Issues & Challenges of Social Media

As with all things that are new, social media still faces issues and challenges as it develops. The adoption and implementation of social media is integrated into business strategy, but it cannot be integrated into the strategy without considering important issues. In this blog, we will attempt to address some of these issues and challenges that are currently being dealt with in social media within businesses.

Social capital and trust in social media used within organisations is of great importance to the success of social media use within the business. Social capital can be defined as the value that is derived from social networks, and the people, groups and connections within those social networks. Trust, in this case dispositional trust. or generalised trust, is the trust that is associated with the openness of social network use. Because trust is the cornerstone of genuine relationships, it is therefore also of great importance to developing social capital. This applies to both social media use within the organisation, between departments and co-workers, and also between a business and its consumers.

The concept of trust is an issue and challenge in social media within businesses. Businesses, and more specifically employers, are wishing to actively monitor the online activity of their employees. This type of monitoring is usually carried out electronically and there are various reasons why employers choose to do this. Some of these reasons include seeing whether workers are doing what they’re supposed to do, checking that documents of a confidential nature are not being shared inappropriately, and also to help prevent employers being liable for illegal activities carried out by employees without the employer’s knowledge.

Although this practice of monitoring online activity is beneficial to employers and good practice for keeping the business and employers reputation safe, it has detrimental effects on the relationship between employers and employees. Some employees see the monitoring of their online activity as an invasion of privacy and this in turn diminishes trust, reduces moral and affects commitment and performance.

What employees choose to do in their own time however, which then may be posted to social media, should not have an effect on the employer if there is no direct reference to the employees business of employment. It is still the case though, that employers can monitor what employees post on to social media and can punish employees appropriately if they feel that the published content was not in the interest of the business. Because this is one of the issues of social media still developing, this is something that is yet to be decided whether it should be allowed or not.

This is just one of the many issues and challenges of social media, but it is necessary that these issues and challenges be addressed in order to move forward in this important realm of communication.

Such issues which are unresolved can result in negative impacts upon businesses via problems regarding social media. Again, working to resolve these issues and challenges by addressing what exactly they are and how they should be handled is indeed a way to mitigate the negative impacts businesses could possibly experience.

There are not only teething problems in social media but there are also fundamental issues regarding culture in the implementation and adoption of social media in business. The basic cultural barriers in adopting social media and business include wanting to maintain separation of professional and personal life, concern about exposing one’s self to scrutiny, concern that productivity will be reduced due to social media, concerns that business will no longer be relevant after introducing social media, worrying about security risks in sharing information on social media, and control over subordinate’s project scope, protecting competitive advantage, the possibility of creating a big brother entity and also flattening of organisational hierarchy. These cultural barriers are listed by Andrew Miller in his writings about cultural barriers to organisational social media adoption.

What has been realised about these cultural barriers is that in order for an organisation to be successful, these cultural barriers need to be addressed up-front, and that necessary adjustments need to be made in order to move forward.

Social media is still relatively young, and there are still issues and challenges to be faced and overcome before the online world of communication becomes seamless, and transparent, and user friendly for everybody. Perhaps that will take a long time to achieve, but it will only be achieved by knocking down old thought patterns, creating new norms and continually moving forward.


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