The world is changing each day. Telecommunication technology has changed the way people communicate by making the world a small global community. Since the invention of the World Wide Web and mobile phones, communicating has become easier and faster. This development has been instrumental in the development of business. Marketing has adopted another level with the entry of the social networks. Philip Kotler states “the same way we use marketing principles to promote products to consumers, social marketing is the principle of selling ideas and attitudes of people or behavior”. Hence, social marketing can be defined as the marketing of products and services through the use of social sites or social attitudes, ideas, and basic behaviors. Social media marketing is alternatively using of social media coverage to market goods and services (Evans, 2010). It is a common and popular marketing avenue which has revolutionized the modern marketing strategies and development with even results.
Reasons Social Media Marketing has Become Popular among Businesses
Social media marketing is used by many businesses from small to bigger firms. The following are some of the reasons why social media marketing is such a popular marketing avenue.
Brand Establishing and Awareness
By the end of the year 2010, Facebook had more than 500 million users, that is a very attractive market base. The high number of users and the media sites provide a good base for companies to establish their brands. A company will be able to sell its image, brand goods, and services successfully.
YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook allow companies to create their logo, post their videos, business products and services. A social media like YouTube has been very influential in the promotional activities of many companies. Funny and interesting promotional videos and forecasts have been running around YouTube and receiving a high level of reviews and forecasts. Social media marketing serves also as an awareness tool where major corporations sell their names through promotional activities. There are a lot of beneficial advantages a firm whether small or large can get using social Media to market their goods and services (Szabo, 2010, p. 23).
Popularity of Social Media Marketing Sites
Social media marketing is boosted by the development and integration of social media sites. These sites have captured a high percentage of people because of their amazing social tools. In fact, Facebook and Twitter have amassed a higher number of people. Yelp, YouTube, LinkedIn and many other sites are also becoming much popular with people. Businesses take an opportunity to rally their goods and services to the over 750 million Facebook users, 200 million twitter members, and million members of other social member sites like Google+, Yelp, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. Hence, this popularity has proven to be luck charm for business marketing strategies (Szabo, 2010, p. 35).
Wide Market Coverage
Many have proclaimed that social media sites were created for college students. But businesses have discovered that it’s not only young college students available at major social sites. In a study conducted by the computer technology magnate IBM in 2011, more than 70% of new users of media sites were baby boomers or individuals of 30 years and above. Hence with this kind market coverage’s businesses have found it easier and better to market their services and goods; basically media sites provide a wide market. They are becoming popular to businesses, small and big (Szabo, 2010, p. 45).
With the above discussed reasons social media marketing becomes very affordable. The traditional marketing techniques involve huge and aggressive advertising and promotional activities which tend to be very expensive and sometimes not reach the required market or present any prevalent results. Hence in a time when there is a global financial crisis, companies are in the process of cost reduction and one of the best way out would be reducing advertising costs without tarnishing the image of the company. The marketing images of companies have resulted to lesser costly marketing strategies of social media marketing. Social media marketing is less costly and effective compared to other forms of marketing (Szabo, 2010, p. 56).
There are many reasons that have resulted to businesses to adopt social media marketing. Ones range within the benefits of social media marketing, while others are within the policies and structure of the service of a company. But whatever the reason, social media marketing has proved to be much effective and qualitative to all kinds of business.
Advantages of Social Media Marketing to Business Entrepreneurs
Incidentally, when talking about social media marketing, people mean the influence of social media sites in the marketing of various goods and services. Social media sites have become new revelations of social interactions in the modern society. With the increased development and advancement of these sites, businessmen have taken a step to evaluate the rising number of users of these sites and take the chance to market their goods and services. The social media sites have not been left behind. Twitter and Facebook have taken a step to redesign the services to include business marketing and promotional tools, which can help businesses promote and even sell their services. Indeed there are many advantages that are accrued to the modern social sites to entrepreneurs. The following are some of the advantages which make modern entrepreneurs commit to social media marketing (Smith, 2012, p. 17).
Wide Pool of Consumers
It is always a major challenge to an entrepreneur in identification of a target group and a wider market. Hence identifying a market that is both effective and active has been made easier with social media sites and social media marketing. In every way and every corner of the world, there are users of media sites who certainly have different ideals, conceptions, and preferences. In fact, social sites affect demand and supply of goods and services. A lot of potential consumers surf the Internet every day in an attempt to communicate with friends and find new acquaintances. Social media sites present an effective and stable market for an entrepreneur to promote his goods and services. Social media sites will be very effective in promoting the product and service all over the world and at the same time expect positive results (Smith, 2012, p. 29).
Active Market with Instant Feedback
Social media sites are currently holding a high number of users who come from all over the world. The media sites have become very popular. A recent study shows that more than 20 billion comments or chats are exchanged in all social sites making them the most active communication place in history. It is believed that in a single day there will be 6 out of 10 new interactions of individuals, who do not know each other. This perspective gives entrepreneurs a perfect opportunity to present their services and goods to an active market and expect good results. At the same social media users are provided with instant feedback. These will help a business plan and sell their goods and services in an effective and fast speed.
