The Internet has profoundly revolutionized socialization because it is a powerful social tool. It is a powerful and versatile social media as it links people in virtually every part of the world and allows various forms of communication such as blogs, chats, emails, calls, and tagging of videos. Realizing that the Internet provides an effective means of reaching a substantial number of customers, mega-companies have maximally exploited it in advertising, marketing, and enhancing public relations through their websites and various social sites. Social sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook have significantly enhanced social networking and interaction over the Internet in that a single comment can reach thousands of people and attract numerous reactions within seconds. This phenomenon is evident when leaders and celebrities make their comments on social sites for their fans to comment on. Jothi, Neelamalar, and Prasad (2011) argue that the Internet does not only provide means of communication and source of information, but also a social site where interaction and advertising take place (p.235). Thus, for a business to reach and attract a large number of customers, it should consider Internet marketing for it ensures interactive, precise, and personalized communication with potential customers. The Internet, as a social media, is a powerful tool that offers effective interactions in a business environment.
Power of Social Media
The Internet provides a powerful means of interaction where social communication occurs. Over centuries, classical mediums such as radio, televisions, and print media did not provide a synergistic aspect of communication that the Internet offer contemporarily. Due to the versatility of the Internet, people can interact effectively in real-time, hence making the Internet to be a reliable form of communication in the 21st century. Since social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn offer a social platform where people can share social, political, and economic ideas, businesses have found it lucrative to advertise their products and services on these sites. The strength of a certain social site is dependent on the number of people that subscribe to it. For a business advert to reach a greater number of customers, one needs to place it on a social site that has extensive networks of people across the world, which creates high ‘traffic’ on that particular site. According to Dailey (2009), social media has plunged into the corporate world since many companies are currently interacting with customers, employees, job applicants, shareholders, and stakeholders through social sites (p.4). Moreover, companies allow various business partners to subscribe to their sites and become members, thus enhancing effective interaction. Networks of customers, business partners, and companies enhance effective interaction and communication, which is critical for business growth and development.
The viral power of social media on social and corporate environments emanates from its attributes such as authenticity, transparency, connectivity, and immediacy. Unlike classical adverts that did not provide a factual and interactive environment, the Internet gives an interactive platform where people can interact effectively in real-time. The real-time interaction of the people enhances the authenticity of communication and is thus applicable as a marketing strategy. In addition to authenticity, social media also offers transparent interaction of customers and business partners hence; it allays reservations and promotes the trustworthiness of a company. Transparency through social media saves companies the irksome task of carrying out rigorous campaigns when promoting their names, products, and services in competitive markets. Dailey (2009) asserts that the best attribute of social media is immediacy, for it allows a substantial number of people to access news within a remarkably short period (p.2). When breaking news spread across social sites in terms of videos, pictures, and commentaries, they pass through networks of social sites that enhance the propagation of information within the shortest time possible. Another attribute of social media is connectivity within a certain community of people like youths, politicians, artists, and businesspersons. Hence, social media classify people into various social communities and provide a target audience for business adverts.
United Breaks Guitars
United Breaks Guitar is the Internet phenomenon that depicts how the United Airlines baggage workers mishandled Dave Carroll’s guitar, broke it, and refused to compensate him. Although Dave launched a complaint, United Airlines ignored and neglected him, as he was just an artist. The negligence of United Airlines prompted Dave to sing a song describing how the United Airlines staff mishandled and broke his guitar without having any concern to compensate him. After singing the song, Dave posted it on YouTube for people to hear his complaints against United Airlines. Immediately, the video entered into Twitter, Facebook, and blogs amongst other social sites, which resulted in unprecedented propagation across the Internet. According to Hanna (2010), within a month of posting, the video attracted approximately 4.6 million viewers, and millions of unmonitored viewers (Para. 2). Eventually, United Airlines realized the impact of the video on their business and decided to compensate Dave. United Airlines offered $2400 as compensation for the broken guitar and an extra $3,000 to the music school to improve their public image.
The Internet phenomenon of United Breaks Guitars portrays the power of social media in spreading information. United Airlines subverted Dave because he was a mere artist and could not do anything that could harm the reputation of a mega-company. Dave was quite negligible and an insignificant customer of United Airlines when he launched his complaint in person. However, when he utilized social media as means of communicating his complaints, he did not only get the attention of United Airlines but also millions of people across the world. This phenomenon illustrates how social media is a Herculean tool that can heighten or demean the reputations of mega-companies. In this case, Dave produced a music video worth $150 and used it to attract the attention of United Airlines, a multi-billion dollar company, and millions of its customers across the world, which is quite incredible. Hanna (2010) asserts that United Breaks Guitars is a convincing case that differentiates the old world of communication from the new world of communication (Para. 4). The new world of communication compels companies and businesses to use social media to transparently build their reputation.
Social Media and Business
In the 21st century, social media is an integral component of the business. The Internet offers an interactive environment where companies and customers associate and build lucrative relationships that promote the growth and development of business. Given that social media is a powerful tool, it has both negative, and positive influences on the growth and development of a business. The case of United Breaks Guitars depicts how social media can have negative impacts on business. Even though United Airlines is a multi-billion dollar company with a good reputation in the airline industry, a single customer, complaining about broken guitar, was able to attract its attention through social media to attend to a simple issue of urgency. The social media forced United Airlines to compensate for the broken guitar; otherwise, Dave would continue to ruin its reputation using music videos. Social media can also have a positive impact on the growth and development business for it is an effective means of advertising and marketing products and services. Dailey (2009) explains that social media have a multiplying effect on marketing because adverts go through a chain of individuals and social communities (p.8). A single advert on a social site can reach millions of customers across the world daily, and subsequently, increase sales of a company’s products and services.
Since social media is a powerful tool that has both negative and positive impacts on business growth and development, some managers may attempt to regulate the utilization of social networks. These networks provide avenues that disclose confidential information or invite unfair criticism that could destroy the reputation of a business if not handled well. Such perception of social media is retrogressive, as it does not favor attributes of transparency and authenticity that are inherent in the competitive world of business. According to Garfield (2010), social media is growing tremendously and businesses have to adopt it, or they would be compelled to do so when it is too late (Para.6). Fundamentally, social media is a globalization force that is extremely arduous and futile for one to regulate. Therefore, struggling to eliminate organizational information networks as part of social media is otiose and impractical.
The Internet provides extensive social media that connect billions of people across the world. Social media provide a platform where diverse populations in various countries interact effectively in real-time and exchange ideas. Connectivity and immediacy are two key attributes of social media that have made it become a powerful tool in social, political, and economic environments. Seeing its lucrative capacity, companies have utilized social media to advertise and market their products and services effectively. The case study of United Breaks Guitars depicts that, a mere person can utilize social media and cause serious ruin in a business environment. Therefore, managers should utilize social sites effectively to satisfy and resolve complaints from clients for fruitful relationships. In the light of the powerful nature of social media, companies should not regulate organizational information networks because social media is a globalization force of information technology that is impractical to regulate.
Dailey, P. (2009). Social Media: Finding Its Way into Your Business Strategy and Culture. The Linkage Leader, 1-21.
Hanna, J. (2010). United Breaks Guitars. Harvard Business School. Web.
Garfield, B. (2010). The Point of Twitter: Transcript. On the Media. Web.
Jothi, S., Neelamalar, M., & Prasad, R. (2011). Analysis of Social Networking Sites: A Study on Effective Communication Strategy in Developing Brand Communication. Journal of Media and Communication Studies, 3(7), 234-242.