Researching of the Social Marketing

Subject: Marketing
Pages: 5
Words: 1412
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD

Introduction

Social marketing is a concerted effort aimed at engendering behavioral change by targeting people’s preferences and desires. The field of social marketing emerged more than 50 years ago when an American economist, Theodore Levitt, published a paper titled “Marketing Myopia” (Serrat, 2017). The recent decades have witnessed a rapid expansion and transformation of the field precipitated by the emergence of the online marketing landscape (Constantinides, 2014; Laudon & Traver, 2017). The development of social media not only introduced additional channels for attracting customers but also changed the rules of social engagement, thereby altering the behavior of marketing specialists. In 2013, marketers spent more than $5 billion on social media advertising (Ashley & Tuten, 2015). Unfortunately, not all marketing efforts involving social media networks are equally effective, which necessitates novel methods for assessing social marketing processes.

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The aim of this paper is to compare the social marketing processes of Caterpillar Inc.’s profiles on LinkedIn and Google Plus. The paper will also examine the privacy policies of the websites and provide recommendations for improving their effectiveness.

Analysis

Framework

Currently, there is no consensus among marketing scholars on a precise definition of the social marketing process (Truong & Hall, 2013). Moreover, the key components of the process variable to a great extent. For example, Laudon and Traver (2017) argue that it consists of five stages: fan acquisition, engagement, amplification, community, and brand strength. Borden, Coles, and Shaw (2017) state that the social marketing process entails the following steps: “define behavioral goals, segment the audience, use a marketing mix, consider the importance of the exchange, and incorporate a balance between competing factors for behavior” (p. 3). Serrat (2017) maintains that the process should be approached in terms of its scope, development, implementation, and follow-up. Therefore, for the purposes of this assessment, the framework proposed by Laudon and Traver (2017) will be used. The choice is justified by the fact that this approach to the social marketing process allows making a precise estimate of the effectiveness of several dimensions of marketing efforts.

Caterpillar Inc. on LinkedIn

Caterpillar Inc.’s profile on LinkedIn was chosen for the analysis because unlike other social platforms, this social networking service is associated with a high level of user trust and more favorable perceptions of privacy (Chang, Liu, & Shen, 2017). Also, it is a comparatively untapped social media for marketers, which is associated with unlimited marketing potential. Only 21 percent of marketing specialists used the platform in 2015 (Kim, 2015).

The platform scores highly in terms of both fan acquisition and quality of its users. Currently, the company’s page on LinkedIn has more than 470, 000 active users (LinkedIn, 2017a). Even though the number is substantially lower in comparison with the company’s profiles on other social media platforms, from a demographic perspective, the quality of its marketing potential is higher. It has to do with the fact that the average household income of LinkedIn users exceeds $100, 000 (Schaffer, 2013). Most, importantly, Caterpillar Inc. has many opportunities for extending its user reach since more than 500 million people are subscribed to the platform (Smith, 2017).

In terms of engagement, having a profile on the platform is extremely beneficial for the company because the visitor-to-lead conversion rate of LinkedIn is “almost three times higher than that for both Facebook and Twitter” (Schaffer, 2013, p. 94). Furthermore, the platform has more than 106 monthly unique visitors, which opens promising opportunities for brand exposure (Smith, 2017). Caterpillar Inc. generates engagement with the help of creative content such as photos, videos, and articles. The company’s profile also features a link to its podcast that focuses on product development.

LinkedIn has substantial amplification since the average number of each user’s connections is 400 (Smith, 2017). Caterpillar Inc. has the potential to build an active community on LinkedIn. It has to do with the fact that more than 3 million of the social media platform’s users share content on a weekly basis. The social media network is also extremely efficient in strengthening Caterpillar Inc.’s brand because it can become a key part of both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) marketing strategies. Moreover, LinkedIn Groups can be used to create positive views about the brand among different professionals.

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In order to improve the effectiveness of its profile on LinkedIn, Caterpillar Inc. should make use of innovative search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. By supplementing its profile with SEO paragraphs, the company will improve its position in search results. In addition, Caterpillar Inc. is recommended to base its marketing strategy on the use and gratification theory (Jahn & Kunz, 2012). Specifically, it is necessary to encourage participation by rewarding the platform’s subscribers with hedonic content such as mini-games.

Caterpillar Inc. on Google Plus

Caterpillar Inc.’s profile on Google Plus has been chosen for the analysis because the social media platform is not completely explored by the manufacturer’s competitors. The company’s presence on Google Plus is restricted to 238 968 users, which means that the effectiveness of its fan acquisition efforts on the platform is lower than that for LinkedIn (Google Plus, 2017). However, there is a potential to outperform LinkedIn’s profile because the reach of Google Plus surpasses 2 billion users (Masters, 2015). There are no differences in the use of social ads and creative content between the two platforms.