Social Platforms and Online Trade Transactions
Facebook and Twitter have been the most used social media sites. In the wake of social media marketing these companies have decided redesign and develop their servicers to allow companies advertise their businesses. In doing so, they have come with tools that enable companies to advertise and promote themselves. Twitter allows companies to make 140 character long posts about their business so as users could read and follow. Facebook gives companies an opportunity to create fan pages. YouTube provides for video uploads. Indeed every social site gives a chance for businesses to post their corporate messages to be viewed and replied by users. Also entrepreneurs will be able to post blogs and online journals about their services, locations, and terms. Facebook and Twitter have been developing ways for people to get useful information about a product. If they wish to buy online, they will be linked to a specific online seller. This is one of the ways to promote online purchase transactions. Facebook provides links to users so as upon their wish to purchase a certain product they will be linked to the online companies. This will boost the sales of major entrepreneurs, who undertake online sales (Meyerson, p. 19).
One of the major advantages of social media marketing is the low or no costs that are associated with it. It is absolutely free to promote your services and goods in social sites. Even if Facebook takes a step to charge for advertisements that are posted in there site, the related costs are very low. Stakeholders need to pay a post for a whole year at a small fee. Other social sites do not charge a single cent in posting of promotional information as far as it’s not so advertising.
Indeed the advantages of social media marketing are numerous. With the development and growth of social sites each day, social media marketing is growing and becoming the future of marketing.
Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing to Business Entrepreneurs
For sure social media marketing is increasingly beneficial in promoting businesses around the globe. But it has its own limitations and challenges which are keeping in toes this ever-growing media industry. These limitations have kept major businesses not to grow and develop as expected. The following items are some of the disadvantages of engaging in social media marketing.
Social media marketing has proved to be time consuming. To stay ahead, a company needs to update their online pages a number of times daily and monitor social interactions on the site so as to avoid any sort of content that may be damaging to the company.
Social media marketing is all about branding hence an entrepreneur should be able to brand his business in an effective and interactive manner. But most times they fail to create a good brand resulting to less marketing results which can shrink the total sales (Sigala, p. 24).
Relevant Content and Commitment
One of the major challenges of social media marketing is posting of relevant content. It is obvious that company blogs and posts sometimes lack that professional touch hence lack company image. These will erode the company image. Occasionally, companies use celebrity in their social media marketing strategies. This strategy sometimes backfires when the celebrity image is tainted thus eroding the image of the company. Hence entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to present relevant data. There is also need for commitment in order to be on the right page of social media marketing. An entrepreneur will need to commit in evaluating and controlling their social media sites consistently to achieve a positive result (Sigala, p. 56).
There are not many disadvantages of social media marketing and they can be avoided if the marketing procedure is followed well. Other risks that are associated with social media marketing are the negative posts from disgruntled customers and employees. These posts can also present the company in a negative way.
Pepsi Social Media Marketing
Pepsi is a soft drink production company which in the past years has developed and grown within the entire world due to its effective marketing strategies. Top on its success is the adoption of the social media marketing. Pepsi used social media marketing to improve in many ways. Pepsi has shown that applying to the means of social media, a company can market itself at the right time in the right manner to the right people. Currently it has adopted some social techniques to satisfy consumers’ demands. First it introduced user-generated content which is present on the pages of Twitter and Facebook. With a new dashboard on its page it supports major social events like the Live for Now Campaign, where it sends user generated messages to Facebook and Twitter fans (Horton, 2012).
It also uses data aggregation method to track consumers and develops a social consumer model to attract more consumers. This is affected with the integration in location-based marketing that involves mobile phones. In this way Pepsi reaches consumers in different demographic areas using information from Facebook profiles. Currently, Pepsi has more than 8.1 million fans. It means that its main strategy works, which aim is to reach the social market through social media interactive centers and activities (Siddiqui, 2011).
Wal-Mart Social Media Marketing Strategy
Wal-Mart is the leading retailer in the world. It has debuted as the largest company with the highest number of employees. For sure, Wal-Mart has improved with the help of social media marketing campaigns that have increased its sales. Facebook has been the forefront media site in the Wal-Mart marketing. The Company has launched a Facebook application, which has seen consumers connect with their local Wal-Mart stores. This application has delivered consumers store specific information in all its worldwide stores. The application is one of the strategies by Wal-Mart to develop and expand its social media marketing (Stambor, 2011). The application will help consumers access and share product information to their friends. The company also has sponsored a number of social events and has an updated account with Twitter and Facebook while streamed its videos in YouTube.
Coca Cola Social Media Marketing Strategy
In a way to reach on Pepsi, Coca Cola launched a social media strategy to reach out to the social market. Coke employed the logic of video streaming in YouTube and linking them to other social sites including Twitter and Facebook. The videos were promotional previews presented by the company to sell a social message to consumers. The video marketing campaign caught the eyes of many social media users and received high ratings and the company boosted its image. Facebook is one of the major social media marketing site for Coke. It has recently announced that it will increase advertising platforms in Facebook and credit Facebook ads as improving quality and credibility of its services. It also uses user generated content to promote its products (Hanlon, 2012).
Coke also has intensified the use of digital and mobile social media platforms in other regions of its operations. Digital and mobile integrated marketing have helped the company reach the social media in Asia and support its services (Hof, 2012).
Impact Social Media over the Next Decade
With an increase in the number of social media users social media marketing is going to grow stronger and bigger. Companies will dedicate their resources and energy to social media marketing. To stay ahead of this major development, one needs to be ready to tread with social media applications that could interact social media users with companies. An easier and good relation with companies will be in order, if companies link faster with customers. A company will also be ready to create a bigger and interesting social interactive page and tools for users. Also there are expectations that social sites may be able to transact sale and buying transactions.