“Social media” was coined form two words – “social” and “media”. “Social” depicts interaction between individuals, community or even group with similar interests. Media, as the name suggests, it is a medium or platform through which creation and exchange of ideas is made (Razmerita, Kirchner & Nabeth, 2014). It has been in existence close to 20 years and has already gained widespread acceptance. In the year 2003, LinkedIn was first launched, and then MySpace was launched as well as Facebook in 2004, gaining much more acceptance than other websites. In 2005 YouTube came into existence, after that twitter alongside with the rest platforms, such as Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat followed. The above social media channels have gained over 1 billion subscribers in only 10 years of existence (Razmerita, Kirchner & Nabeth, 2014). From the word ‘social media’, the meaning is explained as sites where people socialize with new and old friends.
Social networking has been utilized to build relationships and interactions between individuals in an organization, which leverages on the websites and applies them to interact with new and existing customers for products and services they offer. Actually, this is a paradigm shift from the old school methods of buyer interaction to better modern ways where the access from the organization consumers and from consumers to products can be reached cheaply and easily at the click of the button. Loyalty is created where customers are interacted with on a personal level. The paper also seeks to unravel how social networking has brought about the social media marketing and vast uses to spearhead the company’s business strategy.
Social media marketing
Tuten & Solomon, (2014) explained that marketers are using social media to raise the visibility of the company’s products and services to the public via the Internet. Social networking sites are important to build social and business networks to exchange knowledge and ideas. The sites are becoming the go-to places for consumers who want to learn more about the products of the business. It can be viewed as an outcome of the up-to-date status of such sites which offers consumers current information about services, products, or upcoming events of the business. Moreover, information posted by the business in the social networks can be accessed by the general public since they can be attained through the search engines (Stelzner, 2014). When a person is looking for a solution to a problem, an organization appears to answer the questions. Social media marketing is trustworthy because the material is shaped within the peer groups’ work by either a ‘Retweet’ or Facebook comment about a certain product or organization. It is important to note that it would not be possible without access to Internet. Companies or business organizations access the Internet via subscriptions to internet service providers of their respective localities (Tuten & Solomon, 2014). Mobile phones, Internet and social media must interlink to realize social media marketing.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
The major benefits deriving from social media marketing are a company’s exposure rise and bringing in huge traffic. Research indicates that 92% of social networking efforts made by marketers have helped to boost business exposure (Stelzner, 2014). Traffic increase followed up with the 80% of marketers getting positive results from it. Presence in the social media has been embraced by all firms today, more so use of Facebook, twitter, instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, tumbler, and Pinterest. In March 2015, there were 1.4 billion Facebook active users and 280 million Twitter subscribers.
However, the four essentials for maintaining an effective social media and online presence need to be taken into consideration, they are:
Social media’s backbone is content (Walker, 2014). Unless a company is able to post fresh and relevant information regularly, its social networking and online platforms cannot attract traffic. Lack of the fresh content spread via social media accounts renders it dead.
The second essential of conducting a successful online or social media campaign is engaging the audience (Walker, 2014). Businesses or individuals that are perceived responsive and friendly involve with their audience well, translating to loyalty, sales, patronage, affiliation of brand, goodwill and brand ambassadors who defends company’s name, service, product or brand.
There is a range of talents that the business should possess in order to run an active online presence and on social media. Such skills range from research, designs, graphics, analytics, monitoring, optimization, backend management Being unable to understand where to deploy each or wrongly utilizing them, spells disaster for any organization aiming to establish online presence (Walker, 2014).
Consistency means an ability to learn how to win the online and social media presence, and implementing it day in, day out running of the business (Walker, 2014). In summary, it is going in the way with the three abovementioned elements. Lack of consistency spells institutions or businesses’ failure to have the resources vibrant online, with their activities slow. The following are the main benefits of utilizing social media marketing for any organization:
A lot of time needs to be taken to build relationships which can grow sales. However, marketers that create this time reap great results. For instance, half the number of marketers who have been capitalizing on social media presence for at least three years in a row now, have reported improved sales (Stelzner, 2014). Approximately, more than a half of the marketers that use 6 plus hours in social media per week reap the same results. Over 74% of the marketers spending 40 plus hours gain new business from their efforts (Walker, 2014).
From a survey done by the researchers, marketers who spent over 6 hours per week came to conclusion that their social media presence and efforts had raised with the business levels exposure (Stelzner, 2014). Also, approximately all marketers who employ social media marketing for the last one year or more reported that it creates exposure for their businesses or organizations.
