Social media has become an important marketing platform which has not only rapidly increased the popularity of many businesses, but is also vital for the revolution of marketing strategies that businesses have today. Research indicates that besides marketing, players in the global market leverage social media platforms to improve brand management and enhance consumer relationships through market intelligence based on analyzing and monitoring user generated content. Prohaska argues in his publication that social media platforms are effective in incorporating consumer feedback which promotes creation of quality products and increases products sales (64). As this paper examines, Ford Motor Company has effectively and efficiently utilized social media to boost its marketing activities as well as build and retain customer loyalty.
The latter explains why it is vital to put more emphasis in effective communication strategies for the sole purpose of building customer confidence, retention as well as loyalty. Lack of visionary planning and poor strategic management in addition to weak customer relations have led to dysfunctional organizational behavior and low profitability. However, customer loyalty and retention can still be realized in a business environment where strategic marketing has been put in place with the help of effective communication. Indeed, social media marketing is currently being used as a viable marketing tool largely due to its flexibility and viability in reaching out targeted market. In addition, the emergence of internet and particularly social media has injected a lot of vigor in marketing alongside improving loyalty of customers towards particular brands. This paper analyses the use of social media by Ford Company to conduct marketing activities.
Main objective: the key objective of this project report is to investigate the social media platforms being used by Ford Company for marketing purposes and how it impacts on customer retention and performance of the business.
Specific objectives: Some of the specific objectives of the report include the following
- To identify both external and internal factors that influence the social media marketing
- To determining sectors of the market that social media marketing platform utilized by Ford Company targets. To identify present marketing practices in different market segments
- Explore the interaction between users of social networks and social technology in relation to marketing.
- What is the correlation between customer loyalty, retention and business success?
- What role does the presence of social media play in influencing customer loyalty and retention?
- What are some of the positive impacts of the presence of social media in customer retention and loyalty?
- What are some of the challenges associated with the emergence of social media?
Social media and business profitability
Making profits has become one of the main goals that businesses in the global market arena aim to achieve. Studies indicate that social media has become an important platform that businesses are using to carry out their marketing practices (Anastakis 216). MRaab points out that the advertisement of products and services began with the increase of the social media users and this became an open door for big business firms to launch their advertising platform (27).
He further indicates that today, businesses that are using social media for marketing are effectively reaching many people. Consequently, the profitability of these firms is growing by leaps and bounds owing to the growing number of users in social media. Indeed social media platforms have become key bases where online promotion of products and competition for advertising are taking place, and which enhances the ability of a business to make massive profits. For instance, Ford Company has its own business profile in major social media sites, has hired professionals to promote their profiles and social media marketers to do promotions through advertisements.
In his publication, Anastakis argues that the traditional methods of conducting market research proved to be less profitable due to the fact that it was expensive and time consuming (220). However, with technological evolution, marketers have adopted social media as powerful and potential platforms to establish market links. As a result, businesses owners can easily pass information to friends, colleagues and customers. Social media assists a business in establishing solid marketing foundations where marketers are able to reach out to potential buyers and sellers to determine the type and quality of goods and services through creation of better relationships. As a matter of fact, appropriate engagement and better approach to customers through social media has helped brands such as Ford Company to make huge profits.
Use of social media and Customer retention
Social media as a marketing platform has been invaluable in ensuring customer retention by allowing a two-way communication between customers and businesses leading to active marketing where consumers’ views are considered. This, as Kunz and Hackworth point out, enhances customer retention as a business that relates with its customers easily understands their needs, improves on quality of their products to meet the needs of consumers, and establish relationships which eventually results to customer retention (12). Social media has enhanced the ability of manufacturers and marketers to appeal to their consumers with ease.
According to Falcioni, social media and web marketing have been regarded as some of the most significant marketing tools that have been utilized in the market to reach and retain both potential and actual customers (4). Social media and websites can be accessed by millions of people across the world and as such are efficient for marketing and gathering feedback on products. They have afforded employers and investors opportunities to meet with their clients though a virtual environment. The Web as a marketing tool has undergone technological innovation and as a result, entrepreneurs are increasingly switching to website for marketing and advertising their merchandise.
The research methodology applied in this research project was designed to achieve the set objective of the paper. Primary data collection was done through focused group interviews. Primary and secondary data were obtained from two broad methods. They included quantitative and qualitative methods. The former comprised of various databases which contain information on social media and marketing. Some of the resource materials for quantitative analysis of this research study included research official statistics, published books, peer reviewed journals, newspapers, research industry reports, magazines and credible government websites. The researcher used literature sources to examine information systems, their characteristics, main debates and challenges that tended to face businesses that use social media in their marketing operations.
The task of identifying intrinsic content quality of using social media platform for marketing was determined via qualitative methods from interviews that were carried out on Ford Company owners. The interviews were used to seek experts’ opinion on how through social media platforms, a company such as Ford has been able to make tremendous improvements in marketing. The interviews were further used to discuss the role of social media in enhancing customer protection and how its mechanism can be used as a solution to different challenges facing the sector.
Recruitment was done using social network and online forums to reach out to targeted participants. For the interviews, Ford Company managers and marketers were contacted on phone. Their phone numbers were obtained from directories. Sampling method was used and 15 participants were selected. Information gathered from 8 participants was used for qualitative analysis while that from the remaining 7 participants was used for quantitative analysis. All participants were presented with adequate explanations and guidelines for the study. All participants were also required to fill and sign a consent form agreeing to voluntary participation. The snowball technique was also used to reach the targeted number of participants required for the study. In this technique, people familiar with the study were then used to reach out to more people who were then be directed to the research’s web link.
