In 2013, Netflix, posted on Facebook, that its’ “…streaming-video company had exceeded one billion hours in a month for the first time, sending the firm’s shares higher.” (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323611604578398862292997352)This declaration caused a stir with The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) who went on to investigate the risk-factors of companies disseminating sensitive information on social media sites and whether that would affect certain investors or shareholders. Fortunately, for the companies seeking to drive the market forward, the SEC ultimately concluded that it would be alright for companies to use social media sites as a form of “news feed” in communicating with their shareholders/investors so long as they knew where to look for those postings. Companies like Dell and eBay (much like Netflix) utilize social media platforms (specifically Twitter) to announce and communicate with their shareholders on earnings and other key financial points. This allows for an open system with their investors/shareholders and facilitates real-time and up-to-date reports that enables them to better understand their customer base and user interactions on social media sites. “An increasing number of public companies are using social media to communicate with their shareholders and the investing public,” the SEC said in its report Tuesday. “We appreciate the value and prevalence of social media channels in contemporary market communications, and the commission supports companies seeking new ways to communicate.” (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323611604578398862292997352)
It is a smart strategy for companies to announce profit margins and the increase of revenues to the public on social media sites, because from an advertisement standpoint, the message they are sending out to both the public and their investors/shareholders is, “This is who we are, this is what we have to offer, and we’re growing…invest in us.” This increases more revenues. Bottom line (no pun intended).
More so, social media sites can better illustrate and depict a company’s identity, by giving it a voice and a face on our mainstream and contemporary social avenue. When CEO’s of companies leave comments on Twitter, and when users can have access to Facebook company websites, this enables and encourages a user to engage in a relational approach with companies. There are great pay-offs to this; “Not only can a strategic, well-executed social presence lead to increased revenue, new business development opportunities and other ROI-worthy outcomes, research also shows that executives who use social media are viewed as more trustworthy. And the same can probably be said of the companies they lead.” (http://www.v3im.com/2012/05/how-fortune-500-companies-use-social-media/#axzz3GB2pR5R4)
Trustworthiness is a key point here, and by having an active social media presence you are inviting the public to be an active participant-observant in the company’s growth and mission…a shared experience. Social media is an inclusive, non-insular world, built on social interactions and social relationships…companies would be hard pressed to succeed outside the social graph. Social media is a contemporary socialization phenomena and it’s far-reaching in scope with its social graph. It’s the marketplace and the companies know this. So a company brand must have a face in the social media world in order to form relations with its target audience and survive.
▪ 14.4% of companies communicate with shareholders via social media.
▪ 23% of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate blog.
▪ 62% of Fortune 500 companies have an active corporate Twitter account and have tweeted in the last 30 days.
▪ Fortune 500 companies with the highest number of Twitter followers include Google, Whole Foods, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, The Washington Post, Verizon Wireless, Coca-Cola and McDonalds.
▪ 58 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate Facebook page, with Insurance, Specialty Retail (apparel, home, appliances, and furniture) and Food Production, Services and Drug Store categories leading the way.
Furthermore, when organizations like the healthcare industry maintain an active presence online and are integrated in the social media landscape in a significant way; they stand to accomplish communication and information sharing that can benefit clinical outcomes, speed of innovation, and consumer attraction.
Also, in a no less than obvious assertion, as Westerners, we are more than ever reliant on the worldwide web for health information and medical advice than ever before; particularly for those without any medical insurance or the means to have a primary physician. But how much of that information out there is accurate and not misleading? When a medical advice is distributed via Twitter or Facebook, it runs the risk of being unsubstantiated knowledge based merely on a hunch. This is why healthcare organizations are beginning to see the importance of mediating factual and essential medical advice by way of social media as people’s approach to their own health is brought into question. There is also urgency for healthcare organizations to move fast and not wait too long to implement social media initiatives, because of the wealth of conversations among 18 to 24 year olds (the most active age group) regarding healthcare advice that exists on social media sites. Healthcare organizations would benefit to draw that populace into its own hands and steer them in the right direction of sound and viable professional advice and assessments. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota has taken such initiative and measures, by using “…social media to get patients to become better advocates for their own care. Mayo Clinic’s philosophy of its social media is as follows: “Mayo Clinic believes individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and that it is our responsibility to help them use social media tools to get the best information, connect with providers and with each other, and inspire healthy choices.” (http://hitconsultant.net/2014/02/17/5-reasons-mayo-clinic-dominates-social-media-in-healthcare/) Social media for this hospital helps to aid their organizations larger goals. Mayo clinic also has built a stellar online presence with their use of social media because they take into account the consumer’s needs. They understand the need for trustworthiness and consistency in a consumer. Their brand logo and colors are always consistent and present on all of their social media sites and webpage; and they are always ready to answer questions, which makes them accessible. They have built a value system and a positive rapport with their consumers that has translated into new business with new consumers through social media sites (Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter).
