Friday, 10 August 2012

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using Social Networking For Business Purposes (Updated, August 2012)


By Jackie, Researcher
Topic: Business (Social Networking Websites)

Information technology has taken the world by storm. However, its potential is often debated. There are many pros and cons of using social networking websites, such as the Facebook for business purposes. However, the successfulness is still depending on how a company able to exploit them.


The strengths and limitations of using social networking websites

Facebook fan gate pages are a great way to encourage people to become fans of your brand on Facebook.
           
                The advancement of information technology has opened up a broad world of contact, made the world looks smaller and inspired majority of the businesses nor individuals to utilize social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Friendster and Myspace as an useful communication tool to develop effective marketing strategies, save cost and budget, gain global awareness, encourage brand-building, share information and build public relationship, irrespective of geographic barrier and cultural differences. However, its potential and capability contain both strengths and weaknesses which will greatly affect the user.

Advantages (1): Marketing purpose

The fan page of General Motors Co on the Facebook Inc website. 
Many companies have started to advertise their product in social networking nowadays.

                Firstly, companies can communicate and receive feedback through interaction with the public and thus, create indirect advertising and improve overall marketing strategies. According to Beard (2009), social networking allows web users to socialize, gives an opportunity for the public to express their view regarding the quality of products and services provided by a particular company, improve or build customer relationship and enable customers to gain awareness of a brand via online publicizing. For instance, The National Geographic Society has created a fan page on Facebook to notify its members about its daily activities, researches and issues. Chruscinski (2011) states that social networks will be viewed by mass audiences which had proven to be true by The Nelson Company of which 22.7 percent of the world internet time in July 2010 was spent on social networking website. Besides, the creation of an online community and forum will draw interested parties’ attention, increased exposure with a little effort, at the same time identify and attracts potential customers. Beard (2009) highlights that the feedback and respond received from customers are essential for doing business analysis in order to understand customer behavior and current trend to make sure that a company is not outdated. Information received through online survey can provide a true and fair key market research for future planning and decision making. Therefore, in my opinion, it will be a convenient platform to host events and gatherings plus, if customers like our ‘updates’, they will have a tendency to share and spread it to their family and friends.

Advantages (2): Cost-saving

Social networking is a “modern marketing tool” which is believed can 
offer far more advantages as compared to “traditional strategies”.

                Secondly, companies can save marketing, advertising, publicity and recruitment expenses as most of the social networking websites are usually free. If not, it is still considered relatively cheap as compared to other traditional media like television, radio, or newspaper. Besides, it is far reach where companies can access to global market with immediate effect. Moreover, it is usually easy to use, do not require legal procedures, and long-lasting as posted information can stay online for a long period of time unless someone removes it (Grunert, 2009). Brooger (2010) explains that interested parties or clients can search a product or service offered by a company easily by surfing the related websites. In addition, if a company is facing any challenge or problem, the company can easily seek advice from experts via social networking websites and most beneficially, the advice is normally free. On the other hand, Beard (2009) suggests that it could also be an excellent recruitment tool where company can advertise job positions to a wider audience. This allows them to discover more about candidates’ background before deciding whether to pursue their application. Moreover, online advertising campaign can maintain a controlled budget, raise a company visibility and popularity, attracts attention of potential customers.

Disadvantage: Put company’s image, reputation and business opportunity at risk

Besides deteriorating physical health, the security of using social 
networking to do business is also questionable.

                There are certain drawbacks of using social networking websites. For instance, lack of control, directly affects company’s reputation, requires deep information technology knowledge, consumes a lot of time, could be risky, side effects might occur and needs high commitment for the person in charge. According to Brooger (2010), every message, comment and feedback that are being posted online are not fully controlled or regulated by the company. In addition, it might be hard to attract targeted audiences because they may use different social websites. Karimi (2009) warns that negative comments and complaints received from customers or clients as well as posting controversial opinions can tarnish a company’s reputation as many web users can view and spread it globally. Therefore, the companies have to carry heavy responsibility as all online activities should be handled cautiously and have to be monitored regularly to avoid problems. Besides, creating groups or event pages are not easy as it requires good computer skills, information technology experiences and deep knowledge and understanding on social networking. Brooger (2010) explains that using social networking websites might consumes much time as companies have to remain active to keep in touch with its regular customers. Next, internet fraudsters will have the opportunity to run illegal activities by using company details. Meanwhile, information posted online can be abused or misused by competitors. Consequently, individuals’ contact numbers and e-mail addresses that are being put online might lead to stalking and online harassment (Niharikas, 2010). Niharikas (2010) also warns that social networking can be absolutely addictive to employees which can cause serious errors in work and also reduce efficiency and productivity in term of time spent. Lastly, as large effort and resource investment are required, the person in charge of social networking must be highly committed and responsible. Social networks have to be updated consistently and frequently to keep the interest of the targeted audiences, but at the same time, always bear in mind that irrelevant posts could also turn off followers and clients as it is very annoying and disturbing (Grunert, 2009).

                All in all, companies should make full use of the extensive range of benefits of which can be acquired by using social networking websites, but they must remain prudent and cautious all the time especially in selecting the things to be posted as a tiny mistake in posting can lead to a significant downfall of a company. I believe social networking websites can provide far more functions as compared to conventional types of media like billboards, in term of prolong the usage duration, save cost and increase profitability. In short, users must think clearly, use it wisely and carefully.

References

‘Advantages And Disadvantages of Social Networking Sites’ 2010, The Tech Edition 18 March, viewed 5 July 2012, http://www.thetechedition.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-social-networking-sites/

Beard, A 2009, ‘The Pros & Cons of Social Networking as a business’, Gooruze 7 October, viewed 4 July 2012, http://www.gooruze.com/articles/1682/The-Pros--Con-of-Social-Networking-as-a-business/

Brooger 2009, ‘Using social networking sites for business marketing: Advantages and disadvantages, Brooger 9 July, viewed 5 July 2012, http://brooger.com/business-finance-money.php/using-social-networking-sites-for-business-marketing-advantages-and disadvantages

Chruscinski, D 2011, ‘The Pros & Cons of Social Networking in Business’, ehow 11 January, viewed 4 July 2012, http://www.ehow.com/info_7756235_pros-con-social-networking-websites

Grunert, J 2009, ‘Effective Social Networking Marketing Strategies’, Suite101 1 June, viewed 5 July 2012, http://www.suite101.com/content/effective-social-networking-marketing-strategies_a121975

Karimi, S 2009, ‘Pros and Cons of Using Facebook to Promote Your Business Online’, Hubpages 29 April, viewed 5 July 2012, http://hubpages.com/hub/Pros-and-Cons-of-Using-Facebook-to-Promote-Your-Business-Online

Niharikas 2010, ‘Pros and Cons of Social Networking Websites’, Bukisa 15 November, viewed 4 July 2012, http://www.bukisa.com/articles/ 396327_pros-and cons-of-social-networking-sites-for-business-marketing-advantages-and-disadvantages

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