Topic: Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Social Networks in Business

Topic: Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Social Networks in Business

Pages: 7, Double spaced
Sources: 6

Order type: Research Paper
Subject: Business

Style: Harvard
Language: English (U.S.)

need to follow below Assignment structure:
1. Introduction
2. Project Objective
3. Project Scope
4. Literature Review
(Students’ needs to summarise Assignment 1 literature review (2-3 pages) and justification from Assignment 1 literature problems, gaps opportunities, Hypothesis)
5. Research Questions/Hypothesis
– Primary Question (only one question)
– Secondary Questions (1, 2 ….)
Research questions should be linked to Literature Problems, Gaps, and Hypothesis

6. Research Design and Methodology

– Qualitative research
(Students should propose the Process of the Qualitative Research (Main Steps), Approaches to reliability and Validity, Sampling, Sample Size, Data Collection Method, Variables Specifications)

– Quantitative research
(Students should propose the process of the Quantitative Research Design Process (Main Steps), Research Instrument, Quantitative Data Analysis Process, Sampling and Simple Size, Interviewing and Questionary Design, Reliability and Validity of Data)

7. Research Limitations
8. Time Schedule (Research plan)
9. Conclusion
10. Reference List
11. Appendix

Current evolvements in social media have seen the use of the networks for effective marketing and communication in the field of business. Also, there is a great number of uprising business that operates solely through social networks. Nowadays the diversity of social networking in corporate communications boosts the transparency levels and makes the exchange of information easier. The transparency levels lead to better rates of efficiency in the workplace and enable for organizational trust. Because of the consistency, reliability and broad market outreach potential, social networks offer a favorable place for businesses to do online marketing, communicate and other transactions (Tokarcikova, 2011). Besides the many advantages, social networking in businesses has its challenges and drawbacks. The purpose of this article is to discuss the various merits and demerits of use of social networks in business.
Project objective
To discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using social networks in business
Project scope
This project will focus on the benefits and drawbacks of the use of social media in the field of business. The main area of focus will be on online marketing in the business of which social media is mostly used for. By the end of the project, the researcher will identify the gaps in social networking and the conclusions based on appropriate literature review.
Literature review
The presence of social media has enabled people to communicate easily throughout the world. Recently, social media has become an area for online business, creation and display of creativity, and a showroom for many enterprises. All varieties of social networks provide a chance for anyone to present their ideas, goods, and services to clients from all walks of life. The content created and posted on social networks provides insight to consumers on the desirable products and services. Due to the ease of access, social media is being used for entertainment, spreading news, politics and showcasing technological innovations (Taneja & Toombs, 2014). The social networks’ viral quality has made it an appealing application for businesses to reach out to potential clients.
Social Media networking and its features
Social networking is a current and fast-growing trend in which firms can reach out to their clients and partners easily online. Social networks in business utilize social media platforms to reach the potential consumers and carry out business transactions. It has become easy for companies to promote their brands, acquire clients, sell and receive payments through online sites. Through encouraging users to refer others to the goods and services, many companies have been able to grow their territories and build trust. Through outreach marketing, Firms can make a lot of profits and innovations (Svatosova, 2012). Besides, through the use of analytical tools for marketing, online businesses are becoming more effective and cost-efficient.
There are many social media sites with different features. The most common is Facebook which was launched in 2004 with over 900 million subscribers. Facebook enables for the creation of personal pages, business pages, and even organizational walls. The site enables businesses to showcase their products, share contacts and follow up on their clients (Svatosova, 2012). Other networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Google plus are somehow different from Facebook, but they still operate on the same principles.
Social networking through the various media can be a bit different. Facebook involves replacing the human “friend” with a tangible product or trade name through the creation of a group or personal page. Any user who likes that brand page gets to advertise the product to their group of friends. The same concept applies to other forms of social networks. On the other hand, Twitter users get updates and advertisements on the preferred products as a bonus. The two networks are the most common and heavily utilized, but there are still other business sites (Svatosova, 2012). Collaborative sites such as wikis are more popular for getting information.
Blogs are other very popular social networks. Businesses use blogs for marketing, sharing organizational information, and updating their clients on new products. Fans of a blog get constant information on any upcoming events of a firm (Svatosova, 2012). Through the blogs, the management can get feedback and questions from consumers about the quality of their goods and services thus promoting honesty.
According to Khodabandehloo (2014), due to the growing popularity of social networking, many businesses are opting to use social media platforms as a way of showcasing their products and services and attract potential customers. Some social networks like Facebook have redefined advertisement in the new era. Some firms direct their clients to their social media platforms rather than to company websites. The primary benefits of social networking in businesses are reducing costs and enhancing reach. The cost of marketing a product in the social media is cheaper than all other means. Besides, social networking enables for easy reach to clients that may be inaccessible due to time and location limitations of the current distribution channels. Businesses can provide a wide range of information to potential clients without personal contact. Additionally, the data can be provided in a suitable, and easy to understand format to the customers. Besides, through the customizing of information, marketing firms can create proper interactions with their clients. The following are some of the major advantages of utilizing social networks in businesses
1. Cost-related
According to Kuofie et al. (2015), the major merit of social networking is related to cost. The financial constraints to social networking are less as compared to others. Most social media sites have free access to create a profile and share information even for businesses. Firms can run successful marketing campaigns on a low to nil budgets. It is easy to reach the target markets and get referrals voluntarily depending on the quality of the products. Some sites that require Pay-per-click for advertisements are targeted to the specific group of consumers. Furthermore, it is possible to carry out surveys on the customer’s satisfaction at no cost. Social media sites are set in such a way that one posted advertisement reaches thousands of people at the same time for efficiency.
2. Social Interaction
The interaction was one of the main purposes for the innovation of social networking. People spend a lot of time online as compared to physical communication. Interactions through emails, IM chats and other forms of social networking are on the rise. Social networking sites have been made so attractive such that they are the most preferred internet destinations. The new media has changed the way people interact, communicate and even the group of people they deal with. Studies on consumer behaviors reveal that individuals depend more on online information about products thus spend more time online consulting online websites. Nowadays, the easiest way to find a product and the cost is through websites (Wankel, 2016). Consequently, the information from websites has a great impact on purchasing decisions even if acquired from virtual sources. Recent studies have shown that the benefits of social networking to businesses relates directly to the aspects of interactions.

