The term social network was first introduced in 1954 by John A. Barnes, member of the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, in an article in Human Relations, an English monthly on the social sciences. The evolution of the Internet has allowed the creation of new communication and working tools for businesses as well as for individuals.
We must differentiate between non-virtual social networks, which have existed for centuries (membership of a political party, a sports club, a fraternity, a religion, a bridge club, etc.), and online social networks which are exclusively based on the use of the Internet.
First of all, I would like to explain the role of social networking sites before discussing their impact on business in my country.
According to Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison, social networking services can be defined as Internet services that allow their users to build a public profile within the framework of a delimited system, organize a list of users with whom they share different relationships to see and cross his lists of connections but also those of other users who are in the system.
To survive, a social network must engender interdependence between its members who need to share their experiences and get feedback from other members, in other words, their reactions.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for example, the arrival of social networks and websites on the internet has contributed to the emergence of new democratic practices, sometimes unacceptable to the public authorities. These go beyond state governance (government, parliament, and political party) since they now invest in various places of social participation.
Social networking is so versatile that it can be used for both leisure and business purposes. In the business industry in my country, social networking sites affect marketing in both positive and negative ways. Nearly seven out of ten Congolese consult a brand site for information on a product, 47% of Congolese say they click on an image or link in online advertising content, according to the Target study. Companies in DRC should offer Internet users more eye-catching ads in terms of images and content to keep them interested and positively impact internet users’ attitudes towards online advertising on the web and other social networks.
The business world quickly understood the value of using social networks for financial purposes and to help manage their online reputation, some companies have decided to use them for professional purposes. In addition, they wanted to involve their employees and sometimes their customers in the activities of the company. Today, all companies are deep into social networks, which allow them to manage their image, grow financially, and enrich their experience in the web market which offers whole new opportunities, previously non-existent.
Faced with the almost essential need to use the formidable tool that social networks represent, companies are forced to resort to changes in their working methods, the main one of which is to familiarize their team members with the networks and train staff in the departments that will need to use them on a daily basis. To do this, companies can use several methods:
The target audience can include senior executives, HR managers, Sales & Marketing Directors, Customer Service Managers, and internal communication teams.
Scottish Qualifications Authority, UK
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