Social Media Marketing Communications

MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS

 

 

Abstract

This paper presents a discussion on social media marketing and its role in promoting the effectiveness of marketing strategies, such as traditional marketing. Illustrations of marketing via Facebook and YouTube are used to depict the benefits and challenges associated with social media marketing. The importance and implications of integrating social media and traditional media marketing processes are also explained within the paper. The paper employs secondary research method to gather statistical and theoretical data from research articles as the basis of discussion and illustration. On the basis of the discussion, an integration of social media and traditional marketing processes is recommended as an effective strategy through which a company would gain from the benefits of each of these marketing strategies.

  

Table of Contents

Abstract 1

Table of Contents. 2

Introduction. 3

Impact of Social Media on Traditional Marketing. 3

Positive Impacts. 3

Negative Impacts and Delimitations. 9

Summary and Recommendations. 10

Opportunities within Emerging Social Media Channels. 11

Conclusion. 16

References. 18

 

Introduction

Statistical data on the use of various social media networks demonstrate how a company can access a wide market by promoting goods and services via social media platforms. For instance, it is estimated that the use of social media within the United Kingdom is over 80% (Thurston, Bergl, Rhodes & Schomer, 2012, p. 75). Additionally, research evidence demonstrates that more than 21% of the time spent in the internet involves the use of social media. In line with these statistics, business organizations have been motivated to engage their customers through various social media networks (Dominic Yeo, 2012, p. 300). The commonly used social media networks in marketing processes include blogs, Facebook, wikis, Twitter and YouTube (Andzulis, Panagopoulos & Rapp, 2012, p. 306). This paper presents an analytical evaluation of social media marketing. The analysis involves the impact of social media platforms on the traditional marketing activities and processes. The role of social media in communication processes among stakeholders of marketing campaigns is also evaluated within this paper. The challenges of social media marketing and its benefits on business organization are also discussed. In this paper, YouTube and Facebook are used as specific examples of focus in illustrating how companies use social media to target specific market segments.

Impact of Social Media on Traditional Marketing

Positive Impacts

Social media describes online platforms that are used for communication purposes (Veeck & Hoger, 2014, p. 40). Social media also refers to the web-based technologies, which enhance communication among individuals regardless of their location across the world (Brennan & Croft, 2012, p. 102). Within the social media networks, online communities are created (Pettit, 2013, p. 758). The mobile based micro-blogging processes that occur on these networks enable people and groups to share various formats of data or information (Andzulis, Panagopoulos & Rapp, 2012, p. 308). The social media are compatible to multimedia, such as text, graphics, video, animation and sound. Social media are also described as emerging technologies, which are revolutionizing communication processes, such as marketing (Narayanan, Asur, Malhotra, Almeida & Lalwani, 2012, p. 70).

Since the emergence of social media, the application of various online platforms in the marketing processes by companies has increased significantly. Nowadays, social media are becoming the common and the preferred strategy in marketing. Barger & Labrecque (2013, p. 65) reveal that social media marketing is overtaking traditional marketing. This is demonstrated by the reality that digital marketing on social media is now being seen more frequently than print formats of advertisements (Pettit, 2013, p. 758). Companies fear that they will lose a great deal of business and market growth opportunities, if they cannot join the social media marketing strategy (Thurston, Bergl, Rhodes & Schomer, 2012, p. 74). The increasing importance of social media is related to the fact that the contemporary generation or society prefers online communication processes than traditional media.

 

Social media marketing has allowed companies to achieve the goals of traditional marketing in a more effective manner (Tasker, 2014, p. 60). The efficiency of communication, which characterizes social media, makes companies that integrate social media and traditional marketing highly effective in marketing communication processes. Traditional marketing processes and campaigns are normally based on financial goals, such as return on investment. This is associated with the high costs that are associated with the traditional marketing campaigns (Narayanan, Asur, Malhotra, Almeida & Lalwani, 2012, p. 75). Social media has allowed companies to reduce the costs of marketing and therefore achieving their financial goals in a more effective manner. Companies use Facebook and other social media sites to conduct cost free online market campaigns.