3. Interactivity
As observed by Wankel (2016), the new media interactivity is more than just a passive recipient’s stimulation. Interactivity is the extent to which a group of users participates in changing the content and form of a certain environment in real time. The new technological advancements in social networking enable for greater access to data as well as enabling user control of a social network and the content. Depending on the context, online social networking involves interactions with messages, other users or machines focusing on the experiential side of networking. Although interactivity is easy in some aspects such as just clicking ads and filling out forms, in some aspects, it is complex involving user creation of content. Studies show that when the levels of interactivity are high, there are positive attitudes towards social networking leading to better source credibility.
The user interactivity enables clients to take part in personal social networking by timing, selection of content and the way they communicate. Some social networking applications enable for consumer control of interactions such that they can have a two-way communication (Wankel, 2016). In the social networking aspects, there is active control requiring the strict participation of all concerned parties.
4. Targeted market
Social networking enables marketers to reach out only to the target market through the evaluation of country of origin, personal preferences and the likes of their friends. Therefore, it is possible for the marketers to filter out casual audience unlike in face to face marketing. Furthermore, marketers get online referrals from their clients without having to put so many efforts. The Hotmail free e-mail is an example of a good marketing strategy that combines both social marketing and implicit advocacy. The service hyperlinks a free email subscription service to every outgoing email such that it mobilizes potential consumers at free will (Shafigullina & Palyakin, 2016). The social networking services enable the consumers to be involved actively in the promotion of new products.
5. Customer Service
Social networking gives an opportunity for firms to develop a consumer friendly interactive environment. Through social networks, companies put links to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and company representatives for ease of access. Some companies even set up a program that identifies every user who logs in into their websites and asks them what they are searching for. Besides, the placing of toll-free contacts adds an advantage when a customer wants to reach the company offices. All these features appeal to clients, enabling them to be loyal to one organization and their products (Talpau, 2014). Also, it is possible to get information from clients about the modes of delivery and ensure that it is done on time and through the preferred medium.
Despite the many attractive opportunities that social networking provides, it has its share of drawbacks. The websites are readily available to all kind of users due to the transparency involved. Therefore, the designers need a lot of time to create a spam proof website (Talpau, 2014). The following are some of the demerits of use of social networks in business.
1. Time intensive
Social networking requires an interactive session for the two way communications to be successful. There must be a person at the company side at all time to receive and respond to consumer’s queries and concerns. Besides, it needs a constant update of the products, and information that the clients deem as valuable (Taylor et al., 2012). If a business cannot keep such kind of online commitments then, it will be hard to maintain competitiveness. Therefore, there should be no question about time investment when it comes to using social networks in firms.
2. Trademark and Copyright Issues
According to Wankel (2016), the most difficult task in social networking for businesses are the intellectual property protection issues. When one posts a brand on social media like maybe a new fashion, there is no way of preventing another designer from producing the same. The real time communication in social networks aids in brand promotion but also gives a chance for the abuse of copyright issues. Therefore, it is paramount for the company to regularly monitor its brands on all social media sites to protect their products. There are some online tracking services to monitor trademarks and copyrights but are still time-consuming and costly.
As stated by Wankel (2016), business impersonation can have detrimental effects on the profit margins of a firm if not checked. Businesses have to be on a constant outlook on the similar usernames on social networks and monitor them for any suspicious activities. Besides, it becomes necessary for the provision of terms and conditions for the use of some business websites that may put off potential clients.
3. Trust, Privacy and Security Issues
There is no privacy when it comes to social networks platforms. Every post on social media can get to any user many companies are not aware of the privacy issues until it is too late. With the rise of cybercrime, there is no guarantee of any online company dealings. The transactions between partners and clients can be accessed by malicious bloggers. Besides online credit card, fraud cases put off a lot of consumers from online dealings (Talpau, 2014). Also, privacy issues when it comes to public relations for marketers have led to major fiascos leading to brand name reputation damage.
Some networks like Twitter and Facebook have privacy policies that protect consumer data and third party access to information. Companies have to ensure they adhere to the policies at all times to prevent a breach of personal data. There is a need for a strict blog administration that ensures the security of the company dealings (Talpau, 2014). However, there are still some computer gurus who can still hack into the systems and get inside data about the company.
Trust is a very critical factor in online business dealings. A consumer cannot touch, smell or feel a product. It depends entirely on what the company describes for sales to occur. A marketer should ensure the brand of a company is qualified to build trust with clients (Talpau, 2014). Making sure the clients get what they asked for and on time adds to trust and even gives room to get referrals. However, with the many cases of deception and online fraud, some consumers prefer to keep off online businesses.
4. User-Generated Content (UGC)
There has been a recent rise in the time, shared personal information, opinions, and thoughts by users online. At times, some businesses find it necessary to incorporate the user-generated data to gain a client base. For instance, some internet users comment on sites regarding videos, ratings, blogs, reviews, and photos. Businesses use the comments as a marketing tool to reach their potential customers which might not be genuine. Use of the generated content creates a lot of credibility problems especially when the information was meant for friends. Soliciting and utilization of user content carry some legal risks for business (Taylor et al., 2012). Therefore, any business using such content should be ready for any legal litigation that might arise from sensitive individuals.