Business partnerships grow
The more time the marketers spend in social media network, the higher growths of business partnerships are gained (Walker, 2014). Approximately half of the marketers who have spent at least a year in social media marketing reported that they had gained new partnerships. More than a half of them spent 6 hours plus per week in social media thus creating new partnerships for the business. The marketers who were offering their products to other organizations and business appeared to be more than likely to reap this benefit than the ones selling explicitly to consumers.
According to survey conducted, 66% of the marketers generate leads benefits when they spend approximately 6 hours plus in a week doing social media marketing (Stelzner, 2014). More than a half of the marketers with at least a year of experience in social media generate leads through social media platforms.
Marketing expenses cut down
Comparatively half of the marketers who spend nearly 6 hours plus on social media determinations saw marketing expenses slashing down. At least 57% of the organization’s business comprising of 10 or less employees totally agreed that the marketing expenses was reduced when social media was used, while there were only 40% of business organizations with over 1000 employees who agreed (Stelzner, 2014).
Search ranking is improved
There are improved search engines ranks when the business marketers are utilizing social media platforms for a year or more, with nearly 58% or more of the marketers reporting an increase (Stelzner, 2014). The ones utilizing at least 6 hours or more in a week on social media, reported about an improvement in search engines’ rankings .
Marketers noted that the traffics where the business invested at least 6 hours plus on social media marketing were increased (Stelzner, 2014). The companies that have used social media platforms for a year or more reported that substantial improvements in results took place, comparing to the businesses with little experience online.
Market Insight is provided
Those with a year or more experience were 69% or more were of the thought that social media granted the business market insight (Stelzner, 2014). The ones spending more than 6 hours a week had 74% likelihood to acquire market insight.
Developed Loyal Customers
Marketers utilizing B2C were more likely to capture a bigger loyal fan base through the social media than marketers using B2B. 69% of companies that had been utilizing social media for more than a year, of them found social media good tool to create a loyal fan base (Stelzner, 2014). Time invested by marketers was also pivotal. Of the marketers who spent at least 6 hours and more in week, approximately 78% realized the benefits of social media, compared to 56% of them who spent 5 hours or less per week.
Major Social Media Networks and Their Connections to Businesses
There following are the statistics that indicate how people are connecting via Facebook with small businesses:
a. There exists nearly 2 billion connections or more between people and local businesses connected through Facebook platform.
b. On an average week, 645 million views and 13 million comments are made on local businesses’ Facebook pages (Valdez, Guterbock, Thompson, et.al 2014)
c. Nearly 70% users of Facebook monthly in the Canada and United States have connections with local businesses (Carrillat, d’Astous & Morissette Grégoire, 2014).
Facebook makes up one of the largest social media network. This site allows its users to create profiles, share pictures or videos, send messages and maintain touch with friends. The network has been translated into over 37 languages. Its use is reliant on the internet which can be accessed via the local internet service providers of the respective place the user is situated.
There are numerous features which distinguish Facebook with other social media networks. They include:
1. Market place: this allows its members to read posts and respond to certain classified advertisements
2. Groups: they are created by a group administrator with a sole purpose of uniting people with similar interests to interact with each other for a common good. Many businesses are capitalizing on groups to discuss new products and their launching.
3. Pages: they are created by the members to promote a specific topic of public importance (Carrillat, d’Astous & Morissette Grégoire, 2014). Companies utilize pages today to facilitate their online presence by having those pages named after their businesses.
4. Facebook Event: this one allows its members to advertise an event, carry out guests invitations and follow up to know the attendants (Valdez, Guterbock, Thompson, et.al 2014). Many businesses use feature to invite the public to launching of new products, brands or new designs.
5. Technology that tracks online presence: this allows the members to view users who are available on line for chat (Carrillat, d’Astous & Morissette Grégoire, 2014).
Facebook has played a big role in organizations and their branding campaigns (Carrillat, d’Astous & Morissette Grégoire, 2014). Facebook in 2011 launched a new marketer’s portal and creative agencies to assist them conduct brand promotions through Facebook. Today, nearly all organizations have Facebook accounts under their name; most of them being used for social and business purposes.
It is known that speaking is the most operative marketing strategy available, more so to organizations that rely heavily on word of mouth. However, Facebook assists organizations that still prefer word of mouth to amplify their strategy in areas of where their customers spend most time online and on mobile phones.
