Evaluate the reasons Social Media Marketing has become exceedingly popular among businesses of all sizes.
Before evaluating the many reasons why Social Media Marketing has become the new and improved way for businesses to advertise, let us first discuss exactly what Social Media Marketing is. To explain this in detail I have chosen to first define marketing and then social media. This breakdown analysis will allow you to fully grasp the importance and meaning of the term, while also allowing you the opportunity to easily determine why Social Media Marketing has become so popular among businesses. Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large (Boone & Kurtz, 2012). Proper marketing strategies allow for businesses to sell their goods and services. The underlying rule is to ensure consumers always get what they want and to anticipate their needs before they ever surface. Marketing has always been part of business, from the earliest village traders to large 21st-century organizations producing and selling complex goods and services (Boone & Kurtz, 2012).
Marketing has evolved over time and is now in the relationship era, making Social Media Marketing relevant and more important than ever before. Social Media is text, words, pictures, video, and the like created with the intention of sharing (Evans, 2012). This definition only opens the door to the term, merely scratching the surface of its full meaning. Though Wikipedia is not considered to be a quality academic resource, therefore not an acceptable reference, I understand that using it will not count as sufficient source. But considering this paper is based on Social Media and Wikipedia is a socially built online encyclopedia I feel that it serves as a prime example of what Social Media is and it also offers an exceptional definition of the term as well. Wikipedia defines Social Media as the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue. Social Media comes in many forms, a few of the most popular being: blogs, microblogs (Twitter), social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn), media-sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr), social bookmarking and voting sites (Digg, Reddit), review sites (Yelp), forums, and virtual worlds (Second Life) (Zarrella, 2010).
One huge factor for Social Media Marketing becoming exceedingly popular among businesses of all sizes is due to the enormous number of social network users and how the use of these networks allows organizations to learn more about their target audiences. On November 12, 2012 Statistic Brain Research Institute reported that there were 1.2 billion Facebook members and the average amount of time these members were using Facebook in a given month was 15 hours and 33 minutes. Social Media Marketing presents businesses with unbelievable amounts of advertising opportunity, like none other before. For example, radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users, television took 13 years to reach 50 million users, the internet took 4 years to reach 50 million users, iPod took 3 years to reach 50 million users, but Facebook added 200 million users in only 9 months (Sheals, 2012). If these numbers are not grabbing your attention and making it obvious for you to see why Social Media Marketing is so popular and important for businesses, we may not be reading the same page.
It has been said that from a marketer’s perspective, Social Media is not a “thing” in the sense that direct mail or television advertisings are, but rather is a collaborative process, through which information is created, shared, altered, and destroyed (Evans, 2012). Given that Social Media Marketing can be delivered in an array of different channels is yet another reason why its popularity has soared. Social networks are only one of these many channels. Potential customer relationships can be formed and strengthened through blogs and microblogs just the same. Twitter is a great example of a microblog that has been used by businesses to build relationships with new and existing customers. Viral videos are also popular means of Social Media Marketing and can be shared and distributed all over the web for little to no cost to the advertising business. These videos must be extraordinarily entertaining and capture the audience’s attention like few other videos have the ability to do. Viral videos are usually humorous clips that intrigue the viewer in some way or another, but also deliver advertising messages. YouTube is a leader in media sharing and viral videos are commonly introduced here.
Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of Social Media Marketing for business entrepreneurs. The sere number of advantages Social Media Marketing presents to business entrepreneurs is astronomical. It’s obvious that times have changed in the world of marketing and if entrepreneurs are not willing to change along with current and future times, they will be left behind. As you may know, the goal of any marketing activity is the cultivation of, and communication with, targeted prospects and customers (Richardson, 2010). Social Media Marketing has rewarded numerous business entrepreneurs with stories of complete success. Beyond the fact that Social Media Marketing can be created at a very low cost to advertising businesses, it can travel at speeds like no other form of marketing out there. Viral marketing or viral advertising is a great example of this speed. Viral advertising is when an extremely entertaining advertising message is created and then gets forwarded to others over and over, like a virus (Boone & Kurtz, 2012). These means of advertising can be spread all over the internet at no cost to the business, and once it is posted online viewers can share it through media-sharing sites, social networks, microblogs, and many other channels at the speed of light.
