How social media has changed the way businesses are conducted

141125_MEC_Social_Media_Study (2).jpg

Syed Zafar Mehdi

Earlier, companies used to advertise jobs in the newspapers, magazines, job boards or through word of mouth.

Those traditional methods continue to exist, however with the advent of powerful social media tools, companies are increasingly adopting innovative social media strategies to survive in this highly competitive business environment.

When Ford ran its 2011 Explorer launch on Facebook, it created flutter in the business circles, as it was the first time a major car company was opting for web unveiling.

The gamble turned out to be extremely effective, prompting business leaders around the globe to stand up and take notice of the power and reach of social media.

Howard Schlutz, CEO – Starbucks made pertinent remarks about the role of social media in an interview with Harvard Business Review.

“Whether you are creating a brand, building one, or running a big one, you’d better understand social media, because there is a seismic shift in how people are gaining access to information and, as a result, how they are behaving,” he said.

In this globalized world, with great inter-connectivity, it has become critical to incorporate social media elements into business for myriad reasons.

The explosion of social media has been incredible. A paper Social Networks and their Impact on Records and Information Management by Arma International Educational Foundation states that social networks started as a means for people to have a social connection with other people with similar interests.

“They were once considered a tool for youthful revolution, but over the course of the last seven years, social networks have been used both for social purposes as well as for conducting business by a variety of organizations and industries. Examples of industry sectors using social networks include private companies, non-profits, political organizations, government and education,” reads the report.

In this globalized world, with great inter-connectivity, it has become critical to incorporate social media elements into business for myriad reasons.

The interactive nature of social media allows businesses to reach out to prospective candidates and tap information about their background, experience and expectations.

It helps in marketing and brand management and increases the opportunities for enterprises to understand the consumers and build instant connection with them.

Two-thirds of the 21,000 companies who participated in a survey by Harvard Business Review Analytical Services said they are either currently using social media channels or have social media plans in the future.

Generally, business professionals are known to be late-adopters, but the world of possibilities thrown up by social media has led many of them to it.

But many still say that it is an experiment, as they try to understand how to best use the different channels, gauge their effectiveness and integrate social media into their strategy.

“While still searching for best practices and measurements, two-thirds of the companies surveyed are convinced their use of social media will grow, and many anticipate investing more in it next year, even as spending in traditional media declines,” says the report The New Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action.

Generally, business professionals are known to be late-adopters, but the world of possibilities thrown up by social media has led many of them to it.

Social media experts believe that it is high time for businesses to accept and recognize that social media is a positive tool they can use to their advantage, irrespective of whether or not the job deals with social media or the internet.

According to a research report Social media and HR: how to stay ahead of curve by Sage (UK) Limited, human resources is lagging slightly behind other business functions such as sales and marketing in using social media to their advantage, however its value has started to be recognized.

“It has a potentially game-changing role to play in recruitment and a significant role in creating a positive employer brand. It can also drive greater collaboration within organizations, and can help HR professionals to share best practices and learn from the experiences of their counterparts in other organizations,” reveals the report.

In big companies, social media plays important part in centralizing the data sharing, by enabling employees at various locations to share information instantly.

As the practice of social media picks up, there is still a disparity in different countries, as found out in a report Social Media and Resourcing: the impact of Social Media on Recruitment and HR in Asia Pacific by Australia-based Alexander Mann Solution and The Chapman Consulting Group.

None of the Australian respondents say they used social media to vet or reject job applicants, while in Singapore, 17 per cent confess to have rejected a candidate based on information available on social media site and 29 per cent of recruiters in Hong Kong reveal they actively vet candidates online.

In big companies, social media plays important part in centralizing the data sharing, by enabling employees at various locations to share information instantly.

It also plays a crucial role in supporting and cultivating the corporate culture within an organization by creatively engaging the employees to ensure higher productivity at work.

Incorporating the engagement aspect in social media strategy is important to create a corporate culture. In future, as the role and importance of social media becomes more defined in the business world, it is likely to extend to other aspects of business.

According to Wikipedia, there are more than 200 active social networking sites, most prominent being LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and MySpace, besides Yahoo Groups, Google groups etc.

In future, as the role and importance of social media becomes more defined in the business world, it is likely to extend to other aspects of business

Social media has emerged as a powerful way to expand the reach of business, generate publicity, keep the workforce in good humor, and to ensure greater productivity and growth.

However, it is important for business professionals to understand which social media strategies or tools will work to their advantage.

Ray Ponter in his book The Handbook of Online Social Media Research: Tools and Techniques enlists some important social media tools for the public sector, which includes online communities, online research communities, twitter, social networks like Facebook, blogs and public discussion forums, virtual worlds etc.

