In the last few years, the use of social media has risen greatly. People all over the world have realized the potential of social media as a communication tool and as an aid for interaction. As such, the number of users continues to increase constantly. As this happens, organizations are increasingly realizing the potential of the social networks. In fact, it is of importance to mention that the use of social media has revolutionized the manner people are connected to each other, interact, and share information at the workplace (Ellison, Gibbs & Weber 2015). Tapping into these networks promises to give organizations increased interactivity and transparency. In the beginning, most companies were against the use of social media in the work place; but it is clear to say that when used effectively, organization stands better chances of realizing benefits, whereas misused online networks make an organization lag others significantly.
Discussions: How Businesses Use Social Media for Knowledge Sharing in Workplace
Knowledge flow (KF) I-O-E
Knowledge flow makes it easier to learn of what organization is missing to adjust it accordingly with the best knowledge sharing tools (BSR Stars 2013). Knowledge sharing which begins from the individuals, to the organization, and finally to the external relationships is made by certain factors at either individual level or organizational level. A knowledge flow that begins with an individual must be based on trust. More often than not, individuals are never free enough to share their knowledge with the organization when the latter has no trust in them. This is built on the fact that the organization will not render their knowledge meaningless especially when the accuracy and credibility of information given by the individuals is ascertained. Since these platforms are not limited to one organization, it is possible to share knowledge from outside or send knowledge to others outside an organization (Awolusi 2012).
Most people are unlikely to share their knowledge and experience without a feeling of trust. In order to avoid uncertainty or negative occurrences that would hinder the knowledge flow from the individual to the organization, the latter must establish a strong culture that enables the individuals to share information. It is built on organizational beliefs and values as it serves to describe the kind of relationship existing between individuals and the organizations as well as clarifying the context of social interaction. In doing so, the individuals must feel motivated in order to create, share, and use the knowledge more effectively with the organization. While transferring the knowledge from organization to the external environment, the latter expects that the information reaching them is from a reliable source, and can access them when need arises. Still, the external parties must have trust in the organization in order to establish a strong external relationship. As such, the individuals who initiated the information sharing can receive the feedback through the reverse loop (Stafford & Mearns 2009).
Likely effects of introducing social media
Enabling bureaucracy is different from coercive bureaucracy in that enabling bureaucracy is grounded on flexibility and dynamism in order to increase the effectiveness of people. On the other hand, coercive bureaucracy revolves around mandatory compliance, punishment in case of violation, and enforcement of binding by certain standards. When socio media is introduced, the following effects are likely to occur: firstly, no one will dare to social media in a coercive bureaucratic environment in which the rational-economic of both the knowledge and information initiator (individual) and the organization is low. This is because, the individuals lack the sense of motivation and the capability of building a knowledge-sharing platform, and such, they would love to preserve the existing structures for knowledge sharing. The same is true in an enabling bureaucracy environment even when the self-actualizing of the organization is high, and therefore, it means that individuals play a key ingenerating the knowledge sharing process.
Secondly, in a coercive bureaucratic environment whereby the rational-economic is low and the self-actualizing is high, the individuals will be motivated and feel capable of connecting with the organization through the social media even when they are forced to observe strict rules, standards, and other mandatory compliances, but for their own self benefit. As such, the organization should not permit the usage of social media. On the other hand, when both of the individuals and the organization possess high self-actualizing in an enabling bureaucratic organization, the organization should allow for the usage of social media like wiki so that they can increase the capability of sharing information more effectively, hence building strong social network.
Analysis of Knowledge Flow and the Social Media (Corporate Example 1)
Individuals or the field representatives acquire the field knowledge and perform an effective transformation by sending the relevant information to the organization. The enabling bureaucracy allows both the global transparency and flexibility, and therefore, with the element of trust existing between the organization and the field representatives, effective technology application can be allow for knowledge sharing amongst the parties. A social, self-activating, enabling bureaucracy is achieved because the field representatives and the organizational officials can use effective social media to collaborate more effectively, and hence share the information in a timely manner (Panahi, Watson & Partridge 2012). A collaborative sharing of knowledge is provided due to the leveraging of social media (Majchrzak, Faraj, Kane, & Azad 2013). It may help applicants to concentrate on the special issues the company deals with while being interviewed. Thought, public opinion is not always credible source of getting more information, since competitors can play booty, posting low estimates.
