Social Networking and Social Media: What does it mean for business?

social networking; collaboration, communication, fun, friendship and business or addiction, scams, harrasment, waste of time, and identity theft

– Facebook – YouTube – Twitter – Linked In – Google+ – Flikr – Digg –

Social networking and social media poses both threats to business and opportunities for improvement. Just how much social networking and social media affects your company and whether it has an overall positive or negative impact appears to be entirely in our hands, and how we deal with the possible opportunities and impacts presented?

Negative Impacts

Development of social media and social networking has put more games, gossip and friends at the click of an employee’s mouse button, further increasing company fears of employees wasting time, procrastinating during paid hours. Either turning a blind-eye to the skiving, and letting other employees pick up the slack, or overly restricting the use of social media and social networking can lead to resentment from employees and lowered morale. Judging just what is the appropriate actions to take can sometimes be difficult.

Procrastination is not the only issue to deal with, social media and social networking opens a lot of new challenges for management. Employees may need reminding that if they are watching social media to break up their work day, they still require breaks away from their computers for health and safety reasons. Some employees may also find it difficult understanding what behaviour is acceptable on social media and social networking, and need prompting to avoid acts of discrimination and bullying. Finally, as many viruses and malware are spread through social media and social networking, greater security may also need to be considered to protect against them and their harmful effects.

Positive Opportunities

Social networking tools provide free and quick communication avenues for exchanging messages with employees worldwide, providing a backdrop for simpler, more flexible collaboration and co-operation. Email, tweeting, instant messaging and blogging or podcasts and many other options are now available for ensuring you can keep your employees and customers up to date and in the loop wherever they are. Similarly social networking can be used to keep your company up to date with industry information, conferences and the latest innovations through linking with other professionals in your field.

With 80% of UK houses receiving internet and 2/3 of all adults in the UK using Facebook – just one of the many social networking platforms (OFCOM) social media and social networking is increasingly being used as businesses’ ‘marketing face’, to directly communicate with a large portion of potential employees and customers. This method largely cuts out the middle men (advertising and recruitment agencies) reducing time and money spent on marketing strategies.

Encouraging social networking connections to your company enables current, past, and future employees and customers to share experiences and feel a more personal (and therefore stronger) link with the company brand, this setup also serves as a strong communication line from the company to share useful branding messages with the public such as notification of company awards, special recognition received or any other positive messages.

Read in more depth about this on our social networking and social media factsheet

Have your say on what you think social media and social networking means to business… Do you think it is something that needs protecting against, something to embrace, or a bit of both?

Tweets, Networking & Business Plans– Starting a business – A year on!

first steps starting a business blog photo

A year after starting my own business – what have I learnt, where have I progressed, and what help can that be to others?

So the first year is under my belt and I haven’t become one of the statistics that show that over 2/3rds of businesses fail within the first year. It hasn’t been easy, and a steep learning curve has been scaled. There is still plenty to do to develop myself and the company, but perhaps some of it may help others just starting out on their journey. After all, I have learnt every bit of help is welcome.

Certainly a business plan helped. I was definitely one of those that thought this was a pointless exercise to take up my time, but it made me think about what I was ACTUALLY hoping to do and achieve. Not just a general thought in my mind “Mmm, consultancy, some promotional stuff, website”. Instead I had to focus on the how, when and where. Looking back on it through the year has helped re-focus. The plan changed due to what I learnt along the way, but it proved a worthwhile exercise, and one that is often cited as a reason companies fail.

Social Media was a major education. Facebook was something others did, and Twitter was a thing spoken about by celebrities. I had a LinkedIn page before – but I hadn’t been told what it was really for and the potential it could provide. I now use LinkedIn to connect with people I meet in other areas and as a source of information and potential clients through engaging on the Groups. I Tweet about my services, interesting blogs or info, and a bit of social interaction. I have Facebook, Google + etc. Social media has provided an important link in my in-bound Marketing but I still have more to do and learn. I can however help those that are just starting out and trying to take their first steps – I’m up to toddling!

Networking has become a major player in my development and client list. It has been just over a year since my first meeting where I nervously stood up to tell the room who I was & what I did. My worst nightmare didn’t happen – and although I fumbled through it a bit – they didn’t all point and think I was obviously useless. My confidence grew and I am now found hosting a Networking meeting myself on a Wednesday evening. I still get a bit nervous, but it has helped me speak to others and development my own voice. I network in various locations and group types, I feel it helps to develop relationships and to be supportive to others. Networking works, but you have to develop it, not just hope it is a quick fix.

So as I take a deep breath and consider the last year, I am pleased with the progress made and the future ahead. Time to get going on the next year – now where’s that Business Plan…..