Every company in any corner of the world in any sector has a primary goal of profit maximization. Though it is undeniable that there are numerous ways in which this goal of profit maximization can be attained, marketing has its slate at the apex of this list. After the manufacturing process has been done with, the products need to find their way into the markets. The customers need to know of the existence of a particular product or services and its usefulness.
Marketing is a concept that is very diverse. No matter how many ways those different companies use to market their products or services, the goal is always the same; to achieve the objectives of the company and the main objective in business is usually the attainment of profits. There are several ways in which marketing can be carried out. The choice of the marketing strategy that a specific company employs in preference to others depends on a number of factors. Some of these factors include the target market, the company size, the type of product or services being marketed and the government policies governing the marketing industry.
So stated, it is prudent to highlight here that some of the marketing methods that are well acknowledged include direct marketing, word of mouth, discounting, free sampling, use of media and the latest form of marketing, use of technology and specifically the internet and social media.
This paper aims at offering an illumination into the application and use of social media as a marketing tool. The paper will discuss the reasons for the increased popularity of the social media as a marketing tool of choice amongst many companies in the world today. It will also look at both the pros as well as the cons of using the social media as a marketing tool by businesses today.
A typical example of a company will be taken so that a full and well structured review of this marketing strategy and tool will be done. The company chosen is Pepsi and the use of social media as a marketing tool in this company will be analyzed for effectiveness.
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Social media marketing
By definition, Social media marketing is a kind of marketing that is done using the social sites to reach the targeted audience. In other words, Social media marketing involves tapping into the social sites available today and placing advertisements and other marketing gimmicks aiming at getting the attention of the users of these sites.
Stelzner (2012) defines this process of marketing through the use of social media as a process of gathering public interest, curiosity and excitement in a particular brand, product or service through the employment of different social media forums and sites. This is done through the creation of value added content to a brand and then indulging into promotion techniques.
The revolution of marketing to acknowledge the power in social media was propelled by the success of the internet in connecting different people in all walks of life no matter the geographical void between them. The web, just as the name insinuates, intertwines people from all angles and brings them closer together in a single forum. With the breakthroughs social sites have had, like facebook and twitter, the social media has become a force to reckon with. There is too much power in this site. Taking a case like face book alone, the social site followers are almost hitting a billion people by the year 2012, (Facebook website, 2012). The combined pool of people that facebook and other social sites have is a force that marketers and companies are hoping to tap in.
Though the initial objective of creating these social sites was the provision of a common platform where people could meet and share ideas irrespective of where they are, the social sites have evolved to become one of the most potent marketing tools in the world.
Reasons for increased popularity of social media marketing
The popularity of social media as a marketing tool has taken the marketing world like a whirlwind. Every company or business in every sector is busy trying to apply this concept of marketing via the social media. Marketing is a business that deals in numbers. The more people are out there, the bigger the size of the market. It is this concept that these companies have applied in the marketing using social media. Not so long ago, hardly any company and business in the world had ever heard of social media marketing. Today, this is a different story. Social media marketing, or marketing through the internet is the talk in the marketing world today. What has made this tool so attractive and is in such a high demand today?
There are a number of varied reasons why the social media is becoming an increasingly popular tool for marketing by these companies. Some of these reasons are outlined in the following discourse.
The first obvious power of using social media as a marketing tool lies in the numbers. As stated earlier, Facebook being the most powerful social media in the world today boasts of almost a billion users. In the marketing world, this implies that the market has a target base of almost a billion people coming from one platform alone. Take the case of other renowned social sites like twitter with an active user base of over a hundred million people (Twitter site, 2012). Now, taking into account that the social sites are very numerous and approximating the figures they have, the target market served by these social sites could well be in excess of five billion people. This is a customer target base that companies cannot afford to ignore, whether they serve the local market or have gone global.
Another reason for the popularity of use of social media as a marketing tool is the ease with which the social media tools reach the target market. Normally, people offer their comments about a particular product through their links, sharing or tweets depending on the social platform used. Then as they like, share, follow or spread these comments, they themselves become marketers of the product. And this saves the companies advertising these products a lot of time and even money.
