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Social Media Communication – Risk and Benefit Essay

You’re dammed if you do, and you’re dammed if you don’t. Communication in the 21st Century has given corporations a global audience, using the ever growing, and easily accessible interaction of social media. Like many other corporate leaders, Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn accepted his trusted Chief Marketing Officer’s suggestion to use “Twitter” as a form of communication, which could be used to broadcast information to both his employees and customers.

Like any form of communication there are basic and fundamental requirements that should be adhered to regarding the publication of a message, whether written as a letter, e-mail, or “tweet”. Once a stamp is placed on an envelope and dropped in a mail box, or the “send” button is pressed for an e-mail or tweet – the message then travels on to its intended audience for their review and interpretation. In the case of Best Buy’s use of Twitter, the company was pleased with their ability to reach close to 180,000 thousand employees, and customers alike.

The idea of a major corporation reaching so many employees and customers collectively and quickly with the click of a button brings together a community of interest. Communicating via a hand written letter and placing it in the mailbox, allows for the writer to pay special attention to the message. The writer has the ability to draft a message, and carefully edit the letter before sending off the message. The writer has control of the communication before it reaches the intended audience.

However, this type of communication in today’s business environment is not practical with regards to the time it takes to reach all stakeholders. There are additional problems with using this style of communication for instance, the mail may never reach the target, perhaps getting lost in the mail, or stolen. With electronic e-mail the writer has the same level of control regarding the ability to carefully construct the message as well as use of the editing process.

While the use of electronic e-mail and social media are expeditious and broad in delivery, there are also risks associated. With e-mail there are distribution lists to maintain, and the threat of spamming problems among others. The important and most common problem of emails is the use of proper etiquette. “One embarrassing email is usually all it takes for you to triple check your outgoing messages for years” (Stibel, 2011). By now everyone has heard of the growth of electronic “hacking”.

This is where an individual or group of people, are deliberately disrupting, or intruding on the privacy of a personal electronic web-based system for personal gain (theft), or for pure malicious activity. For the purpose of this essay, the discussion is based on electronic communication systems. Best Buy leader, CEO Brian Dunn’s twitter account was hacked, and his twitter account produced an offensive message that was communicated to all his followers.

This required an immediate response and damage control activities by the Best Buy executive team. “With each new technology, there are always a great many mistakes made, at least until we get the hang of it” (Stibel, 2011).

Careful measures should be taken in protecting and monitoring for cyber threats to a company’s electronic communications system. It’s not to say that Best Buy does not have protections in place for these systems, but also considerations should made regarding the ever increasing threat of harmful malicious electronic predators. This raises the question as to whether or not the benefit outweighs the risks associated with continuous electronic tweeting.

Aside from corporations using twitter as a form of communication, there are other forms of social media that can provide the same speed and range for communications. It may be hard for some to understand how business was conducted without social media, and that perception is growing. Social Media allows for unprecedented access for individuals to express themselves as they desire.

This ability to express himself via twitter caused the downfall of former representative Anthony Weiner of Queens, New York. “Weiner initially claimed he’d been hacked; then issued a bizarre nondenial denial about whose genitals were in the infamous picture he accidentally sent to his 50,000 Twitter followers; then held an even more bizarre press conference that was hijacked by the late conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

And only then, thoroughly humiliated and disgraced, did he resign” (Green, 2013). Any information that someone posts to a social media source can be viewed literally by anyone. Leaders and managers should provide advice to employees regarding the use of social media, to protect the integrity of the company. While there are debates as to whether policy or rules should be used to govern social media’s use by employees, common sense advisement should help employees understand the risks taken when using social media, while being a visible representative of an organization.

“It’s in all of our interests to ensure that a good chunk of online conversation remains outside the editorial purview of managers who are policing content for its brand and message alignment” (Samuel, 2012). Social media allows corporations to instantly advertise their business to a global market place. As in every form of communication careful attention to the message that is being communicated and to what audience is extremely important.

Particularly with social media, the audience can be larger than anticipated, so the risk can be greater. Like in the case of Best Buy, where the CEO’s twitter account was hacked, instantly the offensive message became a serious crisis for the company’s reputation. References

Green, J. (2013, April). racy twitter pics aren’t anthony weiner’s only problem. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-04-11/racy-pics-arent-anthony-weiners-only-problem Robbins, S. P., Decenzo, D. A., & Coulter, M. (2013). Fundamentals of Management Essential Concepts and Applications (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Samuel, A. (2012, October). the high price of social media risk management.

Retrieved from http://www.blogs.hbr.org/samuel/2012/10/the-high-price-of-social-media.html Stibel, J. (2011, August). the simple way to avoid social media failures. Retrieved from http://www.blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/08/the_simple_way_to_avoid_social.html


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