 

Social media has allowed companies to enhance their relationships with buyers. This would not be achieved effectively through traditional marketing media, which are less interactive. The level of trust that the market has for a company is increased when there is active engagement via social media (Henley, 2013, p. 9). This is attributed to the role of social media in overcoming negative publicity. Stakeholders of companies, such as suppliers and distributors, are also engaging more actively with companies through the use of social media networks. The negative stereotyping of social media in business application is now regarded as a thing of the past (Shadkam & O'Hara, 2013, p. 10). Businesses now appreciate the benefits of social media more. The influence of social media advertising on the consumers is also argued to be significantly high. The video effects of television advertising are now experienced social media platforms, such as YouTube (Thurston, Bergl, Rhodes & Schomer, 2012, p. 72). Therefore companies use social media as a way of fostering their brand image and at the same time popularizing their products or services.

 

According to Melton & Hicks (2011, p. 495), social media amplifies the effects of traditional marketing such as generation of brand awareness, increasing sales and brand preferences among consumers. There are unprecedented opportunities within the market that are utilized through marketing processes. The scope of these opportunities is expanded when social media and traditional media are integrated. For instance, the extent into which brand awareness is achieved within the market is expanded when social media compliments traditional media. Saladow (2012, p. 28) demonstrates that companies make more sales when they use a wide variety of media in marketing campaigns than depending on traditional marketing alone.

 

Public relations efforts are not effective when they are not interactive. Social media allows the public relations efforts of traditional marketing to achieve a higher impact (Veeck & Hoger, 2014, p. 38). Social media allows companies to engage more with the market including the exchange of views and opinions about products and services. (Andzulis, Panagopoulos & Rapp, 2012, p. 309) Recommends that social media platforms are used as effective tools through which the promotional processes in public relations are facilitated. This is related to the fact that social media communication processes are real time and measurable (Billington & Billington, 2012, p 12). Companies are therefore able to measure the impact of their public relations efforts through social media.

 

Reputation management processes of traditional marketing are promoted through the integration of social media (Diercksen, Diplacido, Harvey & Bosco, 2013, p. 947). In some instances, companies have impacted negatively on their reputation on the basis of the marketing messages that they display within traditional media, such as television. Legal implications of traditional marketing processes, such as marketing which target children, often result in bad reputation for companies (Shadkam & O'Hara, 2013, p. 7). This would impact negatively on the sales of a company. Nonetheless, social media interactions have proven highly effective in promoting the reputation of companies within the market (Kessler, 2013, p. 27).

 

Traditional media is often targeted at customers and investors. However, companies would add social media to their marketing mix so that promotional and communication processes can involve a wide range of stakeholders, including suppliers, distributors and retailers (Billington & Billington, 2012, p 14). Exchanges among stakeholders are increasingly being conducted via social media platforms. This is due to the real time and cost effectiveness nature of social media (Andzulis, Panagopoulos & Rapp, 2012, p. 307). The metrics of marketing, such as the responses of consumers to posts on a company’s fan page can be used to evaluate or assess the impact of the marketing campaign.  Assessing the impact of traditional marketing may be difficult and costly. For instance, companies that market via traditional media may be forced to conduct impact analysis research in order to assess the effect of their promotional efforts on the audience (Russell, 2014, p. 18).

 

Marketers can also test the response of marketing messages and images over social media before they are broadcast within traditional media (Shadkam & O'Hara, 2013, p. 10). Positive impact of communication images within social media motivates marketers and therefore makes them confident that spending on traditional media would yield results and achieve high returns on their investment (Diercksen, Diplacido, Harvey & Bosco, 2013, p. 950). This means that social media is an appropriate platform of testing the authenticity, practicality and visual impact of promotional images and messages, before they can be presented within the costly traditional media, such as television (Billington & Billington, 2012, p 13). Furthermore, the social signals of a company are enhanced when social media marketing complements traditional media marketing (Iodice, 2013, p. 57). The ranking of companies during online searches is also improved through the use of social media in marketing rather than traditional media alone (Parsons, 2013, p. 28).

