Today’s society is run by social media, whether it be, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or just simply different sites on the internet. Almost everyone has access to these outlets whenever they want. This constant connection to different social media outlets provide unique opportunities and threats to Companies, especially those on a global scale. If a company uses these outlets and is able to positively affect their public relations then this can be a huge advantage, but if a company is caught doing something illegal or unethical, there is nothing they can do to stop the information from being plaster over the different outlets.
An example of how a company was affected both positively and negatively by the social media uprising is Nike. Nike came under fire in the 1990’s for accusations of unfair treatment of workers overseas, saying they pay their employees 14 cents an hour under the labor laws in Indonesia. Until the 2000’s though the American public had not been exposed to the reality of the situation. Jim Keady filmed a documentary on Nike, “Nike: Behind the Swoosh”, documenting the poor working conditions and living on their wages of 1.25 a day. “I lived in conditions they lived in and on the wages they paid – $1.25 a day. I lost 25 lbs in a month in a rat-infested slum in Tangerang, Indonesia, home to tens of thousands of the women and men who produce the Nike sneakers adored by so many athletes and consumers” (Keady). This documentary is easily accessible on YouTube and many other outlets. This 20 minute documentary went viral all over the United States, I even watched it in one of my college classes, and had a huge impact on Nike’s image. Nike CEO Phil Knight said this, “The Nike product has become synonymous with slave wages, forced overtime, and arbitrary abuse” (Lutz). This was a very bad time for Nike, but by taking the problem head on and using social media outlets to show they fixed the problem, Nike was able to restore its’ image. “… Nike has become more transparent than its competitors about its labor practices, publishing a 108-page report revealing conditions and pay in its factories and acknowledging widespread issues, as well as a complete list of factories it contracted with. To this day, Nike continues to publish public reports of conditions in its factories” (Lutz). Nike was affected very negatively by the use of the internet and social media, but has now been able to use those outlets in order to save their image and improve it.
Social Media is not just a great way to improve a company’s image, but also to advertise. With the younger generation, “Millennials”, being on their devices all day and constantly connected to social media outlets, it is a great place for advertisements. The free version of the music app Pandora for example, when you are using the app it allows you to listen to a variety of songs, but every so often your music is interrupted by an AD. There is nothing you can do to skip these advertisements and thus are forced to listen to the 15 to 30 second commercial. Facebook has a list of Ads on the right side of your screen for a variety of different items, YouTube makes you watch Ads before continuing to your video, and Instagram and Twitter have paid for sponsored ads on your timeline. By companies advertising this way they are exposing themselves to a variety of different people and markets. Pandora, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, and more are global social media sites, they reach people all over the world and the smart companies are using them to advertise themselves and their products. Social media has given companies a whole new platform from which they can reach consumers by pairing themselves with social media outlets in order to reach target consumers. The Social media movement has changed the way companies interact with consumers and will continue to change the way they interact as technology changes. It can be a great resource for a company as long as they know how to use it and are aware the effects their actions can have on their image.