Corporate social media
Corporate social media is the use of social media websites and social media marketing techniques by and within corporations, ranging from small businesses and tiny entrepreneurial startups to mid-size businesses to huge multinational firms. In the 2010s, an increasing number of corporations, across most industries, have adopted the use of social media either within in the workplace, for employees, as part of an Intranet or using the publicly-available Internet. As a result, corporate use of social networking and micro blogging sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, has substantially increased. According to an article by the Harvard Business Review, "Fifty-eight percent of companies are currently engaged in social networks like Facebook, microblogs like Twitter, and sharing multimedia on platforms such as YouTube." The Harvard Business Review cites an additional 21% of companies as being in the process of implementing a formal social media initiative. The 2014 HBR report indicates 79% of companies have or will have social media initiatives in place. This percentage is an increase over a similar 2010 report that indicated that two-thirds of companies had or would have social media initiatives in place.
The widespread and growing use of social media by corporations is resulting in the development and implementation of formal written policies. Corporate social media use has grown so rapidly that certain regulated industries are now required to maintain formal written social media policies. For example, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, a consortium of bank and credit union regulators, implemented in December 2013, formal social media guidance for its banks and credit unions. In the eyes of regulators, risks associated with social media use are of a level that requires formal attention. At a minimum, regulators require that organizations "listen" to what is being said about them on social media platforms in an effort to identify legal, compliance, and reputational concerns.
Corporations have legitimate concerns when it comes to their employees’ use of social media. Social media environments have created the need for distinct and often strict reputation management practices. Some corporations have resorted to monitoring the social media accounts of its employees in order to spot posts and comments that are related to workplace issues or the employer, potentially harmful to business or even leak private corporate information.
Many corporations have used social media during the hiring process as well. Survey data shows that within a one-year period 15 percent of finance and accounting professionals found new jobs through social media. Social media can be both helpful and detrimental to those searching for employment. Hiring managers sometimes search social media to look for reasons not to hire a job applicant. According to a 2013 survey from CareerBuilder.com, 43 percent of employers use social networking sites to research potential hires. Another 45 percent are researching the "fit" of a job candidate with their company by conducting a search via Google or another search engine. 51 percent of employers who research candidates on social media say they've found postings which have caused them to not hire a candidate. Job applicants who have racist or homophobic jokes, inappropriate photos, offensive content, or photos depicting drunkenness or other potentially undesirable behaviours may be screened out of hiring processes. Some observers have stated that employer viewing of job candidates' social media profiles may raise privacy concerns.
Benefits and risks
Despite the identified risks associated with social media, corporations are recognizing the benefits associated with adopting a corporate social media strategy. Benefits include lower cost and more effective marketing and advertising initiatives (as compared with traditional marketing methods such as billboard ads and TV commercials), improved internal and external corporate communications, enhanced overall brand awareness, and better operational efficiency and innovativeness. As a result, corporations are investing at an increasing rate in social business software and services. The belief is that the benefits outweigh the potential risks of bad press, customer complaints, and brand bashing.
Conversely, businesses can find themselves in a bad situation when they use social media poorly. An example of poor social media execution came in November 2013 when JP Morgan decided to have a question and answer session via Twitter. During that time, 2 out of 3 tweets received were negative due to prior scrutiny they had faced. In this case, using social media and interacting with the public did not help to promote them in a positive way. Another example came on September 11, 2013, when AT&T posted a picture on Twitter of a cell phone capturing a picture of the Twin Towers memorial lights with the caption "Never forget." The tweet was met with great backlash from consumers for using a tragedy as a marketing opportunity, with many customers threatening to leave AT&T. After seeing the backlash it was receiving, AT&T removed the post and apologized within about an hour of its posting.
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