MBA Research

Trend #6: Social Media

Business Trend

In our ongoing conversations with the business community, we asked them to identify business trends impacting the workplace. One of the most frequently identified trends: social media.  

Workplace Implications

The explosion of LinkedIn (founded 2003) and Facebook (founded in 2004) into major social networks spawned an entire new “social media market.” Social media sites have become a part of mainstream society, thereby impacting every aspect of business. According to Deloitte’s research:

“Executives predict social media to be among the most important risk sources over the next three years – ranked up there with the global economic environment, government spending, and regulatory environment.” (Amato and Hagel, 2013)

Businesses are using social media for networking, relationship building, branding, recruiting, etc. All of these represent potential areas of risk for businesses.

They need to have strategies and procedures in place to deal with negative publicity and comments that appear in social media since those can quickly harm a business’s community standing, market share, and sales. Since negative comments can spread like wild fire, businesses need to monitor all comments about their companies and products that appear on the Internet. They must be vigilant to protect the business’s reputation and brands.

Social media have increased the power of consumers over brand, price, reputation, etc., by giving them a voice in what others learn about products, companies, and their experiences—a voice with global, instantaneous reach. Businesses must determine the best strategies for incorporating the customers’ voice into their communications and responding to it.

Businesses need to make decisions as to who “owns” social-media responsibility within an organization, who contributes to social media, how often postings should occur, what messages to post, and how to maintain a common voice to represent the company’s brand. They need to determine what metrics they will monitor and what level of participation is desired.

In the future, businesses will use social media to track an increasing number of customer behaviors and to interact with customers through more channels. This will encourage customers to share businesses’ messages with others, thereby amplifying a business’s communications’ investment.

Videos are commonplace on businesses’ websites and on dedicated video websites such as YouTube. More than four billion online videos are watched every day, and almost 70% of the people who watch videos share those links with others. Interestingly, video viewers retain about 95% of what they see, and entire sites and apps center around visual delivery (e.g., Pinterest, Vine, Instagram). Businesses have to be able to use these tools to build customer interest in and excitement about new product releases and existing products and services.

Classroom Implications

Although many students discuss their personal lives in social media, they need to understand that not everything that occurs in the business environment is appropriate to discuss on their Facebook page. Therefore, educators need to help students to develop visualization and social-media communication skills for use in the business world. Students need to understand the potential impact of their personal social-media brand on that of their employers. They need to be able to discern when, what, and how to tweet, post, email, feed, etc., for business and when to use other channels of communication (phone, f2f, Skype). Marketing students should also receive additional instruction around brand management, digital marketing, and content marketing.