Healthcare organizations have also used social media to enhance their marketing tactics, branding, and recruitment purposes. Not to mention, it is also used by hospitals to communicate with patients form the past, present, and future. But most importantly, they have been utilized to have a presence.
“Many oncologists now have a presence on Twitter. They share valuable and credible information on cancer news and clinical trials. They also make themselves available to answer questions and provide general guidance to the public. Many participate in discussion forums that include patients and advocates that attract millions of impressions. Doctors are also teaming up with professional foundations to moderate Twitter “chats” to answer questions from the public.” (http://www.cancer.net/blog/2014-01/cancer-age-social-media)
▪ More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health.
▪ 18 to 24 year olds are twice more likely than 45 to 54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussions.
▪ Parents are more likely to seek medical answers online, 22% use Facebook and 20% use YouTube. Of non-parents, 14% use Facebook and 12% use YouTube to search for health care related topics.
▪ The most accessed online resources for health related information are: 56% searched WebMD, 31% on Wikipedia, 29% on health magazine websites, 17% used Facebook, 15% used YouTube, 13% used a blog or multiple blogs, 12% used patient communities, 6% used Twitter and 27% used none of the above.
▪ 26% of all hospitals in the US participate in social media.
▪ 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
Lastly, social media has become a powerful tool for social movement. It has become an entity of sorts, an eyewitness account, a representative of the people, and a judicial voice of truth. When a user creates content as simple as an IPhone recording of say a police brutality on the streets, this raises a social consciousness in the social media sphere for those who have accessed this uploaded video. Recently circulating in the news and in the social media sphere, was the case of Michael Brown, a resident of the state of Missouri who was executed by a cop in the suburbs of St. Louis. He was unarmed when he was shot to death. Traditional media in this instance, addressed the incident with less than passionate details of the events. They reported that non-lethal firing of pellets were administered to protestors, yet pictures taken and uploaded to Twitter by bystanders, illustrated a different story of pepper balls and wooden pellets that caused a bloody scene. One local educator at the scene posted a picture unto her Twitter account and “…wrote on Twitter that she was “devastated” by the use of “tanks, tear gas, rubber bullets, hand launchers, and sheer intimidation of county police.” (http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/12/us/missouri-teen-shooting-social-media/index.html)
The benefits of social media as a medium to translate real-time events like this incident, is that it holds a candle to truth, a transparency that can initiate an effort to right the wrongs of society and hold those responsible for wrong doing, accountable for their actions. It also helps to bring to question the integrity of traditional media outlets like broadcast news that often takes the low road and presents the accounts of an incident with half-truths or downgrade its severity and gravity. News outlets for instance, posted pictures of Brown holding a sign where some audience members thought of it as a peace sign, while others felt it looked more like a gang sign. This distortion of meaning by traditional media outlets only confuses those viewing and in some cases paints in the minds of viewers a narrative that black people in America are gang affiliated.
“In a recent Guardian column Newsnight economic editor Paul Mason argued that: “With Facebook, Twitter and Yfrog truth travels faster than lies, [sic] and propaganda is inflammable.” (http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=722)
“Gordon Brown seized upon the communicative potential of the Internet as something that would rehabilitate the doctrine of humanitarian intervention, telling the Guardian in 2009: “You cannot have Rwanda again because information would come out far more quickly about what is actually going on and the public opinion would grow to the point where action would need to be taken”.” (http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=722)
So, social media sites like Twitter for example, allows organizers and activists to combat these social issues. They also facilitate a means for activists and supporters to communicate the events of a protest and belay any potential issues that would allow them to reassess or reorganize efforts. Social media sites also provide a means to strengthen relationships among activists and supporters of the cause, reinforcing the need for the struggle and standing by it. It inspires and rejuvenates a centralization and solidarity; a push factor for continual mobilization.