Good Example Of Thesis On Social Media Marketing And Related Concepts
One particular YouTube video by Carli Bybel, a make-up artist, has garnered more than 1.4 million views. The video features an instructional material on how the maker of the video has fixed her make-up for a birthday occasion. However, during the video, it is quite noticeable how cosmetic brands used by the model are being highlighted. Obviously, underlying the video is the marketing objective. Evidently, the video is meant for advertisement with some brands in focus. Of course, the maker of the video must have some interests in these featured brands aside from doing public service. Aside from garnering more than 1.4 million views, the video has elicited numerous comments among viewers, most are positive, others neutral, while some are negative. While this video maybe regarded as inconsequential, in netnography’s perspective, this video is an enormous source of marketing information. Originally regarded as a hybrid of ethnography and marketing, netnography was first developed by Robert V. Kozinets, and is now considered as an influential tool in online marketing . In order to understand, netnography, it is quite important that a brief background of ethnography is discussed. To put it briefly, ethnography is a branch of cultural anthropology that aims to describe human society through observing their culture, physical characteristics, and other attributes. By combining the concept of ethnography with online marketing, netnography was born . In the context of netnography, this paper has three primary objectives and that is (1) to develop a strategy on how acquire brand identity on social media sites, (2) determine the influence of rumors towards consumers in the process of decision making and (3) to provide a framework on how brand managers can utilize social media to control brand identity. The mechanics of online branding is not a new thing. In fact, on how branding is done can be readily observed through traditional practices of marketing, advertising and promotion wherein a brand name, product, package, signage, or other trademark merchandise is inserted and used contextually in a motion picture, television, or other media vehicle for commercial purposes. Evidently, there is one primary purpose of this product placement and that is to expose the audience to a certain brand and encourage him or her to buy one. Aside from traditional media, the internet is seen as the newest marketing platform. In this modern society where people are increasingly engaged on some online page or application, the internet is easily seen as shortest way to consumer’s hearts and minds. Evidently, the continuing sophistications of time and the increasing dependence of man to technologies had surged the utilization of social media as far as product campaign is concerned. And so, being able to create interesting and valuable online content for a brand that would attract readers and viewers are among the major objectives of marketing professionals.
Social Media and Netnography
The growing importance of social media in business applications could not be undermined. Since 1997, the growth of social networking has been phenomenal and its eventual utilization in business strategies has also become a necessity as it became obvious that social media is the in thing. Despite the failure of social networking sites, most notably of Friendster, the message is quite clear; social media is here to stay and whether marketers and business people like it or not, they have no choice but to deal with it. On the other hand, the purpose of netnography is to observe where people’s interests are heading and to serve the greater interests of marketers. Developed by Robert V. Kozinets, netnography started as an internet-based marketing research in 1995. Netnography has coined its concepts with ethnography although its main focus is studying people’s behavior on the web. Among the major advantages cited by its author were also made in reference to ethnography as being natural, immersive, descriptive, multi-method and adaptable. The significance of netnography in the modern context could not be denied. As observed by O’Reilly, “the web was more important than ever, with exciting new applications and sites popping up with surprising regularity”. The challenge, though, is how can marketing professionals develop netnography and utilize it to analyze social media interactions in a systematic manner. As observed, the use of social media has encompassed almost all aspects of human interaction. Whether it is for work, personal, entertainment or academic, social media has been increasingly utilized for every task and purpose. The need for interaction, team work and collaboration among users has made people incorporate social media as part of their daily routine and an integral part of their lifestyle. With more and more people engaging in social networking, the desire to analyze these interactions systematically for business application most especially in marketing is quite enormous.
Social Media as a Marketing Tool for Brand Identity
Social media has been identified to provide effective ways of promoting brands. According to a study conducted by Stelzner and his colleagues, the number of marketers that believe in social media as an efficient marketing tool has increased from 86% in 2013 to 92% in 2014. Also, based on this study, almost all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. Increasing traffic was also another observed benefit in using social media as a marketing tool to promote brands. For the same reason, almost all marketing professionals indicate that they are using social media for their business, all of them reporting positive results. One of the concrete strategic use of social media for marketers is to utilize social media to gain market intelligence as well as develop loyalty among consumers . Also, social media has been increasingly used as a venue for selling commodities as well. Aside from dedicated e-commerce sites, the selling and buying of commodities are being done on social media sites. It is however, observed that preferences in what, and where to go or what brand produces quality products or services is somehow linked to word of mouth or rumors . In order to utilize social media as a systematic tool for marketing, netnography is employed. Using netnography, valuable information can be obtained in social media sites that can be used by marketers for brand positioning and to develop their marketing strategies. Among the common information that is easily observable and obtainable in social networking sites that are crucial to marketers are the comments posted by consumers or audiences about certain products or services. Whether the comment is negative or positive, social media becomes a tool where people can naturally interact with each other on what their actual experience about a certain brand is all about. And the catch is, those people who are exposed to these messages are most likely to believe them as well.
