Social Media Marketing and E-Business

Subject: Marketing
Pages: 11
Words: 3010
Reading time:
12 min
Study level: PhD

Introduction

The business world today has undergone a complete transformation with the introduction of E-business supporting online technology. This kind of business is organizationally specific and more complex such that it has become one of the best ways of understanding the present and future organizational needs of businesses through large-scale embedded web applications, Social Semantics, Web x.0, Social Web, blogging and social networking. The effective utilization of E-business requires proper vision and planning to augment the competitive advantage of the virtual organizations in the marketplace. Transformation of the E-business program requires linking important systems necessary for the flow of the business such as streamlining management, capital investment, resources and other related requirements with front-end –rich internet media websites. However, businesses need to go through implementing the right technology wisely, in the right place and at the right time and be able to understand the role of social media technology (Fowler, & Vascellaro, 2010).

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Background

The traditional technique of door-to-door marketing, radio and television advertising and distribution of pamphlets as a way of promoting business in the local market has become outdated (Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010). The advances in technology have transformed the way the modern generation is conducting business since clients as well as business owners crave information from the internet as individuals have become tech-savvy (Almeida& Almeida, 2011: Chang, 2010; Fowler, & Vascellaro, 2010). Today, the number of social media users has increased all over the world with some depending on it to earn a livelihood while others using it as a source of promoting or advertising business online. Earlier on, business owners did not think that the information superhighway, which was still a new concept in the market, could be a vital tool for reaching out to the target market. After some time, it attracted people from all walks of life (Almeida& Almeida, 2011; Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010; Gladwell & Shirky, 2011). As an open-source of business, entrepreneurs started advertising their businesses online and with this beginning and the great need for advertising opportunities, more sites came in offering space and eventually social media sites were invented (Rajan, V. 2011).

Initially, the main aim of social networks like Facebook and MySpace was to create an opportunity for people to meet, connect, share and view music and videos and offer other related services (Almeida & Almeida, 2011). Entrepreneurs either underestimated or largely ignored the potential of social media in e-marketing. The advertisement of products and services began with the increase of the social media users. Additionally, the behavior of the social media registered users of competing to raise the number of friends and fans became an open door for big business firms to launch their advertising platform (Almeida& Almeida, 2011). The profitability of these firms grew by leaps and bounds owing to the growing number of users in social media. Later on, online promotion of products and competition for advertising began in these social network sites (Chang, 2010). Companies created their own business profiles on the sites, hired professionals to promote their profiles and social media marketers to do promotions through advertisements (Yasin et al., 2010). It is important to note that rules and regulations were governing social media and the old social media users who were the professional marketers had knowledge of all the rules (Fowler, & Vascellaro, 2010).

Furthermore, to promote a business online, business profiles alone were not enough to market the business. There was a need to increase the number of fans to make the profiles useful for promotion. Promoting a business online requires that the business owners attract more fans (Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010). Besides, there is a need to consider the needs of the users and by so doing, provide useful products or services to the customers. This can be achieved through conducting personal tests on the product or service to confirm its effectiveness, efficiency and ability to satisfy the needs of the customers (Almeida& Almeida, 2011). Having confirmed its effectiveness, online promotion can be done with full confidence.

In social media marketing, a strong profile plays an important role in attracting both active and prospective customers. It is a powerful device that greatly impacts a business (Gladwell & Shirky, 2011). Such a profile comprises attractive news and adequate information that will interest the viewers and customers. Information should not be kept private. Instead, it is important to provide online customers with something unique and different. That way the initiative to promote business online will be effective. In addition, Social media has also precipitated growth of businesses through the ability to provide clients or customers with promotional vouchers and special discounts online. This way, more customers seeking discounted services from the business have been attracted (Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010; Chang, 2010). Furthermore, social media has granted good leads through visitors or traffic to the website and this plays an important role in promoting every single brand or product, generating maximum ROI and high leads in the business (Gladwell & Shirky, 2011).

Research question

What is the role of technology in underpinning the whole customer experience through E-business? Is the social media marketing platform the right technology for businesses today?

