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A social network is a structure comprised of persons or organizations interrelating freely. These can be represented by use of nodes. In such case, the nodes are linked by one or many specified types of mutuality, for instance, financial exchange, common interest and friendship, as well as knowledge or prestige. Initially, it was intended to create friendship and foster connections with others. However, today, businessmen have recognized how valuable social networking is to their businesses. Needless to say, most online businesses have made social networking integral part of their businesses. However, social networks are not without negative implications on business organizations. The negative implications include; destabilizing business management, security threats, privacy threats, transfer of confidential company information, destruction of business reputation through posts, lowers workforce productivity, as well as business vulnerability to hacking.
Positive implications of Social Networking
Social networking sites are currently pivotal to online businesses in various ways. First, it is worth noting that social networking sites, especially the premier websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), have made it easy for businesses to improve contact lists and spread ideas through viral marketing, as well as facilitating the process of preserving current relationships and reactivating those that have gone dormant (Wilson, 2009). Moreover, social networking sites have also changed the processes of purchasing and transacting online (Rainne, Purchell, Mitchell, & Rosenstiel, 2011). In all these processes, websites collect a lot of information about online users, therefore, becoming largely useful to track and model consumer behaviours. Businesses are largely relying on businesses companies like Twitter, Facebook, as well as My Space, to market more products and services. Evidently, the social networking increases the business sales (Carr, 2009). Popular social networking sites, such as twitter, face book, as well as my space, are the appropriate for transferring product information across the borders.
Advertisement is the most common method of business promotion done on-line. It is substantially effective, attracting customers for the product being advertised. However, social media websites are also known to contribute negatively to processes of advertisements. Cases of certain companies using social networking sites to destroy the reputation of other rivalling companies are not uncommon. Even so, there are certain ways in which businesses can avoid such incidences; businesses can aim at tackling this by giving attention to online communities, their interests and preferences. This way, the businesses and associated products could quickly earn popularity. In this regard, networking boosts business by advertising products (Breslin, 2009).
Social networking also serves as a way of spreading readiness. In the olden days, it was widely known that information propagation by word of mouth was the effective way of carrying out brand awareness. However, this has been drastically replaced by the social networking sites (Wilson, 2009). Social networking can achieve this once the brand is recognised by a significant number of people online. These would then initiate discussions and sharing information on the advertised commodity to other people on social networking sites. It is often common for individuals who are satisfied with the commodity to post their comments through this social networking. The comments in the social network would then be accessed by other groups of people, contributing to brand awareness process. Nevertheless, the comments posted on the social networking sites encourage customers to buy the products. Large companies and firms create blogs in line with the social networks. This offers customer the space to debate about products and air views. This way, social networks have been able to spread brand awareness of products to millions of online customers (Wilson, 2009). Furthermore, Gurzick, & Lutters, (2006) points out that in a research conducted by Pew internet approximately 16 percent of American adults read blogs. However, the number is predicted to be high because 38 percent of the population understand the meaning of blog. It also points out that blogs are less expensive and as such business can utilize them in creating product awareness.
Fourthly, social networking sites offer ways in which businesses engage customers. Social media websites are suitable for products discussions and showcasing of expertise, as well as demonstrations. Businesses can involve the interest of customers from the worldwide market and then come up with a powerful brand image. People become potential customers of the advertised product following the information posted at media website. Focusing on online business, social networks have played a crucial role of attracting customers. Moreover, this has been boosted by effective and well improved networking strategies.
Currently, organizations and firms are already utilizing new and creative methods of utilizing the massive popularity of various media in the promotion, sell and acquisition of various products. As if not enough, the benefits have come as long term effects on business revenues and enhanced brand management. According to Wilson (2009), social media websites are appropriate media channels for business marketers to attract potential buyers. In order to receive benefits from social networking, it is vital that business owners learn to handle their social assets with great concern.
Lastly, social networking sites are a boost to business management. Considering that relations with employees can be difficult for management, social networking websites present opportunities for management to have rapid contact with their subordinates. In the cases of issues that require urgent attention, business leaders can effectively communicate by sending information through social networking websites to the employees. The eventuality is that the employees receive such necessary information and take the required course of action. It is worth noting that corporate social networking websites reduce the amount of time needed for the completion of the assignment. This is especially because social networking sites cut down on the amount of time and time that employees typically spend in collocated environments, act as a resource that facilitate learning, act as a motivating tool for workers through knowledge exchange, and through access of expertise (Gurzick, & White, 2012). Information is easily accessible through the facilitation of the internet. According to Wilson (2009), it is indispensable that social networking websites are among the quickest methods sharing information. Firms are actively leveraging the strength of social networks to get new business opportunities. Social networking has also made easy for businesses to seek help and advice from online experts. As if not enough, social networks do not only play roles of advertising and assisting firms reach the potential customers, but also potential employees. In the same line of thought, Gurzick, & White, (2012) posits that social networks shape the practice of knowledge employees through personal networks which facilitate information exchange, informal learning, as well as social support. As such, organizations have shifted their focus to ascertain that benefits that accrue from personal networks.
The Limitations of Social Networking Sites on Businesses
According to Farber (2006), there are concerns that social networking destabilizes business management in various ways. In one way, this is evidenced by the fact that staff members, while at work, tent to leak database information on course of online chatting. These incidences damage the company’s security. In addition, scams practiced by cyber crooks and the open accessibility to company information resulting form out-dated passwords are also the potential concerns for organizations. In other cases, it is not uncommon for people to post information that destroys the reputation of organizations. More often than not, employers should be held accountable for the misconduct of their employees as a result of postings. Most such postings are meant to attack the manager, the company, as well as co-workers (Wilson, 2009). Thirdly, there is a belief that the application of social networking websites could be detrimental to the productivity of employees. This is fuelled by the fact that employees are given access to company’s equipment such as computers. In regard to this, they spent a lot of time on these websites using computers and internet, ignoring the core issues and business assignments. Arguably, employers have found out that staff is wasting time on websites during the work hours; thus, reducing the level of the outputs.