In today’s business world, organizations must take part in e-marketing, and simply having a company website will not cut it or allow your business to thrive. Such marketing can allow you to attract unlimited amounts of new customers and strengthen existing customer relationships. E-marketing allows you to adapt to the needs of your customers, helps to reduce transaction costs, gives customers the freedom to buy goods and services any time, any place, anywhere, it has basically changed the way goods and services are taken to market (Richardson, 2010). The proper utilization of e-marketing can be very beneficial for all business entrepreneurs and social networking has deemed to be a heavy hitter. Social networking is the marketing channel with the most impact for you and your business in the short-term and medium-term future; it enables you to build profiles with differing degrees of privacy in your internal systems, generate user lists with those your staff can make contact, and gain access to user-generated contact lists made by others within your systems (Richardson, 2010). One disadvantage of Social Media Marketing, for the business entrepreneur, is how it can pose as being a distraction to employees. If social networks are being utilized at the workplace, employee job duties may be disrupted.
Private and valuable company information could also be leaked onto these networks, which could cause detrimental consequences. For the entrepreneur, social media is a dramatic game changer and is making fortunes for lots of people in lots of places, but that’s only if you know the rules of the road in this realm of marketing and stay on the leading edge (Meyerson, 2010). Assess how Social Media Marketing is helping Pepsi gain more customer insight than it would have otherwise. In 2010 PepsiCo decided to take the millions of dollars it usually spends on advertisings during the Super Bowl and launch the Pepsi Refresh Project, which was based online at www.refresheverything.com. This project is a grants marketing scheme providing millions of dollars to fund feasible ideas that could benefit society (Boone & Kurtz, 2012). PepsiCo allowed people, businesses, and non-profit organizations to submit their videos to the website, 1000 of these videos were accepted each month and posted online for viewing, the public then voted for their favorite and PepsiCo awarded the winning projects with sufficient grants.
The Pepsi Refresh Project has raised the bar in terms of how companies engage audiences online and how cause marketing is approached and invited millions of individuals, many of which had never focused on social change or community improvement at all, to participate in an opportunity to make a difference in society (Reich, 2011). If PepsiCo had decided to go about their normal Super Bowl advertising and not launch the Pepsi Refresh Project would they have gained the same amount of customer insight? Without a doubt, the answer is no. PepsiCo opened the door to a new world of marketing, creating an all new marketing strategy for like minded entrepreneurs to inherit and utilize. The Pepsi Refresh Project is part of a crowd sourcing effort that’s part of the larger PepsiCo plan to more closely integrate consumers with the brand through consumer participation in everything from picking flavor names to voting on the best user-submitted ad campaign (Boone & Kurtz, 2012). This form of Social Media Marketing has allowed PepsiCo to gain knowledge and insight on existing and potential customers all over the United States.
Though the project has cost PepsiCo millions of dollars, it has offered society multiple benefits and created numerous opportunities for people, businesses, and non-profits to become engaged in making a lasting difference. Research two (2) other businesses that have used Social Media Marketing to their advantage. Discuss how each of these businesses has utilized Social Media Marketing and provide examples with your discussion. The first business that I researched for having used Social Media Marketing to their advantage is Zappos, which is a leader in social networking strategy. The company began in 1999 as an internet based business, initially created to only sale shoes online and at that time was called ShoeSite.com. Later in the year the company was renamed Zappos to allow for a wider range of products to be sold. In 2000, only one year after the business was created, Zappos reaches 1.6 million dollars in gross sales, but in 2004 Zappos opens its very first outlet store in Kentucky and gross sales reach 184 million dollars.
In 2009 the business is sold to Amazon.com for 1.2 billion dollars and is now selling all types of merchandise, from clothing accessories to home furnishings and everything in between (Hsieh, 2010). Zappos made it into Fortune magazine’s top 10 best places to work and also in many other popular magazines for its exceptional employee satisfaction ratings, customer service abilities, and marketing strategy. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, “hangs out” on microblogging site Twitter and chats one-on-one with consumers about everything from their favorite styles of shoes to ideas about the company’s philanthropic goals (Postman, 2009). This company went from no sales to one billion dollars in annual gross merchandise sales in only nine years, and it did so by using Social Media to build relationships that turn customers into fans and then more profitable customers (Myerson, 2010). Embracing a little bit of friendly competition, Tony Hsieh encouraged employees to compete for who could obtain the most followers on Twitter.
