A former Head of the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ghana Business School, Professor Robert Ebo Hinson, has advocated the development of a comprehensive social media policy to harness the potential of the resource for national development.
In that regard, he said concerted national effort ought to be made to incorporate social media strategies into the holistic development framework.
"As the digital spaces are evolving, we need to also evolve policies at the national level to keep pace with how the technology is beginning to permeate our society.
"Communication paradigms are changing at the policy and institutional levels, so social media should be part of the comprehensive national development policy such that it will not be deployed as a stand-alone resource,” he said.
He was speaking at the opening session of a two-day social media summit held in Accra.
Dubbed Social Media 360 Summit 2017, the summit drew participants from corporate entities, the business community, academia and other industry players.
It was under the auspices of Innovare, a consultancy organisation, with support from other corporate bodies.
The summit was on the theme: "Creating Digital Ideas, Building Your Business,” and sought to explore ways by which social media could be properly exploited to propel the growth of businesses and the country at large.
Speaking on the theme, Prof. Hinson underscored the need for corporate organisations to take social media seriously and device strategies to leverage the benefits to grow their businesses.
He said given the threat social media posed to the privacy of users, it was important for institutions which managed personal information to be duly registered to guarantee the security of individuals.
“People usually give out personal information to be able to sign up to Facebook and other social media deployments but the challenge, however, has to do with threat to privacy because people who use social media are concerned about how secondary institutions use their data for all kinds of activities.
“If you want to be a firm that uses data, you need to make sure that you acquire it legally and ensure that you connect with consumers in a way that does not offend the users,” he said.
The Managing Director (MD) of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, observed that social media had a huge potential to promote the growth of the local economy and address key development challenges if properly harnessed.
He, therefore, called for concerted national efforts to build a robust social media environment as a measure to address the development gap.
“Social media is permeating every aspect of our society so we need to change our ways of doing things be it politics, business, communication or governance.
“The time we used to look at ourselves based on where we come from is gone because social media has broken all physical barriers, so African countries need to use it as a tool for a revolution,” he said.
Mr Ashigbey also urged business entities to adopt innovative strategies to leverage the huge potential of social media to enable them to survive in the dynamic business environment. “In the face of the enormous potential of social media, it is traditional media outlets which are able to adjust that can remain relevant in the dynamic world,” he said.