Population and sampling
A stratified random sampling method to select the respondents was employed. A total sample size of 15 participants was used and systematic sampling procedure was employed to gather data. All the participants were interviewed. Besides, a random sampling procedure was used to collect relevant data from the participating organization. Both regression analysis and statistical software (SPSS) were used to analyse collected data and the final results presented in chart format.
Besides SPSS, in conducting content analysis, CRA methodology was applied. This is a system that uses Crawdad, a specifically developed analytical software package, to analyse reports gathered from quantitative data, interpret and determine meanings of words and phrases (Anastakis 240). It achieves this through representation of concepts, checking position of words and building upon inference based on network theory and a combination of linguistics.
Results and findings
From the research carried out on the use of social media by Ford Company to conduct marketing activities, the task of identifying intrinsic content quality when using social media as a marketing tool was determined from interviews that were carried out on company owners and marketers. The following are some of the finding from the study.
Marketing plan and social media usage
When respondents were asked whether they had marketing plans in mind before starting their own businesses, all of them responded positively confirming that they had prior marketing plans before starting the company. They indicated that their marketing activities before starting to use social were very costly and time consuming. They further pointed out that they developed a plan to utilize social media platforms to carry out marketing for their products and considered it a better marketing tool that promoted marketing and aided them in retaining customers due to its ability to create room for communication and gathering of feedback.
Main marketing tools
When respondents were asked regarding the main marketing tool they depended on, different respondents gave their preferred tools ranging from blogs, word of mouth, Facebook and exhibitions, and lauded their efficiency. However, they all agreed that Ford Company derived immense benefits from using social media, and which included an increase in sales and revenues, business development, publicity of the business and reduction of advertisement related costs.
Impact of marketing using social media
When they were asked about the impact their marketing had on the success of their business, they unanimously agreed that the different marketing tools they were using tremendously benefited their businesses. Up to 70% agreed that social media marketing gave their businesses great exposure. As such, they were able to reach a wider range of population. Besides, marketing for their products using social media presented their products as the best and of high quality. They have relied on social networks because social business networks offered knowledge to customers on the value of their products and services. The use of social business networks by businesses offers them accessibility and chances to make better sales and improve their benefits. The remaining 30% of respondents lauded the efficiency of the social media marketing tools citing that they gave them more clients and raised their business status and ranking like other top companies.
Discussion and analysis
The research findings are unanimous about one factor, which is the fact that Ford company owners and marketers are indeed inspired and rely on social media to carry out their marketing plans and strategies. It is imperative to bear in mind that social media has provided them with sufficient opportunities and platforms for business. The available opportunities provided by the social media are also highly competitive compelling entrepreneurs to do more marketing. It is also worth noting that social media seems to be offering vast marketing opportunities for ford company. This provides a ground for the company to step out and make use of social networks that afford better marketing platforms for their business growth.
Limitations faced and may be expected in future research exercise is lack of cooperation from some respondents. This is a significant challenge as there are always fears that they may not give accurate answers or take too long to respond. However, this can be overcome by comprehensive explanations about the scope of the research to respondents to ensure they understand the objectives of the study. Explanations and elaborations are aimed at minimizing resistance. There are quite a number of limitations and opportunities that were encountered when conducting this research study on customer satisfaction. Most of the limitations that were experienced mainly evolved around primary research. For instance, honesty and thoroughness of the answers in the questionnaires was a key area of concern. Some responses given by the participants may not thorough or honest enough. Another limitation was in relation to the online interviews that were carried out. For instance, it proved to be quite cumbersome to obtain the right respondents for the interviews largely due to the fact that time and financial resources allocated to the study were seemingly not adequate. For the secondary research methodology, some of the challenges that made the project to be quite tricky included sources that were outdated and sometimes irrelevant. In addition, the confidentiality of certain reference materials that required authentication before accessing the data was also another daunting task.
It is imperative therefore, that future research study be conducted in a more comprehensive way sop as to include the challenges and set backs of using social media tools in marketing. It was noted that the number of interviews carried out in the research study were probably not sufficient especially when considering the wide array of factors that may the interview questions demanded. Needless to say, the time allocate of the research study was equally demanding. Therefore, there is need that further research on this subject area be conducted in order to conclusively determine all the underlying and latent factors that may have not been brought into the surface. For example, one research area on this subject that still needs to be conducted include the addressing the contribution of finances and expertise knowledge required. Although this was tackled at some length on this empirical research, I found out that there were other micro factors that were either ignored or under eliminated in the process of conducting the research.
Furthermore, future studies should be narrowed down to one area of study as this will assist in coming up with finding that are more elaborate. For instance impact of social media like MySpace on the level of competition is a viable research topic. This is because the current research did not have ample time in tackle the topic fully due to broad area of the subject.
To sum up, the paper has analysed the effectiveness of social media as a platform for conducting marketing activities. Of importance is how it has been efficiently used by Ford Company to conduct marketing activities. The study has indicated that it has aided the company not only to enhance its sales and revenue, but also in exposure and retention of customers through feedbacks. The paper has concluded by offering various recommendations for further research on social media and marketing.
Anastakis, Dimitry. “From Independence to Integration: The Corporate Evolution of the Ford Motor Company of Canada, 1904-2004”. Business History Review, 78.2 (2004): 213-253. Print.
Falcioni, John. “Engines of change”. Mechanical Engineering, 125.6 (2003): 4. Print.
Kunz, Michelle & Hackworth, Brittany. “Are consumers following retailers to social networks?” Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, 15.2 (2011): 1-22. Print.
MRaab, David. “Marketing attribution beyond the last click”. Information Management, 21.3 (2011): 27.Print.
Prohaska, Beverly. “Social media for the collaborative enterprise”. IT Professional Magazine, 13.4 (2011): 64.Print.