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1.0 Defining Social Media
Social media is a contemporary innovation that has helped people in enhancing communication and interaction with other parts of the world using the medium of internet. The sharing of content generated by the users creates an important platform for marketing for brands to stay relevant in the age of globalization. The social media platform to a great extent links all the stakeholders in an organization and if positively used it can improve the brand value. Social media is viewed to be a virtual space in which individuals refine their identity through interaction with other people with common interests. Important features that are common social media are active participation of all users in this platform. Furthermore, there are open conversations between the users in which they get an opportunity to share information and get feedback (Jayasuriya et al, 2018 p 3). Additionally, social media users are inter-connected as a community that has interests that are common. Corporates have employed social media in their marketing strategies to achieve brand equity. In essence, social sites such as Facebook, twitter and Instagram are the force that is driving culture change in many organizations around the world.
1.1 Theoretical Understanding of Social media
Social network sites enable corporations to gain social capital that is paramount in online marketing. Social capital is defined as resources that are accumulated in online platforms as a result of people relationships. Essentially, for an organization to improve its brand in social media there should be investment in social relations. Notably, a valuable argument in the concept of social capital is the corporations’ makes investment in consumer relations with expected results in profit. However, an investment in social media is economically sensible compared to the expensive traditional advertisement platforms such as television and radio.
Social relations enhance the flow of information leading to exertion of influence and clarification of the credentials that an individual possesses to belong to a particular group. Social media is essential mainly because it reinforces people`s identity and to some extent recognition which is important for emotional support (Boyd and Ellison, 2007 p 7). Normally, an argument that has permeated research on social media recognizes it as a medium that is complementary to other forms of communication.
2.0 Understanding Brand Equity Concept
Brand equity from a financial perspective is the increase of cash flows as a result of branding a product in comparison to other unbranded products. In essence, there are positive outcomes in terms of profitability as a result of building a brand name through intensive marketing. However, from marketer`s understanding brand equity is the description of a particular product in relation to its strength and it is the preserve of the consumers because of their ability to make preferences depending on the knowledge they have about products (Jayasuriya et al, 2018 p 9). The worth of a particular brand to a consumer, informed by perceptions and knowledge about it is accurate definition of brand equity. Brand value to a consumer affects its profitability in the long-run.
Brand equity has various dimensions in marketing that are majorly attachment of consumers towards particular products offered by a company defined as loyalty. Participation of people as a social media community associated with a brand is a practical demonstration of loyalty towards specific products. Another critical aspect of brand equity is knowledge and awareness of various products offered by a company hence creating lasting linkages with the customer. Moreover, the uniqueness of a brand is important in enhancement of brand image because of differentiation with competitors. The perfection of a brand`s image helps in creating perception on such things as quality and superiority of specific product.
The primary goal of social media users is pleasure seeking and this gives credence to the virtual entertainments in social sites to capture the attention of the enthusiasts. Factors that relate to gender or level of income have no influence on social media marketing whereas education and differences in age affect usage of social networks (Jayasuriya et al, 2018 p 9). Social media campaigns that used entertainment to ignite positive perception are likely to be successful compared to adverts that give product information only.
The growth of internet in modern times has necessitated communication specialist to research on the behaviors of the online consumers. Research shows that consumers prefer to get product information through social media as opposed to the traditional advertising channels (Schivinski, 2016 p 11). One-way mode of communication in traditional media has been transformed to a multi-dimensional and interaction socialization that gives an opportunity to develop social capital, gaining competitiveness. The consciousness of consumers towards a product is determined by its familiarity as a result of huge awareness that can be achieved through social media advertising (Ashley, C. and Tuten, 2015 p 17
2.1 The Impact of Social Media on Brand Equity
Social media as a modern platform of marketing has made it possible for socialization based on the information available online. Social media marketing is important for companies like in modern times because it reduces advertising budgets to levels that are manageable hence making it a better alternative compared to the traditional media (De Mooij, 2018 p 38). Marketing executives have to change mindset with regard to advertising because the social media consumers are different from the traditional demographics that are segmented using age.
Nike`s digital ecosystem is based on continue dialogue with the consumers as it gives them ideas to start initiatives on innovation, reinforcing consumer connection and generally, inducing conversations among the consumers. Various social media networks helps Nike company to leverage passion associated with sport that deepens the connection they have with consumers. The benefits that accrue from engaging consumers online include the ability to listen and connect closely and establish customer loyalty (Chaffey, 2016). Moreover, Nike social media marketing strategies are crucial because they delve into the felt needs of the target market and online interactions make consumers develop great interest in the brand.
