Social Media and Knowledge Management in Small and Medium Enterprises

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Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Australia can take advantage of social media to expand, reach a wider audience and make high sales. Social media is perhaps the cheapest and the most effective way for companies to reach a broader market, make effective sales and to learn better innovative ideas (Aichner & Perkmann, 2013). The companies can use social media to their advantage in knowledge sharing, solving critical problems and enhancing their social circles (Apăvăloaie, 2014). Some of the social media channels that may be effective for such companies include Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. When choosing a social media channel, the SMEs should consider the message to be relayed, the target market, risks involved and their convenience. This research paper hence discusses in detail how SME’s can use social media to get leverage in the global world.

2. Social Media and Knowledge Management

2.1 Social Media

Social media is a platform where individuals and companies can share knowledge through texts, videos or pictures. Social media is any medium that allows people to connect, share information and build networks (Anand & Mahajan, 2014). There are various social media channels which could also be applied to different roles. The commonly used social media channels in this era are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (Apăvăloaie, 2014). Instagram: a Facebook-owned company usually uses visual appeal and targets people that love expressing themselves and using photos and videos. Millennials would greatly benefit from using Instagram because it allows them to express their attitudes fully, stands and believes without necessarily typing the message down (Apăvăloaie, 2014).

Twitter is a more formal medium of communication, and it is suitable for companies that would desire to save on time and also get immediate responses from their clients. Twitter's professional appeal could be linked to their character limits of 140. Facebook is indeed the most comprehensive form of social media platform with their numbers growing every day (Yadav & Tripathi, 2016). Facebook has no restrictions, and most companies would hence prefer it because they can go live, use long texts and videos to engage their clients. As more people continue getting into social media, companies now recognize the need to actively use the different platforms to reach and interact with the audience (Apăvăloaie, 2014). Social media continues to play an essential role in promoting brand awareness, making sales, getting reviews and recommendations (Georgescu & Popescul, 2015). Companies in the 21st century hence acknowledge the significant benefits that they can obtain from social media which may give them not only potential business partnerships but also solutions to the various challenges that they could be facing.

2.2 Social Media and Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge management in small and medium enterprises is of utmost importance because it details the purpose, the processes and the objectives of the companies (Anderson & Mohan, 2011). Knowledge sharing is of paramount importance to the SMEs such as Just for Pets, Pure profile and Top Juice in Australia because it ensures that all stakeholders are acquainted with the progress of the companies and any changes that would be necessary for the process (Anand & Mahajan, 2014). Traditionally, knowledge would be utilized by the senior officers within companies and they would only communicate relevant information to the junior staffs (Anderson & Mohan, 2011). Usually, the information would be transferred through controlled meetings, memos, and emails. Companies however now realize that to compete effectively in the global marketplace, they have to actively involve their employees and the public (Hemsley & Mason, 2013).

Knowledge management in this regard also entails making use of the information obtained from the public domain to ensure that it also aligns with the company’s strategic goals (Anderson & Mohan, 2011). Although a company such as Top Juice may be planning on making great strides in the marketplace, working without considering the external environment may spell doom because it may end up offering services that are stale or not good enough for the public (Gaál, Szabó, Obermayer-Kovács & Csepregi, 2015). Once companies hence use the social media platforms, they can understand the needs of the marketplace, the different reviews on the current products and hence devise the best way to ensure that the information is well illustrated in the products that they continue to deliver in the market.

2.3 Social Media and Building Social Capital

Without sufficient social capital, small and medium enterprises may struggle to appeal to their target market or even make their expected sales (Badea, 2014). Social capital would be the total of the people that currently purchase the company's products, those that would perhaps be willing to buy them and the people that would need more convincing (Ali, Shabbir, Rauf & Hussain, 2016). The quality of the social capital can also potentially eliminate a company. For a company to be active, it needs to have the right appeal in the market and ensure that it addresses the people that would directly or indirectly be affected by the product (Aichner & Perkmann, 2013). For instance, Coca-Cola in Australia has done an excellent job at enhancing their social media presence and by extension the social capital. Coca-Cola uses their different themes such as “Share a Coke” to engage the public and continue with the relevant conversations which ultimately translate to high sales (Khan, 2017). Other companies like P&G and General Electric, has also understood the importance of using social media to market their products, understand the customer’s needs and address the concerns that they could be having (Badea, 2014).

Customers want always to have a human feel and acknowledge that the companies are run by individuals who are considerate of their needs (Aichner & Perkmann, 2013). Small and medium-sized companies should begin from their personal social media profile to broadcast their company’s profiles and get a good following (Hemsley & Mason, 2013). Nowadays, companies can also use influential people to market the social media accounts, and this is a fast way of getting a massive following on the different social media platforms (Apăvăloaie, 2014). An excellent way for the companies to also get a higher social capital is to ensure that when advertising using their mainstream media, they highlight or give links to the pages where the customers can interact with them (Anand & Mahajan, 2014). It could also be efficient if the companies would include their social media handles in their packaging. The companies can also take advantage of referrals by continually requesting their current followers to invite more people. Such a practice would only be applicable where the clients are currently satisfied with the products that are being offered.