Rumor and the Decision Making Process
Even traditional marketing theories has explicitly identified the importance of rumors or word-of-mouth marketing in influencing the decision making process of consumers. In order to understand how rumor steps in in the buying process, it is quite helpful to examine common decision-making models of consumers. According to studies, several factors influence consumer buying behavior such as personal interest, social influence, psychological, emotional and situational. Family, peers, social groups and advertisements are also significant factors that influence consumer behavior. Several purchase decision models have been developed and most of them are quite similar in most aspects. The Wentz-Eyrich model is one particular model that describes how consumers make purchasing decisions. According to this model, a consumer undergoes six stages in the buying process. The first stage is the awareness of need which stimulates the consumer to seek for a product. When the consumer realizes that the need is pressing and must be satisfied, he proceeds to the next stage of the decision process; if not, then the process ends at the first stage. The second stage is the information search. This is the stage where consumers gather information to help them in their decision. Third is the evaluation of alternative. As the consumer is exposed to similar products, he tries to evaluate what product would suit his need as well as his buying capacity. The fourth stage is the purchase decision. This is where the consumer decides whether he would buy the product or not. Fifth is the purchase itself and lastly, the consumer evaluates the purchased product based on satisfaction. It should be noted though that consumer behavior related to acquisition and consumption does not end on the last stage of the buying process. After evaluation, a customer may or may not buy a similar product again depending on his experience. Even so, the process can be considered as a cycle. Once the purchased product has been consumed, the consumer again goes through the same process over again. Evidently, the Wentz-Eyrich model of consumer buying behavior assumes that people buy because of rational choices. Although most would like to think that it is so, studies have also shown that aside from conscious rationalization, the subconscious is also playing quite a significant role in consumer behavior. With the use of modern technology in neuroscience, scientists are beginning to understand how consumers behave and why they do so. One particular technology used in understanding consumer behavior is the ‘functional magnetic resonance imaging’ or fMRI. CCTV’s are also playing an important role in understanding consumer behavior. Most retailers make use of video footage not only to detect shoplifters but also to analyze how people behave inside the store when it comes to shopping and decision making. One interesting behavior that most consumers are unaware of is that “it takes a while for the mind to get into a shopping mode”. Unless one is already decided to buy a particular product or service, an individual would have to get acquainted with the surroundings first before his mind is stimulated to shop and that is where the decision to buy actually steps in. For the same reason, most retail stores greet customers by large visible sale and promotion posters to condition them to shop. Another consumer behavior that is of particular interest to seller that most consumers may not be aware of is their tendency to buy more than they intend to buy when their ‘dwell time’ is increased. In this regards, most grocery stores place essential items at the far ends of their selling areas to make consumers pass by some isles. Unconsciously, consumers are being led to dwell longer giving them time to check some items, condition their minds into shopping and eventually make them buy more than they have come for. So what does all these finding imply in the context of rumor and social media? Apparently, rumor conditions the mind of those who are exposed to it; in a way, influencing their rational choices on whether they buy or not. On the other hand, dwell times on grocery stores can be closely related to social media wherein an increased exposure to particular subject may also influence some people to notice and buy a certain brand. Going back to the second stage of the Wentz-Eyrich model where it says that consumers gather information at this stage, it is quite obvious that it is where social media steps in in the marketing context. As suggested by the Wentz-Eyrich model, it is quite obvious that rumor has a significant place in the decision making process before a consumer purchases a product or service. On the other hand, the model also suggests that rumor is a cycle since during the last stage of the buying process where the consumer has already consumed the product or service, he or she is likely to make a comment or suggestion to some of his peers thereby continuing the whole buying process through word of mouth. Focus on word-of-mouth strategies in social media has gained momentum in marketing. As observed, “Word-of-mouth communication strategies are appealing because they combine the prospect of overcoming consumer resistance with significantly lower costs and fast delivery—especially through technology, such as the Internet”.