3.0 Nike Case Study
Nike is a sport`s company that has global reputation and this demands constant engagement with different stakeholders on social media networks. Evidently, Nike has been a market leader on social media advertising compared to brands in the sporting industry. The competitive advantage obtained by the company over time is attributed to brand loyalty as a result of constant engagement through social media platforms(Habibi et al., 2014 p 157) The core of the modern generation in terms of daily communication is in social networks and Nike Has exploited this avenue to improve its brand`s image. Engaging current consumers of the company`s products and potential customers has a significant impact on establishing customer loyalty.
Nike Company through its marketing strategies has been able to enhance the visibility of its product in online platforms hence collecting market intelligence to inform product innovations. Notably, social media marketing has been critical in developing advertising plans because of segmentation of consumers and differentiation of products from information collected through interaction on social sites (Mastroianni, 2014 p 37). Nike has adopted a social strategy that links its product to the overall customer experience.. The social networks are a source of disruptive change which corporations can leverage to achieve competitiveness in their industry as exemplified by Nike`s dominance in sportswear. The volatility of modern market has made it necessary for organizations to be innovative in the ways they interact with consumers to achieve brand equity for sustainable profitability.
Social media to a great extent has revolutionized dialogue market that is important with regard to capturing the customer`s attention. The essence of digital marketing is to develop personalized conservations with consumers to understand their needs and perceptions about a brand (Heggde, G. and Shainesh, 2018 p 17). Essentially, the customer is convinced about the superiority of a particular brand and in the process there is creation of an emotional bond. The challenge that social media poses to the marketers is on sharing information about a specific brand without control from the organizations, hence giving them power (Heggde, G. and Shainesh, 2018 p 13). Social media enthusiasts trust conversations with other users in their branding communities as opposed to information that is generated by the advertisers. Consumers have been empowered by internet and now they are active creators of messages that may promote or risk the reputation of a brand. Social media presence of a brand is an important undertaking that has an impact on brand equity.
3.1 Nike Digital Strategies and their Impact on Brand Equity
Nike`s management embraced to a great extent storytelling, social engagement and aspects of data analytics in their marketing strategies. The realization that the traditional advertising media was not bringing desirable returns on investment informed the major shift towards digital marketing (Karamian et al 2015, p 3). Moreover, Nike`s customer base consist of a young demography of innovative people with low interest in the traditional media. In essence, the young consumers targeted by Nike consist of a digital audience that can only be appealed to through interesting virtual world interactions.
The digital practices that Nike has embraced over time by focusing on narrations that inspire their online community to overcome the odds through involvement in sports. Interaction between the brand and the online community enhances its authenticity and recognition around the world (Ashley and Tuten, 2015 p 19). In essence, online conversations are advanced in the consumer’s terms hence helping identifying felt needs. The main challenge that online marketers face in creating brand equity in internet platforms is developing relevant content because the avenues are multi-pronged hence demanding different approaches. The content dispersed through social media to ignite conversations about a brand is a differentiation tool that is critical in developing brand equity. Social media marketing as epitomized Nike with its growing global brand is attributed to the shift towards consumers as the producers of value, a new phenomenon in marketing that is different from the traditional media (Constantinides, 2014 p 46). Evidently, digital marketing has enabled Nike to reduce advertising costs while at the same time improving the reach to the consumers globally.
The social network interactions encourage the consumers to ignite conversations and in so doing, enhancing the presence of a company`s brand in social media. The social presence of a brand in contemporary times has been identified as a fundamental element of its brand equity because it adds value to the consumer by inducing interactions while at the same time boosting the sales (Ekhlassi, A., Moghadam, 2018 p 63). The formation of online communities that common interests through Nike`s social media pages is a great step in creation of brand value.
Nike`s marketing initiatives has led to the creation of its brand communities in the internet that have interest is sporting activities. Essentially, people on the social media congregate virtually and share experiences about Nike brands and how they help them overcome odds while exercising or engaging in sporting activities. The consumer buying behavior is affected by online interaction with a particular brand. Content generation in the social media is done by the brand while influencing is done by the user which is a marketing reality that organizations should employ strategy to achieve brand equity (Bruhn at al., 20120 p 772). The social capital of some users is integral and hence social media conversations can be risky due to the uncontrolled sharing and generation of content with control by brand`s management. Mostly, if a social media users encounters a digital advert that represents their identity there is a high possibility of sharing it with other people, hence enhancing the brand`s image.
