By Anna Seacat
This article will propose that social media is creating more demand for products and services from transparent and socially minded businesses. To support this proposition, academic research on the implications of social media will be explored.
In previous articles on this blog site, popular resources have been utilized to suggest that members of a society, who are connected via social media, value transparency from organizations and businesses they support. This notion is also reinforced by academic research. In 2010 the Government Information Quarterly published the findings from researchers at the University of Maryland that suggested that acceptance and usage of e-government offerings, e.g. online property records, e-procurement systems, digitized expenditures, and participation of government agencies on social media platforms, by members of individual communities is strongly tied to positive perceptions about the local government (Bertot, Grimes, & Jaeger, 2010, p. 265-266). These researchers recommended that trust in government “can be built through increased responsiveness to user needs and inquiries and through increased transparency” (p. 266).
They concluded that because social media has created powerful outlets for members of society to collect information from each other, value for organizations that empower them to do so has also increased. To strengthen this argument, the researchers pointed out that “in a society that generally lacks openness…responses to loss of information access are far more muted” (p. 267). In other words, the expectation for transparency is only an implication of social media in societies where transparency is already understood and experienced in general. For instance in China, there has not yet been a “widespread outcry against the limitations” on “social information that Chinese citizens can access online, and the ability of those citizens to post their own materials and add their own voices,” because that society lacks transparency in general (p.267).
Since “more social interconnectedness means greater ability of members of society to work together and promote social benefits like transparency (p. 268),” social media has created an environment in the United States where consumers value transparent organizations. Just as members of a socially connected society value transparent government agencies, they also value transparent businesses. Thus, a clear implication of social media in the business world, is the increased need for transparency in operations, products, and marketing.
Socially Minded Consumerism
As with the demand for transparency being an implication of social media, the idea that socially connected consumers are more likely to purchase goods and services that are tied to a good-will cause, is an implication often discussed in popular sources. For instance, according to the 2013 Conscious Consumer Spending Index, sixty percent of consumers indicated that it was important to shop responsibly. Additionally, a quarter of the survey respondents said that they had taken direct action in the past twelve months to “NOT purchasing goods from companies that aren’t socially responsible.”
Academic research has suggested that social media could be the driver of this growing trend toward socially minded consumerism. According to Jeong, Paek, and Lee (2012), CRM [cause related marketing] results in the greater consumer intention to invite friends to the brand page compared to either CS [cause sponsorship] or the absence of CSR [corporate social responsibility] (p. 135). In other words, consumers are sharing brand information on social media networks about products and organizations that are connected to good-will causes more than those who lack this connection. Therefore, the second implication of social media in the business world is the increased need among firms to be considered socially responsible and offer socially minded products and services.
Above it was suggested that academic research has backed up two notions presented by popular sources about how social media has affected the business world. These two implications involved social media driving the desire among consumers to purchase goods and services from organizations that are transparent and socially minded. Therefore, it is recommended that business find ways to take advantage of these trends by adjusting operations, products, and marketing to be more transparent and socially minded.
Bertot, J. C., Grimes, J. M., & Jaeger, P. T. (2010). Using ICTs to Create a Culture of
Transparency: E-Government and Social Media as Openness and Anti-Corruption Tools
for Societies. Government Information Quarterly, 27(3), 264-271.
Lee, M., Jeong, H. J., & Paek, H. (2012). The Effects of Corporate Social REsponsibiility (CSR)
Campaigns on Consumer Responses to Brands in Social Media. Lubbock: American
Academy of Advertising. Retrieved from