Social Networking Sites for Business
“Like us on Facebook”, “Follow us on Twitter”. If you don’t mind paying a little attention, you will find these slogans everywhere in your daily lives. Just a few years since its appearance, social networks have established grand popularity in digital world. Social networking sites (SNS) are, as Chaffey (2009) defines: Sites that facilitate peer-to-peer communication within a group or between individuals through providing facilities to develop user generated contend and to exchange message and comment between different users. Social networks mania apparently attracts people looking for business opportunities. Afterwards, social networking sites have found a new respect in business world rather than just something people use to play online social games, reconnect with friends and families or post photos, comments and other contents. Particularly, social networking sites benefit business as an advertising channel, a communication platform and a recruitment tool.
The most obvious use of social networking sites for business is marketing/advertising. The potential of social networking sites being used as marketing/advertising tool cannot be overestimated for two reasons: huge audience amount and low cost. eBizMBA offers statistics about the top most popular social networking sites as of April 2013, estimated unique monthly visitors of Facebook 750 million, Twitter 250 million, LinkedIn 110 million. Companies’ using SNS to advertise their products and services highly utilizes the advantage of existing huge amount of and globally spread SNS users at low cost. Say, a commercial ad on TV is only on air within the country and has limited audience and the cost is usually as high as $100,000 for 30 seconds. If the company posts this ad on Facebook, the ad is presented in front of 750 million people from all over the world and the cost is low, or even none. Newman (2011) suggests that: Over 90% of the Fortune 500 have established Facebook pages similar to Web sites, where “fans” can follow the business and its products and share opinions with the company and other fans. Over 80% of corporations have Twitter feeds for this purpose as well. Companies certainly perceived the great marketing potential of SNS and are trying to establish their online reputation and build up a strong follower base by, for example, encouraging their “fans” to “like” on their products or services. SNS are spider nets, when one “like” on an item, his/her friends, friends’ friends may follow the “like”. This domino effect has a massive contribution to exploring potential customers/clients. For small and home-based business, SNS are even more important. According to Thomases (2010, p. 60), marketing and business development are difficult for many small business because the owners lack of time, resources or know-how to market their business until the presence of SNS like Twitter gives them a different dynamics, allowing them to network comfortably without feeling vulnerable or exposed. A very good case in point is how NAKEDPizza, a lone pizza shop in New Orleans, did its marketing on Twitter. NAKEDPizza even created Twitter-only specials which increased its daily revenue by 15%. Considering the phenomenon of more and more business use SNS, SNS also update to fit business use by business related functions such as ad space, brand space or brand channels. However, there is a risk that social network marketing/advertising is, after all, not broadcasting but with subsequent comments from the public. When critical comments appear, they propagate fast and create negative brand impression. So some companies refuse to adopt SNS as an advertising tool. But this risk should not topple social networking sites’ position in business marketing/advertising. “Think of it as a nice-to-have, not a must-have” says Delgrosso (2008). SNS do not come as a replacement to traditional advertising tools, but as an alternative online presence which...
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