5. Negative Feedbacks
Social networks make consumers to be potential advertisers. A consumer can have either a positive or negative feedback about the products and services. The negative feedback depends on how the firm presented its products, the online interactions, and costs. The reviews of consumers have had a great impact on e-Commerce recently. Many new consumers first look at the online reviews of other users before deciding to utilize some goods and services (Indrupati & Henari, 2012). Dissatisfied consumers and rival companies can post damaging comments freely. Although some of the negative posts are not genuine, there is no way of telling their validity. Besides to remove and neutralize such posts takes time and the reputation damage cannot be reversed.
According to Wankel (2016), social networking provides a series of opportunities as well as drawbacks for the online business practitioners. Although the audience becomes proactive and fragmented, a business can deliver appropriate marketing messages to a diverse number of clients. Social media platforms also offer an opportunity for firms to collect record and evaluate client’s data and feedback to improve their target audiences and services. The desirable features of online marketing are enabling for the implementation of an improved marketing strategy that is efficient and cost effective. However, the various challenges still pose a major problem in the application of social media in promotion of businesses.
There is a need for the development of integrated programs that can counter the drawbacks for social networking in businesses. The message posted online should be first evaluated for specific customer targets and be in line with the strategic plan of the company. It is also important to adopt a good online strategic plan for the firm. Finally, customizing the message for the correct online channels and customer base is crucial. There are still major gaps in online strategic management that need the development of the appropriate mix of communication tactics for successful social networking.
The establishment of social networking is possible in any area with an internet connection. Advertisers, online marketers and other business entities should consider the use of social media to broaden their client and market base. Currently, consumers have a unique role in the social media platforms. Consumers are becoming more of content generators instead of just being functional consumers. The various social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and podcasts enable the creation and sharing of vital business information and ideas. Therefore, it is important for firms to integrate social networking into their business strategies. This study has tried to discuss the main merits and demerits of the internet innovations in the promotion and growth of trade. Social media is most important to the marketer who tries to disseminate their message to as many people as possible. However, the medium has its challenges and benefits based on specific enterprises that many managers are still struggling to find the suitable mode to use it. Most business owners do not understand fully the risks involved in social networking. Besides, the qualifications of some experts in social media are still questionable as the field is still new. Thus, it is a field that businesses have to tread carefully to protect their values, clients, and reputation.

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