The Role of Social Media for Businesses
The world has changed rapidly with the invention of various technologies with the Internet playing a huge role in the changes witnessed in the world today. One of the sectors that have had to change given the influence of the Internet is the business sector. Already, executives have a difficult time multitasking including balancing their hectic travel schedules, spending time with their families, and striving to cope or keep up with the latest trends in the global business environment. In addition to these, in the current business environment, executives and business persons are forced to embrace a social media strategy that has been largely talked about in the Internet era. There have been debates and talks about how businesses can be marketed through social media avenues such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and others. In fact, today, social media marketing is a significant and an unstoppable force meaning that businesses that do not embrace the strategy are likely to give way for others that have already embraced the same (Schaefer, 2014). There is no doubt that the social web is largely preferred by many for communication, learning, as well as discovering and distributing products and services. Today’s consumers find it easier to go online to seek advice regarding products and services, discuss their purchases, complain about services offered, as well as offer reviews. The importance of social media in the business world can be seen in the ever-increasing amounts of marketing budgets being thrown into the same. In contemporary society, every company is expected to have a social space including creating a Facebook page, coming up with a blog, and reaching out to potential consumers through Twitter (Schaefer, 2014). This comes at a time when executives face difficulty in seeing where and how these online conversations can be influenced leave alone measuring their impact. This paper examines the role of social media for business with a focus on why social media is a trending tool in the marketing decisions of most businesses, how it works in the media environment, and the questions and objection of are often encountered when putting together social media initiatives in organizations.
Why Social Media Is Trending as A Key Tool in The Marketing Decisions of Businesses
What is evident in today’s technology-driven world is that social media has established itself as a platform where business can extend their marketing campaigns to a significant range of consumers. Both the approaches and tools used by businesses when it comes to communicating with customers have changed significantly since the emergence of social media. As such, businesses have been forced to learn the use of social media in ways that ensure consistency with their business plans and goals (Constantinides, 2014). There are various reasons behind the use of social media as a key tool in the marketing decisions of most businesses. First, the fact that social media has gradually advanced from simply providing an avenue for people to communicate and stay in touch with friends and families to being a place where consumers learn more about companies and favorite products sold has seen it trend as a key tool in marketing decisions for businesses. Today, the focus of retailers, marketers, and other businesspersons is to use social media as a channel for reaching consumers and providing a new way of shopping (Paquette, 2013). Of course, this has been boosted by technological developments such as the introduction of powerful search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and Bing. In addition, the advancement of mobile devices and interfaces and peer-to-peer communication vehicles have boosted the use of social media by retailers and marketers.
Second, the fact that social media is trending as a key tool in the marketing decisions of most businesses is because it has enabled what is known as shopper marketing. Shopper marketing refers to the planning and execution of marketing-related activities that have an influence on shoppers throughout the path of purchase. This includes the point at which a consumer is motivated to purchase to other points such as consumption, repurchase, as well as a recommendation to other consumers. One of the factors that businesses consider when it comes to shopper marketing is the “perceived fit” aspect. The perceived fit aspect gives insight into the similarity between an extension product category and exiting products are in one way or the other affiliated with such products or brands. Of course, social media sites provide shopping services that are seen as useful and easy to use thereby increasing the chances of consumers shopping on social networks. The perceived fit aspect and its role in shopper marketing thus underscore why social media is one of the critical tools in business marketing decisions today (Paquette, 2013).
Third, social media platforms have created virtual brand communities (VBC) that play an integral role in marketing underlining why social media has become a key tool in marketing decisions for most businesses. With the recent advancements in social media sites, there has been the creation of consumer communities that greatly define new ways through which both customers and businesses interact and share information on brand products (Paquette, 2013). These virtual brand communities tend to create a computer-generated space for both consumers and business that has facilitated their connection with one another through marketing. In essence, a brand community entails a group of people with a similar interest in a given brand or product. Social media sites allow for the creating of brand communities, and in turn, the brand communities enhance how consumers participate in the purchase of products. It is further argued that consumers’ positive participation in the purchase of products highlights how loyal they are to such as brand. This implies that, to some extent, social media enhances consumers’ loyalty to brands, and thus, they are primarily considered by businesses when it comes to making marketing decisions.
Fourth, the increased use of social media for business marketing decision purposes is because it allows user-generated content that produces social currency for marketers that helps in the definition of a brand. It should be noted that whereas social media provides unending channels for communication, it is the individual users of the social media platforms that serve as influencers and not the technology itself (Icha & Agwu, 2015). User-generated content refers to all the ways through which individuals use social media with a focus on the various forms of media content that are available publicly and created by users. One of the benefits of social currency enabled by user-generated content is that it improves brand or business performance. The concept of social currency is closely associated with social capital that is shaped on a personal level and occurs in the relationships among individuals with these relationships being enhanced through social media communications (Paquette, 2013).