 

Traditional marketing processes favor financial giants within the market. This is due to the fact that small companies may not be able to afford the high costs of traditional marketing processes. Social media brings about fairness or level playing field in marketing processes (Andzulis, Panagopoulos & Rapp, 2012, p. 308). It is therefore through social media that small and medium companies are able to engage with large competitors in their market. Social media allows service kings to become more competitive in the market (Klass, Lombardo, McManus & Roberts, 2013, p. 16). This reveals that social media prevents a situation where the size of a company and its financial strengths makes it the market king (Billington & Billington, 2012, p 12).

 

Social media platforms offer companies an opportunity of refining their marketing strategy with efficiency. The measurement of marketing success via social media can be used as a basis upon which traditional marketing strategy can be altered or improved (Shadkam & O'Hara, 2013, p. 8). The feedback of consumers on social media communication processes allows companies to change their marketing strategy at any point or time (Diercksen, Diplacido, Harvey & Bosco, 2013, p. 949). Social media can also be used as a platform through which consultants can be reached to offer their comments about the design and implementation of marketing campaigns. Upon such consultations, the marketing strategy can be changed for the better.

 

The exposure of marketing communication messages and images is wider when social media is used. Therefore companies can employ social media as a strategy of expanding the exposure of their traditional marketing processes (Shadkam & O'Hara, 2013, p. 9). This is depicted by the reality that a business entity and its products or services is visible from any place across the world when social media marketing processes are implemented in its strategy (Heinonen, 2011, p. 356). The speed of exposure is also very high when social media is used to market services and products. Marketing messages within traditional media can be made to go viral by posting them within social media accounts or pages of a company (Andzulis, Panagopoulos & Rapp, 2012, p. 306). This is the best way through which social media can be used to facilitate the awareness of the market about a company’s service and product offerings.

Negative Impacts and Delimitations

According to Morris (2012, p. 33), social media is consumes a lot of time. The time spent in marketing activities is increased when both social media and traditional media are used as promotional strategies as compared to the use of traditional media alone (Billington & Billington, 2012, p 15).  Posting messages, videos and images on Facebook may take a lot of employees’ time. Additionally, responding to the posts and comments of the audience would take longer than employees expect. Attracting viewers to a company’s YouTube video is another marketing process, which consumes a lot of time (Shadkam & O'Hara, 2013, p. 7). Employees may also engage in various online forums, which are not related to the marketing communication goals. On the basis of these illustrations, it is notable that social media may lead to loss of a significant amount of time, which employees would have used to engage in work related activities and responsibilities.

Social media demands for full commitment of employees to online marketing activities (Tasker, 2014, p. 60). This would have a negative implication on the commitment of employees to traditional marketing processes, such as public relations and direct sales. Customers expect that a company’s social media platform is updated frequently. The customers also need prompt responses to their posts and comments. Therefore, if the commitment to the social media marketing activities is not sufficient, negative brand image may result. For instance, if customers visit a company’s Facebook page and find old posts, they are likely to have negative views on the brand (Dutta, 2010, p. 130). The comments and posts of customers on a company’s social media pages or accounts would be overwhelming and demanding. If a company has millions of fans within its social media pages, commitment in offering feedback to every query and concern may be limited (Henley, N 2013, p. 9).

 

Negative and irrelevant comments on a company’s social media pages may have a negative impact on traditional marketing communication processes. Malicious and rival messages within a company’s social media platforms would result in negative views on the brand (Hackworth & Kunz, 2011, p. 8). If negative comments are not managed well and they go viral, the social media marketing strategy would become a business disaster to a company’s business efforts (Diercksen, Diplacido, Harvey & Bosco, 2013, p. 947). Social media marketing may therefore neutralize the positive impact of traditional marketing processes.

 

The fact that social media is limited to online communication means that access to online marketing messages may be limited to specific market segments or audiences (Ryan, 2013, p. 53).  A company may not use social media to reach audience who cannot access its traditional marketing images and messages (Diercksen, Diplacido, Harvey & Bosco, 2013, p. 948). This is due to the reality that social media marketing needs the audience to have internet connectivity and electricity. Moreover, social media is popular among generation X and less popular to older consumers (Klass, Lombardo, McManus & Roberts, 2013, p. 10). Products and services which target older audience would not use social media as an effective marketing tool.

