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Impact of Technology on Communication Modes

Question:

Discuss about the Impact of Social Media for Contemporary Business Communication.

Business Communication has taken huge leaps of evolution since the last twenty years. Communication modes that have been invincible at times have become obsolete in modern day communication. As life tends to be fast paced, face-to-face interaction is decreasing, with the advent of new technological advancements which include the internet, extensive use of the social media network, email, blogs, online paid advertisements and so on. The biggest game changers in the field of business communication are the Email and the social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, and so on (Ward  2016). The common outcomes of contemporary business communication include high speed and low cost communication, enhanced market research, improved Public Relations campaigns, tapping into new customer bases, direct and customized product/service marketing, enhanced sales, better customer support and retention, embellished customer relationship management and even attracting the best talents at work, ultimately aiming towards higher competitive advantage (Carroll and Buchholtz 2014).

A lot has changed in the last couple of decades when it comes to business communication. The modes of sharing information about a new product release have smoothened by the technological advancements. PR agencies and professionals may choose to communicate to millions of customers at the click of a few buttons. Blogs, Emails and Direct Messaging features have changed the long ornamental formal letters (Shwom and Snyder 2015). Marketers are able to communicate their messages through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and reach out to new customers with their new or existing offerings, and even “listen” to their existing customers through these mediums. These practices ensure better customer relationship management and brands get to enjoy higher equities with a few ‘clicks’ (Luxton, Reid and Mavondo 2015). Recruiters choose to attract the best of talents from the industry with the help of the second largest social network, LinkedIn and this reduces the cost and time required for the process. Organizations use intranet and message portal applications to ensure smooth corporate communications and even interpersonal communication within the organization. Both corporates and start-ups rely heavily on social media to build a connection with their followers on social media so that the company gains further trust. Posting about social issues they are passionate about rather than posting new offerings is the trend in social media and social networks. Since “Money never Sleeps”, business houses can’t afford to be in the regular nine to five working hours, rather they need to be in continuous touch with their followers at any time from any part of the world (Jussila, Kärkkäinen and Aramo-Immonen2014). Businesses in today’s world find their customers and followers waking up to electronic devices in their hands, and thus companies may have to face a steep price if they choose to refrain from the digital world.

Though businesses are adopting fast to these changes of the 21st century in business communication, there are still many challenges that plague the entire process. Most of the time, individuals listen to someone only to reply, rather than understand the other person. This gives rise to the first realm of problems in business communication. Whether it be internal or external communication, listening qualities from front line managers to top level management are not yet up to the mark in many organizations, leading to conflict (Modaff, Butler and DeWine 2016). Workplace diversity helps in enhancing culture and divergent thinking, but it also poses to be a problem when it comes to communication. Verbal and non-verbal communication have different meanings all over the world. For example the ‘thumbs up’ gesture is taken quite positively in Malaysia, a Muslim dominated nation, whereas the same gesture is considered to be a rude sexual signal in many Muslim dominated Middle Eastern countries. With the ongoing spree of globalization, businesses are engaging in activities across borders and oceans which often leads to communication problems across various time zones, business norms and etiquettes and most importantly different languages (Argenti 2015). Communication in the 21st century is even hindered by employees and teams who lack the training/provision to use various electronic devices to communicate their messages. For example a firm based in the U.S. may face communication difficulties with its outsourcing partner in Somalia which doesn’t have access to laptops and smartphones. Though communication has received a great boost with the new technological advancements, it is often desirable to have face-to-face communication in order to better comprehend the aspects of non-verbal communication like kinesics, oculesics paralanguage, proxemics and so on (Esser and Hanitzsch 2013). Communication in social media and social networks is fast and has greater reach to the masses. Thus there is a high probability that an unwanted piece of communication may be all over a follower’s PC, before the organization is able to take it down from its profiles. Even the high level of communication from corporates and start-ups to their customers often lead to an extended Zeroth Moment of Truth (ZMOT) (Leeflang et al. 2014). It is during this time a customer thinks of all the buying options available to him and then makes the purchase. Social networking is thus instrumental to gain competitive advantage (Young 2014). Communication that is not face to face often gives rise to misinterpretation, confusion, lacks the emotion and even out of business context (Cornelissen 2014). Now, only a trained intrinsically motivated employee can settle down with the best communication channels as long as the budget allocation permits him to do so.  Without capital budgeting and proper resource allocation, it is next to impossible to implement the sophisticated communication channels as employed by the market leader or a larger corporation.

Benefits of Contemporary Business Communication

Amongst the various challenges faced by 21st century organizations, Burberry, a luxury fashion brand didn’t waste much time to join the digital league and emerge out as a pioneer in the digitally transforming fashion industry. Former CEO Ahrendts and CCO Christopher Bailey were agile enough to spot the differences in the approach in traditional and digital shopping and was courageous enough to take the leap that would change the face of the industry forever (Skorobogatykh, Saginova and Musatova 2014). Burberry’s long time legacy had been the iconic trench coat but it was losing the momentum and Bailey had spotted it. The agents in the organization were willing to make the shift to a new paradigm to leverage core business strategies and nurture core competencies.