The field representatives apply tacit knowledge to link them well with the customers on behalf of the organization. This is because, it is the representatives who have the direct experience with the customers, and as such, managers value it as part of the organizational knowledge dynamics (Winkelen & McKenzie 2012). The free-form communication offered by social media seems to have created the avenue to sharing the tacit knowledge seamlessly. This entails sharing of the knowledge among both professionals and trainees (Dabbagh & Kitsantas 2011). However, the trend of focusing on virtual teams and other work arrangements ensures that sharing of knowledge is made easier in most of the organizations (Zande 2013), and it contributes to achieving competitive advantage when the barriers are limited.
Analysis of Knowledge Flow and the Social Media (Corporate Example 2)
Knowledge sharing is a key component that is under review by many external organizations that are the third part of knowledge flows. This is because not only personal views and employee concerns are shared, but also other types of knowledge, such as Tacit Knowledge (Panahi, Watson & Partridge 2012). This is the knowledge that defines the productivity of an employee in an organization (Harden 2012). When organization apply coercive bureaucracy in knowledge sharing using social media, then it may not be as effective as intended. For instance, customers can use the social media networks to communication with the organization concerning their experience with the organization’s products or services, and so having strict rules guiding its use is likely to discourage the customers. The growth in the popularity of social media has received an extra boost with the increase in the use of mobile phones to access the internet (Ployhar 2012), and customers would want to use social media to share information with the organization. For instance, with Facebook users amounting to approximately 845 million globally as of 2012 (Aguenza & Mat Som 2012), having a Facebook account that link the organization with the customers can be effective.
Secondly, in a workplace, employees are meant to socialize, and sometimes could use the social media to interact freely over the virtual environment. statistics has it that employees using social media at workplace are better workers. Social media tools improve their interpersonal and interaction capabilities (Aguenza & Mat Som 2012). However, due to the apparent explosion of the use of social media, organizations are torn in between whether to embrace their use or avoid it completely. This decision definitely depends on how each employer views both its potential and challenges as well. To start with, it is the fact in today’s work place that employees depend on each other to get things done. Obviously, no single employee can work in a vacuum and succeed (Cong & Leung 2015). The extent to which employees can interact in the past was mostly dependent on proximity.
For some organizations, the use of social media has become the quickest way of collecting information for marketing (Treem & Leonardi 2012). Social media has proven that it can become the selling avenue for determined organizations. For instance, the ability to reach out to new customers, building customer loyalty, and the increased efficiency in time and cost are seen as better ways of sharing critical information meant for the customers. In fact, some organizations have full time employees working on their social networking sites (Harden 2012), who work tirelessly for maintaining the relationship with the customers. Therefore, avoidance of coercive bureaucracy in social media use offers an opportunity for a company’s employees to share ideas, ask questions, and get access to news, something that was otherwise impossible in the past (Bakhuisen 2012). Now a lower level employee can speak out his mind in a forum, where a senior manager will see this information. This also means that it offers diversity and inclusion in communication.
The Challenges of Using the Social Media
Social media platforms can pose various challenges when allowed in the work place. These are challenges that companies will have to overcome if they are to make social media a useful tool in the years to come. The first challenge is that this is a key avenue that competitors of an organization can use to launch virus attacks or spams. Since there is almost no control over who can post information on companies’ social media sites, malicious individuals have a way of literally crashing these sites with spams. Hackers can also access company information through the sites and even commit fraud.
There is also the risk that an organization can suffer from a smear campaign by disgruntled employees who use these open platforms to spread negative comments. Since it is even possible to open fake accounts in some of these sites, sensitive company information can be posted with no way of tracing the source. For organizations that allow the use of social media, there is the risk that they can be sued for viewing illicit and offensive materials on the sites. This can happen especially because there is no limit or control over what other users can post on these platforms, and this best explains why organizations would want to coercive bureaucracy in social media use.
The Link between Social Media and Tangible/Intangible Performances
In this day and age, it is no longer a question of whether a company will have a social media account because it has become a necessity. Social media has transformed the way we receive, analyses and critic information. “One cannot afford to have no presence on the social channels if the competitor is making waves with its products and services. The explosion of social media phenomenon is as mind boggling as that and the pace at which it is growing is maddening. Global companies have recognized social media marketing as a potential marketing platform, utilized them with innovations to power their advertising campaign with social media marketing.” (Neti, 2011). Not only is social media creating new avenues and methods of marketing, it is also driving headlines in mainstream media and is more and more becoming a public avenue for people to give their opinions on certain issues on varying subjects. There is no argument then that social media is a powerful tool that companies must utilize. However, the question still remains whether social media has any impact on both the tangible and intangible performance measures of a company.
