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E-Commerce is a common term in business and marketing. This paper explains E-commerce as a process of trading through computer networks such as the internet, digital technologies, and other digital /Social Media platforms. It continues to discuss why digital marketing is important and introduces us to the paper's purpose of examining the opportunities and challenges of social media marketing. Further, it provides an overview of social media as a marketing platform and the various ways it operates through the creation of an account, profiles status updates, news feeds, the search engines and the data analysis tool. The opportunities and benefits of social media marketing discussed are on Brand awareness. The opportunities discussed include paid clicks and brand influencers on the marketing of products, feedback from comments of social media users on the page, and exploratory activity of users in finding out alternatives on how to boost the legitimization of the brand. On the other hand, the benefits discussed include boosting business pages, improving customer service and an increase in sales. The challenges include technological challenges on tools used by marketers which do not integrate all the social media platforms and the challenge of measuring the success of campaigns on social media. Other challenges discussed are managerial such as maintaining brand reputation, resolving issues and consistency of the brand visibility on social media. Lastly, the challenge on the choice of media strategy depending on nature of the business is addressed. The paper then concludes by postulating that businesses should embrace social media marketing as it is more adaptive to technology compared to traditional marketing tools.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction. 4
2 Social Media Marketing Overview.. 5
3 Opportunities in social media marketing. 5
3.1 Brand awareness. 5
3.2 Brand Legitimization. 6
3.3 Customer service improvement 7
3.4 Increases Sales. 8
4 Challenges in Social Media Marketing. 8
4.1 Technology and Measurement. 8
4.2 Managerial Challenges. 9
4.3 Choice of Media strategy. 10
5 Conclusion. 10
Management of E-commerce
Electronic Commerce commonly referred to as E-commerce is the process of trading and advertising of businesses’ products and services using computer networks such as the internet, digital technologies and other digital platforms (Marketo.Inc, 2016). The internet consists of the search engine optimization and marketing and direct e-mails. Digital technologies includes the devices used by individuals such as mobile phones, computers, iPad, computers among many other devices which can be connected to the internet. Digital platforms include social media platforms such as WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Twitter among many other social network forums (Marketo.Inc, 2016).
The world is quickly changing depending on the dynamic technologies and so are consumers adapting to the technological changes, according to studies individuals are consuming digital content faster every day, so firms are advised to seize the opportunities presented by the digital technologies (Tiago & Verissimo, 2014, p.703). Companies and consumers, in general, are starting to recognize the significance of digital presence for marketing and buying products respectively online (Tiago &Verissimo, 2014, p.703). Among the digital marketing means social media has played a significant role in the interactions between people. In the business perspective it has played a significant role between a firms customers, potential customers and new customers (Chaffey, 2016, p.4). This paper critically examines the benefits that social media marketing brings in and its challenges to businesses.
2 Social Media Marketing Overview
Social media platforms allow individuals and firms to create an account, profile post statuses, pictures, videos, and stories. It has revolutionized global interactions and the marketing sector as it provides various channels of advertising such as boosting the traffic in firms websites through the pay per click adverts, providing virtual presence of brands and the social media search engines (Chaffey & Smith, 2014, p.214). Social Media sites provide news fed on what is new or rather what other users update in their account to another users timeline. They also provide the share button for one user to share with those he interacts with on the site. There is also a like button that also boosts the visibility of the content shared on the platforms on search site of the social media platform (Hyder, 2016, p.11). Also, social media sites have data analyzing tools which track campaigns on adverts paid for. They also analyze the target customers the business account wants to reach out to based on the content posted on the site (Third Door Media, 2018). To examine the significance of the social media platforms in marketing, we will analyze the opportunities it presents and the challenges it comes with.
3 Opportunities in social media marketing
3.1 Brand awareness
Social media platforms allow business owners to introduce their products and services to potential clients when the product is relatively new in the market or in cases where the firm is looking to expand its geographical coverage (Roesler, 2014). Social media sites create a platform for virtual interactions globally as it put information online with all users of the site being able to access the information no matter the distance (Neti, 2011, p.11). Through the use of the tools of paying for adverts, campaigns and boosting pages - business accounts in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram firms can reach out to existing, potential and new customers at the click of a button (Hudson & Thal, 2013, p.157).
The use of brand influencers to is another significant aspect of social media marketing. Brand influencers come in where the firms choose to hire influential individuals with huge following and interactions on their social media accounts to work as brand ambassadors for their product. In this way, these consumers can relate to the products and also discover new products as they may not have heard of it if not for the brand ambassadors. The brand influencers are also essential in giving product reviews and directions of the use of products through videos and the content they write on their accounts about the products. Brand influencers usually are celebrities or any other social media star with a huge fan base (Brown & Fiorella, 2013, p.30). Statistics show that 92% of consumers trust social media influencers more than the traditional way of marketing (Weinswig, 2016)
3.2 Brand Legitimization.
Browsing of product and company’s related information on social media is exploration oriented (Mikalef, Giannakes, Pateli, 2013, p.17). When internet consumers discover a new product, retailer or business they have little information about, they search for more information on the internet and mainly social media platforms (Mikalef et al., 2013, p.19). Consumers will search the social media pages of a company in all the possible platforms to verify the legitimacy of the business and product before deciding on whether to make purchases. Social media also provides a variety of information on substitute products and competing products. In so doing, social media leads to trend discovery where the consumer obtains diverse products and at the end consumers will have sought through the available options before finally settling on a particular product (Mikalef et al., 2013, p.25). The comments on the business page to give it legitimacy as the potential customers can see the satisfaction experienced by other consumers of the product, this is normally referred to as the electronic word of mouth (Mikaelef et al., 2013, p.26). The social interactions online between the business and the existing customers enables new, and potential customers verify the legitimacy of the products and services sold online. Consistent updates online and the static websites of the firms gives business a cutting edge in gaining customers loyalty and trust (Roesler, 2014). Legitimization of a brand provides assured continuity of business with more customer referrals and maintenance of the existing customers.