As if not enough, this also raises security risks to the company. It is possible that employees could share with the public on sensitive information of the organization. The fourth problem associated with computer networking is that individuals using computers can process too much information, using emails and company’s computer programs; thus, congesting the internet network. This affects other employee using the same internet network. Lastly, social networking has been accompanied by various liabilities. Liability lowers the output of the company, as well as costs the company substantial amount of money. Substantial amount of money is spent on defending lawsuits. Besides, revenue is lost due to damages to the company reputation (Wilson, 2009).
The implication of social networking on employees
Employees are rapidly adopting the use of social and networking sites to build their own brand. For instance, LinkedIn enables users to create a personal profile through webpage creation tool. It enables users access contacts, discover inside connections when finding new jobs or new business opportunities, as well as access advice from the others within the organization. The negative impacts of social networks on employees include spying on the social networking sites to monitor the activities of other employees. Some business firms require employee is in a constant contact with co-workers and superior through social networking sites. The eventuality is that employees may feel there is no life between work life and personal life because of the constant work contact.
For most organizations, smartphones are provided to employees so that they may remotely access information about the company through the company network sites. This creates exhaustion to employees who cannot have clean lines drawn between personal and work issues. The employer and managers can be able to monitor the subordinates’ behaviours while outside the company. This may be considered as privacy invasion. Intriguing is the fact that social networking sites do not participate in the establishment of norms to solve the differences between personal and business friendship (McCarrick, & Gurzick, 2011).
Behaviours that do not emerge problematic between friends outside the working environment are liable to differing interpretations by employers and colleagues. The extreme cases may be accompanied by cases such as sexual violence, which have far-reaching consequences on the organization employees. If employers and managers discover the engagement of employees in objectionable behaviours, there are appropriate ways of instilling discipline (Wilson, 2009).
There are liabilities for the employers relating with employees communication online, so that in certain circumstances, to protect the image of the company and the reputations of the involved victims, the firing is essential. In the working environment, its employees are required to maintain professionalism. In the events that the line between private and work life becomes undistinguishable, employers may feel free to monitor the online activities of the employees (Steven, 1990).
Work place conflicts have often emerged whenever employers limit or ban social websites, citing them as a distraction to the company’s productivity. Additionally, when employees befriend employers on the social sites, they have to be keen about the contents they post on the personal pages. Although this point may seem to infringe into matters of privacy, in this case, the employees give permission to employers to access and view their page through befriending.
According to Rescond (2009), new employees may not have developed senses of professional self. Such employees may be less cautious about images projected on the images they project on the social networks, even when the images are visible by the co-workers or the bosses. Despite the fact that the lack of caution is attributable to limited experience, all employees are required to be responsible about maintaining the reputation of the business organization. In this case, the employers reserve the right to terminate the services of the employee because of the information they post in the social networking websites (Kyne, 2000).
Legal issues: the case of the United States of America.
There are various social implications that surround social networking. In the United States, the main issue of concern pertains to matters of privacy of the content of employees on workplace computers. The main pieces of legislations that deal with work place privacy issues are stipulated under the Electronic Communication Privacy Acts. The piece of legislations introduces three exceptions that relieve liabilities for companies that deal in spying software to record, as well as prosecute on line activities that happen during working sessions. The three pieces of legislation include Provider Exception, Ordinary course business and consent exception (Kyne, 2000).
Provider exception is one of the exceptions stipulated in the piece of legislation. The provider-legislation stipulates that if employers own and provide email, telephone and internet services to their employees under monitoring, the employees are released of liability.
Ordinary course business stipulates that employers may monitor employee ways of communication so as to ensure that they are in line with what the organization demands. In this case, the employers may monitor the communication of the employees so as to ensure that legitimate business goals assure quality control, prevent sexual harassment and unauthorized use of equipment such as excessive use of email and telephone usage.
Consent exception stipulates that in the cases that communications from personal computers are filtered or intercepted through the mail system of a company, the employees can be discontinued from the job following the remarks made in the information. These legislation stipulations stipulate clearly that a company is entitled to a right of spying on its employees. It also clearly stipulates that companies can fire their employees if the content in the information being send is found to be unlawful. Employees could be also fired if found unproductive when in utilizing the resources of the company. Companies, under the stipulations of electronic communication privacy acts, entitle the company to search the computers of the employees. Companies that carry this out do not require coming up with policies that inform their employees about the privacy acts. Such companies should provide information to the employees about the related policies underlying social networking sites (Wilson, 2009).
The reactions of the management towards social networking in the work places entail blocking access to social networking sites. However, such moves are not without problems for the management. As the organization blocks the social networking sites, they create additional work for employees in the information technology units. This is fuelled by the fact that new social networking sites that are often being created continuously (Cornell, 2009).
Blocking of one social networking site prompts the employees to look for alternative ways of getting around the controls. There are various ways in which blocked websites could be accessed. In the event of blocking the social networking sites, they end up interfering with the proxy web sites. In this regard, the only effective response to the organizational challenges would include the establishment of thorough and clear policies pertaining to the use of various online sites, as well as associated activities. It is indispensable that an appropriate policy should be subject to information such as approved communications, subject matters, and separate official and unofficial accounts for the work, among other factors (Cornell, 2009).