Summary and Recommendations

In general, social media has a positive impact on traditional marketing communication processes. Social media is recommended for companies which need to reduce the high costs associated with traditional marketing. Social media platforms represent the best strategies through which the goals and impact of traditional marketing can be achieved. More importantly, companies should employ social media as the most efficient way through which they can engage with all stakeholders, including customers, business partners, marketers, distributors, suppliers and retailers. The increasing popularity of social media is attributed to its beneficial characteristics. Social media marketing is measurable and therefore should be used to assess the success of marketing campaigns. It is however noteworthy that an integrated approach, which adopts and gains from the benefits of both social media and traditional media is the most appropriate marketing strategy.

Opportunities within Emerging Social Media Channels

Social media presents companies with an opportunity of adopting and implementing the social media strategy as one of their core marketing approaches. According to Aichner & Perkmann (2013, p. 609), social media has become a necessity rather than a choice in marketing communication processes. This is attributed to the fact that social media is an emerging trend in marketing, which has increased in popularity, because of its success (Andzulis, Panagopoulos & Rapp, 2012, p. 310). The measurable benefits of social media marketing makes this strategy as an opportunity for companies to gain competitive advantage in their markets (Narayanan, Asur, Malhotra, Almeida & Lalwani, 2012, p. 78). In order to utilize opportunities within social media, companies have created accounts and pages within Facebook, so that they can be able to engage actively with their customers and business partners.  The opportunities within YouTube have also enabled companies to display their products to the market in an appealing manner (Dayal, 2014, p. 3).

Brennan & Croft (2012, p. 104) reveals that social media channels also offer companies with an opportunity of integrating their marketing communication or promotional efforts. According to Tasker (2014, p. 60), integrated marketing communication via social media is the most appropriate way through which all marketing efforts within a company can communicate the same message and images to the market. Integrated marketing communication within social media is the most effective way through which marketers can be able to demonstrate marketing messages in different formats. For instance, a company can display both images and videos within its Facebook accounts, so that it can achieve the greatest impact or appeal within the market. YouTube also allows companies to present Videos and podcasts, which have promotional images to the market (Fry, 2014, p. 4).

 

Social media channels also offer companies an opportunity of reaching a wide market (Aichner & Perkmann, 2013, p. 609). Many market segments can be reached when companies use social media as a marketing tool (Lee, 2010, p. 113). This is related to the reality that different market segments have unique attributes and preferences, which makes the use of a wide range of social marketing tools as the most suitable way of reaching a wider market. Facebook and YouTube are appealing to a wide range of users, including young and older groups within these networks (Young, 2011, p. 96). The fact that social media channels are based on global networks reveals that a company is able to reach an international audience for its marketing messages or images (Henley, 2013, p. 158). This is an opportunity for international companies to expand their share of the global market. For instance, Facebook and YouTube allow companies to reach audience within wider demographic and geographic segments. Statistical data reveal that 52% of individuals within the Facebook community engage with this platform or channel on the daily basis (Thurston, Bergl, Rhodes & Schomer, 2012, p. 69). This depicts an opportunity for reaching market segments on the basis of the behavioral and psychographic attributes.

 

Blending social media marketing with traditional marketing processes has allowed companies to achieve a higher level of community involvement (Smith, 2009, p. 557). For instance, companies use social media to inform the market about their sponsorship programs, such as community events (Ucok, 2014, p. 96). This enhances their image and enables people to be part of such events. Therefore the role of companies in executing their corporate social responsibility mandate has become more conspicuous through the use of social media. Such community involvement allows companies to gain the confidence of the public and therefore becoming more competitive (Narayanan, Asur, Malhotra, Almeida & Lalwani, 2012, p. 77). The large fan base, which characterizes social media sites, such as Facebook, reveals how chatting about company-sponsored local events by members of the public enhances a company’s image.

