Influence of Social Media in Business.
Social Media sites have revolutionized the dimensions of doing business. They are offering a free market for companies to test their products online, promote brand awareness and reach a bigger group when marketing.
Some of the most notable sites are Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. For Africa, these are the most active sites that any company thinking of going online has to reach out to.Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter have 2,400,000,000 , 1,500,000,000 and 330,000,000 active users respectively.
Media houses have not been left behind. They have developed sections that the online community can interact with them for the purposes of news gathering and sharing. Some have gone a step further by employing personnel to specifically monitor the trends online and to offer an interactive platform to their customers.
In this age and time, it is almost impossible for companies to have a breakthrough without anchoring their website on these sites. The sites generate traffic and lead companies to take advantage of and convert them into sales.
In Kenya, WhatsApp offers virtual offices and rooms for churches, schools, hospitals, social welfare groups, etc. These groups can organize and have meetings online through online chat services with video conferencing features.
With all these aspects, digital marketing in the current world will certainly be unsuccessful if social media is not incorporated. But with good marketing strategies on these sites, sales and brand awareness is inevitable.
Advertising on social media requires an upfront investment. On sites like facebook ads, one is able to define the target group and direct relevant traffic that suits that audience.
Social media has also brought in a fair number of negative impacts for companies and it would be unfair not to highlight some of the major challenges the sites have brought.
A negative tweet or status update that goes viral can bring down a successful company to its knees. As the message spreads further the number of followers will go down. In March 2017, an explicit post on McDonald's twitter handle stated: “@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a president and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.” This tweet angered Trump’s supporters forcing the company to issue an apology stating that their account was hacked by an outside source.
Marketing brands online is not a simple task moreso ensuring that the posts reach a large target group. Several marketing tools have been developed to assist users for this purpose. Boosting these posts require adequate financial resources that small and upcoming businesses may not readily have.
Because of this new trend, regulations and policies governing registration to these sites have not been formulated. This has allowed the creation of pseudo accounts of companies for the purposes of duping vulnerable customers online.
Terrorists have also taken advantage of social media by using them to recruit, radicalize and spread hate messages. These sites act as a firewall to the true identities of the members. In 2016, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter declared a cyberwar against the Islamic State group owing to the rising threat posed by these groups armed with advanced cyber tools.
Managing posts at times become a challenge. The posts whether good or bad will continue being shared even if its the wishes of the owner to pull it down. The feature to delete a post permanently from the owner to anyone else who has received it is yet to be made public.
In some countries, access to certain social media has been banned. The majority of those sites in these countries are those that have a large number of followers. Businesses that were solely dependent on these sites had to close down and restrategize. Some of the countries are as listed below:
Countries that have banned certain social media sites
1. North Korea - Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter.
2. China - Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
3. Iran - YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
4. Turkey - Twitter.
5. Vietnam - Randomly blocks access to social media sites.
6. Uganda - Introduced Social Media Tax for Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp charged at $0.05 per day.
7. Bangladesh - Twitter.
In conclusion, Social Media is the best marketing tool that any existing business should embrace. The benefits outweigh the challenges and vary depending on the approach.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Jeremiah Onyango