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What is social media and why you should care

By Kate Lee | 02/04/2014 | 8:47 AM | Categories: Weblogs

Research conducted by Adrian Gonzalez, founder and president of Adelante SCM, found that 30 percent of respondents (supply chain professionals) reported that their companies block access to social media sites.  One of the reasons for the lack of participation in social media by these companies is likely due to a lack of understanding of what social media is and the role it can play in business.  As noted by Gonzalez: “many supply chain executives and companies are stuck on the starting line because they can’t get past the word ‘social’ and the perception it creates.” 

In a 2013 article in MIT Sloan Management Review, Gerald C. Kane, Associate Professor at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, wrote: “When asked to define social media, most people probably rely on something similar to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of obscenity: ‘I know it when I see it.’”  Unfortunately this approach to defining social media tends to perpetuate stereotypes and does not accurately reflect what social media is and how it can be utilized by business.    What, then, is social media?  Social media is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” These websites and applications are inclusive of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.  Social media is part of a larger framework called social technologies.  The McKinsey Global Institute defines social technologies as: “IT products and services that enable the formation and operation of online communities, where participants have distributed access to content and distributed rights to create, add, and/or modify content."  Social technologies are inclusive of Yammer, Jive, Moxie, and Supply Chain Operating Networks such as Descartes, GT Nexus, Elemica, E2open, LeanLogistics, and One Network.  Also included in social technologies are network-based business intelligence and analytics.

Clara Shih, CEO and Founder of Hearsay Social, and Lisa Shalett, Managing Director and Head of Brand Marketing and Digital Strategy at Goldman Sachs, call attention to the fact that when you get right down to it, social media encompasses “a set of new and innovative ways for businesses and customers to do what they have always done: build relationships, exchange information, read and write reviews, and leverage trusted networks of friends and experts.”  Furthermore, engaging in social media and utilizing social technologies provides business with the tools to manage status, social networks, and established relationships—all drivers of firm performance.  Social media and social networking also enable companies to be able to better manage risk, create demand, define their reputation, innovate, enhance business intelligence, and improve productivity.

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About Kate Lee

Kate Lee

Kate Lee is the senior director of research and strategy for Fronetics Strategic Advisors, a Newburyport, Mass.-based consultancy that works with clients in industries including logistics and supply chain. She has over 20 years of domestic and international experience as a writer, researcher, and strategist.


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