How Social Media Works in the Business Environment
The use of social media is essential for any business and this alongside creating and developing websites. Social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Instagram, and others are crucial for businesses that need to maintain a competitive advantage. In fact, businesses that do not use social media risk missing numerous opportunities for marketing (Siricharoen, 2012). It is important to note that social media works in specific ways in the business environment. First, given the instant nature of social media, it works perfectly when it comes to selling products and services, in other words, marketing. This affirms why social media sites have become an integral part of marketing channels. People using social media in the business environment for sales purposes do not hide the fact that they want consumers to purchase their products or services. The use of social media for sales purposes entails updates revolving around discounts and coupons, new releases and promotions, as well as limited-time deals. In platforms such as Facebook, business put up updates such as “Hurry! Save and get a $5 off coupon” with such updates highlighting the use of social media for sales purposes in the business environment. The advantage of this is that it is a straightforward and direct way of marketing a business’s products or services as users know what exactly they are getting into and are often ready to purchase (Neti, 2011). The disadvantage, however, is that any decision to drop the social component for full-bore marketing is likely to defeat the primary purpose of social media in the process. Often, users do not want to feel like they are being targeted for selling but want to have a conversation and be in charge.
Second, in the business environment, social media works in providing customer service. This is influenced by the fact that every business today wants to give their customers the best possible experience and possibly retaining them in the long run (Bria, 2013). Unlike before where customers relied on phone menus and hold times, today’s customers are reliant on quick social media updates with tweets being the most popular. Businesses that provide customer service through social media updates have their interaction revolving around tips, trick and hacks, information on the use of a particular product or service, as well as solutions to customer complaints. Social media provides an excellent opportunity of providing exemplary customer service in a short time. Of course, immediate and fast response to customers tells them how committed a business is when it comes to ensuring a customer-centered presence and customer satisfaction. The advantage of using social media to provide customer service is that it allows businesses to get instant feedback on how their customers are doing as well as their feeling towards various products and services (Mehrtens, 2013). A significant disadvantage of using social media for customer service provision is that the social media account such as Twitter can be incredibly boring if nothing other than customer inquiries and responses is mentioned. Of course, people not interested in such discussions will find them a waste of time and largely ignore them.
Questions and Objections Encountered When Putting Together Social Media Initiatives
Executives and business owners often face difficulties when it comes to embracing the widely talked about social media strategy (Constantinides, 2013). Often, stakeholders including those in senior positions and employees raise questions regarding the merits of using social media as a communication mix or as part of marketing. One of the common question encountered by executives is what the values of social media are and how it can be measured. Several people, especially those in the business environment focus on organizational perspectives such as good structures and culture that they believe have a direct impact on organizational performance and productivity (Schaefer, 2014). They end up ignoring and doubting the value of social media. Another common question encountered by executives is whether the use of social media is necessary and how much ought to be budgeted for the same. In other organizations, those opposed to the embrace of the social media strategy often raise the question of whether there are enough resources to facilitate its implementation and where efforts should be focused. Moreover, there is the belief that the use of social media opens businesses to negativity that affects organizational performance and jeopardizes the achievement of organizational objectives in the long run (Vistbacka, 2017). A perfect strategy for overcoming these objections is shifting attention and thinking to customer retention. All the mentioned objections point to the belief or assumption that social media has adverse impacts on business sales or revenues. However, if those involved were to focus on the value of the same to customers, such objections or challenges would be overcome.
Social media plays an integral role in the business environment from the marketing perspective. The use of social media as a key tool in the marketing decisions of most businesses is attributed to the fact that social media has gradually advanced from simply providing an avenue for people to communicate and stay in touch with friends and families to being a place where consumers learn more about companies and favorite products sold. In addition, social media is a key tool for marketing decisions since it has enabled shopper marketing, has created virtual brand communities, and has allowed user-generated content that produces social currency for marketers that helps in defining brands. In the business environment, social media works in various ways including the selling of products and services and providing customers service. Despite the benefits accompanying the use of social media in business environments, executives face difficulties including questions and objections from stakeholders. Some of these questions revolve around the value of social media and how it can be measured, whether there are enough resources to facilitate the implementation of the social media strategy, and the belief that the use of social media opens businesses to negativity.
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