The cheap costs associated with advertising through the social media sites is also another formidable attraction. Compared to other forms of advertising, the social media offers relatively lower marketing costs. These costs, coupled with the prospects of marketing to a larger audience are a sure attraction to many companies.
The social media platforms offer the convenience of knowing for sure how many people in the targeted bracket have been reached by the adverts placed in these sites. This is possible through the automatic calculation of the number of clicks that a particular advert has had. These clicks represent the number of people that have viewed this advert.
Another very important feature is the capability of these social sites to offer direct response to the products marketed through them. This is done through the analyses of the views that different users of the social media platforms have concerning a particular product or services. These views are very instrumental in assisting the company to change the flaws and ensure that the products being sold or marketed fit the consumers’ expectations.
The markets under these social media platforms are much clustered. This means that there are different target groups for the different products and services that a certain company may be willing to bring into the market. For example, the fashion industry can identify with the youth targets using the social platforms and utilize these to market their fashionable clothing. The insurance firms could also use these platforms to market the insurance premiums like pensions and health to the elderly who use these social media platforms.
The reasons listed above are just a few of the numerous reasons that have made marketing using these social sites become much endeared.
Advantages and disadvantages of using social media for advertising
It is said that there are two sides to a coin. And in this case of using social media as a marketing tool, there are a number of advantages, countered by a number of disadvantages. These advantages as well as the disadvantages of using the social media as a marketing tool for business enterprises are outlined in the following discourse.
The advantages of using the social media will be highlighted here. Firstly, as had been seen in the popularity section, these social media sites are very popular, and they have the advantage of numbers. The fact that these social sites can offer a large pool of people is an advantage to the business people as it offers them the chance to reach many people at the same time.
Businesses can actually get a direct feedback about how their products are performing in the market. This can be assessed from the review of the different comments people post concerning the products or services of a certain company. The consumers are allowed to freely offer their views regarding the products or services of a particular company.
The businesses are offered the advantage of assessing the quality of their products or services without having to go through the time consuming and costly process of conducting market surveys. The comments that the users of these social media platforms give are vital in allowing these companies to know how the customers rate their products or services in terms of quality. These reviews can be used by these businesses to improve the quality of their work.
The businesses can also use the social media platforms to discover what the different groups of users want and, thus, try to fill this niche by offering the required services or products. For example, companies may discover a business opportunity where they notice that there are some products or services that people need and are not being availed to them or they are availed to them in a poor manner by the existing companies. This information can be obtained from the social media comments by the users.
The businesses can also use the social media platforms to launch a brand into the market. Launching of new products or services is always an expensive venture for many companies. However, the internet and the social media platforms have made this become less costly as companies prefer to launch their products or services online. This saves time, money and even energy for these businesses.
Some social media sites also offer the track of how customers view the products online. For example, they keep track of the way these customers behave by taking a scrutiny on the sites that they visit, the things that interest them. This way, the companies and businesses will know exactly what these clients need and they structure their products or services to be in harmony with these desires.
The social media platforms also offer the businesses the capacity to offer their customers with interactive sessions. They allow their potential and even existing customers to offer their take on the products or services that these companies offer. This makes the customer have a sense of loyalty by making him or her feel that they were a part of the strategic team that culminated into the creation of a particular brand.
The high level of accessibility of the internet also offers a very lucrative advantage to these businesses. With just a computer and internet connection, one is capable of viewing the advertisements set by these businesses at the comfort of their homes.
On the other side of the coin, the disadvantages are not as numerous as the advantages. Firms and businesses benefit more by engaging themselves in marketing via the social media sites than they lose. However, the disadvantages that businesses are faced with through marketing via the social sites are outlined in the following discourse.
The common threat of using viral marketing is the association of your brand with groups that you would rather not be associated with. The concept of marketing using these social sites involves the transfer or sharing of messages from one person to the other and the chain goes on. Ultimately, this information may fall into the wrong hands or groups of people that the business is not entirely comfortable being associated with. These associations may damage the reputation and even the credibility of such companies. And damaged credibility often translates into losses since people shy away from buying products or services supplied by that specific company.
Another disadvantage of social media marketing is spam threats. If marketing through the social media platforms is not stringently met, there is a high possibility that spam threats could occur.
