Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dilemmas in Social Media. Are we ready to meet them?

It is easy to make a mistake in the social media. Øyvind Kvalnes at Handelshøyskolen BI in Bergen, Norway, has identified in his recent research five dilemmas that can come up. While social media give a fantastic opportunity to discover and create network with other people, it also gives us challenging situations. As Mr. Kvalnes puts it, one gets a chance to discover oneself just as the Greek philosopher Socrates suggested. Mr. Kvalnes himself is a philosopher and professor at the Trade University of Bergen.

So what are the ethical challenges that everyone meets when diving into the social media ocean? And how are they related to representing a Bed and Breakfast inn online?

1. Role dilemmas: Who am I/are we in the social media? A private person. A professional or someone in between? A close friend or just a stranger? How can you combine your personal appearance and your business? Do you always have to be positive? The challenges are greatest when the people who meet have different understanding of the roles.

Have you thought about how your separate your own personality and private appearance from the one of your inn? When we invite friends, paste a comment, or share news, should we do it as a person, or as a business representative? As described in “A Good Website for B&B” it is important to be personal for Bed&Breakfast owners, but how far should that be used? I have seen that most of the inns prefer, for example, to use Facebook Page with the name of the inn to communicate with their visitors. Can it be also possible to communicate using your own profile (share or answer on the B&B’s Page)?

2. Fast-to-type dilemmas: Social media give opportunities to spread any information fast and effectively.  Participants take spontaneous decisions to send it further. And that can create a dilemma between the sender and the receiver. Do I check that the information is reliable before I send it further? Is it OK to be associated with that information? What if someone sends my spontaneous writings further?

If you decide to share news from the neighborhood, or tell your readers about an upcoming event in your town, you must be sure that the information in reliable.

3. Ambitions dilemmas: We can have big ambitions that we will be followed by many, and get a lot of friends through the social media. How far should we stretch it to satisfy those ambitions? What should we do with our viewpoints to get those friends: shall we agree on anything or go into discussions?

4. Dilemma of expressing: The social media is an arena for sharing of opinions and viewpoints. What should we do when we come to a controversial question? Should we choose to express ourselves to stay popular, or should we tell the truth and out real opinions?

This dilemma is mostly important when we think of answering to the guests’ reviews. What should we do with the negative reviews? What about positive one? You can read more about it at Daniel Edward Craig's Blog, and check out the materials of the latest webinar by Revinate.

5. Dilemma of knowledge: Knowledge can be understood differently by people using the social media. The one who owns the knowledge can use it in his/her own advantage. How should we use the knowledge we have? What knowledge do you possess that should be shared with your guests? What should never see the light?

– If you think about the possible dilemmas in advance, you will be prepared to meet the ethical challenges which follow you once you get represented in social media, - says Øyvind Kvalnes.

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