In the recent past, social media has significantly grown among the international business community (Evans, 2010). With millions of users logging into different social media platforms to communicate with their close associates, it is not a surprise to see more business enterprises turning to various social media platforms as their valued marketing tools. There are myriad reasons that have prompted social media marketing to become more popular among businesses.
To begin with, social media marketing provide a platform where consumers are not sold at in the conventional way, but instead reached at in a friendlier and gentle approach. Businesses that provide their consumers with more information, interaction, and useful forums to communicate their needs with the like-minded parties have proved to be more successful than their counterparts that have chosen to go the traditional way (Singh & Diamond, 2012).
Additionally, with social media marketing, most businesses have managed to reach their customers earlier compared to other marketing strategies (Singh & Diamond, 2012). While traditional marketing strategies spend a lot of time contacting their prospective customers who are sometimes not ready to make purchases or speak to the salespersons, social media marketing strategies go a long way in attracting their clients and informing their purchase decisions. Social media marketing provide the customers with a good impression of the business by building significant interactive relationship between the business and its clients (Evans, 2010).
Social media marketing techniques such as provision of free information to prospective clients has provided businesses with a good opportunity to cultivate an ardent client base that have beaten the traditional marketing strategies in many ways. According to Powell, Groves and Dimos (2011), with such avid client base, the traditional marketers have found it hard to catch up because they always find that their counterparts had forged strong business relationships through social media. Simply put, they find the deal done before they even try their old techniques.
Therefore, social media marketing has continued to be a more viable tool for more businesses and countless enterprises continue to adopt it. As Evans (2010) notes, even those who had neglected the idea initially have shifted to social media platform owing to its success. As a result, this versatile marketing strategy has continued to grow.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing For Business Entrepreneurs
Most businesses adopt social media marketing because they feel that it is the trend and what other businesses are doing. Others also use social media marketing as competitive tool (Qualman, 2011). However, it is significant to note that there are real advantages and disadvantages of this marketing platform.
At the outset, with a good social media marketing strategy, a business will find it easy to grab the attention of its potential clients and will significantly increase its brand visibility in the market. Another significant benefit of social media marketing revolves around cost. According to Qualman (2011), social media marketing is much cheaper when compared to the traditional marketing and promotional activities.
Social media marketing also provides easy and efficient platform to deliver much improved customer service and to respond efficiently to clients’ feedback. Additionally, social media marketing can lead to increased sales due to more links to the business website. More customers will find the business or its brand through various channels and more customer leads will be generated. Moreover, social media marketing can lead to increased customer loyalty and advocacy (Qualman, 2011).
Social media marketing may sometimes require more resources and time in order to be successful. A lot of resources must be committed to mange a business’ social media presence and a lot of time is needed to respond to client’s feedback and in producing new content (Qualman, 2011). Although social media is a powerful tool, it is uncontrollable by the marketer. As such, it can sometimes be tedious to quantify a business’ return on investment or the value of a given marketing channel over the other. Moreover, it can sometimes prove to be ineffective for a business, especially when sales are pushed without engaging appropriately with the customers (Qualman, 2011). This can in turn greatly damage the business reputation.
How Social Media Marketing Is Helping Pepsi Gain More Customer Insight
Pepsi is one of the top ranked brands when it comes to companies that have leveraged social media marketing. Through their projects such as DEWmocracy, Refresh everything, Single Sign-ons, blogs, and Facebook fan pages, the company has managed to gain more customers insight in a number of ways: To begin with, by allowing their customers to decide where the company should donate their funds, they have helped their customers to all also participate in charity activity. This has in turn created a strong brand association.
In addition, with their Facebook fan pages, they have created a situation where customers are compelled to share easily with their friends. Moreover, with a strong feedback mechanism through the different social media platforms, they have ensured that the customers are familiar with the causes that they support. They have also managed to bring more customers into their support process. This has significantly increased their publicity and their vocal abilities which have also helped them further to gain more customers’ insights.
Businesses That Have Used Social Media Marketing To Their Advantage
Social media marketing have enabled businesses to build strong collaborative relationships with their customers. With varying strategies, these companies have used social media marketing to their advantage enabling them to realize more sales and business success like never before.
