Mankind has always been ridiculed for inventing the machine first and becoming its slave later. The list is long… electricity, automobiles, locomotion, flying, telephone, television, computers, mobile phones, Wi-Fi … not to forget refrigeration and air-conditioning! But the Internet transcends them all in the way it has grabbed the total attention of the homo sapiens – social networking tops the list of favored online activities, be it from a PC, notebook, tablet or smartphone! Microsoft’s purchase of the Enterprise Social Networking platform Yammer, at $1.2 billion is an affirmation of the potential of social networking in today’s world.
Businesses are not lagging behind in taking advantage of this medium to reach out to their customers, using innovative marketing methods. Millions of companies are offering a 10% discount to anyone who takes the trouble to say ‘I like’ on their Facebook page! This is effective marketing as one can attract people who are already interested in becoming their customers by giving them the best incentive possible to come over and buy that product. Companies who already have a social marketing strategy as well as those that have none so far are all looking at the possibilities and seeing how they can carve out their share of this virtual pie.
Blaming social networking for its negative impact on workplace productivity is out of vogue. Companies are forging ahead, using effective workplace policies to curb unwanted use of social networking and inappropriate contact between the personal and the professional while retaining the ability to use social networking for business purposes.
The importance of communication within the team at a workplace can never be disputed, and social networking is outstripping the use of email by offering a window of opportunity for instantly and briefly communicating, and immediately resolving issues.
Employees with professional and technical skills are allowed to use social media even for personal use by some companies. While work places have varied mindsets on the matter, depending on whether they are Gen Y, Gen X or baby boomers – the opportunities for networking offered by social media ranges across different options:
Social media “hold-outs” may be jeopordizing the futures of their companies by not taking advantage of this essential approach to business. Their competitors will have faster access to critical business and market information. They are unable to tap into the increasing pool of technical and professional talent who exclusively use social media as a vehicle for identifying potential employers. They deprive their clients of a convenient and fast way of communicating with them for purchases, customer service, and information regarding new products and services. And, their company’s institutional knowledge will continue to be bound by geographic constraints. Keeping employees and customers happy is also an essential requirement for any organization; and in today’s world, social networking is a way of life and is considered as important to life as breathing; with many who have never lived in a world without Internet and others who cannot imagine such an existence anymore!
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