In early 2006, Burberry got all geared up to take on the digital transformation and Ahrendts knew that digital strategy had to be Burberry’s core strategy to sustain in the fads industry. The product had to be iconic, so choosing the trench coat to be at the cornerstone of the new paradigm shift was no coincidental move from the Chief Creative Officer Bailey. In early 2009, Burberry launched its own social networking site; the very first of its kind by a leading fashion house. By November 2009, Burberry was out with its Art of the Trench web page which had collaborations with ace bloggers and photographers including Scott Schuman. The website was designed to facilitate user generated content which included Burberry trench coat owners publishing pictures of themselves wearing their ‘pride’. Customers were provided the liberty to like and comment on their own as well as others’ images. To facilitate the sharing provisions, Burberry included the one touch call to action button which enabled users to share their content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest instantly (Bass 2016). The highly collaborative strategies put the users, fans and the organization on the same pedal to enhance the customer shopping experience. Further, to have a stronger emotional bond with the millennials, a new campaign, Burberry Kisses was designed. It allowed the user to send virtual kisses to any loved one sitting at any other corner of the globe. Burberry had collaborated with Google Earth and Street View to understand the locations of their users better and ‘bring to life’ the journey of the kiss travelling from one city of the world to another. It had been a whooping success story for the brand as kisses from more than 150 countries were delivered. In 2011, the brand used Twitter (Zhang, Xue and Burns 2015) and Instagram to reveal its 2012 clothing line collection and streamed the actual event on YouTube. The most out of the world shopping experience provided by Burberry was at its flagship store at Regent Street, London where the store used RFID chips to display customized product videos for customers who walked passed nearby LED screens. The customers were provided iPads to make a quick order and even help them be a part of the Burberry legacy. Burberry has extended the customized and relevant product video feature to its website, so that customers can have an unforgettable online shopping experience and get into the precious loyalty loop which promises greater revenues. 

Being at the forefront of Omni-channel customer relationship and engagement, Burberry has proved to be immensely successful with its vibrant social media channels, website and brick and mortar stores. The paradigm shift to undergo the digital transformation and adopt the digital strategy as a core strategy provided Burberry the opportunity of tapping into a new segment of younger customers who felt associated with the brand given its social media and web presence. Believing that ‘Content is King’, use of open source tools like WebGL, CSS3 and HTML 5 combined with the complex operations of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (Zhang, Xue and Burns 2015), maintaining high user engagement rates, recognizing the accurate KPIs have helped the brand increase its revenue by 68% from USD1650 Million to USD2750 within 4 years from 2011 to 2015 (Bass 2016). From the perspective of a business student, it was not its products that Burberry was trying to push to its buyers, but rather the pursuit of providing its buyers, an unforgettable shopping experience was the driving force behind Burberry’s success of being the pioneer in digital innovation in the fashion industry.

References

Argenti, P.A., 2015. Corporate communication. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Bass, C., 2016. An exploration of the way consumers use digital media of luxury fashion brands to create value: A case study analysis of Burberry.

Carroll, A. and Buchholtz, A., 2014. Business and society: Ethics, sustainability, and stakeholder management. Nelson Education.

Cornelissen, J., 2014. Corporate communication: A guide to theory and practice. Sage.

Esser, F. and Hanitzsch, T. eds., 2013. The handbook of comparative communication research. Routledge.

Jussila, J.J., Kärkkäinen, H. and Aramo-Immonen, H., 2014. Social media utilization in business-to-business relationships of technology industry firms. Computers in Human Behavior, 30, pp.606-613.

Leeflang, P.S., Verhoef, P.C., Dahlström, P. and Freundt, T., 2014. Challenges and solutions for marketing in a digital era. European management journal, 32(1), pp.1-12.

Luxton, S., Reid, M. and Mavondo, F., 2015. Integrated marketing communication capability and brand performance. Journal of Advertising, 44(1), pp.37-46.

Modaff, D.P., Butler, J.A. and DeWine, S.A., 2016. Organizational communication: Foundations, challenges, and misunderstandings. Pearson.

Shwom, B.G. and Snyder, L.G., 2015. Business communication: Polishing your professional presence. Pearson.

Skorobogatykh, I., Saginova, O. and Musatova, Z., 2014. COMPARISON OF LUXURY BRAND PERCEPTION: OLD (UK) VS. MODERN (RUSSIA) CONSUMERS’PERCEPTION TOWARD THE BURBERRY BRAND. Journal of Eastern European and Central Asian Research, p.76.

Ward, J., 2016. Keeping the family business healthy: How to plan for continuing growth, profitability, and family leadership. Springer.

Young, A., 2014. Brand media strategy: integrated communications planning in the digital era. Springer.

Zhang, R., Xue, S. and Burns, L.D., 2015. Investigation of Micro-blogging marketing strategy of Fashion brand: via big data and machine learning methodology.

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