The Influence of Social Media and Advocacy on Public Opinion
The way in which businesses communicate with their clients has changed dramatically within the last decade. Previously organisations would have the luxury of curating a uniquely considered and succinct manner of delivering their missives, before advertising to their key target audience.
However, this form of one-way communication has been usurped by the power of social media; forming an instantaneous dialogue that can now garner opinions from a larger mass market of voices and serving to paint its own judgement of a company.
Social media is a highly competitive outlet for those businesses that want continued success, with consumer reviews being 12 times more impactful than the product description itself. It can be a lucrative marketing tool, on the provision that it is managed expertly, and a productive way to bolster a brand through the proficient use of comprehensive insights, tools and techniques – enabling an organisation to extract the best results from this potential digital minefield.
“The emergence of social media has changed the way consumers form opinions and make decisions.” (Flint, 2009) 
48% of the total global population are now actively engaged with utilising social media and this pace of users is only anticipated to accelerate in coordination with the continued development of technology. Being able to connect anytime and anywhere has a monumental bearing on how an organisation can nurture and sustain its relationships with their clientele. Often, enabling those clients who feel that their voices are marginalised the opportunity to connect, discuss opinions and find common ground with other like-minded people.
Businesses can use this influx of social media as a way to reach their consumer base, stimulate interest, build revenue, create product knowledge and guide brand image in a quick, efficient and real-time manner. It can provide a fair platform for businesses of all sizes to compete, allowing many to achieve a reach of engagement that could surpass the normal physical boundaries it would have via traditional advertising methods or with any ordinary budgetary constraints.
“Your network is your net worth.” – Porter Gale
However, the use of social media to marshal commercial growth and bolster company image can be a double-edged sword. For example, low numbers of social shares or ‘likes’ can foster a negative brand image and impact poorly on company credibility, in addition to the detrimental effects of spamming from disgruntled customers potentially dominating a company page or feed.
When managed appropriately, effectively and quickly, any ‘negative’ or detrimental opinions can be turned into an opportunity for a brand to demonstrate connectivity and a personalised service. For example, real-time customer feedback can be an opportunity to demonstrate approachability, efficiency and impeccable service
“Social networks represent the digital reflection of what humans do: we connect and share.” – Jeremiah Owyang
We are all aware that information is power, and social media is a key means of distributing that information in order to enable users to harness that power.
The purpose of organisations sharing content is fundamentally to get people to engage with it, to respond to it, to participate with it – and therefore we are dependent on the opinions that are being generated by that very content. We should not shy away from those views but utilise this innovate and revolutionary communication method and seek to extract every advantage.
 EXPO (eMarketer, February 2010)
 J. Flint, The Influencers Are All Around. PRWeek. September 2009
 Techrasa Kepios Analysis (October 2019)
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