3.3 Customer service improvement
Customized advertisements realized by creating content that targets specific audiences through profiling of consumers based on their use of social media creates more engaging and interactive networking among the consumers. Retailers hence end up improving customers experience and sales services provided by the business (Vineran, Cetina, Ditrescu & Tichindelan, 2013, p.77). Consumers are profiled on how they use the social media sites there are those who watch and listen to videos, there are others who are expressers, and others engagers. The expressers and engagers react to posts and give their comments. They are therefore the informers and networkers who businesses can get information and feedback from (Vineran et al., 2013, p.77). Social media also gives a platform for enterprises to interact with consumers through direct message and emails. Compared to other digital marketing technologies, therefore, social media enables faster response through the comment section in the platform. Such interactions increase traffic on the business page and so at the end making it more visible in the search engines.
3.4 Increases Sales.
Social media tools for promoting business pages provide users with an option to select their target customers (Facebook, 2018). Improving brand awareness and legitimizing the brand is not enough on their own if the specific target group is not reached. Social networks provide a lot of information including gender, age, geographical location and interests of users. Such information is crucial in determining a sales target group which eases the business struggle to identify potential buyers of their products as the data analyzing tools provided by the platforms does it (Luo & Zhang, 2013, p.220). The target group doesn’t not only increases the current volume of sales but also increases the future sales of a company. Social media business users can attach direct links to online shops such as Amazon in their post to direct customers on making instant purchases and adding products to their cart (Ashley & Tuten, 2015, p.20).
4 Challenges in Social Media Marketing
The increased use of social media sites in product advertising and marketing is not without shortcomings due to the technicalities it comes with. The following section critically examines the challenges consumers and businesses have in social media marketing.
4.1 Technology and Measurement.
The main challenge in the social media advertising which has remained unresolved for the longest time now is the social media measurements of paid for campaigns and the existing technologies used in measuring the success of the social media adverts (Delightful Communications, 2015). This includes the analysis of the performance of the ads on the sales and creation of brand awareness of the products. The question is can the purchases made by firms be attributed significantly to the adverts it invests on in the social media platforms? Marketers are also dissatisfied with the advert tools provided by the social media platforms. Every social media has its advertising tool making it hard for businesses to integrate their advertising campaigns in social media (Delightful Communications, 2015). Also, there exists no harmonized metrics for measuring the success of the campaign, while some social media sites base the success of an ad by the number of insights or views some depend on the number of paid clicks made on the adverts (Schultz & Peltier, 2013, p.90).
4.2 Managerial Challenges.
Consumers and firms relations have been revolutionized by the presence of social media in marketing. Social media has significantly improved on the level of the participation of consumers and their interconnectedness with firms (Thurau, Hofacker & Bloching, 2013, p.238). Social media has distributed powers to the con summers on their comments and opinions about products and services. Unlike the traditional advertising methods which relied on the consumers less but the business itself, social media provides a forum for the empowered customers to share brand experiences through direct messages and emails, videos and status on their user accounts (Thurau et al., 2013, p.238). In this way, firms are kept on toes bringing various managerial challenges like;
Maintaining brand reputation. Maintenance of brands reputation on social media needs time and resources which may not be adequately available. Employees behind the company’s social media platforms need to be versatile in handling online responses while at the same time they need to not only sell the brand but also improve social interactions as it is on social networks. They also need to be crafty and swift (Saravanakumar and SuganthaLakshmi, 2012, p. 4448).
Monitoring and resolving issues online. With social media the content online, especially for companies with a huge following, is quite cumbersome to handle because of the enormous traffic on the websites and social media handles. The company needs to keep track of consumers reactions while ensuring that they answer all the sensitive comments to the brand and track feedback content which helps them identify crisis and trends in consumer behavior (Thurau et al. 2013, p.237).
Active moderation and consistency is another key challenge for firms on social media marketing. It is quite demanding to create regular content which is relevant to the brand image of a firm. Remaining active on these sites also calls for the creation of "Viral posts" to keep adapting to the always changing environment, for instance, coming up with hashtags that are likely to keep the firm trending online for purposes of visibility (Tumba, 2018)
4.3 Choice of Media strategy.
Depending on the nature of products a firm sells, the choice of the social media site to be used will vary. Products that require lots of demonstration will often rely on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and not other social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Gmail. However, it's not a guarantee that the given platform will be successful in marketing the product some instances adverts on Instagram on some specific products do well compared to those on Facebook (Vivid Candid, 2016). International companies such as Coca-Cola and food chain restaurants also do face challenges on harmonizing the content on their different social media platforms in the vast geographical regions it operates in (Thurau et al. 2013, p.240).
Social media platforms are evidently influential in the marketing of businesses and pushing brands and having exhaustively discussed the opportunities it presents and the challenges it comes with it is advisable for firms to engage in social media advertising as it has been growing over the years. It is the future of marketing as users will continue to enroll in social media platforms.
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