Google Plus is much effective in generating engagement than LinkedIn because unlike the latter, the former features user comments on its start page. However, there are fewer active users on Google Plus than on LinkedIn (Masters, 2015). Nonetheless, more than 200 million users generate content on the social media network, which makes it more attractive than LinkedIn in terms of engagement (Masters, 2015). When it comes to amplification and community, Google Plus has much less to offer than LinkedIn because its demographics consist of engineers, developers, and designers who are less likely to share content related to heavy machinery (Statistic Brain, n.d.). It also means that the social platform is less efficient in the promotion of Caterpillar Inc.’s brand.

The company should follow more profiles of other users. By doing so, Caterpillar Inc. will be more exposed to its target demographics and potential partners in the industry. Also, the manufacturer’s About page on the platform does not contain SEO elements, which prevents it from effectively utilizing Google search algorithms.

Privacy Protection

If a website is intent upon protecting the privacy of its users, it should structure its privacy policy around the principle of informed consent. Therefore, the language of privacy policies has to be clear and precise. Users must be explained data permission protocols. Furthermore, the websites should have permission screens which “communicate to the user the list of mobile data access permissions” (Misra, Such, & Gill, 2017, p. 4). Customers should be explained who will gain access to the collected information. In addition, users need to know how they can stop sharing information with third parties. Furthermore, it is important to let customers know how they “will be notified of changes to the privacy policy” (Houser, 2013, p. 94).

Google Plus’s privacy policy is written in plain English, which helps its users to understand the company’s stance on the collection and dissemination of their data. It is clear that the platform does not fail to clearly define what information is being collected, how it is being disseminated, and how users can stop third parties from analyzing it (Google, 2017). The users of Google Plus can also see the effective date of the most recent version of the company’s privacy policy (Google, 2017).

A privacy policy of LinkedIn instantly provides its readers with information on the main changes and shows the effective date. Also, the social media platform is more effective in explaining to its users its privacy terms than Google Plus because its website features a privacy policy video (LinkedIn, 2017b). In terms of other privacy protection features, there are no differences between the two social media networks.

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Google Plus can improve the effectiveness of its privacy protection by placing the policy more prominently on the platform. The social media network would also benefit from creating a short video that explains the privacy policy to its customer base.

Conclusion

The paper has discussed two social marketing processes of Caterpillar Inc. The paper has compared and contrasted the company’s profiles on LinkedIn and Google Plus along several key criteria such as engagement and amplification. It has been argued that Caterpillar Inc.’s presence on LinkedIn is associated with higher marketing potential.

References

Ashley, C., & Tuten, T. (2015). Creative strategies in social media marketing: An exploratory study of branded social content and consumer engagement. Psychology & Marketing, 32(1), 15-27.

Borden, S., Coles, T., & Shaw, G. (2017). Social marketing, sustainable tourism, and small/medium size tourism enterprises: Challenges and opportunities for changing guest behavior. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 34(1), 1-18.

Chang, S., Liu, A., & Shen, W. (2017). User trust in social networking services: A comparison of Facebook and LinkedIn. Computers in Human Behavior, 69(1), 207-217.

Constantinides, E. (2014). Foundations of social media marketing. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences, 148(1), 40-57.

Google Plus. (2017). Caterpillar Inc. Web.

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Google. (2017). Welcome to the Google privacy policy. Web.

Houser, K. A. (2013). Legal guide to social media: Rights and risks for business and entrepreneurs. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Jahn, B., & Kunz, W. (2012). How to transform consumers into fans of your brand. Journal of Service Management, 23(1), 344–361.

Kim, L. (2015). The best social media networks for marketers in 2015. Web.

Laudon, K., & Traver, C. (2017). E-commerce: Business, technology, society. Boston, MA: Pearson.

LinkedIn. (2017a). Caterpillar Inc. Web.

LinkedIn. (2017b). Privacy policy. Web.

Masters, S. (2015). Is Google Plus a useless social network? Web.

Misra, G., Such, J., & Gill, L. (2017). A privacy assessment of social media aggregators. Web.

Schaffer, N. (2013). Maximize your social: A one-stop guide to building a social media strategy for marketing and business success. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.

Serrat, O. (2017). Knowledge solutions: Tools, methods, and approaches to drive organizational performance. New York, NY: Springer.

Smith, C. (2017). 220 amazing LinkedIn statistics and facts. Web.

Statistic Brain. (n.d.). Google Plus demographics & statistics. Web.

Truong, D., & Hall, M. (2013). Social marketing and tourism: What is the evidence? Social Marketing Quarterly, 19(2), 110-135.