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Pepsi and social media marketing
Pepsi Company is one of the numerous companies that are using social media platforms for marketing their products in the world today. The company, being a manufacture of soft drinks, is faced with massive competition from other giant companies in the world, such as Coca-Cola (Pepsi website, 2012). As a result of this, the company has engaged itself in numerous marketing and advertisement strategies so that it can survive in the cut- throat competition found in this market.
Of late, the company has identified the power of marketing through the online social media and has employed this tool vigorously to ensure that the potential clients are aware of the products the company has to offer and the existing customers’ loyalty is maintained. The company uses the social media platforms to gain more consumer insight in a number of ways these ways are outlined in the following discourse.
Recently, the company launched its Pepsi refresh project online at www.refresheverything.com. The project is designed to assist the people who have feasible ideas to receive funding. The company used a very forthright and simple strategy for this project. It first developed videos and posted them online and gave the visitors the chance to visit the site and vote for their choices. Pepsi chose to use the web to advertise this as a preference over the costly advertising during super bowl. The video that was uploaded went viral and was shared rapidly by the visitors to the site.
The huge success of this strategy made the CEO decide on investing approximately a third of the total marketing budget of the company to social media. The traffic accumulated by this video went to over 800% with live tweets and streaming on Google growing very rapidly and in a very short time period. The company utilizes the concept of a high stream of communication from different people through the use of the social media platforms all over the globe to market its products.
The marketing is actually propagated by the people using these sites. For example the people who hoped to win these grants set up their own localized media campaigns through the use of Facebook and Twitter thereby leading to the generation of more publicity for this project. Pepsi Company, through the help of the social media has set up campaigns that are aimed at providing the customer involvement and insight that the company feels is vital. This closeness to the customer has seen the Pepsi Company register increased sales as well as heightened customer loyalty to the Pepsi brand.
Other companies using social media marketing to their advantage
Numerous companies have come to acknowledge and even appreciate the power of social media marketing in the technology savvy world today (Kramer, 2012). Some of the two reputable companies that have utilized this concept to their advantage are Starbucks and Verizon wireless. These are analyzed in the discussion below.
Starbucks and its use of social media marketing
Starbucks is a company that offers hospitality services. Over the years, the company has fronted itself as a major force to reckon with in the hotel and hospitality business. The company has identified the use of social media and social engine optimization to its advantage in the following ways.
Through a creation of their website, clients from all over the world can book themselves online into any of the Starbucks hotels in the world. The social media has allowed for people to access the services of the hotels with a click of a button.
The social media has also assisted immensely in the marketing of the hotels through a chain of tweets and sharing. Also, the company has been able to receive feedback on the quality of its services, helping it rectify where it could be going wrong.
Verizon wireless and its use of social media marketing
Verizon offers communication and telecommunication services in the United States of America. The company faces stiff competition from other emerging as well as established companies offering the same services. Having identified the advantages of viral marketing, the company uses the social media platforms to receive feedback on its services provision and quality as well.
The social media platforms also allow for the direct marketing of the company’s products. Through its accounts in different social sites, the company is able to reach to a large number of customers by a single click of a button. The customers then do the rest of the marketing through spreading in sharing of links, updates, videos and even tweets
Speculation of impact of social media on businesses over next decade
The increased use and reliance on the web and the social sites will only be on an increasing trend in the next decade. Technology companies are coming up with more creative and more interactive strategies and platforms that are aimed at hooking up more and more people to these social sites. And this strategy is working in a tremendous way.
People are relying on the internet for their shopping, communication and other very diverse reasons. Businesses that have not identified this potential of using the social media platforms to foster their growth will be phased out in the next decade. The new trend is the adoption and integration of social media marketing by businesses.
From the discussion conducted above in this paper, it has been established that the social media platforms could play a significant role in exposing a particular company to the possibilities of great marketing at a very minimal cost. The increased reliance on technology has made companies realize that the internet and particularly the use of social media have a tremendous influence on the growth of these companies.
In marketing, the strategy employed is to go to where the customers are and establish the connection with them there. And in the current technology savvy world, the customers are found out there, in the virtual space. It is up to these companies to devise their own strategies of how they are to go about getting these customers. In conclusion, the use of internet technology and social media marketing has fostered growth of companies and has given them security and a competitive edge.