In our current world where the use of the internet has changed life, we question if Facebook will influence trade as powerful marketing tool. As a result, we planned to conduct a small survey on the importance of Facebook on small and medium enterprises. Small and medium business owners are the target of this study on their experiences of using Facebook to conduct trade. The results of this survey will assist us in making conclusions concerning the impact of Facebook on trade. The results of the survey will either bear testimony or refute the fact that the use of Facebook is beneficial to businesses.
Introduction and Background
Small and Medium businesses have the challenge of advertising and selling their goods to consumers from different locations. As a result, most small and medium businesses end up having the problem of low sales due to small resources to improve their goods and services. As a result, small and medium business owners needed to become innovative in the way they sale their goods. Several approaches could be used to improve the work and their businesses (Peerawat 2012, pp. 52-53). One of these approaches is to make use of affordable technology to advertise, conduct market research and improve the presence of their businesses. One of the best approaches was to make use of Facebook to interact, advertise and get feedback from their customers. Interaction through Facebook can be enriching in that business owners get to chat with their customers easily. Moreover, business owners can easily get feedback from customers and even go ahead and attract new customers (Piotrowski 2012, pp. 43).
The reason why the research was undertaken was to determine whether making use of technology like Facebook is beneficial to small and medium business owners. In particular we are interested in evaluating the correlation between making use of Facebook and the improvement of business for business owners who make use of Facebook.
One of the most important aspects of any business is marketing since it involves a lot of activities that might be difficult for small and medium businesses. Big businesses employ marketing and advertising firms to undertake various marketing activities such as advertising, market research and launch of new products. However, small and medium businesses are disadvantaged since they do not have the funds to undertake such activities frequently (Lacho 2010, pp. 34). Research conducted on small and medium enterprises shows that most of these businesses have the problem of lack of funds to undertake effective marketing to grow their businesses. Past publications and researches also indicate that small and medium businesses have an edge over big businesses based on interactivity (Hyllegard 2011, P. 56). Small and medium businesses have a small number of customers and therefore these businesses easily engage with their customers quite frequently.
This study will examine the potential of making use of Facebook in interacting with customers for small and medium business owners. The purpose is to “enhance marketing space for small and medium business shaped by interactivity through Facebook.” The use of Facebook in small and medium businesses encourages interactivity and makes marketing quite easy.
This research seeks to examine the impact of Facebook as a social marketing tool through gathering information from different groups of business owners. The best of undertaking this research is to implement these objectives:
- Focus on literature concerning social networks’ impact on businesses.
- Review concepts on social media technologies.
- Develop a structure for undertaking the research.
- Carry out interviews and surveys to find out the impact of Facebook on businesses.
- Gather data and make analyses using different qualitative and quantitative methods.
- Derive a set of recommendations that would help in building up strategies to help small and medium businesses.
“Does interactivity through Facebook assist in improving marketing for small and medium businesses?”
From the research objectives, the research question and literature reviews, research hypotheses will be developed as shown in the figure below:
- H1: Using Facebook leads to increased trade.
- H2: Using Facebook eases communications with customers.
- H3: Using Facebook leads to improved customer awareness.
- H4: Using Facebook leads to reduced costs.
In the process of undertaking research it is important to gather information on small and medium businesses. The information underlined below reflects on small and medium businesses and the use of social media technology to advance their businesses based on different marketing methods.
Small and Medium Enterprises
Small and Medium enterprises today make up a chunk of the businesses that employ thousands of employees from different sectors. For instance, the growing economy of Saudi Arabia has thousands of small and medium businesses that the economy depends upon. However, these businesses face a myriad of problems and challenges that hinder them to grow effectively. One of the major challenges that these businesses face is marketing. Marketing involves use of advertising, branding and research on consumer trends, competition and sales (Edosomwan 2011 pp. 33). The lack of enough resources and capacity has made it harder for small and medium enterprises to launch successful marketing campaigns to woo their customers. However, these enterprises have a competitive edge over other big companies based on the fact that these businesses can easily interact with their consumers effectively (Lacho 2010, pp. 34-35).
Social media involves a lot of technologies and platforms that enable people to communicate over the internet. Social media involves technologies that allow users to chat, share text, images and video. One of the most used social media platforms is Facebook. Facebook has over 1 billion users scattered in different locations of the world. Facebook use has been accepted worldwide in different locations such as Americas, the Middle East and Africa. This presents an opportunity for any business to easily sell or market their goods through the use of this platform. The biggest phenomenon within the social media circles is social networking (Markley 2007, pp. 19). Through the use of this platform small and medium business owners can tap into this huge market and easily promote their goods and services at an affordable cost.