Objectives

This research proposal will be seeking to attain the following objectives by the end of the study:

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  • Explore the interaction between users of social networks and social technology in relation to E-business.
  • Identify the platform for IT professionals, researchers in E-business and entrepreneurs to seek convergence points and reverences.
  • Investigate the challenges facing organizations in brand marketing in a bid to provide opportunities for practical solutions based on online business web tools.
  • Identify and discuss the roles of E-commerce in public and private sectors
  • Illustrate the various business fields e-commerce has covered and explored the advantages entrepreneurs have experienced through it when undertaking social media marketing.

Literature review

Challenges and opportunities

The use of social media today and its potential in the future is tremendous. New challenges and opportunities will arise in business due to enormous volume of data that social media provides (Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010). At this stage, most businesses may not have identified the effectiveness of social media and as research studies have predicted, the actual search engine time could be reduced to minutes when the social media sites such as Facebook, twitter and blogs will be used in e-business (Seelig, 2011). It is pertinent to note that some types of algorithms benefit from a large number of volumes on social media sites (Chang, 2010; Gladwell & Shirky, 2011). Social commerce networks offer knowledge to customers about the value of products and services which leads to the increase of both social commerce and social shopping communities. Accordingly, using social media networks by businesses offers them accessibility and chances to make better sales and improve their benefits (Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010). Additionally, in online communities, it is important to understand the word-of-mouth marketing. This type of marketing in the social media has encompassed viral marketing techniques and has been influenced by consumer-to-consumer spending.

The knowledge of day-to-day impacts of social media on business activities acts as source of information to the managers to develop skills, become educated decision makers and effective collaborators (Gladwell & Shirky, 2011). The continual evolution in functionality of the social media has increased the capabilities of the social media platforms through new features such as video conferencing and internet phone services (Sen & Sinha, 2011). In a matter of time, more new features will come into place and this knowledge is important for information managers so that they don’t ignore the effects social media has on the business activities in the present and in the coming future (Almeida& Almeida, 2011; Chang, 2010; Krinn, 2011). Additionally, since businesses have turned to social media and the fact that social media is here to stay, leaders of various business sectors need to inform their workforce of the importance of social media at workplace. Better still, training professionals needed to play the important role of educating the managers on the tremendous opportunities social media presents in terms of connecting unlimited people with similar wants and needs to a business, communication, sharing best practices, collaborations, and opportunities for networking (Gladwell & Shirky, 2011).

Viral marketing concept

Marketing is indeed a major business domain that requires social media. According to recent research studies carried out in 2009, it was found that social media site such as LinkedIn has been used by an average of 16 online leads or about 60% of business planners each year (Laumer, Eckhardt & Weitzel. 2010). This number has increased tremendously over the years. Today, financial planners with large clients and social networks have identified Facebook as a perfect forum to conduct their businesses (Fowler, & Vascellaro, 2010; Gladwell & Shirky, 2011; Krinn, 2011). Additionally, other social media networks have been designed solely to conduct business. For instance, LinkedIn provides opportunities for people or corporations with centers of influence to connect besides the fact that it is designed primarily as a platform for business professionals.

Moreover, next to Facebook and LinkedIn, another most widely used social media and networking tool for business is blogging (Gladwell & Shirky, 2011). The contemporary era is characterized by use of various social media and individuals doing business prefer a media channel where they actively engage in a conversation (Chang, 2010). Blogging provides this need and it has increasingly attracted many users as well as entrepreneurs seeking to advertise products and services through word-of-mouth marketing (Almeida& Almeida, 2011). This works through posting information from the firm and answering comments posted by visitors. However, when using blogging, corporate social responsibilities should be made available to the stakeholders through sincere and concerted efforts by the companies (Krinn, 2011; Gladwell & Shirky, 2011; Anon. 2007).

Accordingly, it is important to highlight that the use of social media in planning, advertising and marketing is increasing by the day (Stone, 2009). In the beginning, it was regarded as a remote working tool used by individuals in a remote working environment (Krinn, K. 2011 Martínez-Caro, & Cegarra-Navarro, 2010). This has greatly changed. It is currently regarded as a wave of the future business being pushed by the growing needs of both entrepreneurs and customers to have information and records available to them instantly.

