Social media has rapidly integrated itself into our everyday lives, both personal and professional, and it’s perhaps had no greater impact than on the world of marketing, with consumers and brands seeing enormous benefits and changes. Social media literally means interactive platforms through which individuals and communities create and share user-generated contents. Social media are social software which mediates human communication.
When the technologies are in place, social media is ubiquitously accessible and enabled by scalable communication techniques. In the year 2012, social media became one of the most powerful sources for news updates through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook (Kietzmann et al. 2011). Social media technologies take on different forms including magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, social networks, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking.
Social media can be classified into six different types: collaborative projects (for example, Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (for example, Twitter), content communities (for example, YouTube), social networking sites (for example, Facebook), virtual game worlds (e. g. , World of War craft), and virtual social worlds (e. g. Second Life). Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing and voice over IP, to name a few (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms.
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Social media network websites include sites like Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Bebo and MySpace. Social media applications used on mobile devices are called mobile social media. In comparison to traditional social media running on computers, mobile social media display a higher location- and time-sensitivity. One can differentiate between four types of mobile social media applications (Kaplan, 2012), depending on whether the message takes account of the specific location of the user (location-sensitivity) and whether it is received and processed by the user instantaneously or with a time delay (time-sensitivity).
Space-timers (location and time sensitive): Exchange of messages with relevance for one specific location at one specific point-in time (e. g. , Facebook Places; Foursquare). 2. Space-locators (only location sensitive): Exchange of messages, with relevance for one specific location, which are tagged to a certain place and read later by others (e. g. , Yelp; Qype). 3. Quick-timers (only time sensitive): Transfer of traditional social media applications to mobile devices to increase immediacy (e. g. posting Twitter messages or Facebook status updates). 4. Slow-timers (neither location, nor time sensitive): Transfer of traditional social media applications to mobile devices (for example, watching a YouTube video or reading a Wikipedia entry). Mobile social media can also be used on the go when one is not near a personal computer, lap-top... etc. With all the new devices that are arriving at our finger tips, gadgets such as tablets, ipods, phones, and many other new products, there is no use for sitting at home using ones PC.
Mobile social media has made other sources of internet browsing obsolete and allows users to write, respond, and browse in real-time. A new medium of social networking - Instagram allow the world to interconnect and makes space and time much smaller than anyone can imagine. Instagram allows individuals to snap a photo wherever they may be and share it with the rest of the world instantly, delivering a social media site full of foreign accomplishments and strange scenarios.
This feature was introduced by facebook and other existing social media sites, but instagram is the latest addition to the social media scene, and has made picture sharing an absolute must. Mobile social media is a relatively new function because it was just recently that mobile devices have access to the internet and the cloud (Kaplan, 2012).
Purposes of Social Media
The purpose of Social media can be explained its use in the area of businesses. Here, social media may be referred to as consumer-generated media (CGM).
A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value. Generally, people obtain information, education, news and other data from electronic and print media. However, unlike industrial or traditional media, such as newspapers, television and film, social media shows its distinction as they are comparatively inexpensive and accessible to enable anyone, even private individuals to publish or access information. Industrial media on the other hand generally require significant resources o publish information. One characteristic shared by both social and industrial media is the capability to reach small or large audiences; for example, either a blog post or a television show may reach n people or millions of people. Some of the properties that help describe the differences between social and industrial media are in the aspect of reach, accessibility, usability, immediacy and permanence. (a) Reach: Both industrial and social media technologies provide scale and are capable of reaching a global audience.
Industrial media, however, typically use a centralized framework for organization, production, and dissemination, whereas social media are by their very nature more decentralized, less hierarchical, and distinguished by multiple points of production and utility. (b) Accessibility: The means of production for industrial media are typically government and/or corporate (privately-owned). Social media tools are generally available to the public at little or no cost. (c) Usability: Industrial media production typically requires specialized skills and training.
Conversely, most social media production requires only modest reinterpretation of existing skills; in theory, anyone with access can operate the means of social media production. (d) Immediacy: The time lag between communications produced by industrial media can be long (days, weeks, or even months) compared to social media (which can be capable of virtually instantaneous responses). However, as industrial media begins adopting aspects of production normally associated with social media tools, this feature may not prove distinctive over time. e) Permanence: Industrial media, once created, cannot be altered (once a magazine article is printed and distributed changes cannot be made to that same article) whereas social media can be altered almost instantaneously by comments or editing (Kietzmann et al. , 2011). Community media constitute a hybrid of industrial and social media. Though community-owned, some community radio, TV and newspapers are run by professionals and some by amateurs. They use both social and industrial media frameworks. Social media has also been recognized for the way in which it has changed how public relations professionals conduct their jobs.
