Social Media: Are they really necessary?

Yes. Social medias are necessary, if not inherent, to organizations. Why? First, we must determine what a “social media” is. Literally, a “social media” is any tool used to communicate. In this way, a pen and paper could be defined as a social media, even our vocal chords! This, however, is not the contemporary understanding of the term. Today, we define social media as electronic means of communication (Mirriam-Webster online dictionary). For the sake of sanity and to abate the storm of semantics, all subsequent references to social media shall refer to the above definition.

Startup Stock Photos
Always remember to factor in time for ping pong when deliberating your social media strategies.

So, are electronic communications really necessary to all organizations? Due to the overwhelming influence of computerized technology and the internet, every organization is, at the very least, aware of its presence. While any single organization sits somewhere in a vast spectrum of social media usage, I can think of few examples in which all means of electronic communication are unnecessary… save for a handful of extreme cases. A group who promotes “living off the grid,” for example, could have a desire to limit their electronic communications. However, a quick Google search will return plenty of results with active online communities, from forums to Facebook groups  to online publications. This example proves that even organizations that may appear to be adverse to electronic communication are able to benefit from proper use of social media.

Fig. 1 Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism v4


Therefore, the important question is not should organizations use social media, but how. The sheer number of social applications and websites can be overwhelming (see: Fig 1. The Conversation Prism), not to mention the intimidating process of learning how to use them effectively. But an organization’s time and money is well spent if appropriate communication channels are established between the organization’s audience, customers, and within the organization itself. Furthermore, social media can aid in analyzing said communications so as to optimize customer relationships, marketing strategies, and internal infrastructure (Jayson DeMeyrs “The Top 10 Benefits Of Social Media Marketing“).

Where to start? A good place to start is to determine the fundamental goal of the organization and the budget available. Then, specify the audience: their size and demographics. Discuss how sensitive the communications must be. A women’s clinic, for example, will want to carefully shape their information and utilize secure channels. Lastly, specify what exactly is going to be communicated. Only after the organizational context is laid out should an organization delve into the mysterious and exciting waters of social media. And exciting they should be! Social media is a world ripe with opportunity to strengthen communications in any organization.

Note: all stock photos are borrowed from this wonderful site and have CC0 licenses.