Further, another integral part of the social media is the online communities (Lawson-Body, Willoughby & Logossah, 2010). Through sharing of the same platform, cross-selling opportunities to different groups are provided to the businesses and beneficial in earning revenue (Krinn, 2011). Solving pertinent issues by firms has been made possible through quick indications given by immediate feedback received from social media platforms. More firms are resolving to use the social media platforms to shape the offer of products and services (Gladwell & Shirky, 2011; Krinn, 2011 ; Yaghoubi, Khani, & Esmaeali , 2011). For instance, there are a number of firms that have used their human resource departments to make advertisements via LinkedIn seeking candidates for a position. Others like glassdoor.com are being used for retention benchmarks and recruitment by employees and businesses owing to the fact that it allows companies to post reviews of their workplace (Krinn, 2011).

Additionally, it is important to note that other network sites allow for the involvement of customers in matters concerning a business. They permit customers involvement in the process of innovation and as a result, this lowers the R & D costs (Almeida& Almeida, 2011; Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010; Fowler, & Vascellaro, 2010).

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Relative importance of social media in marketing

In the past, significant buyers relied on the opinion of others to make choices of what products and services to go for. Businesses today should not ignore the benefits that would come should they use the social media site such as the blog to give opinions to the consumers (Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010; Fowler, & Vascellaro, 2010; Lawson-Body, Willoughby & Logossah, 2010). In fact, the number of those opinions will increase tremendously according to the millions of social network users seeking opinions (Rajan, V. 2011). The businesses and the consumers seeking answers for their products are linked together by the social media making it a necessity rather than a luxury (DeFelice, 2011).

Additionally, businesses have capitalized on the fact that many people like social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for reasons of sharing likes, dislikes, videos, music and fun. They have used this to increase interaction with retailers and consumers (Almeida& Almeida, 2011). Through the interaction, they become aware of the demands of the customers and by doing so, they use the opportunity to put strategies that will lead to meeting the needs of the customers efficiently (DeFelice, 2011; Wei, Straub & Poddar, 2011).

Today, social media is widely used by many businesses to enhance marketing schemes (Almeida& Almeida, 2011). Even health care pharmaceutical firms despite their regulatory concerns use to communicate with patients and physicians regularly using social media.

Social media plays an important role in enhancing the brand of a business (Anon. 2007). Fans of a particular brand would spread abroad the services and products as opinions to their friends (Hill, 2011). The role a business would play in such a situation would be to highlight further their services to the consumers and facilitate discussions (Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010; Lawson-Body, Willoughby & Logossah, 2010). On the other hand, those who are not fans and are degrading the branding value of the business are tracked using the social media (DeFelice, 2011; Krinn, 2011; Laumer, Eckhardt & Weitzel. 2010). Additionally, the presence of a business that is online is usually tracked via social media.

Furthermore, businesses use social media as avenues to advertise market and sell their services or products (Laumer, Eckhardt & Weitzel. 2010).

Research Methodology

Assortment of methods will be used to gather information on social media marketing. This research study will be carried out on two levels. These will be primary and secondary research. Interviews and questionnaires will be used in conducting primary research, and this will be done online through social media sites such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Respondents from both the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and large business enterprises will be interviewed as well as kindly requested to fill in questionnaire with pre-determined inquiries on the effectiveness of social media marketing for business growth. The task of identifying intrinsic content quality when using social media for e-business will be determined from interviews that will be carried out on content users and creators. Some of the issues the interviews will seek to find out will be the best social media platform for marketing today and what is the best social media strategy for e-business. Importantly, the interviewer will ask content creators how the knowledge of customers, who they are and what they do is necessary for e-business. It will also be important to determine whether information on products or services is valuable and if it means anything to the consumers. In addition, information regarding the legality of social media sites a business intends to use will be checked and the target customers for whom the presentation is developed will be identified. Moreover, it is imperative to underscore the fact that culture, ethnicity, sex, age and so on are some of the relevant factors businesses need to consider when targeting the market. This research will determine their relationship and offer some insight into cost and effective application of marketing strategies, implementation and development of various business ideas.

Additionally, there will be need to carry out secondary research. Materials that will be used to gather information will include newspapers, magazines, journal articles and books. Besides, the internet will also be used as a source of secondary information.