The tools are aplenty. Business professionals may use Twitter to stay updated with industry events and happenings. They may do blogging to spell out their business methodologies and practices.

More popular platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn can help them engage with employees, both new and old. Staying in touch with the alumni network – an art perfected by many prominent consulting firms – can pay back when they recommend new hires.

The effective use of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in recruiting people can eliminate the cost involved in hiring head-hunters, or paying consultancies or job sites.

The role of CEOs and top leadership is also critical. There is a growing trend of young CEOs upstaging older ones in many companies, and that means the disparity in terms of social media is also diminishing.

The effective use of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in recruiting people can eliminate the cost involved in hiring head-hunters, paying consultancies or job sites

Business leaders in the present scenario need to have firm grip over the intricacies of social media and its application to various aspects of business, be it recruiting, scouting, engaging or brand building.

A study by Wipro revealed that 63% of the CEOs’ use social media in their respective industries, though this is not indicative of the extent of usage and effectiveness.

“Majority of the CEOs’ are in agreement with the fact that social media is relevant and the usage should be emphasized upon to gain maximum of it,” says the report.

As Arthur L Jue, Jackie Alcalde Marr, and Mary Ellen Kassotakis write in their book Social Media at Work: Networking Tools Propel Organisational Performance, “the social media wildfire rages on, fed by high winds of at least three converging forces: the nature of the business environment, changing workforce demographics, and rapid advancements in software technology that enable social connection.”

Advertisements

Bagh e Babur: First Mughal’s final resting place


Syed Zafar Mehdi

The first Mughal emperor who ruled Kabul for many years and built ten gardens in the city had expressed a wish to be buried in one of them, which is famous today as Bagh e Babur

Bagh e Babur (Babur’s garden), the final resting place of the first Mughal emperor Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur, is one of the prime attractions in Kabul, located on the high slopes of Kuh-e-Sher Darwaza, southwest of the old city. Born in Ferghana in present-day Uzbekistan, where he is considered a national hero, Babur made inroads into this landlocked country in 1504 through Hindu Kush Mountains and captured Kabul, at a time when there was a wave of rebellion against the ruling Arghun dynasty from local populace and they were forced to retreat to Kandahar. Martin Ewans in Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics writes that Babur took advantage of the situation and established his new kingdom and ruled over it until 1526.

In 1505, writes VD Mahajan in History of Medieval India, Babur led his first expedition to India because of the insufficient income his new kingdom was generating, which he mentions in his memoirs Baburnama. “My desire for Hindustan had been constant. It was in the month of Shaban, the Sun being in Aquarius, that we rode out of Kabul for Hindustan”. He died on January 5 1530 in Agra, and as per his wish, his body was moved to Kabul and buried in Bagh e Babur.

Spread over 11 hectares, Bagh e Babur is the largest public green space in the city, which was decimated into rubble during war

The garden remained a revered site of pilgrimage for Babur’s successors. Jehangir, the fourth Mughal Emperor who ruled from 1605 until his death in 1627, visited the site in 1607 and constructed a prayer platform with headstone facing the grave of Babur. His son and fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan came on a visit in 1638 and ordered the construction of tombs and a mosque in the garden. Over the years, it became a famous historical site for tourists coming to Kabul.

Spread over 11 hectares, Bagh e Babur is the largest public green space in the city, which was decimated into rubble during the years of war. After the ouster of Taliban, the restoration work was done by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and UNCHS Habitat. They redeveloped the gardens and restored the buildings after conducting an archaeological survey.

The garden is covered by high walls and a beautiful caravanserai greets visitors at the entrance. From the caravanserai, the terraces and white marble watercourse give a magnificent look. Both sides of the ground are dotted by herbaceous beds and saplings, some of which have special mention in Babur’s memoir. From the top 14th terrace, overlooking the garden is Babur’s tomb. It was his favorite garden among the 10 gardens he built in Kabul city.

He was buried in Agra initially and was reburied in this garden a few years later. According to legend, he had expressed his wish to be buried under open sky, so his grave is open, encircled by a marble screen. On the headstone, the inscription reads “the tomb was erected for the light-garden of the God-forgiven angel king whose rest is in the garden of Heaven”. Babur’s grand-daughter, Ruqaiya Sultan Begum is also buried there.

The garden has seen a steady increase in number of visitors in recent years since the new management body under the Bagh e Babur Trust was formed, with support from Kabul Municipality, the Ministry of Information and Culture and AKTC. Kabul without Bagh e Babur will be incomplete, a desolation.

(First published in Afghan Zariza)