Capitalism is becoming a conversation, and stakeholders who were the audience are now initiating dialogues and moving to the centre of the stage. Customers and stakeholders cannot be controlled by large organisations. Although of course they can be moderated and nurtured through strategic social media participation programmes.
The democratic diffusion of information presents a number of challenges to organisations. While social media encourages open collaboration in horizontal networks this collides with powerful top-down systems in a lot of organisations.
However to remain competitive companies need to change and cannot remain walled off from these developments. There are big risks attached with not keeping up with what is going on through social media. The impact of technology and competitive pressures to innovate are going to lead to change and this will be driven in part by the heightened expectations of younger generations coming into companies. Trying telling a teenager they cannot access Facebook and you’ll understand what I mean!
Also once boardrooms have realised that greater participation in social media leads to greater productivity and better profitability change will develop at a quicker pace.
Inevitably some managers distrust social media because it is challenging to control. For organisations to be successful, they need to find a proper balance between loosening controls and losing control – between self-regulation and legal constraints. There need to be basic rules to follow when engaging with social media and there has to be trust. Trust in the values of social media and trust in those who are participating within guidelines on behalf of organisations.
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