How the Recent Social Media Boom Has Affected International Business
I recently came across an article by The Market Mogul entitled “The Global Impact of Social Media.” Until reading this article, I can’t say that I put much weight into the idea that something that started as a social networking medium could be positively, or negatively affecting the world around us.
According to their Global Snapshot, done in 2015, there are 7.210 Billion People in the population, and 2.078 Billion of them have active social media accounts! Those numbers are astronomical; nearly 1/3 of the population is active on at least one form of social media!
This article makes it clear that Facebook is proud of its ability to boost the economy both in the United States, and out by increasing both revenues, and jobs. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO stated in the article that:
“Every day, businesses of all sizes, sectors and skill sets are using the
Facebook platform to grow and expand.”
My only disagreement with this article is they are stating that the global impact of social media will become increasingly evident by 2018. I personally feel, that these impacts are already evident to everyone.
The Pros of Social Media
There are many pros associated with integrating social media into our national economy. Upon its inception, social media apps included Friendster and MySpace. While these and other sites were popular, they didn’t show the wild growth like newer sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The updated social media apps have caused a frenzy not only at home on desktop and laptops, but more specifically with the mobility of smart phones and tablets. In the article, “Americans Spend an Alarming Amount of Time on Social Media,” published by Digital Trends; Lulu Chang states:
“People in the U.S. check their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts a staggering 17 times a day, meaning at least once every waking hour; if not more. But Americans aren’t even the most dependent on these networks when compared to other countries – in fact, smartphone users in Thailand, Argentine, Malaysia, Qatar, Mexico and South America checked these networking apps at least 40 times a day.” (Chang, 2015.)
This amount of attention by consumers has increased the marketing opportunities for small and large businesses alike. Once their popularity was realized, marketers were quick to see the value in these social media programs. There are many advertising options now available on sites like Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat that have taken the world by storm, not just here in the United States.
The increased visibility of ads on Facebook specifically has greatly increased business for both small and large companies globally. Small mom and pop shops may have never been able to reach a global audience within their budget before Social Media advertising became “a thing.” And now, not only can they run ads affordably; they can target a specific “type” of customer all over the world. For instance, if you have a product that is specific to say Hanukkah, not only can you target customers in the United States that may celebrate this Jewish holiday, for the SAME cost, you can now reach customers outside of the United States that are of Jewish dissent.
Because this has turned into a marketing tool, it has obviously opened up numerous job opportunities not only for Social Media related fields, but also for order fillers, and product development. Quite simply, the more people you are able to reach, the more products you can sell and the more employees you can employ. And there is NOTHING wrong with that, in a society where job creation is a positive.
Everything Has Its Cons
While I believe that Social Media has had a profound impact on the way that small businesses, entrepreneurs, and even “big box” businesses are marketing, and conducting business; it is hardly a quick-fix for a failing business. Social Media management takes time, effort and organization. Like with everything, there are still negatives and speed bumps when it comes to social media.
Like with most International Business practices, there are always going to be differences in the way that business is handled. For instance, I recall a discussion about handshakes and how they are received differently in opposing countries. Similarly, you will deal with criticism in the way of reviews and customer service when it comes to doing business overseas if you do not have the same values and norms. Because social media makes it so much easier for people to receive both negative and positive buzz globally, international businesses have to be more careful that they are taking all of these things into consideration.
Social Media management may appear to be a quicker, hands off approach; but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In order to have profitable social media presence, increased sales and a boost in the economy; it takes a great deal of time and work to keep these accounts current. One of the perks about social media is the direct and immediate customer reach.
Businesses are within arm’s reach of their customers, and with that, comes a responsibility to increase engagement and response time. This means having someone monitor your accounts, and giving that person the power to please the customers at a moment’s notice; and respecting the possibility of time zones.
Facebook now gauges, and publishes right on your site, how quick your response time is. I can’t help but imagine that it also goes into the algorithm regarding how often your posts show to your fans. If you are going to do business worldwide, you are going to want to respond to your international customers just as quickly as you are your more local customers.
With that in mind, we go back to the job creation topic, and a reminder that you just may need someone keeping an eye on those messages, reviews and questions around the clock and not just during “normal US business hours.
While it may be hard to quantify the monetary effects that Social Media has had on the economy, it is pretty obvious in my opinion that the economy is only benefiting from this new form of online marketing. I’m not sure if Tom Anderson or Mark Zuckerberg expected this social media boom when they first created MySpace or Facebook; but I bet they are feeling pretty proud of themselves at this point.
The amount of jobs created both directly and indirectly in relation to the various social media sites alone is enough to consider this a great success. Social media has enabled small businesses to take off locally, across the US and internationally, entrepreneurs to thrive and large businesses to reach a new pool of clients. This lesser expensive advertising has morphed into a great marketing tool that has caused profitable growth not only in advertising and marketing; but also in travel, technology, retail and food service; just to name a few.
Social Media spiraled from a photo and memory sharing application to one of the most prevalent forms of online advertising and marketing. For this reason, I feel that it would be hard to not consider social media a raving success when it comes to improvement on our international economy.
This post was originally written for a marketing term report.