This not only enabled Social Media Marketing to be utilized throughout the organization, it gave the employees the freedom to use Twitter on company time, demonstrating the company was serious about transparency and that it had confidence in the good judgment of each employee (Postman, 2009). Entrepreneurs and business owners all over can take Zappos for an example to help employees understand and embrace the benefits of properly utilizing Social Media Marketing. BlendTec is the second business that I researched for having used Social Media Marketing for its advantage. This is actually one of the very first businesses to incorporate Social Media Marketing and it did so through viral video marketing (a channel of Social Media Marketing). In November of 2006 BlendTec began its “Will It Blend?” campaign on YouTube (Mendelson, 2012). With only a fifty dollar budget, George Wright the former marketing director of BlendTec, put together the first five blends and posted them on YouTube. Needless to say the videos went viral, spreading all over the internet. Within a week they had over 2 million views.
They blended everything from wood to electronics and interestingly enough this is how CEO of BlendTec, Tom Dickson, had been testing the blenders for years. These viral videos more than tripled BlendTec’s profits but ended up bringing in film crews from a Germany TV company, the Discovery Channel, and the History Channel to capture real time footage of the different blending skits to ensure authenticity of the products. Speculate what impact Social Media will have on business over the next decade and identify what skills you need to improve to take advantage of the changes. Social Media is text, words, pictures, video, and the like created with the intention of sharing (Evans, 2012). Social Media is ever changing and we can only imagine what its future will hold. As for today, Social Media is presented in many different forms, a few of the most popular being: blogs, microblogs (Twitter), social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn), media-sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr), social bookmarking and voting sites (Digg, Reddit), review sites (Yelp), forums, and virtual worlds (Second Life) (Zarrella, 2010).
Over the next decade I speculate the impact of Social Media on business will increase substantially. With time more and more users will undoubtedly join these social networks, begin following different blogs and microblogs, and post and stream media from media-sharing sites. The number of social networks, blogs, microblogs, and media-sharing sites will also increase. To ensure yourself proficient in the like, I recommend improving your skills in all of the previous mentioned faucets. If your abilities to navigate through these intermediaries are weak, I suggest taking the appropriate classes that will increase your knowledge and understanding. Comfort and familiarity can also be gained through simple repeat usage. Dedicate the sufficient amount of time each week to visiting these sites and your knowledge will grow. Until we reach the next era of marketing, the relationship era needs to be embraced.
Boone, L. E. & Kurtz, D. L. (2012). Contemporary Business: 14th Edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Evans, D. (2012). Social Media
Marketing: An Hour a Day: 2nd Edition. Indianapolis, Indiana: John Wiley & Sons. Gillin, P. (2009). Secrets of Social Media Marketing: How to Use Online Conversations & Customer Communities to Turbo-Charge Your Business. Fresno, CA: Quill Driver Books. Hsieh, T. (2010). Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group. Mendelson, B. (2012). Social Media Is Bullshit. New York, NY: Earth’s Temporary Solution, LLC. Meyerson, M. (2010). Success Secrets of Social Media Superstars. Irvine, CA: Entrepreneur Press, Inc. Postman, J. (2009). SocialCorp: Social Media Goes Corporate. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. Zarrella, D. (2010). The Social Media Marketing Book. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc. Richardson, N. (2010). A Quick Start Guide to Social Media Marketing: High Impact, Low-Cost Marketing That Works. Philadelphia, PA: Kogan Page Limited. Reich, B. (2011). Shift and Reset: Strategies for Addressing Serious Issues in a Connected Society. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Sheals, P. (2012). Social Media Marketing. Online posting obtained from: http://books.google.com/books?id=UNLIC6jS8BoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:%22Paul+Sheals%22&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false Statistic Brain Research Institute. (2012). Social Networking Statistics. Online posting obtained from: http://www.statisticbrain.com/social-networking-statistics/ Tuten, T. (2008). Advertising 2.0: Social Media Marketing in a Web 2.0 World. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.