Contributing writer Dickson Igwe

Social media, this July 2012, increasingly influences private, public, and corporate life, and to a greater extent.In Western society, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, LINKEDIN, and others, are the new technological platforms, increasingly surpassing email, online messaging, and direct website access, as most popular, and one stop online applications. These are virtual communities, critically impacting real communities and societies, in real time.Increasingly, social digital platforms are becoming the critical port of entry into the wider internet.Social media applications are today’s avant garde digital, and internet, modus operandi. Liken social media portals to miniature military bases. But instead of placing commandoes behind enemy lines, sending out gun and swift boats, and launching missiles and fighter aircraft; the new media are digital bases, thresholds from which to launch myriad commercial and social opportunities.

Facebook et al are powerful computer applications, connecting the user’s social media page and portal to the pages of potentially thousands of other users. Social media sites are the new internet hub. Internet applications, enabling the social media user establish links with, past, current, potential friends, and more. Facebook and Twitter for example, are online resources and applications that websites of all types incorporate into their web design formats. This is an acknowledgment that social media is critical to user friendliness; online networking, and a crucial feedback mechanism.

For commercially interfacing with clients and customers, social media is second to none. A tool for placing a users’ business’ core message, products, and ideas, ‘in the face,’ and before the attention, of potentially thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions, of internet users. Today, not adopting social media as a social and business tool may not be an option, not for much longer in any case. Social media, like email, is taking on the cloak of indispensability, even invincibility.

Now, a very interesting article of July 14, 2012, on an online USA news source, ‘’ hispanicbusiness.com,’’ titled, ‘’SOCIAL MEDIA PAYS OFF,’’ by Jessica Van Sack, described how, hundreds of companies in the United States are hiring, ‘’ social media managers, a lucrative position that is on the rise throughout nearly all industries.’’

Is it time for business and government in the British Virgin Islands, and wider Caribbean, to consider this new business dynamic, and overhaul organization and management through adopting social media as the new organizational and commercial modus Vivendi. Albeit social media type computer applications must be fine tuned for the local market and environment.

The demands are for the introduction of a new business sub culture that could potentially bring increasing prosperity, opportunity, and economies in both public and private sector? In a small community, social media may possess certain intrinsic benefits that are unavailable in a large country and society.

Photo courtesy mindjumpers.com

Treating Facebook like the enemy in the room is no longer a viable option: incorporating it into the organizational culture is the better alternative. Why? Because that is where it can be assessed and utilized, and better managed. In fact resources such as Twitter and facebook should be encouraged by organizations as a tool for greater effectiveness and efficiency. “Better the enemy you know, than the enemy you don’t!

Imagine adopting a social media application in a large organization: for example government. How would that aid management and employee effectiveness? How could social media improve communication within, and then across, various departments? And in commerce, how would social media enhance competitiveness, and improve customer service, in a world where most customers have access to a computer, digital, and cell phone device, and probably possess a Facebook and Twitter account? Customers who increasingly use the internet to purchase myriad products, and initiate and maintain business links around the world!

Some months back, this Social Media Observer wrote a story about one writer’s foray, namely Sunny Thao, into the topic. In a Star Tribune article of April 7, 2012, Thao quoted Matt Norman, President of Dale Carnegie, a global consultancy, who believed that, ‘’TWITTER IN THE GLOBAL WORKPLACE CAN BE A GOOD THING.’’

Norman asserted, ‘’ social media could be used to build strong connections and inspire collaboration across teams.’’ Social media technology, stated Norman, could, ‘’ be used to improve business results and gain market share, ’’ and should, ‘’ be integrated into business strategies.’’

Norman further highlighted that, ‘’ Twitter is a metaphor for how we need to communicate,’’ helping users to be ‘’better communicators,’’ and to ‘’ focus attention on the main idea.’’

Norman  spoke of social media, enabling good organizational management by, ‘’ allowing leaders to better manage and connect with their teams.’’ He insisted that a social media type dynamic enabled businesses to, ‘’ achieve higher margins and greater market share. To be successful today, according to Norman, ‘’ you have to be able to connect with others.  Tools like social media help companies become more collaborative which builds relationships.’’

Companies that fail to adapt to a new social media environment will get left behind.  Why? Because social media, ‘’ is a more visual, personable way, to communicate, which makes people more engaged in information, and understand different communication styles.’’ Social media is a ‘’ tool for collaboration, builds connections, and brings people together.’’

Returning to the article in Hispanic Business, and Sack, revealed that, ‘’ among the organizations looking for social media managers are Akamai Technologies, Liberty Mutual, Suffolk University, Citizens Financial Group, Massport, Boston University’s School of Law, and CVS Caremark.’’ Sack further wrote that, ‘’ ideal candidates are social media enthusiasts, for whom Facebook and Twitter are second nature,’’ and that firms are offering, ‘’ $80-100,000 per annum with comprehensive benefits.’’ Social media may be offering new career opportunities across the board: something that cannot be ignored.

One example of the need for a social media manager to improve the organizational dynamic is, ‘’ Waltham based biotech leader: PerkinElmer.’’ That firm, ‘’ is scouting for a candidate who will help the company to unite its far flung clients in an online community.’’

The company’s marketing director described how, ‘’ a customer in a different part of the world will face similar challenges that peers in another part of the world may have.’’ Social media is helping cut vast distances and bringing solutions in real time, allowing greater collaboration across physical and social boundaries. Imagine the benefits of social media in a local dynamic such as government, and the cross collaborative benefits social type applications could bring in terms of better communication, and greater effectiveness and efficiency. The director asserted that, ‘’ social media presence, ‘’ helped people connect.’’ But in a large organization with disparate and separate departments, social media becomes glue, fusing, binding, and building new synergies.

 

Another US company, burrito chain, Boloco, uses social media to respond to, ‘’ every bit of feedback sent by customers via social media, and as fast as possible.’’ According to the company’s social media manager, social media, ‘’ allows you to get customer feedback while in the restaurant, you can get to know all customers and guests.’’ This speaks of the immediate nature of social media: the ability to learn, communicate, and collaborate swiftly and intelligently.

According to Boston based vice president of the organization Careerbuilder, Beth Prunier, businesses see social media, ‘’ as a way to control and influence brand. Social media touches so many different business functions- customer service, public relations, marketing, advertising,’’ companies are seeing social media, and spending on this tool as vital for their brand’s performance and customer influence.

Depending on how it is designed to meet specific need, social media, creatively and effectively managed, will streamline, harmonize, and socialize, the organization; building cohesion and creating and fostering a better organizational personality model, and establishing a well defined culture and Modus Vivendi.

Social media as a tool may have the dynamic of bringing radical change to a government’s and businesses’ previous culture, and for the better.   For an unwieldy beast, such as a rigid and inflexible bureaucracy, social media type applications may bring greater harmony between bureaucrat and bureaucrat, and customer. This speaks of better responsiveness, enabling communities to access a previously inaccessible and daunting animal: keeping employees and managers on their toes.

Social media is here to stay: and if properly utilized, could be a good thing for the quality of life, and standard of living, everywhere.  Banning it from the workplace may not be the better option. Instead, take a step into the unknown and use the social media dynamic to enhance the workplace.

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