It has provided an open arena where people are free to exchange ideas on companies, brands and products. Social media provides an environment where users and PR professionals can converse, where PR professionals can promote their brand and improve their company's image, by listening and responding to what the public is saying about their product.
Stakeholder Relations in the Educational Sector
The word- stakeholders simply means a person, group, or organization that has interest or concern in an organization. Stakeholders can affect or be affected by the organization's actions, objectives and policies.
Some examples of key stakeholders are creditors, directors, employees, government (and its agencies), owners (shareholders), suppliers, unions, and the community from which the business draws its resources (Clarkson, 1995). In the educational sector, the major stakeholders comprise of the students, the funding (and managerial) bodies, the industry employers, the academics and the general public. Universities and colleges increasingly are using new communication technologies to produce innovative teaching methods, thus improving relationships with staff and students.
Much of this innovation is centered on social media spaces and concepts. Many of the most significant social media tools are still very young but the concepts of social networking, online video, and blogging go back to the earliest days of the Internet. Indeed, educators and library professionals were quick to see the value of blogs as they appeared, partly as a mechanism to bypass complex or slow institutional website-updating processes. They are also a way to reach out, to share news and reflections with colleagues and students both within and beyond institutional walls.
As the first social networking sites emerged, combining the functionality of bulletin boards with personal profiles and instant messaging tools, students were early adopters using the sites like FriendsReunited to maintain existing friendships and to establish personal support networks. Friendster extended the idea of what these spaces could do, and by the time Facebook launched (for those with university email addresses), students were well prepared to experiment, socialize, and share their networks online.
Some librarians and academics followed students into these spaces, sharing practical information and trying these new forms of engagement. Now with the widespread use of tools and technologies like YouTube, Twitter, blogs, wikis and Facebook, social media is used for teaching in higher education (Kent and Taylor, 1998). Students remain ahead of social media users in various higher education groups. While many attribute this to generational factors, it is also true that students are more highly motivated by the need to find and bond with new peers and potential social groups.
Many find participating in a new online space a relatively low stakes issue of experimenting and exploring the spaces that work for them, or that their friends use. Academic staff have been slower to find their feet, but the success of pioneering colleagues in communicating and engaging students in their work, or gaining professional advantage through social media spaces, has helped drive change and, in some cases institutional leadership. Rolling out blogging tools and support across the university has led to a creative, thoughtful, and lively culture of blogging within the university including a rapid turnover of very high quality content.
A key strength of social media is the distributed model of connection, posting, and activity feeds that enables building an ongoing relationship with stakeholders through low stakes participation (Christ, 2005). Indeed the most common use of social media in higher education is as a means of amplifying existing events, publications and websites. Social media resources are often provided for passive use as information sources or teaching resources—perhaps an alert to an upcoming event, a blog post that directs the reader to formal academic literature, or a video that demonstrates a key technique or concept.
A single action, such as sharing a link or viewing a Facebook page or Twitter profile, allows an individual to casually participate in a relationship with a higher education institution. From there individuals can also take active steps of clicking the "like" or "follow" or "subscribe to feed" button to receive regular updates and alerts, showing their interest in further dialog. This simple sharing functionality is very valuable, but the real benefits for higher education often come from more integration of social media with teaching and student support.
Social media also provides the opportunity for communication, professional development and collaboration among members of teaching and research staff, information services staff and administrators. This communication can work well in closed institutional spaces (such as an intranet) but collaborating publicly on the web (for example, through blogs or Twitter) enables both local colleagues and broader peers to read and participate in discussions. The most important relationship for most educators and academic organizations is with their students, and social media can be a very active and responsive channel for supporting and engaging with students. While email remains the key means of communication for most professionals in the education sector, students arrive into higher education with established social media presences and a culture of using Facebook Messages/Chat, text messages, and related tools (for example, InstantMessanger, BlackBerry Messenger, and Skype). These social media and mobile tools may be used by colleges and universities, but it is important to manage expectations: students need to know which channels they are required to use (likely to include email) and which channels are optional (such as a course Facebook group).