Using the concepts of netnography, it is quite interesting how internet related products and services have evolved over the years. Among the most significant observations on people’s attitude towards internet-based services including social media came out of a brainstorming session between O’Reilly Media and Medialive International, organizers of technology tradeshows and conferences where the term ‘Web 2.0’ first emerged. As think-tank of these two organizations reflects on the rise and fall of internet-based products and services, they have observed that there are certain qualities that made some sites dominate while others utterly fail. As an example, O’Reilly points out to Google and Netscape. Netscape leaned on the old strategy of dominating the web through their high-price applications designed to keep users stuck to Netscape’s platform as what Microsoft and other software manufacturer did. Google, on the other hand, utilized the web as its own platform and did not attempt to trap its users but rather, it continually develop its services that can be accessed freely. In the end, Google gained more users than Netscape; ultimately achieving its goal of dominating the market. There was much assumption with regards to the meaning of the term which was first coined in that session in 2004. According to Graham, it is likely that the initial meaning of the term is to imply that the web is once again significant after the collapse in 2000. When the term was officially adopted by O’Reilly in their web conferences, what was once considered as “a meaningless marketing buzzword” began to take a deeper meaning. The use of the number ‘2.0’implies a new version of internet usage. Most outdated internet services have been dubbed as ‘Web 1.0’, obviously to denote that they are surpassed by newer and slicker services that are tagged as ‘Web 2.0’. This connotes that Web 2.0 means innovation or perhaps a challenge for web entrepreneurs to innovate. Another implied meaning of the Web 2.0 is unlimited opportunities. This means that a new comer may have an equal opportunity in the web. Graham refers to this meaning as democracy. Wikipedia is another example of how people’s attitudes toward internet sites are taking form. Evidently, Wikipedia is taking more internet traffic than any other resource-based application combined. The catch is, people are tired of being lured into intensive marketing schemes wherein they have to create profiles in order to use a particular internet-based service. In referring to Wikipedia, Graham commented, “We now have several examples to prove that amateurs can surpass professionals, when they have the right kind of system to channel their efforts”. The forces defined by the concept of Web 2.0 are also at work in the demise of Friendster. Launched in 2002 as a social networking site designed for online dating, Friendster quickly became popular and experienced phenomenal growth. Unfortunately, this growth was too much for the site to handle. Accordingly, Friendster was ill-equipped for the exponential growth of its users and as more and more people began using the site at once, it failed to deliver the expected performance resulting to disappointment among its users. As a result, some people began experimenting on other networking sites with Friendster eventually losing its market share to Facebook, Twitter and other competing social networking sites.
Using Web 2.0 as a Framework for Social Media Marketing
So far, it was clearly evident that social media is an important marketing tool in today’s context. It has also been established that in order to realize a workable and systematic marketing strategy, the methods of netnography must be utilized. Unfortunately, there is no fool-proof strategy in any business undertakings especially in marketing. However, in the case of internet-based applications and services, the concept of Web 2.0 can be used as a framework in delivering marketing agenda’s on social networking sites. In line with the concept of Web 2.0, social media strategy should focus on simplicity, innovation and honesty. For simplicity, being user-friendly, in general, is one of the most common areas where social media can improve in order to elicit more interactions. Imagery is also very important in encouraging people to use a particular application or social media. For the same reason, innovation as a concept can be used to improve user interface and other salient features of a particular social media site or application. A striking example of how simplicity and innovation is applied to online marketing has been attempted by McDonalds in their advertising campaign that was launched in summer of 2014. As shown below, the company’s primary products were iconized and have an enormous potential of being easily integrated into online media.
Figure 1. McDonald’s icon that was launched in summer of 2014.
Simple, innovative iconic representations are among the most commonly recognized pictures. Just like the common icons of Google and Facebook, McDonalds is counting on the same principle behind these icons that makes people retain images and remember the company’s products just by looking at the icons. The main idea behind an icon is to make it recognizable just by looking at it. Apple Co. is also another example of how simplicity and innovation worked. Susan Kare, a legendary icon designer for Apple, has been attributed for revolutionizing the icon imagery. Accordingly, “Kare’s work gave the Mac a visual lexicon that was universally inviting and intuitive”. Aside from simplicity and innovation, marketing professionals should strive for honesty when using social media as a marketing platform. It should be noted that the web has become a free space with anyone having the capacity to speak their mind freely. Eventually, products and services will be pitted against each other and people will make opinions based on their experience. For the same reason, any slight dishonesty in marketing will eventually get exposed, which is very unfavorable for those marketers who does not adhere to honest advertising.
There can be no denying that social media is indeed a significant venue of social interaction online. For the same reason, its importance in marketing as a platform and a tool could not be put aside. In the context of netnography, people have been observed to have predictable attitudes towards social media. As observed, these attitudes can be further utilized by marketers in order to promote a certain product or service or a brand to be more specific. It should be noted though that people has followed a certain pattern when it comes to choosing and favoring one online service from another and these attitudes and behaviors have been reflected in the concept of Web 2.0. Using Web 2.0 as a framework, future marketing strategies would eventually lean towards simplicity, innovation and honesty as its primary requisites.
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