 

Through the use of Facebook as a marketing tool, companies become discoverable (Smith, 2013, p. 358). Therefore Facebook provides companies with an opportunity of becoming visible within the online platforms. The integration of social media sites enhances the visibility of companies within the social communities (Gregori & Baltar, 2013, p. 132). Companies that have fan pages within Facebook are reported to be more visible or discoverable (Carlton, 2014, p. 48). When customer searches for specific services within social media, they are only able to access companies that are available within these media sites. It is due to this that companies are getting encouraged to join Facebook and other social media sites. The connection between the company and its market is also enhanced through the use of Facebook as a marketing tool.

 

Facebook is a timely marketing tool because responses to posts are often instantaneous because consumers are currently spending more time on this social media site (Clark, 2013, p. 38). More notably, Facebook provides companies with an opportunity of insightful marketing. Through Facebook, companies are able to get in-depth understanding of their market segments, including the needs, preferences and tastes of their consumers (Smedescu, 2013, p. 24). This reveals that Facebook acts as a cost effective market research tool. Through the insightful marketing processes, business organizations are able to amend their production processes and service delivery so that they can meet the unique needs of their consumers (Gregori & Baltar, 2013, p. 134). More insight into the marketing activities of a company and its rivals is also achieved through the use of Facebook as a marketing tool (Williams & Aitken, 2011, p. 440).

 

YouTube has become beneficial for business processes because statistics reveal that mobile and internet viewing of videos has grown by 20% and 35% respectively. This is opposed to only 0.2% increase in the viewership of TV within the UK (Sloane, 2013, p. 14).  Therefore YouTube provides companies with an opportunity of increasing the viewership of their podcasts and video marketing images and messages (O'Reilly, 2013, p. 9). By creating compelling videos and displaying them on YouTube, companies are able to attract the attention of millions of users across the world to the display of their services and products. Depending on the quality of the marketing videos, the effectiveness of YouTube may surpass television in terms of the number of viewers and customer feedback (Sloane, 2013, p. 14). This is attributed to the increased focus on the internet as the main source of information.

 

YouTube presents companies with an opportunity of creating a community within the internet. Creation of an online community allows a company to engage actively with the consumers (Narayanan, Asur, Malhotra, Almeida & Lalwani, 2012, p. 71). YouTube is specifically beneficial for retailers who deal in specialty products. This is because specialty products target a community or market segment, which is effectively reached and engaged via YouTube (Dominic Yeo, 2012, p. 301). YouTube also presents companies with an opportunity of displaying videos of product launches, fairs and events. These are effective strategies through which the attention of consumers is drawn towards a brand (Thurston, Bergl, Rhodes & Schomer, 2012, p. 73). YouTube also provided companies with an opportunity of demonstrating their expertise to the public. This is useful for companies which operate within expert sectors, such as engineering. Through YouTube, companies are able to upload tutorials and video tips to consumers and other experts. This demonstrates how YouTube can be used to enhance communication among the stakeholders of a company with an intention of achieving common or shared goals.

 

Social media platforms, such as YouTube offer companies an opportunity of demonstrating the personality of their products (Dominic Yeo, 2012, p. 300). This allows business organizations to depict the unique features of their products and how they are differentiated from rival products. For example, motor vehicle manufacturers and retailers can use YouTube as an effective media to depict the features of its new model and therefore attracting the attention of buyers, depending on their demographic and behavioral characteristics towards the brand (Narayanan, Asur, Malhotra, Almeida & Lalwani, 2012, p. 70). More importantly, a company is able to solve the problems of its customers through the use of YouTube as a marketing tool. For instance, customers can be instructed via YouTube videos on how to perform simple installations of various pieces of equipment and hardware. This promotes the satisfaction of customers on the services offered by the company and ultimately winning their loyalty to the company (Thurston, Bergl, Rhodes & Schomer, 2012, p. 72).

 

It is important to note that the success of Facebook and YouTube as marketing tools depends on the quality and relevance of the images, videos and podcasts that are posted on these sites. A company that engages in the use of Facebook and YouTube marketing channels needs to have a specific strategy and goal, which would guide all the marketing processes (Earls, 2012, p. 25). For instance, the goal will define the number of customers or viewers that the company targets at reaching within a specific period and the strategies it will employ to reach this target (Offenberger, 2013, p. 90).

