Social networking sites have become an important communication tool for everyone but more value for organizations of big, medium or small sizes. To ordinary people social network sites are a place to express, share and also complain. To companies it is a platform to communicate to promote their products or services and build brand through advertising. The effectiveness of social networking sites comes from the content generated by users and other members rather than the product itself. Like any other things that have its pros and cons the advantages of social network simply outweighs the disadvantages for companies.
The trend of using social network for companies was fashioned by the current era of political social network. People have witnessed the power of blogging and social network to influence public opinions. The effectiveness of this double-edged sword can be used to enhance or tarnish a reputation. The three common features of social network sites include profile information, friends/fans and activities that would resemble an identity of a company or individual.
Public relations practitioner understands that by using these three features, organizations can use social network sites to maintain relationships with all it stakeholders in a long-term communication and story telling. This is because social network sites give companies to practice transparency and two-way communication method that is essential for creating good public relations. And with the words of mouth from social network members, it helps to spread news like fire across the globe.
Social network sites also give company the opportunities to explore larger network and discover business opportunities. People are also usually more responsive and courageous to express their views in social network sites. This helps companies to understand the demographics and psychographics of users better and use this valuable information to create relevant products and also helps to create better-targeted advertisement to specific target audience without being too invasive when compared to using mass blasting.
However the disadvantages of social network are that people may perceive companies of being insincere for merely using social network to utilize advertising tool. There’s also a limitation with social network sites for companies that there are no auto responder or an automatic follow up after an email to members. Nonetheless, it is a powerful tool for corporate communication and starting a social network site is almost effortless and involves no cost at all.