To understand whether it is true in fact that social media does have an impact on both tangible and intangible performance measures, it is important to review studies done previously pertaining to the study of the impact of social media on companies.
Most of the studies done on the effect of social media on businesses agree that there is an intangible benefit for companies who utilize social media. A journal written by Edsomwan, Prakasan, Kouame, Watson & Seymour (2012) of Minot State University concluded that the intangible benefits of using social media include strengthening the brand experience among customers online which in turn support brand building.
The same idea of intangible benefits is supported by Kelly (2012) who argues that there are plenty of intangible benefits that come from engaging your customers in social media including strong relationships, brand respectability and brand awareness which in turn leads to growth in the company’s bottom line. Although intangible benefits are an incentive to keep a good company profile on any of the social media networks, most companies are more interested in the tangible benefits i.e sales. Sales are what sustain the everyday running of a company so it is important. Studies have shown that social media can also increase a company’s bottom line by driving sales. A journal written on the review of social media and implications for the sales process argues that social media plays a key role in the sales which includes steps such as understanding the customer, approach, needs discovery, presentation, close and follow-up.
Using the arguments proposed above, it is clear that although there isn’t a direct link between social media and sales, there is a link between customer interaction and sales. These studies prove that by using social media to interact with customers online, while strengthening the brand and its reputation and promotion via message boards, it will eventually lead customers down the sales funnel all through using a well-crafted social media presence.
Case Study: How Coca Cola Uses Social Media
The Coca-Cola Company has certain restrictions in regards to target marketing. It mainly targets people who are above the age of 12 through segmentation (Rothaermel, 2015). The strategy helps the firm to define the suitable products for a customer group; it does not target a segment but adjusts its marketing strategy by developing novel products. Additionally, it applies a mix of niche and undifferentiated targeting strategies to drive sales and remain competitive in the market (Rothaermel, 2015). It utilizes the competitive positioning strategy to stay ahead of its rivals in the non-alcoholic beverages market.
Overview of Coca- Cola on Social Media
The Coca-Cola Company has 63 million fans on its official Facebook page. Due its wide and unfading popularity, the company is not very active on Facebook as compared to other brands like Red Bull which make numerous updates daily to keep consumers interested (Young, 2014). Many at times, Coca-Cola goes a full week without pushing out any posts.
Since Coca-Cola does not have its own retail outlets, its strategy on Facebook is all about preserving its brand image and enhancing awareness of its advertisement campaigns (young, 2014). For instance, most of the updates in 2013 were aimed at promoting its polar bear advertisements and the firm’s charity work in the Artic. Additionally, the company has utilized its Facebook page to announce its Olympic and Euro advertisement campaigns. The social media team also pose queries and regularly run polls. Nonetheless the images facilitate a better response from fans in regards to likes and comments. In comparison to other brands’ level of engagement, Coca-Cola’s page is very low. Generally, it attracts a couple of hundreds of comments and a few thousand likes on each post. Companies such as Starbucks and Nike attract thousands of comments and likes.
As is typical with most multinational brands, Coca Cola has discrete Twitter pages for each of the local territories in which it operates (Kohli, Suri, & Kapoor, 2015). The company also has special pages for various sub-brands and products like Coke, Dasani, Coke Zero, the founder Doc Pemberton, and its racing teams. Its primary Twitter page has over 700,000 followers and has tweeted over 100,000 times, making it one of the most active brands on the side. The social media team hardly ever post marketing messages that are straight forward and rather mainly use Twitter to reply to @mentions. It responds to many mentions daily, such as compliments, complaints, follow requests, and general conversation. The team even makes the use of a Spanish speaker.
In conclusion, the knowledge sharing networks continue to grow, and they can no longer be ignored. The answer now lies in making them work for the good of an organization. Nevertheless, using social media tools is not as easy as one may suppose, but implies its unique challenges. The organizations that value social, self-actualizing, enabling bureaucracy are bound to benefit greatly from the social media use, and information exchange can always allow for organizational improvements. The mapping and assessing valuable structures for evaluating knowledge flows and hence, its sharing of knowledge within the workplace can be of magnitude importance. The employees using the social media must also draw a distinction on the benefits they gain individually and what the organization gains when they opt to use the social media for knowledge sharing. The driving forces to knowledge management and sharing which majorly include trust and strong supportive organizational culture can enhance the fulfilment of key organizational processes and business models leading to maximum productivity.
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