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Research Limitations

There are quite a number of limitations and opportunities that are likely to be encountered when conducting this research study on social media marketing. The limitations which may be encountered evolve around primary research. For instance, honesty and thoroughness of the answers in the questionnaires will be an area of concern. Some responses given by the participants may not thorough or honest enough. Another limitation will be in relation to the interviews; it may be cumbersome to obtain the right respondents for the interviews especially if adequate time and financial resources are not allocated to the study. For the secondary research methodology, some of the challenges that may be inevitable include outdated sources, and the confidentiality of certain reference materials that require authentication before accessing the data.

Importance of the research study

This research study is anticipated to enlighten businesses with online presence on how to bridge the gap between advances in technology and the application of contemporary marketing tools such as social media platforms. Most empirical research on e-marketing using social media has not sufficiently addressed the succinct relationship between social media and e-marketing and the subsequent ripple effect to the business organization both in the short and long term. For instance, quick access to data via internet from the media users through automated applications is an important application yet to be fully explored in social media marketing. (Anon. 2007; Hill, 2011; Lawson-Body, Willoughby & Logossah, 2010). The latter is most likely to save the businesses time that would have otherwise been used to sort through the data manually (Hill, 2011; Laumer, Eckhardt & Weitzel, 2010). Also, it is important to note that even though it is costly and time-consuming to work out the process of developing customized applications, the valuable information used by the targeted markets will pay off (Laumer, Eckhardt & Weitzel. 2010; Lawson-Body, Willoughby & Logossah, 2010). This information relevant to the desired market will include material purchases, money spent, zip code gender, age among others (Boa-Ventura & Zagalo, 2010).

Moreover, use of social will be of great advantage to the businesses through increased number of connections, built credibility, and low costs (Anon. 2007). Unfortunately, there is limited study on this domain. Already existing businesses will be able to utilize the advantages to form new businesses that will in turn enhance the already existing ones, offer employment recommendations, enhance selling of merchandise and receive employment recommendations (DeFelice, 2011; Fowler, & Vascellaro, 2010).

References

Almeida, V. & Almeida J. 2011. Internet Workloads: Measurement, Characterization, and Modeling. Web.

Anon. 2007.Eight Ways New Media Will Transform Your Business in ’08. Web.

Boa-Ventura, A., & Zagalo, N. 2010. Ecommerce in virtual worlds – a ‘just do it’ approach? Web.

Chang, H. 2010. A roadmap to adopting emerging technology in e-business: an empirical study. Web.

DeFelice, A. 2011. Survey Highlights Emerging Tools for Firms of All Sizes. Web.

Fowler, A. G. & Vascellaro, J. E. 2010. Media and Retail Firms Meld Business Models Online — Websites Seek to Combine E-Commerce With Niche Editorial Content, as Technology Drives a Shift in Strategies. Web.

Gladwell, M. & Shirky, C. 2011. From Innovation to Revolution: Do Social Media Make Protests Possible. Web.

Hill, D. 2011. Looking to the Future: ASSE 2020. Web.

Krinn, K. 2011. Information Overload in Our Polarized Society. Web.

Laumer, S., Eckhardt, A. & Weitzel, T. 2010. Electronic human resources management in an e-business environment. Web.

Lawson-Body, A., Willoughby, L. & Logossah.K. 2010. Developing an instrument for measuring e-commerce dimensions. Web.

Martínez-Caro, E. & Cegarra-Navarro, J. G. 2010. The impact of e-business on capital productivity: An analysis of the UK telecommunications sector. Web.

Rajan, V. 2011. Make Your Mark With Your Social Media Status. Web.

Seelig, M. 2011. Web Economics: The Added Value of the Web for Daily Newspapers and Commercial Television Stations. Web.

Sen, A. & Sinha, A. 2011. IT alignment strategies for customer relationship management. Web.

Stone, B. 2009. Simplifying Web Trade in Used Media: [Business/Financial Desk]. Web.

Talib, M., Cai, S. & Hu, M. 2010. Voice Browsing Approach to E-Business Access: A Blind’s Perspective. Web.

Wei, Y., Straub, D. & Poddar, A. 2011. The power of many: an assessment of managing internet group purchasing. Web.

Yaghoubi, N., Khani, R. & Esmaeali.M. 2011. Trust Models in e-Business; Analytical- Compare Approach. Web.

Yasin, M. et al. 2010. Effect of Implementation Reasons, Implementation Plans and System Modifications on E-commerce Outcomes: A Structural Equation Approach. Web.