Using Social Media in Education and Using Social Media Strategies in Education and Corporate Organizations in the U.S. and Belarus: A Practitioner Study

Using Social Media in Education and Using Social Media Strategies in Education and Corporate Organizations in the U.S. and Belarus: A Practitioner Study

M. Olguta Vilceanu (Rowan University, Glassboro, USA), Suzanne FitzGerald (Rowan University, Glassboro, USA) and Jekaterina Yurievna Sadovskaya (School of Business, BSU, Minsk, Belarus)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJSKD.2019100102

Abstract

Rapid growth of new media technologies allows organizations to communicate with consumers in immediate and interactive ways via blogs and social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Consumers, companies, and organizations bypass mass media gatekeepers and engage in direct communication exchanges. This study examines social media efficacy from the perspective of corporate and educational organizations in the United States and Belarus. Using the Delphi method, authors administered iterative surveys to a panel of sixteen experts, seeking consensus points. Access to financial, staff, and technical resources allow corporations to make intensive and effective use of social media. Non-profit and education organizations are interested in ability to relate to stakeholders by low-cost technologies, human interest stories, and personal connections. US organizations valued appropriateness for target audience as the most important factor in evaluating the best use of social media. Belorussian organizations valued effectiveness of the channel itself or ease of use.
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Introduction

Today’s organizations must engage consumers and stakeholders with interactive rather than one-way communication. Audiences are increasingly interested and engaged in communication with their brands, institutions, and philanthropic causes via social and interactive media. The age of constant communication in a society connected across political, social, geographic, and national borders, demands continuous updates and immediate response to whatever information needs to be addressed by media in general and social media in particular. Responding well and quickly versus responding late, or not responding at all, often makes the difference between a successful or failed message, campaign, or brand. This study explores the field perspective of using social media in education and corporate organizations in Belarus and the U.S. While there is an abundance of research regarding social media in the U.S., from a variety of socioeconomic, technical, and knowledge perspectives, the Belarusian counterpart is underrepresented in existing literature. Therefore, most of this study will focus on presenting and interpreting the findings for the Belarus dataset, with the US dataset serving as a counterpart to help readers gain a better understanding on the differences and similarities between strategic use of social media in Belarus.

The field of public relations is intrinsically connected to and through social media channels, such as blogging/microblogging websites, Facebook, and Twitter, as they encourage and facilitate conversation between organizations and their key stakeholders. Whether we call it chatter, buzz, Word-of-Mouth, or viral, extensive communication often commences between information sponsors and consumers on blogging platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr, where campaigns are launched or erupt unexpectedly with comments on blog posts and bloom into bona fide debates among wide audiences across various media channels.

Because consumers can gain access to these channels easily, content morphs instantly from mass communication to individualized communication, thus breaking information barriers between organizations and consumers. Whether social networking is based on user location (FourSquare) or simply willingness to belong to a cultural subgroup (Tumblr and Instagram), multi-way communication makes it possible for messages to be adapted and adopted across media platforms without time restrictions. Of course, this creates new strategic needs for organizations as they redefine their communication to focus on the social media imperatives of information, community, and action (Lovejoy, Waters, & Saxton, 2012).

Historically, it can be argued that mediated communication exchanges started with families gathering around their radios in the early 1900s for news and stories that offered a glimpse into the wider world. Then, cinema and television took this context and built it into the center of social life all around the world, fostering change and exchange in terms of values, customs, events, and ideas. Social media morphed the process by replacing the central role of the communicator who owned (or paid for) the message to be delivered a certain way, with the equivalent of an exchange market for information. Today, audiences receive and access information instantly, and discourse can alter irrevocably by moving the focus of communication away from the originating story and into a direction that may or may not be beneficial to the original storyteller. One way or another, the need for information on topics deemed worthy of consumer attention remains well-supplied by individuals and organization vying for access to voice in a crowded social media space (Qualman, 2010).

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