The challenges and opportunities of Social Media



Blogs, which represent the earliest form of Social Media, are special types of websites that usually display date-stamped entries in reverse chronological order (OECD, 2007). They are the Social Media equivalent of personal web pages and can come in a multitude of different variations, from personal diaries describing the author's life to summaries of all relevant information in one specific content area. 

Blogs are usually managed by one person only, but provide the possibility of interaction with others through the addition of comments. Due to their historical roots, text-based blogs are still by far the most common. Nevertheless, blogs have also begun to take different media formats. For example, San Francisco-based Justin.tv allows users to create personalized television channels via which they can broadcast images from their webcam in real time to other users. 

Many companies are already using blogs to update employees, customers, and shareholders on developments they consider to be important. Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Micro-systems, maintains a personal blog to improve the transparency of his company; so does automotive giant General Motors. Yet, as is the case with collaborative projects, blogs do not come without risks. These generally present in two fashions. 

First, customers who—for one reason or another—turn out to be dissatisfied with or disappointed by the company's offerings may decide to engage in virtual complaints in the form of protest websites or blogs (Ward & Ostrom, 2006), which results in the availability of potentially damaging information in online space. Second, once firms encourage employees to be active on blogs, they may need to live with the consequences of staff members writing negatively about the firm. 

Microsoft's former “technical evangelist” Robert Scoble, for example, had a tendency to fiercely criticize the products of his employer—before he decided to leave the Redmond-based software company in 2006.


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