2.4 Social Media and Aiding problem-solving

 Small and medium companies can use social media to solve the problems that they could be currently facing (Khan, 2017). Some of the challenges that a company such as Customer Insights is likely to be facing include, malice, inferior products, low turnover rates and weak sales (Mittal, Agarwal & Sureka, 2016). Social media hence acts as an excellent link between the companies and the clients and in the same way is useful in solving the problems (Apăvăloaie, 2014).  Using social media, companies can get to learn more about service delivery, quality production and customer engagement from successful companies (Aichner & Perkmann, 2013). The administrators can hence keep track of the successful forms to understand their progress, the challenges that they may be facing and how they have successfully dealt with them (Khan, 2017). Learning from well-established companies hence gives the research some credibility, and it also enables the small companies to avoid some of the costly mistakes that they are likely to make in business (Celine, 2012). Through social media, companies can get real feedback on the products that they are selling which may also detail their bad experiences (Ali et al., 2016). Through the feedback and live interactions, the companies can have a high starting point which understands the challenges that the client is facing. Afterward, the companies could also ask the social media users to suggest better modes of service delivery which when utilized would lead to more customer satisfaction and retention.

2.5 Social Media and Supporting Innovation

The SMEs can also utilize social media to harness their innovation capacity. Social media allows a fast and cheap way of transferring ideas from one person to another (Khan, Swar & Lee, 2014). The SMEs can also learn from great market players on product development and enhancements. Nowadays, the different platforms allow for companies to have live sessions where they can interact with the people and share ideas (Badea, 2014). The SMEs can hence take advantage of the knowledge being passed through the videos to check on where they could improve on their services.

Innovation may also arise from the social links that the SMEs may have created with their followers. Potential investors are always on the lookout for companies that have the potential for growth, and they come in with new ideas that may turn the SMEs into success (Anand & Mahajan, 2014). If the investors realize that the companies have created a positive rapport with their clients, which may indicate that they will also have a smooth relationship with them. The potential partners are hence likely to approach the companies with new ideas that may lead to more innovation and the expansion of the companies.

2.6 Risks of Social Media

The middle and small enterprises are likely to face various challenges even as they get into social media. A significant risk that the companies may face if is ignoring the significant impact that social media may have on them (Yadav & Tripathi, 2016). The small companies may even consider social media as a waste of time and resources hence entirely avoid it (Ali et al., 2016). In other cases, the companies may ignore the comments that the clients make online and hence stick to their original plans and fail to make adjustments. In the 21st century, however, such companies need to acknowledge that the customer is king and for them to be successful, they need to pay attention to the individual needs (Rahadi & Abdillah, 2013). When the customers do a product review online, the quality department should be keen to note if it is a positive or negative comment (Hemsley & Mason, 2013). Complaints regarding the products and service delivery should be promptly acted on if the company still wants to maintain a good business.

Social media poses excellent hacking and phishing risks from malicious applications (Williams & Hausman, 2017). Unlike big companies, SMEs may lack the machinery or the capacity to out in stringent protective measures on their social media websites (Celine, 2012). It is easy for instance for a small company to be a significant target for the competitors who may send hackers to steal critical information about the company (Williams & Hausman, 2017). The SMEs should employ strict security measures to ensure that only authorized persons can update information on the website (Georgescu & Popescul, 2015). There are some phishing scammers which parade themselves as the targeted companies with the aim of stealing from unsuspecting people. Such scenarios may diminish the trust that the market has on the company which may adversely impact on their growth rate (Kahar, Yamimi, Bunari & Habil, 2012). If such small companies notice an unusual incident in their website, they should caution their followers so that they can play caution.

3.0 Conclusion and Recommendations

Social media can indeed be great for enhancing social support, innovation problem-solving. Social media facilitates the fast movement of information which can be turned into great business ventures. Through the social media platforms, companies can determine the market needs and hence establish ways of ensuring that they take advantage of the opportunity. The small and medium market enterprises should, however, be cautious of the risks that are inherent in social media and ensure that they conduct themselves professionally.

To counter the tremendous human risks that would be common with social media, the SMEs should ensure that they have established the right policies that regulate their activities online. The administrators should hence control their communication online in regards to time and content. All employees should also be thoroughly trained so that they can be professional when online. The conversations should also be personalized to give them a human feel. Lastly, it is essential that the SMEs actively learn from other companies on how they utilize their social media and succeed through them.

To succeed through social media, SMEs need to take advantage of at least three social media sites to communicate with their clients. For instance, a small company can use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to communicate the same message but in different ways. The companies should also be keen to create strong bonds with the final users of their products and make enhancements from the recommendations that they are likely to receive online. Further, it is worth ensuring that companies actively engage in research to be innovative and further learn from companies that have excelled within the same industries.


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January 19, 2024


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