They must also understand which spaces to use for official correspondence, assignment submission, or urgent queries. Staff cannot monitor all social media channels at all times, but endorsing spaces that enable peer support can help meet student needs outside of working hours. For part time and online courses, scheduling virtual evening tutorials or "office hours" can also provide a manageable and valued space for student support and participation. Social media can also enhance traditional in-person learning to great effect. For instance, the collaborative nature of wikis offers particular opportunities for innovative teaching practice.
This process empowers students to take ownership and responsibility for their own learning and to build a productive peer community. It also alters the relationship and expectations that exist between staff and students from one-way teaching to an ongoing two-way process in both challenging and highly rewarding ways. For those learning on a part-time, distance, or flexible basis, it can be difficult to feel part of the educational community, to connect with peers whom you may see rarely or not see at all, and to form the types of social groups that enable peer support and friendship.
Social media can help create a sense of community, of being among real people and, in some spaces (including virtual worlds), a real sense of embodiment. Some students feel more able to express themselves fully and confidently in online contexts, and for these students, social media provides a way to tie their more confident online selves with their real world identities. For others, social media is simply a route to avoid isolation.
The participation of teaching and support staff in these spaces provides the opportunity to build richer relationships with learners, and to notice concerns, issues, or misunderstandings. These issues may not be easily or comfortably articulated in other teaching spaces, such as a more formal classroom or e-learning space. The beneficial possibilities of social media also bring potential risk, partly because any increased visibility brings with it greater exposure to vulnerability and the possibility of embarrassment or failure in a very public space.
From an organizational and management perspective, the most significant benefits and the most notable risks arise from the democratizing nature of social media: when anyone can potentially create content there will, of course, be risks associated with loss of control. This can be tricky to negotiate because much of the appeal of social media is its formality, often tied to a sense of fun, transgression, and enjoyable anarchy. Educational organizations have a moral and legal responsibility to look after both staff and students, and to consider their safety and privacy.
There are risks associated with encouraging staff and students to register for and share personal information with social media sites, particularly when requiring student participation as a course requirement. You must create a process for dealing with potential bullying or abusive behavior. Because social media necessitates faster, less formalized processes than traditional print or online media, it can be beneficial to create appropriate organizational policies, procedures, and guidelines.
These policies must acknowledge both the risks and benefits of social media. It is important that the organization accepts and understands those guidelines. Outright bans on social media usage are rarely desirable or effective, and heavy restriction can push individuals - whether staff or student - to create more controversial or outspoken presences on a pseudonymous on anonymous basis. This reaction can both risk a negative impact on the organization, and mean that the organization misses officially recognized contributions from energized members of the community.
The most successful social media guidelines and policies are encouraging and nurturing in tone, highlight good practice and clarify the appropriate use of these tools. They must also specify material that is not appropriate for sharing, and indicate some form of process for dealing with conflicts arising from social media interactions. Every higher education institution is different so it is important to both draw on others experience and tailor your guidelines or policies so that they are a good fit for your own organization's needs and audience.
Remember that the speed of social media development is such that no set of guidelines or policies will be definitive: they will need to be iterated over time and updated to reflect the changing social media and legal environment. Embedding social media into normal working practices can take time and effort, so it is important to consider the goals and desired outcome of that activity, whether that is easily measured (such as new admissions, achievement of funding goals) or something more amorphous (improved good will, better morale within an educational institution).
It is also useful to consider collecting metrics (counts of tweets, comments received or more complex information) so that activity can be considered, reflected upon, and developed or discontinued as appropriate. Local hosting or restricted/private cloud hosting of social media tools can be an effective way to bring together social media functionality in a protected and trusted institutional space. Tools including IBM Connections, which act as a hosted suite of social media and business software tools, can be useful.
Whether using a hosted or web-based social media tool, it is always useful to try any tool for a few weeks with colleagues or peers to identify problems or concerns before committing to a public (whether to your staff and/or students or the open web) social media presence. Planning suitable staff time and processes to create, maintain, monitor, and reflect upon social media presences helps to ensure that the presences are taken seriously and that involved staff feel a sense of ownership and responsibility in these new spaces.
