Professor Robert Ebo Hinson, Head of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ghana Business School, has called on organisations to make productive use of social media since it helps enhance relationships and provide better services to customers.
He noted that eliciting comments from customers and responding to them through social media helped improved the speed of bringing customer information to the organisation and enhanced the responsiveness to customers.

Prof Hinson made the call on Wednesday at a two-day maiden social media 360 summit in Accra for corporate institutions and business executives organised by Innovare, a management and advisory consultancy and Stratcomm Africa.
Prof. Hinson noted that social media platforms provided various informational benefits to organisations and customers, giving the content for customers to understand the organisation and therefore urged business executives to take advantage of the platform.

“Social media is the awareness channel. The role of social media in our current dispensation cannot be overlooked, because it enhances more information sharing between customers and organisations.
Social media is helping us to have faster information access, which enables us to respond to market scenarios more quickly,” he added.

He said social media had improved the visibility of several institutional brands, enhanced their brand health as well as improved brand positioning for several institutions in the country.
He said there were key fundamental frameworks for organisations to build blocks for utilising social media for business development including identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, and reputation among others.

Prof Hinson explained that the identity functional block represents the extent to which users reveal their identities in a social media setting, which include disclosing information about the company’s profile and information that portrays users in certain ways.

He noted, however, that one major implication of the identity dimension in social media discourse was privacy, where users usually had serious concerns about how secondary firms used their information as a source for data mining and surveillance and the extent to which social media sites passively facilitated or actively encouraged these activities.
Prof Hinson said the conversations block of the framework represented the extent to which users communicate with other users in a social media setting and that many social media sites were designed primarily to facilitate conversations among individuals and groups such as tweet, blog, to meet new like-minded people and other business transactions.

He explained that a firm should first recognise and understand its social media landscape, using the framework to unveil the social media functionality and engagement implications for understanding customers.
He said for organisations to maximise the use of social media on their performance, it was critical to conduct research about competitors and the community environment to formulate strategies for engaging the target audiences.

Ms Esther A. N. Cobbah, the Chief Executive Officer of Stratcomm Africa, posited that making digital communication an integral part of strategies for communication was critical in the global world.
Mr C. K. Bruce, Managing Director of Innovare, said his outfit had realised that organisations were losing out due to their inability to utilise social media effectively to their advantage.
He said the summit would therefore provide opportunity to expose organisations to the value of social media to their business.