The following assignment relates to the application of online social media platforms by individual users as well as by business entities. Social media has a pertinent impact on the operational as well as the marketing policies adopted by a business enterprise. It creates visibility for the brand and creates an interpersonal relationship with the consumers. Besides this, social media is an effective platform that enables users as well as consumes to stay in touch and post their feedbacks. However, there arise certain issues when using online social media platforms. In certain instances, the safety and security of consumers have been compromised (Duggan & Brenner, 2013). In addition, there has been leak of confidential data. As such, it remains essential to safeguard users against such hazards to retain the effectiveness of online social media platforms.
Proper enhancement is made to the life of both users and the organizations by the rapid growth of social media. Social media makes global collaboration with the help of the shared information through the online platform and adopting the e-business and e-commerce model. According to the current trend, it is observed that social media forms the community of online communication channels by the combination of community-based inputs, coherent sharing of information, and proper collaboration. This particular formation is done by the various websites, web application, social networking, microblogging, Wikipedia, and different types of social forums (Sandilands, 2013). Adopting the different social application is the nature of modern day businesses as well as individuals. Social media emphasises on two separate aspects of the interest of people to develop relationships with the others; one is related to the protection from predation, and the other is seeking valuable information driving the appropriate decision-making. By aiming these particular intensions of the modern day human beings, social media facilitates the establishment of the overall system to guide the businesses for the achievement of success in their respective way of operations.
Over the years, the continuous evolution of social media produces different kinds of benefits to the businesses and users (Kim & Ko, 2012). However, some critical drawbacks can also be observed due to the application of the existing framework. Over the years, users, as well as businesses, have exposed to the number of threats posed by the different factors of social media (Van Dijck, 2013). Therefore, the research aims to investigate the utilisation of social media by the small businesses to explore the countless opportunities while facing significant challenges at the same time.
1.2 Problem Statement
It is a known and obvious fact that the internet and information plays a significant role in the lives of people as well as the business leading the social media phenomenon as the interesting topic to research. Because of the fundamental influences of social media on the attitudes of people and brand image of the company, the particular interest on social media is provided importantly (Aral, Dellarocas & Godes, 2013). Due to the influence of economic crisis, many brands suffered the diminishing sales and falling rates of customer satisfaction. According to the investigation, the individual financial crisis is not the only reason for the brand failure. Due to the perception issues, brands like MySpace and GAP have faced the declining sales alongside necessity of rebranding. Based on such scenario, companies are continuously prioritising on the changing preferences and opinions of the customers to cope up with the growing requirement. It is possible by embracing the advanced technology and avoiding the common challenges eventually (Castronovo, & Huang, 2012). The relevance of brand attitudes can be found in different segments of the market, which confirmed by the previous studies. This individual face articulates that the actuality of the problem is evident from the business as well as users context. Therefore, the companies and the marketers are facing particular difficulties to cope up with the evolving brand attitudes of the customers while considering the widespread of social media and increasing number of social media users (Brennan, 2014). All the companies are engaged in building positive brand attitudes or at least an attitude that can lead them towards the profitability and attaining the leading position in the market by exploring the future opportunities of growth. It is found that different factors associated with social media failed to deliver the proper information to the companies supporting the development of the helpful insight about the customers’ attitude towards a brand, which is necessary for achieving the business objectives.
1.3 Significance of the Research
The existing environment related to the social media users and the presence of social media platforms ensures the presence of the variety of companies into the same marketplace causing unfeasibility of the in-depth information required by the businesses (Tuten & Solomon, 2014). Furthermore, the existing solutions are cannot be generalised for the numerous company belonging to the broad range of industries and locations. With the help of this study, it is expected that the strategies adopted by the small to medium businesses can be identified regarding the utilisation of social media to ensure the increasing customer engagement. Apart from that, the significance of the research is based on addressing the challenges faced by the businesses to adopt the suitable strategy related to utilisation of social media and exploring solutions to mitigate those.
1.4 Purpose and Aims
- The principal purpose of the study is based on investigating and developing proper strategies for the small and medium sized businesses to adopt the utilisation of social media adequately for interacting with the customers actually (Stephen & Galak, 2012). Based on the identified aims, it is essential for the study to investigate the different challenges and obstacles faced by the businesses and individuals in the modern day environment. The primary purposes of the survey are highlighted below:
- Determining the implications of social media on the performance levels of the business
- Reviewing the current approaches adopted by the businesses related to the social media and their relevancy with the chosen business objectives
- Shaping the usefulness of social medial to generate leads
- Investigating the availability of unique approaches to mitigate the identified challenges for the users and the businesses
2.0 Literature Review
This chapter is designed to highlight the key pieces of literature for examining the roles of different approaches as part of the social networking framework in the strategic marketing process of the small to medium businesses. To achieve the aim, the literatures, and the theoretical frameworks will be reviewed from different perspectives specifically covering from the strategic planning and integrated market communication process, as adopted by these companies. (Newman et al., 2012). With the help of the process, different understandings related to the theoretical underpinnings will be developed to explore the issues associated with the growth and sustainability of these companies, while assessing the obstacles from overcoming the competition in the respective market.