Blogs have become a central tool for academic research and for teaching and learning over the last five years. Many programs require students to blog reflectively on their progress throughout a course and submit this as graded work. These blogs provide a great space for reflection, for recording progress with academic readings and developing ideas, and for discussion with peers from the wider world. In schools, there are greater risks to address in terms of privacy and access to resources but there is also huge potential for innovation. The award winning "I’m a Scientist, Get me out of Here! initiative (Pontin, 2010) used a talent show format to connect practicing scientists with school children. Over the course of two weeks, social media tools such as YouTube and real-time chat tools enabled school children to ask any science question, which was then answered by a research scientist within 24 hours. The students voted for their favorite scientist throughout the show and the winning scientist won a small grant to further their research. It can be inspiring to look at what comparable schools, colleges, universities, or other educational organizations currently do.
Increasingly, early adopters engaged teaching staff, and university marketing and communications departments are realizing the huge potential for the use of social media in education. There are substantial risks to consider, ones that require thoughtful management of expectations, the ongoing review of practice, and the surrounding legal and social context. Social media guidelines and policies are useful tools in supporting the use of social media in schools and colleges but these should not stifle creativity.
Social media provides real opportunities for innovative and engaging practice with authenticity and informality, both notable features of successful social media in academia.
Yaba College of Technology and the Social Media
Yaba College of Technology, founded in 1947, is Nigeria's first higher educational institution. It is located in Yaba, Lagos state, Nigeria. The college is a center of culture and heritage. Currently it has a student enrollment of over 16,000. Today, Yaba College of Technology is made up of nine (9) academic units called Schools, headed by Deans, and thirty-four Departments headed by Heads of Departments.
The main objective of the College, according to the decree that established it, is to provide full time and part-time courses of instruction and training in Technology, Commerce and Management. Also, the College provides training in other fields such as applied learning, relevant to the development of Nigeria especially in areas of Industry, Agricultural production and distribution, Research and adaptation of techniques. In pursuit of these objectives, the College has continued to develop structurally, humanly and materially.
One of the ways in which the college has been able to establish this development is in its adoption of technological advancement by the use of the social media. Generally, Schools are on a short list of organizations that have been notoriously slow to adopt emerging technology but within the last few years, as social media becomes more integral to students’ lives, educational institutions are finally catching on, and catching up. On speaking with the Heads and representatives of information (communications) technology unit of he Yaba College of Technology, they all shared their views on the extent to which the Social media has promoted stakeholder relations in the college. Dr. Oyeyinka, Director of Centre for Information and Technology Management (CITM) explained that the Social media is being used and has made a great impact in the institution. For further information, Dr. Oyeyinka directed us to Mr. Popoola Olusegun Lawrence, a representative of the Information Processing Department. This was because Mrs. Koyenikan, the Head of the Information processing Department, was currently on leave. According to Mr.
Popoola Olusegun Lawrence, who is in charge of students’ result as well as communication amongst the students and management of the institution, there are three different departments or units under CITM and they are- Information Processing Department (IPD), Hardware Software development & Training (HST) and the Volumetrics unit, a unit in charge of managing the college networks. These three units work together to take care of both the staff and student information. Mr. Popoola further explained that the use of Facebook in the department is more frequent although in some cases, Yahoo Messenger is also made use of.
This choice of Social media tool is made, depending on the target publics and even in those cases; communication must have reached a certain level before usage of the social media that is, some sort of agreement must have been reached first and you must have established some kind of relationship with the stakeholders. One cannot just wake up one day and start communicating with stakeholders in a project that requires millions of naira. Doing that would place one at a huge risk. Therefore, one’s level of awareness comes to the forefront.
For example, when the College through the Information Processing Department (IPD) needed to contact an organization that supply equipments used for the marking of Post UTME results, the decisions made had to change at a particular time and further communication was made through Facebook and Yahoo messenger from time to time. Later, after the equipments had been supplied, the college realized they needed the organization’s support and the organization was contacted again. This communication process via the social media was very effective and successful.
In communicating with students however, Mr. Popoola continued by saying, mobile phones was made use of because the department has access to the phone lines of all students in the college. Moreover, not all students are computer literates or have access to the internet and in order to make sure all students were brought into the picture when giving out information that pertains to them, mobile phones was used in sending out bulk SMS. Within the staff, official matters are communicated through Facebook and twitter. This started just about a year ago.