One of the companies that have utilized social media marketing effectively is Ford. According to Powell et al (2011), during the recession period, this automaker could not feature anywhere in the ‘world’s favorite brand’ list. Nevertheless, this automaker has significantly used social media to make a comeback in the global auto industry. For more than 25 years, the company enjoyed the limelight with their Fiesta Model and by 2010 they wanted to reignite their repute in their North American client base.
As a strategy, Ford supplied the Fiesta model to around 100 Indie representatives in a bid to show the experience that their clients would gain with the model. Many of the recipients of the model composed of filmmakers, social networkers and bloggers, most of whom were already sharing their experiences and lives. Their stories changed many people’s perspectives about Ford cars and to everybody’s surprise, this Detroit auto giant made a whopping $5 million through social media marketing (Powell et al, 2011). As a result, the reputation and the recognition of the Ford’s Fiesta Model increased significantly and even prior to hitting United States lots, the increase was at 60 percent.
Another company that has utilized social media marketing is the CBS TV network. CBS was called a ‘silver network’ because of its old and boring programs. In fact, CBS was already losing their Thursday night shows to their competitor, NBC. However, in 2007 it introduced a computer geek sitcom known as The Big bang Theory. This is where this TV network used social media marketing to its advantage. By creating a twitter page for the show, most of the viewers began following the producer and some of the actors. They were able to view the actors’ characters and other personal aspects. To many people’s surprise, the Big Bang Theory show made a significant comeback by the year 2010. The comic-con was able to rise to a Nielsen rating of 12 in 2010 from 59 in 2008.
Impact Social Media on Business over the Next Decade
Social media has significantly grown over the past decade and more people continue to use social media platforms to connect and share various contents (Evans, 2010). The business sphere has not been left behind. Most businesses have utilized the social media landscape to build strong relationships networks with their customers and to find their client’s interests.
In future, however, the impact of the social media in business might be based on its ability to increase sales and profit margins on a consistent basis. The impacts of social media in business over the next decade also depend on the ability of the businesses to continue reaching future generation customers. According to Powell et al (2011), the future generation will be appreciate more advanced principles that the current generation are just beginning to master.
The future impact of social media on businesses also depends on the ability of the business to allow its customers to effectively interact with its social media marketing strategies for profit. As Powell et al (2011) states, the success of a business will be dictated by the ability of the business to use the social media tools effectively. A business will only be successful if it can co-exist effectively within the confines of the contemporary social media platforms.
To take advantage of these changes, business will have to consider myriad factors. For instance, to reach the targeted clients, a business will need to go beyond the conventional social media platforms (Zarrella, 2009). This will necessitate not only understanding of the leading social media tools, but also ability to look beyond and to integrate new social media tools.
Moreover, generations that expect rapid interactivity will also require unique and ultimate personalization. As such, another significant strategy for future businesses is to equip themselves with the latest information as far as social media marketing is concerned. This will ensure that the business is ready to relate to the customers.
Businesses will also need to engage accordingly with the customers (Zarrella, 2009). This will require that a business puts the robotic advertising and sales pitch strategies aside, and to engage effectively with the customers in order to win their trust and loyalty. As Powell et al (2011) puts it, just a mere factoid of a business will not do any good to the company sales and profit. Instead, a business will need to have a smooth conversation with its clients to gain valuable insights into the customers’ needs and preferences, and to increase business’ sales and profit margins.
Evans, D. (2010). Social Media Marketing : The Next Generation Of Business Engagement. Indianapolis: Wiley Technology Publishers.
Powell, G. R., Groves, S. W., & Dimos, J. (2011). ROI of Social Media : How To Improve The Return On Your Social Marketing Investment. Singapore : Wiley Publishers.
Qualman, E. (2011). Socialnomics : How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Hoboken, NJ : Wiley, cop.
Singh, S., & Diamond, S. (2012). Social Media Marketing For Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley.
Zarrella, D. (2009). The Social Media Marketing Book. Sebastopol : O’Reilly, Cop.