Organizations can leverage on social media through taking advantage of other social media channels available and more so those that are current and trending. Today, most businesses due vast availability of the internet and smartphone technologies are utilizing YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and snap-chat to advance their social media marketing campaigns. All these media offer the organization a chance to gather the market reaction to their products. Captivating video ads at YouTube go a long way to attract subscribers to a company’s YouTube channel for more information. A trendy boutique shop may leverage on twitter and Instagram presence by posting their trendy wears alongside their prices and pictures (Bronner & de Hoog, 2014). With time people start following the business through those platforms to purchase and keep up with the incoming fashions. This is very affordable and has wide coverage as it reaches all customers in the country provided they have internet access or a mobile phone and a social media platform.
Impact of Social Media in Organizations
In today’s world, the internet is the fastest method to attract customer’s attention and in a wider coverage, this being the reason why organizations are connecting their consumers through social media (Walker, 2014). Social media singlehandedly builds the brands image through capturing the attention of consumers. There exist some ways through which businesses have been educated on how to use social media platforms as stepping stones to creating awareness of brand or the campaign mission to customers.
Word of Mouth
Social media sites issue a perfect ground to gain from the word of mouth and to make sure it is spread. Many people are connected to the internet in developed countries thus social media is advanced in such places. When a certain brand is “liked” in Facebook, it can virally spread very quickly throughout social media platforms available (Walker, 2014). It has been researched that consumers are more comfortable with opinions emanating from their peers than advertisements that are paid by businesses. Videos also act as review points or references for products and services via YouTube, which often is shared to other social media platforms. The reviews serve as customer bases for buying decisions. Consequently, the reviews make company’s issue products to popular users of YouTube to review them for their subscribers. Some create own YouTube channels that are branded with videos of their products.
Communicating with Customers
Social media can be used to communicate with dissatisfied customers of the organizations in a more direct manner hence taking full advantage of the media platforms and promise change or an improvement of the product on offer (Walker, 2014). Many organizations have gone a head in this sector to seek for the customers’ opinion about upcoming events related to their brands more so consumer based business organizations.
Considerations and Influence
The major influence that social media has had on organizations is marketing and engagement of business with target markets. As use of social media platforms to engage and share about the market continues to soar, it would be necessary for any organization to come up with a sustainable social media strategy and implement it in order to take advantage of the dynamic environment successfully.
Another major influence of social media is the emergence of “trending topics” (Walker, 2014). A trend refers to a topic driven by a hash tag and is popular immediately at a specific time. These trends assist the organization to understand the things that are acceptable and those that are not at a particular time in the business environment.
Social Media Analytics
They are commonly referred to as social bakers. They are mainly companies that offer social media management of services and analytics of deep data for the many brands that carryout marketing on Facebook, Google+, twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, VK and instagram (Walker, 2014). They give the organization the chance to monitor and optimize on the social media campaigns effectiveness, benchmark with the competitors and the standards of the industry, and finally keep track of the right social media (KPIs) in order to move ahead in their marketing efficiency and success. The sites offer data about the quickest growing social media presence i.e. brands, celebrity, entertainment.
Social Media Marketing
This is a modern phenomenon which has begun with the emergence of the internet and social media dictating online communication. Generally, it is a form of internet marketing which implements the vast available social media platforms. It primarily involves activities that pertain sharing of videos, content or images the purposes of marketing (Ashley & Tuten, 2015). Social media marketing platforms are usually centered on creating contents which attract the viewer’s attention and encourages him to share it via his social media, resulting to (EWOM)-electronic word of mouth.
Some of the marketing techniques implemented by social media marketing are COBRAS, EWOM, and targeting (Ashley & Tuten, 2015). All these techniques are used to advertise successfully online. Social media platforms such Twitter and Facebook provide advertisers with information concerning their likes and dislikes about certain products resulting to creation of a target audience to the company. Consumer online brand related activities denoted as (COBRAs), is also vital for the advertisers in their promotion mission. A picture upload of a product via Facebook is an example of COBRA (Valdez, Guterbock, Thompson, et.al 2014)
In summary, organizations will benefit a lot from the use of social media. Organizations will reap much profit by implementing social media marketing. This is a new way to create awareness of the company’s product to the public via different social media platforms in existence such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin. Managers or marketers have a variety of social media platforms to select from in order to take advantage of the vast importance of social media in businesses. Proper utilization of social media by business will increase sales and exposure of the company. The manager must apply his skills and leverage on the best social media techniques in order to realize the overall success of the business.