• Priyash Nigam

Social media is an evolving business.

Social media in recent times has become a headline-grabbing phenomenon that is rapidly growing. Instead of using social networking as a tool to simply connect with people, entrepreneurs across the world are frequently trying to find ways to utilize the trend of social networking as a business opportunity. Studies suggest that social networking sites should be viewed as a complementary device to the presence of businesses in order to promote success. Businesses should consider the sites as an asset that is valuable and useful in gaining their companies' positive attention. In essence social networking sites, when used properly, should not be employed as a replacement to the business's traditional online presence. But the question arises, what is social media?

Social media is a conversation on the Internet. It is a conversation of the organization with its customers, employees, suppliers, investors, critics, and fans. In a nutshell, it is a conversation with anyone having access to the Internet. However, the conversation is not controlled and organized. But it is organic and complex, in the form of a human voice. Thus, it is not a strategy, but simply a mode of reaching out to all the stakeholders of the business.

Why should companies adopt social media?

It covers a large audience in a faster, economical and easier manner

- Helps even small businesses to reach to a wider customer base

- These channels allow a connection with the stakeholders which enhances the credibility of the firm

- The best place of connecting with the stakeholders is where they are already talking about things important to them. Thus by joining in the conversation would increase the noticeability of the firm.

- It allows the company’s website to integrate multimedia such as audio and video which increases the attractiveness of the company

- It allows users to generate their own content thereby allowing them to interact with each other

Is Social Media perfect? Doesn’t it have any downsides to it?

Like everything else, social media does have its share of limitations. However, most of these limitations vary depending upon the user’s perceptions. The various disadvantages of this new age media are as follows:

Time-Consuming: To leverage social media, one needs to be connected to its audience all the time. He needs to have updated helpful information on the network and should respond to any queries to satisfy the curiosity of the audience otherwise the audience might lose faith in business.

Limited Reach: Accessibility to the Internet in India is only around 3-5% of the total population. Thus, only a limited segment can be targeted through this medium.

Information Overload: With so much information available, there can be a problem of information overload and social networking overload which may cause problems of authenticity and the validity of the information may become an issue.

Lack of Knowledge: Since social media is still in its infancy stage, not much awareness and information is available. Thus, organizations may have to incur high initial costs for setting up their operations.

Intrusion on Privacy: Since social media is an open platform, there may be issues with privacy as a lot of information is available about the user.

Apart from these problems, there is also an issue with customer loyalty. According to Deloitte in 2008, around 40% of user-generated content websites have more than 500 members but very few engage with it in terms of their contribution, retrieval, and exploration on the site.

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