Social Media: The Double Edged Sword

As the expansion of social media websites accelerates, many project managers have asked themselves, “Is the time I spend with my marketing team building social networks worth it or am I wasting my time?” Well, the answer is yes. A recent study conducted by the Nielsen consulting group says that “36% of [an internet user’s] time is spent communicating and networking across social networks, blogs, and personal email and instant message.” So, it is obvious that the more time spent constructing your company’s social media website the better your company’s reputation will appear? This unfortunately is not true. Since the beginning of the social media frenzy, there have been companies that have thrived from the creation of their social network while some have suffered from the transparency created by extensive social networking. If there is one lesson to learn: quantity and relevance is more important than quantity.

Today’s globalized world has turned the traditional business thought process upside down and continues to create new venues and ideas which have helped many entrepreneurs and project managers accomplish their goals. With the airline industry seeing less activity and innovative communication platforms such as Skype it seems mandatory for a firm’s long-term success to be established in the construction of a large social network. As the article, “Social Media Success Stories” by Erik Qualman suggests, there are many firms, from Intuit to McDonalds, who see the importance of a strong social network and how it has produced substantial and measureable returns on investment. With small companies looking to expand and large companies looking to diversify their target audience, the expansion of social media gives the impression that it is now irreplaceable in the techno-savvy business world.

While there have been numerous success stories initiated by social media there are many stories that suggest that social networking may not be done properly or even successful networking may unveil problems with other departments in a firm. Gary Moneysmith, the President of Dynamlt Technologies a consulting company in Columbus, Ohio, believes that social media has its limitations and should be focused on what can help the network creator achieve their goals. With so many options to develop, the internet is a now a platform where a firm can lose its positioning and lose focus on its target audience and overall goals thus wasting time and money. Other firms have developed networks that have caused internal implosions due to the transparency created by social media. In the case of United Airlines, a passenger of theirs named David Carroll, a musician who often travels with his guitar caused lots of unwanted turbulence for the company. After receiving a broken guitar at the baggage claim and not getting the optimal customer service response from the airline that he expected, he recorded a song about his experience that traveled across the world via social media websites and thus destroying United’s ability to re-establish itself as a company that delivers premium customer service.

So, now it is clear that social media networking is vital to a company’s growth and sustainability, a proper balance between quality control and quantity of networking must be established in order for the network to produce results that simplify the path towards a firm’s long term goals. As more project managers struggle to walk this marketing tight rope, it is important to remember a quick quote from a man who needs no introduction: “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.” –Albert Einstein.

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