4.0 The rise of Social networks as a Medium of Advertisement
Online communities in contemporary times are organized according to the needs of the people and the common interests that bring them together. Social networking sites which in modern times include Facebook, twitter, among others are reinforced by virtual relationships that created to ignite conversations that can be generated and regenerated in various platforms. Internet enhances the use of technology and information sharing in order to accomplish tasks. In essence, people are viewed to be engaging in a social enterprise because their goals are recognized by other participants to an online community (Hinton, S., & Hjorth, 2013, p 4).
Social Network Sites (SNSs) help users to articulate their relationships by amplifying their networks that have been developed socially. A major characteristic of social network sites is having a homogenous population that share interests (Boyd and Ellison, 2007 p 4). In essence, this is a different platform compared to the offline dynamics of networking which less volatile and whose reach is limited. Most SNSs are meant to cement the pre-existing social connections to solidify offline relationships (Boyd and Ellison, 2007 p 5). SNSs values in people lives have great relevance in integrated communication as a crucial ingredient in building brand equity.
In contrast to content created by corporations to engage the target consumers, social media sites a greater appeal to a diverse demography. However, there is a notable evolution towards content-created a firms as exemplified by Nike`s online campaigns. Arguably, the viral dissemination of important messages by company gives credence to power that is associated with social media sites according to studies done on Facebook application (Schivinski et al, 2016 p 4). In contrast to the traditional media, data analytics of social media shows that users search for product information on these platforms because of ease of accessibility and convenience because they have control as co-creators. The research on Facebook delving on the inter-play of user-generated versus firm-created content on the basis of industry was essential on understanding the impact of social media on brand value (Schivinski et al, 2016 p 1). The results of the studies on Facebook led to the conclusion that communications from the users impact positively on brand equity, however, the content generated by the firm impacts on brand attitude (Schivinski et al, 2016 p 1). The important factors that include brand equity and the attitude of the consumers influence the purchase decision of the customers.
Participation by individuals in online platforms is informed by digital literacy in which communities practice different ways negotiating, generating and communicating with each other. A communication stimuli can be crucial in determining how consumers perceive a particular product through awareness or efforts to improve a brand`s image (Schivinski and Dabrowski, 2016 p 9). Brand equity is enhanced through intensive efforts towards marketing communication. Normally, this is achieved through an effort to ensure that there is a positive response towards by a product that is advertised through social networks.
Social media increases the probability of a consumer forming a bond with a particular brand hence establishing loyalty and a choice to make a purchase decision. Intensive social media presence of a products leads to positive expectation about a product from its online communities hence enhancing the purchase intention by the potential consumers.). Evidently, a social media site helps organizations to communicate to the consumer closely and vice versa. Furthermore, social networks is a new medium of communication that stimulates perceptions that online communities share about a brand , as well as enabling an organization understand the consumers of their products.
Conversations between consumers on their experiences while using Nike products helps the brand managers to collect critical information, which is important in changing the brand to represent the desires of the customers. The spread of marketing messages to consumers is achieved through communication strategies, however, in modern times consumers are content creators and they are highly believable as a source of market intelligence. Social networks are essential because they ignite interactivity between users as a result of mass participation which affect the equity of a specific brand depending on the conversations that consumers advance as a result of interaction with a brand (Boyd, D.M. and Ellison, 2007 p17). Nike for example has adopted storytelling to generate conversations on the superiority of its sporting products which in consequence has led to an online community that appreciates the company`s brands.
4.1 User-generated Content in Social Media and Consumer relations
Aspects such as desirability and the level of attractiveness of a product associated with a brand are affected by online content that are generated by the users. Social media interactions with a brand give consumers some level of control as regards their perceptions about a particular brand. The motivating factors that can aid in the realization of desirable brand equity are on ensuring co-creation as a central instrument on the enhancement of brand value (Consalvo, M., & Ess., 200, p 386). Companies such as Nike have started virtual campaigns on social media with the ultimate goal of ensuring consumer empowerment by appealing to their needs. High loyalty is derived from creation of a sense of belonging through emotional involvement into a brand`s activity in social media through activities such as sporting challenges like in the case of Nike. Additionally, social media as a medium of marketing enables consumers to expressly openly their attitudes towards a particular brand which is an important feedback to an organization.
