Social Media offers some critical advantages: consumers can locate, select, research, and purchase a product through a short series of clicks; companies need not advertise overtly, but can instead offer information about their products and services in online areas frequented by target audience groups. A well-crafted Social Media presence is magnetic. If the content of a corporation’s messages are valued, the corporation's prestige rises and publicity that is based on quality public-reaching activities is self-perpetuating and cost-effective.
Through Social Media, the corporation has at its disposal powerful tools that it can use to present a more balanced, caring and personal image of its brand – and, as the corporation’s presence in Social Media increases, so will the perceived prestige of its brand image.
The ultimate value of Social Media is social, not technological or financial. Its strength is rooted in its appeal to people’s social instincts. Its beauty is its usability and its ability to connect one person to another with minimum delay and in a variety of ways. The days of corporate aloofness are fast expiring, and it has become increasingly important that corporations demonstrate positive societal contributions and are seen to be speaking the people’s languages and honoring the people’s choices. Corporate Social Responsibility therefore commands more and more importance. Effective use of Social Media enables a corporation to transition from traditional one-way marketing and public relations practices toward new, different, and infinitely more personal methods that are already the preferred method of communication of millions of people.
Through Social Media, the corporation is capable of communicating its values and reporting its societal contributions with greater sensitivity to audiences of greater diversity than could ever be reached using traditional methods, and at a fraction of the cost.