Is social media a boon or a bane? This is one of the most challenging questions that many of us have faced in recent times. The answer may be different to each of us, based on our own perspectives and usage behaviors.
While the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have changed the way we communicate and has also pushed the data growth for telcos, it has also revealed a lot about individuals’ personalities and preferences, thus providing companies the opportunity to shape their marketing strategies, though not without risking users’ privacy.
For marketers, social media has proved to be an effective tool to engage with their target customers, with brand managers leveraging it for promoting their products and services and getting direct feedback as well. Many organizations and internet companies like Google are aggressively utilizing tools like business analytics and business intelligence to understand the interest of consumers for placing intelligent ads based on users’ interest areas.
As a flip-side to marketers, social media engines could also spawn negative publicity, if products are flawed or customer services are not up to the mark or the company gives a controversial statement.
The technology behind social media has become so big that one can neither ignore it nor afford to completely rely on it. Back in 2008, US president Barack Obama’s successful political campaign on social media was touted as a strong example of the impact these collaboration tools could have.
In India, a leading politician had to apologize post his disturbing statements on country’s state of poverty, largely because of the public outrage on Twitter and Facebook. Such is the growing power of this new-age media.
In India, the telecom technologies like 3G and 4G are further fuelling the growth of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. More and more people are glued to social media to interact and communicate with each other on the move, through their mobile phones. Moreover, social media is considered to be a major driver of data growth in the country.
While tools like Twitter are widely used as a medium to follow celebrities, favorite brands, companies and talk about them in quick mode, Facebook is considered to be more personal is being majorly utilized to showcase personal achievements, photographs, thoughts and personal sentiments. On the other side, professional networking tools like LinkedIn are used to seek professional guidance, look for networking within the particular group and to explore job and career opportunities.
Revealing More Than What You Can See
In one of my recent interactions with a top executive of a leading company, I was told that many companies have started analyzing social media behavior of their employees while doing appraisals. It has helped HR managers and senior leaders to identify your behavior, attitude and overall personality that may help them to access leadership and productivity skills.
A recent study from Media Effects Research Laboratory reveals how users’ behaviors and profiles on various social media channels can give clue to feelings of users’ self-esteem and self-determination. That’s scary, isn’t it? It is like without your knowledge, someone guessing about your wealth and assets.
Also, marketers are cleverly capturing users’ day-to-day data to analyze customers’ preferences without even letting them know.
While a lot of security promises are being made by every social networking site, as a consumer you cannot guarantee that the privacy won’t be compromised. In some cases, even employees unintentionally share sensitive information through these channels that can be leveraged by competitors or cyber criminals.
“It’s a double edged sword. It’s very easy to cross the line between good and bad. While social media can be a great tool if used in a rational way, it may result into unwarranted troubles, if you fail to understand the best way it should be used,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, Founder & Group CEO, Greyhound Knowledge Group.
In future, we can expect social media playing a vital role in tracking brands’ history of brand positioning, customers’ reactions on that and marketers using paid channels on social media for boosting their image. Some brands may explore the possibility of blocking the social media entirely due to excessive negative publicity. For consumers, it would be critical to understand the benefits and disadvantages of sharing something instantly on social media.