Social media provides a new channel, where organizations and can create, share and maintain communication and activities with their employees, peers, customers, partners and other stakeholders. It has opened a wide range of new challenges and opportunities and created new business models that challenges traditional ways to do business. Social media solutions include tremendous amount of user-generated information, which may help organizations and academics better understand the behavior of billions of people. For individuals, SM platforms provide virtual places for social communication and personal career building.
Social media can be seen as a hybrid that springs from mixed technology and media origins that enable instantaneous, real-time communications, and uses multi-media and numerous delivery platforms with global reach capabilities. Even though there are several definitions what SM is, and discussions what it is not, there is no universally agreed definition and no standard typology of social media platforms upon which everyone agrees. Social media is constantly evolving, and new media types, platforms and applications occur in a rapid pace. Social media platforms and applications may have many different functions or features, and borders between different media types are blurring.
Social media penetration worldwide is increasing fast. Every day thousands new users start to use various platforms and applications. An increasing number of active users and a widening age category of social media attracts all kind of people to use SM more. One key driver for the use of SM is the paradigm shift from a company-centric logic to a consumer-centric logic. Customers all over the world are using all kinds of internet based solutions (e.g. messengers, chats and social media) to discuss online about products, services and companies. Before, marketers led the discussion on products and services, today, customers are leading the discussion. Especially younger age groups are used to utilize all kinds of internet based solutions, including social media. This new generation of “digital natives” or “generation Y” has significant technical knowledge and they are willing to engage online.
International social media
Companies operating in international environment are increasingly paying attention to online platforms to better understand customer behaviors, needs and values. All sizes of firms are starting to add social media in their strategy since it enables firms to reach potential clients globally and increase their international presence. SM is not simply a new marketing or sales channel, but rather, it is radically changing business practices and the role of the firm. For example, companies may use SM to develop and strengthen mutual dependencies with their clients and other stakeholders as well as identify tacit knowledge and convert it into better solutions. In addition to marketing, sales and retailing activities, companies may use social media for research, human resource and decision-making purposes. SM solutions provide new business models and ways to do business. Social media platforms are internet based standardized applications and thus they have global reach. Usually, solutions have the same functions no matter in which country they are used. Increasing use of internet and mobile devices facilitate the use of social media applications all over the world. In addition, SM platforms enable individuals to create and share information by their own participation, which increases interactions between individuals and organizations across borders.
Increasingly more and more social media solutions are used by mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and it seems that social media solutions are shifting strongly towards mobile platforms. Pew Research Center (USA) calculate that for most of the people a mobile device will be the primary internet connection terminal device by 2020. So, in the near future, the use of mobile SM will grow drastically. In addition, the rising penetration of mobile devices and social media in emerging countries may offer considerable business opportunities for companies. Mobile social media provide a low-cost market presence in international markets.