In the process of undertaking this research we have to look at different researches undertaken on Facebook and its impact on businesses. From these researches, we can come up with different factors that are to be examined in order to come up with an effective study. Since the aim of all businesses is to sell and make profits. Businesses have to undertake marketing to ensure that they meet the targets and needs of their businesses (Hensel 2010, pp. 62). However, the cost of undertaking effective marketing campaigns hinders a lot of businesses from meeting their targets. As a result, making use of Facebook is quite important in undertaking marketing for a small business. The gap in marketing for small and medium enterprises stems from the need for communication, customer study, costs and consumer numbers.
- Communication: Small and medium business owners lack an effective channel to communicate to their customers effectively. As a result, making use of Facebook will ensure that the gap between these two is bridged easily since Facebook is enhanced with different tools to ensure the interaction is made easy. For instance, chat, message boards and friends allow business owners to target their consumers (Geho 2012, pp. 23). Moreover, customers can communicate on certain likes, dislikes and other issues through use of Facebook.
- Consumer Study: The use of Facebook allows for small and medium business owners to study their customers easily. This is because business owners can easily scrounge through the internet and study consumers’ habits and preferences concerning different types of goods and services. Therefore, through the use of this information they can leverage this advantage and come up with superior goods or services (Hyllegard 2011, pp. 56).
- Costs: This is a gap in bridging the costs between small and medium business owners and other business owners. For instance, large businesses have the funds/resources to undertake successful and huge marketing campaigns compared to small and medium business owners. As a result, small and medium business owners can reduce their costs drastically in the process of undertaking business (Piotrowski 2012, pp. 42).
- Market: Businesses market to a certain group of consumers and in most cases; this is referred to as the target market. Facebook has over a billion users who are segmented into different groups and therefore business owners have a wide array of consumers to choose from.
Research Strategy and Methodology
The research to fully understand the impact of Facebook on small and medium businesses is going to be conducted through use of different research channels. The research will focus on the use of quantitative methods of data analysis and the main data collection tool will be the use of questionnaires.
Procedure: The participants in this research study are going to be small and medium business owners who will be introduced to use of Facebook. The study will also comprise of business owners who had already utilized Facebook in their businesses. The research will be conducted on these business owners through monitoring their businesses over a period of 4 months. The research will be divided into 2 categories with one group of business owners being surveyed after adoption of Facebook within the 4 month period. The other group will be made up of business owners who had been using Facebook for a relatively long period of time. A sample of 15 questions will be asked and the business owners will be required to answer these questions based on the choices given, as shown below:
Does using Facebook marketing increase sales:
Have your sales increased and by how much?
The data collected above will then be analyzed and explore the impact of Facebook on businesses.
Participant: The participants in this research study will comprise 360 small and medium business owners with 124 businesses having experience in use of Facebook for a period more than 1 year prior to this study.
Results: The study results will contain different facts and assumptions and therefore we will agree with the results based on different analysis methods. We intend to analyze and group similar results and get percentages that agree with the intended research aims and questions. The main focus of the study will be on whether Facebook increases trade and if Facebook is a good marketing tool for businesses.
The process of gathering and analyzing data should take a period of 3 weeks from the different business owners. The challenging part of the research was the bit where data was being collected from different business owners. This part took 10 days while the other parts of the research were done in a piecemeal fashion.
In the process of undertaking research, I encountered several challenges which include:
- Non-cooperative interviewees.
- Data analysis especially on partially filled interview forms.
- Lack of enough funds to travel around and gather data and conduct analysis
- Time constraints due to a large number of interviewees and interview questionnaires.
Justification of the Study
The study undertaken on the impact of Facebook on small and medium business owners is important in understanding the use of online tools in trade. Facebook is a popular web technology that if it is utilized effectively it can lead to increased trade. From the survey that we were about to conduct, we are going to learn how Facebook has changed businesses. Ways in which Facebook has allowed business owners to brand their goods or services at affordable rates. Facebook and another web 2.0 interactive technologies have enabled business owners to conduct business easily. For instance, a consumer can purchase a good online through Facebook and pay using PayPal and get the good delivered to his/her doorstep easily. From the study we learned that business owners who made use of Facebook increased sales in their stores easily (Dearstyne 2012, pp. 117-119). This is because they could easily market and sell their goods and services in cost-friendly manner.
Saudi Arabia is a growing economy in the world with an increased presence of trade, tourism and technology. Saudi Arabia is also home to thousands of small and medium businesses. As a result, if the country’s businesses adopt the use of Facebook in conducting business. The country could benefit tremendously from this phenomenon since it will employ a lot of people and uplift trade in the country. Saudi Arabia has the potential of developing trade like China due to the advantage of its growing per capita income (Geho 2012, p. 23). This will contribute to an increase in spending and thus businesses have to tap the use of Facebook to grow and reach global consumers. Facebook is widely used in the Middle East and this is evidenced by the use of the media during the ‘Arab Spring; which led to the toppling of many Arabic countries. Therefore, the use of Facebook can fast-track the growth of trade and grow the economy of Saudi Arabia.
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