 

Companies also need to understand that the success of Facebook and YouTube as marketing tools depends on the ability to post on these sites on regular basis (O'Reilly, 2013, p. 9). Additionally, marketing personnel within a company should employ effective strategies through which they would encourage customers to respond quickly by commenting on the company’s fan pages and YouTube accounts (Sloane, 2013, p. 16). It is through the replies or comments of the customers that a company is able to get insight about the market and the specific needs of consumers upon which it could base product and service differentiation strategies (Williams & Aitken, 2011, p. 442). Effective management of the use of social media as marketing tools is also necessary, so that online opportunities are utilized fully for competitive advantage and growth within the market.

Conclusion

Facebook, YouTube and other social networking sites present companies with several opportunities for promoting their products, growing their market and competitiveness and making more sales. Through YouTube and Facebook, a company is able to capture the attention of millions of buyers. The high volume of traffic, which characterizes social media sites, makes them appropriate marketing tools. The viral marketing opportunity within social media is one of the most attractive features of this strategy of marketing. This is related to the fact that various social media sites are integrated and therefore sharing of a company’s marketing images, videos, podcasts and images across the social media platforms presents it with an opportunity of growing in popularity and enhancing its brand image. Through social media marketing, companies get visible or discoverable by the vast market within the various online communities. Regardless of the few limitations and challenges of using social media as marketing tools, it should be integrated with traditional marketing in order to achieve a more effective and fruitful marketing experience.

  

 

References

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Aichner, T, & Perkmann, U 2013, 'Social media: opportunities and risks for regional market research', International Journal of Market Research, 55, 5, pp. 609-610

Andzulis, J, Panagopoulos, N, & Rapp, A 2012, 'A Review of Social Media and Implications for the Sales Process', Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 32, 3, pp. 305-316

Barger, V, & Labrecque, L 2013, 'An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective on Social Media Metrics', International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, 5, 1, pp. 64-76

Billington, M, & Billington, P 2012, 'Social Media Tools for Leaders and Managers', Journal Of Leadership, Accountability & Ethics, 9, 6, pp. 11-19

Brennan, R, & Croft, R 2012, 'The use of social media in B2B marketing and branding: An exploratory study', Journal Of Customer Behavior, 11, 2, pp. 101-115

Brennick, J 2013, 'Facebook Contests Are Now Easier', ABA Bank Marketing, 45, 9, p. 30,

Carlton, M 2014, 'Insight: Media Diversifying - The advantages of going beyond the buy', Campaign Asia-Pacific, p. 48

Clark, R 2013, 'Insight: Advertising Viral - Creating a buzz through viral can be contagious', Campaign Asia-Pacific, p. 38

Dayal, P 2014, 'Is your social media strategy 2014-ready?', Marketing Week (Online Edition), p. 3

Diercksen, M, Diplacido, M, Harvey, D, & Bosco, S 2013, 'The Effects Of Social Media In Today's Workplace', Proceedings For The Northeast Region Decision Sciences Institute (NEDSI), pp. 946-952

Dominic Yeo, TE 2012, 'Social-Media Early Adopters Don't Count', Journal Of Advertising Research, 52, 3, pp. 297-308

Dutta, S 2010, 'What's Your Personal Social Media Strategy?', Harvard Business Review, 88, 11, pp. 127-130

Earls, E 2012, 'How To Use Facebook To Grow Your Business', Caterer & Hotelkeeper, 202, 4745, Pp. 24-27

Fry, M 2014, 'Mass Marketing', Njbiz, 27, 14, P. 4

Gregori, A, & Baltar, F 2013, ''Ready to complete the survey on Facebook'', International Journal Of Market Research, 55, 1, pp. 131-148

Hackworth, B, & Kunz, M 2011, 'Health Care And Social Media: Building Relationships Via Social Networks', Academy Of Health Care Management Journal, 7, 2, pp. 1-14

Heinonen, K 2011, 'Consumer activity in social media: Managerial approaches to consumers' social media behavior', Journal Of Consumer Behaviour, 10, 6, pp. 356-364

Henley, N 2013, 'Is Your Social Media Strategy Working?', Convenience Store Decisions, 24, 10, pp. 156-158

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