Maxim Behar* a Public Relations expert believes Freedom of speech, of media is the basic freedom of modern democracy and the modern world cannot be turned back as social media is part of our reality.
We had an interview with him about the effects of social networks on economy, business, culture, democracy and fake news in different countries.
- First, briefly tell us what are the benefits of a social network?
The effect of social media is enormous, and we feel it even not every day, but every minute of our life. Frist of all it creates unlimited opportunities for developments of business in completely different way – faster, cheaper and more efficient. Also – in fact social media means knowledge and this knowledge is disseminated with the speed of light among the whole world.And I do want to talk about politics, bit culture and science are in the base of the development of the world and social media help this process enormously. Communications between people with different cultures and pints of view make the speed of improvements much higher and at the end of the day bring to a much beet world.
- How effective are social media to improve business profitability? If you have statistics on the use of social media in this area?
Depends of the industry. In sales the differences are significant, and statistics are more than clear. 55 per cent of the customers globally learned about brand or product through social media. Online sales growth every year is increasing by 35 per cent and for certain goods it is more than 50 per cent yearly. Profits are only one side of the business picture. Much more important is that social mediaincreasesvery much the competition and the abilities to compare products, to have full and independent revies on them. Third parties’ involvement and so-called third-party opinions played crucial role in the modern business. You go to stay in a hotel, then you can read all opinions about this hotel and judge the positive values and disadvantages of the place. You ant to buy a car, a mobile phone or anything you need, then the opinions of the users and clients is crucial for the decision-making process. But let us not forget – this fact now is a game changer for the companies no matter whether they produce goods or deliver services. This is a massive booster of quality and innovation improvement of all fields of modern business in all sectors.
- Please tell us. – In order to improve the economy of the countries, how should the government’s development of social media among the business and encourage them to use it?
I do not think any government must have anything to do with social media, of course unless they do not concern security, crimes, and child abuse. In each country there are certain laws and of course they would prevail the influence and management of social media. But we should not believe that it is media and freedom of press and speech must be guaranteed in the modern democracy. But… again – I would like to underline that each country has its own legislation restricting nudity,hate speech and fake news or profiles. I strongly believe that governments must support local business creatinж much better environment for successful deals and affordable tax policy but also good conditions for online providers encouraging healthy competition.It hasa direct relation to the development of the local and international business also through social media and currentlyis of great importance to each economy.
- – In order to spread the culture of a country and to attract people for tourism or investing or other cases, how can the use of this media affect?
Social media now is the main booster of information about travels, destinations and hospitality business. Tourism becomes very important business and to high extend dependable onindependent opinions sharing. Hotels, restaurants, bars, airline companies are recently exposed on enormous pressure from the side of the customers and it creates completely different conditions for very positive development of the business and also improvement of services. From that perspective social media only creates much better business and higher quality.
- – For democracy and freedom of speech, for example, journalists, students, or even public how can this media help in this matter?
Freedom of speech, of media is the basic freedom of modern democracy. We must keep it clean and professional. The modern world gives a lot of opportunities to create misleading news – fake, using trolls or anonymous profiles. We must be careful about that. Also – to be very careful not to break the freedom of speech just because social media can provide fake news. This is very sophisticated and delicate fight and I strongly believe that freedom of speech and media must prevail in it. The regulation must be minimized and according to very clear criteria.
- One of the challenges in social media is spreading fake news. How can these media be identified in this regard?
More than one hundred year ago when Henry Ford was introducing first ever automobile in the history known as “gasoline cart”vast majority of the people were more than sure that it cannot survive as it is very dangerous. No one believed this could be the future because everyone is asking questions –what will happen if tire for example blows or engine stops, or where do we find gasoline… On the top – all people were afraid that the car may kill someone on theroadand that is why they did not believe in the future of the automobile… But today all we drive cars, right? Horse carts are in the historywith all the advantages. Same is with social media – they brought to our lives a lot of risks but sooner or later all those risks will be manageable… Fake news, trolls, hate speech, aggressive postings,misunderstandings, illegal usage of pictures belonging to someone else, fake profiles, people presenting themselves a someone who they are not…. These are real risks and we all must be very carefulbeing on social media, the same as we are carefuldriving the roads with our cars. The more transparent and personalized will be the social media, the smaller will be the risks. This is the only way to use them safely – to be personal, transparent, with real names and real people.
- time spending in social medias and it,s effect specially on youths is another challenge in our era. whatis the statistics, standards and your recommendations?
My very clear recommendation is – do not restrict them, but closely monitor and explain as much as possible in a modern language about the challenges in the modern world. I know a lot of parents prohibiting their children to use mobile phones or tablets, or if the have the devices, ban using social media. Young generation always will find theway to see what they want, remember – always. The modern world cannot be turned back as social media is part of our reality, they have huge riskamong themselves, but also enormous advantages and we must learn how to use and promote them. Young generation also will not change, we must change.
Maxim Beha Maxim Behar is a global renowned Public Relations expert, Founder, COE, and Chairman of the Board of M3 Communications Group, Inc. – a leading company in the field of Public Relations and Social Media in Bulgaria. Maxim is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Program in Leadership Decision Making
Now he is a President of the World Communications Forum Association, based in Davos, Switzerland, and a full member of PRSA – Public relations Society of America. In May 2022US edition of PRWeek announced Maxim Behar Best PR Professional in Europe.
He is Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Seychelles to Bulgaria.
Maxim was also past President of ICCO (International Communications Consultancy Organization) – the largest and most influential global organization of Public Relations professionals and practitioners. In 2016 he was appointed to the Advisory Board of the only Museum of Public Relations in New York.
In 2017 Maxim Behar was inducted into the World’s ICCO PR Hall of Fame in London.
His latest book The Global PR Revolution, published all over the US by Allworth Press became a bestseller among new PR books on Amazon. In 2022 well respected Book Authority named the book among the Top 10 PR books of all time. In 2022 the book was also published in Iran.