2.2 Strategic Planning and the Role of Marketing
The competitive advantage can be gained by the internal strengths and market opportunities of the organization. Alternatively, the success of the business also depends on the ability of its value promotion to identify and address the needs and expectations of the target market (Laroche, Habibi & Richard, 2013). According to Aaker and Mcloughlin (2010), the strategic direction of the organization must need to be in line with the perceived value of the target market, and the overall processes referred to the strategic fit. Based on the argument of Hough et al. (2011), the individual process is achieved by the firm effectively with the help of strategic planning, which helps the business to define the vision and objectives. It is acknowledged that the certain factor helps the businesses to understand its business environment for driving the formation and implementation strategies while controlling the different areas of operations (Hollensen, 2015). In this situation, McDaniel et al. (2013) explained that the use of social media by the businesses helps them to carry out their marketing by extracting detailed information about the attitudes and demands of the customers. The process facilitates the exchange of value in a significant manner between the organization and the target market. With the help of the understanding, it is observed that adoption of social media influences the development of marketing approaches for an organization while the marketing is playing significant roles in the strategic planning process.
2.3 Direct Marketing Communications
Marketing of the organization is composed of different methods like telemarketing, direct mail, digital marketing, door-to-door leafleting, and digital marketing (De Vries, Gensler & Leeflang, 2012). By looking at the modern day context, digital marketing is continuously gaining the utmost amount of importance due to the consistent evolution of the techniques to develop the communication between the people and organizations. John Fahy and David Jobber (2012) defined digital marketing as the combination of digital technologies used for achieving the marketing objectives of the business. Therefore, the characterisation of digital marketing is done by considering the significant changes in the communication process involved. From the perspective of utilising the social media, Fahy and Jobber (2012) further explained that the businesses of the modern day environment face the significant amount of challenges in the process of coping up with the new technologic requirements. Apart from that, challenges are also observed in finding new generation of customers according to the utilisation of media (Trainor, et al., 2014). Therefore, the businesses should need to provide growing importance to the social media for factor integrated into the marketing strategy would help the businesses to communicate and engage the customers to the organization. Previous researchers, in this case, have outlined three major components of social media marketing agreeing on the effective involvement of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus (Hudson & Thal, 2013). Apart from that, these businesses must need to concentrate on their presence in microblogs and image sharing websites.
2.4 Internet Marketing and Difference of Strategies
Because of the socio-cultural conditions, consumer behaviours are changing rapidly in the modern day business environment, while it is observed that people have less time for different factors (Seidel & Chatelier, 2013). Due to the increasing work hours and growing number of women participating in the workforce, the time value of individuals has become highly important. Zappala and Gray (2006) argued that the significant rise of social media is based on the capability of the factor emphasising on such fact related to the modern day society by dramatically changing the purchasing and communication process for the individuals (Luo & Zhang, 2013). The fast and efficient communication can be developed with the inclusion of social media to access the vast array of information for the users and businesses.
Zappala and Gray identified the noticeable difference in the data area. According to Ingham et al. (2012), the customers can access the wide range of quality information by the use of internet related to the product and service related details and different promotional activities as part of the business marketing. The process is highly distinct from the traditional marketing regarding accessing the information and approaching to the reach of customers (Albarran, 2013). Apart from that, the authors have also noticed differences regarding the client relationship process. By the integration of social media in the marketing strategies, the businesses are required to develop the interactive relationships with the customers through the direct involvement, something that is far too different from the previous way of marketing.
The overall chapter has successfully highlighted the overview of the relevant works of literature covering the small business marketing, integrated techniques of the marketing, and social media marketing. It is observed that the fundamental struggle is highly faced by the small businesses regarding the use of social media to reach towards the customers. It is important to mention that the existing researches conducted on the use of social media by the small businesses have failed to gain insights on the strategies employed by these firms for ensuring the favourable customer engagement (Malthouse, et al., 2013). Therefore, the overall understanding lead towards the need of additional research to gain deeper insight into developing some important approaches or method to address and eliminate the critical challenges associated with the use of social media by the businesses.
3.0 A Proposed Model
Apart from the benefits of social media in the enhancement of life and marketing aspect of the business, different challenges and difficulties can be articulated by the help of literatures, highlighted earlier. Therefore, the application of proper models is required for improving each area of the identified issues.