When communicating with other departments and faculties like the School of management studies for instance, the IPD sends messages through the group on Facebook created by some of these faculties and departments. If the Director of CITM (Centre for Information and Technology Management) - Dr. Oyeyinka wants to pass information to the Deans of various departments, he doesn’t need to go through CITM except when every member of staff needed to be communicated with. This is because CITM has the means of communicating with every staff at once. In emergency situations however, the use of mobile phones are used within staff because according to Mr.
Popoola, it gets the information across faster. For instance in November, 2011, there was emergency information that needed to be passed to every staff where some details of the staff absent on the department’s database were urgently needed. This information was requested by the Ministry of Education and every staff needed to be aware of the developments within 24 hours. The use of Facebook, yahoo messenger and mobile phones were employed in disseminating this information. At the end of the day, it was realized that mobile phones were more effective. As regards to the use of Social media in times of crisis, Mr.
Popoola claimed they had never experienced crisis but if they did, they probably would make use of mobile phones in disseminating the necessary information. Mr. Popoola believes that in years to come, probably in two to three years, the social media would be more effective but presently it was not as Nigeria as a whole is just getting to know the benefits of the social media. He explained that a good number of people are unaware of the importance of social media and some think it’s just used to paste portrait pictures or pictures of fashionable items like shoes, bags, etc.
One of the barriers in the effectiveness of social media is in language barrier and the abuse of social networks. If people can get to understand the proper use of the social media, its effectiveness would increase. In the Volumetrics unit, the Head of Department – Mrs. Oyeyinka was said to be unavailable and we were directed to her representatives- the Head of the Networking Unit- Mrs. Christiana Olayinka and a member of the Volumetrics unit- Mr. Tunde Oke. Mrs. Christiana Olayinka, explained that their stakeholders are made up of the management, students and prospective students of the college.
Her unit is majorly responsible in ensuring that internet links and facilities are made available to the students of the college. She further stated that social media has been of great benefit to the college and asides having an advantage of saving cost, it also allows you get feedback from the students i. e. allows a two-way communication. In the Networking unit, Twitter and Facebook are frequently used in disseminating information to students. Where management of the college is concerned, LinkedIn is made use of especially during management meetings and conferences.
Linked in also allows for teleconferencing where even management abroad can partake in meetings held in Nigeria by Network connection. One can also view participants live as you communicate and exchange information with them. Terms such as audio conferencing, telephone conferencing and phone conferencing are sometimes used in teleconferencing. According to Mrs. Olayinka, the only crisis they have experienced thus far was some years back when there was a shift in the date of resumption at the college and the news had to be relayed.
This information was then passed through Facebook, twitter and bulk SMS. Though twitter was fairly effective, Facebook was found to be more effective because of the larger number of students subscribed to it. Bulk SMS on the other hand, was found to be most effective. Mr. Tunde Oke, a member of the Volumetrics department stated that dissemination of information to stakeholders which comprise majorly of the students and staff of the college is carried out using the social media tools- Facebook, twitter and most recently, YouTube.
In mid 2012, a group on Facebook was created by the Volumetrics department called YabaTechng and at the time checked, the group had over 9,052 likes. Through this medium on Facebook, information of interest to the college is posted. Only a few weeks ago, the Volumetrics department created some sort of mini TV called YabaTechTV via YouTube, a video sharing site and through this medium, documentaries about the college are shared. Within the short space of time since they started, the department has been able to upload their first documentary which aims at showcasing talents and facilities within the EPE Campus of the college.
The 12 minutes documentary is tagged- ‘Documentary on Yaba Tech (Epe Campus)’ and has over 50 views already. They are currently working on their second documentary which they also plan uploading via YouTube. In conclusion, it is safe to say that social media has come to stay. In less than five years of its existence, social media has made a great impact in promoting stakeholder relations in the educational sector. It has revolutionized the way people communicate today and has spawned a new generation of communication in higher institutions.
Social media presents a huge opportunity for schools, universities and other educational organizations to reach out and connect with students and prospective students. Now, the internet is no longer a one-way broadcast delivery system where the individual user downloads data, information and other resources produced by a relatively small number of content providers. Instead, the internet is now driven by and to some extent determined through the activities of its ordinary users—what has been described as many-to-many rather than one-to-many connectivity.
The social web is therefore seen to be arranged along substantially different lines than the cyberspace-era internet of the 1990s and 2000s. This sense of internet use now being a participatory and collective activity is reflected in the language used to describe social media applications. Therefore, it is clear that social media gives more people a voice and provides a powerful tool for value creation and competitive differentiation.
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