3.1 Justification of New or Updated Models
Firstly, SONET model should need to be implemented for measuring the quality of information and most importantly the privacy of data in the social networking sites. The tools of SONET model are adequately effective for achieving such objective. Secondly, particular attention is needed to be provided to the shared information to ensure the success of the business (Kumar, et al., 2013). Different techniques should need to be applied as part of this process to maximise the spread of the shared information. Thirdly, the platform like Verily should need to be considered for verifying the information collected from the social media to eliminate the misleading statistics. Lastly, the social measurement model must need to be developed for measuring the digital marketing success of the business while reducing the challenges in the process.
3.2 Explanation of Models
SONET model is developed by two different tools called as PrivAware and Privometer providing online security to the shared information. As specified by (Thomas & Thomas, 2012), sensitive information of the business or the individuals can be easily hacked by the hackers causing some significant amount of damages to the privacy related criteria of the businesses. Furthermore, (Thomas & Thomas, 2012) have outlined the involvement of PrivAware and Privometer. Based on the critical analysis, PrivAware helps to detect the loss of unintended information in social networking, where Privometer measures the leakage of sensitive information from the user profiles to help the reduction of the identified issues.
(De Vries, Gensler & Leeflang, 2012) has indicated the businesses to refer to a model, which can provide attention to the number of activities, which are conducted in the social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Based on the investigation to the particular work developed by (De Vries, Gensler & Leeflang, 2012), it is observed that special attention must need to be provided to the posting of information. According to the process, the business or users must need to repost the previous post with the use of hash tag if the previous information is identified to be helpful in the different perspective.
As disclosed by Evans (2012), the basic involvement of Verily is provided the major importance, as the model is utilised as a fact-checking platform for analysing the collected information both manually and technically. It is designed to eliminate the effects of fake information to the downturn of the business (Evans, 2012). The particular method helps the business to gather the accurate data and statistics for developing appropriate decision.
Measuring the social media responses is one of the most challenging issues for the small business as dictated by (Hollensen, 2015). Furthermore, the author has indicated that the measurement process engages the business to utilise the campaign-focused metrics and up-to-dated analytical tools helping the organizations to calculate the number of users with their opinions. The particular process ensures the high engagement rates of the users to the business to proliferate the possibility of growing sales and increasing brand awareness.
3.3 Strengths and Weaknesses of the Models
Some of the major strengths of the identified social media models are highlighted below:
- Successful integration with different applications and websites to promote effective communication
- Increasing users engagement to the marketing initiatives and approaches
- Developing clear and precise understanding of the current market needs and trends
Apart from the identified strengths, critical threats are also associated with the application of such models, which are disseminated below (Stephen & Galak, 2012):
- Weakening the click-through-rate of advertisement
- Lack of maintaining different features associated with the social media campaigning process, such as dislike button, group or video chats, etc.
- Elimination of the entire risk of developing the protection of user information
4.0 Implementation of the Model
4.1 Context of implementation
In the case of the SONET model, it should be implemented in the profile privacy settings of the user profile. Paying attention model should need to be considered for the posts that are shared previously by looking at their importance to the present context. The verily platform is required to be implemented in the process of sharing and collecting the information from the social media (De Vries, Gensler & Leeflang, 2012). Lastly, campaign-focused metrics or different types of latest analytics must be implemented in the analysis of social media conversation.
In order to implement the SONET model, a bit-way implementation is required by the business providing end-to-end transport of the bit streams. Additionally, multiplexing should need to be done by byte interleaving. In the case of paying attention model, a statistical graph chart is necessary to be developed for tracking and measuring the responses from a particular post in the different periods. For implementing fact-checking platform model, Verily is needed to be introduced in the analytical process of the collected information, and the process should need to be carried out both manually and technically (De Vries, Gensler & Leeflang, 2012). Lastly, statistical analysis and other marketing metrics are required to be adopted for implementing the effective use of social measurement model.
5.0 Evaluation of Implementation
5.1 Positive Outcomes of Implementation
- Number of increasing followers can be determined to measure the suitability of the business approaches
- Possible support can be delivered to the business expansion related objectives
- Development of open marketplace can be possible in the social media
5.2 negative Outcomes of Implementation
- Continuously changing technologic environment may obsolete the specific implementation
- Different ad-blocking extensions can be hinder the positive results of the implementation
- Chances of leaking the privacy can still remained open for the business and the users
By accomplishing the overall paper, it can be acknowledged that the adoption of new technology is often a complicated process for the business and requires the involvement of proper training. Because of the implementation of emerging technology, the businesses are often encountered with various kinds of challenges or restrictions from the potential users. Therefore, the organizations are highly required to adopt a suitable model in order to introduce the new technology favouring the small business (Hollensen, 2015). Based on the proposed models and frameworks, it should be mentioned additionally that the development process should needed to initiated after discussing effectively with the employees as well as potential users for recognising their challenges. Such process is significant enough to ease the transition associated with the overall process.
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