Organizations have to evaluate how they approach marketing in the digital age so as to build strong partnerships with consumers through online communities. Brand equity will be achieved in social networks by establishing loyalty through sharing valuable information about products, fostering the perception about belongingness of a brand and engagement (Hudson at al., 2016 p 41). Relationships between a brand and the consumers can grow organically as a result of enhancement of positive experiences which builds up towards initiatives on advocacy. Generally, advocacy involves an effort to spread information about a superior product experiences to other people under their influence. Normally, social media users that defend a brand from negative criticisms due to fake news are an example of an advocacy initiative.
Contemporary consumers consisting of a young demography that are social media users appreciate an intimate relationship with a brand of their choice. Social media is playing a central role in developing different avenues for the customers to have brand experiences while at the same time expressing their perceptions about the products on offer (Kucharska, 2018 p 11). The main determinant of brand equity is loyalty by the existing consumers because it drives sales for products. Mainly, brand loyalty has direct relation to the purchase decision undertaken by a customer and the intention to revisit their choice in future.
The interests by corporations to maintain their image has necessitated for an intensive campaign to gain prominence through their presence in the social media. Social networks since their introduction; they have become a revolutionary platform for conversations through creation of online communities (Martínez-López et al, 2015 p 43). Noteworthy, individuals are able to develop their identities in social media and form bonds with people that share their experiences based on their historical connections. Notably, social media marketing within an organization affects all the stakeholders because they have to interact on various issues that emerge as a result of content creation regarding a particular brand.
Brand equity can be realized through social networks if the strategies used to appeal to consumers arouse positive emotions which influences purchase decision and ultimately improving the sales revenue of a company. Mostly, brand equity is achieved through virtual construction of brand communities in the social media which consists of structured social conversations by people that admire a particular product. The online communities play a critical role in helping social media users to construct meanings on the brands on interest. In essence, social media users are continuously seeking value from products and involvement in online brand communities to generate content that amplify their feelings about specific products (Martínez-López et al, 2015 p 49).The features that are essential in social media sites such as openness, autonomy, participation and reciprocity assist in developing critical linkages that can be exploited in marketing.
4.2 Impact of Social Media Marketing on Consumer relations
Social media is an enabler of social engagement which is defined as high level of involvement in response to social stimuli on internet platforms that in the ends transforms to brand value. Online social networks are essential in the development of affective and to some extent cognitive relationship with a specific brand which is personified through entities that are internet-generate to enhance brand value (Hollebeek et al., p 160). The interactive relationship that is amplified through social media adds experiential value and moreover, an instrumental quality due to the brand`s relevance and continued utility in satisfying consumer`s needs.
Organizations such as Nike have been forced to adopt consumer-centric approach to advertisement because it adds to their brand equity as a contributor to its competitiveness in the market. A significant change has taken place due to the disruption of social media from consumers that seek information about a product to an active brand community that influences post-purchase behavior (Mastroianni, 2014 p 27). Nike has capitalized on social media through storytelling and motivating loyal brand users to share their experiences.Organizations such as Nike have connected their brands that are inspired by technology through social media, making their customers an essential source of information to improve their capability to gain competitive advantage. In essence, social networks have contributed immensely in the improvement of brand reputation and advocating for transparency in the relationship between an organization and their stakeholders.
Social media has led to significant improvements on the level of interactions between a brand and its loyal consumers. A social network like twitter is useful in helping corporations to communicate with their customers and develop mutual relationships (Schivinski, B. and Dabrowski, 2016 p 39). Social sites such as Facebook and Twitter create opportunities for firms to reduce their advertisement budgets because they can reach their target market and achieve brand equity through consistent communication engagement.
Application of social media as an advertising media enables corporations to protect brand image and build its value through credible relationships with consumers through constant interaction. Consumers require information about a particular brand before committing to purchasing products associated with it (Hollebeek et al., p 161). The brand value emanates from continuous interactions beyond the actual interaction, a goal that is made a reality through social media conversations ignited by corporate presence in this technological environment.
5.0 Brand Equity in Digital Marketing
The perception about brand value is the main factor that determines it equity. The utility of a brand as defined by consumer is critical element of its brand equity hence constant interaction with customers is essential (Khanlari, 2015 p 22). Brand managers undertake marketing with a goal to increase profitability, a different end result from the consumers. However, the consumers require functional benefits from a brand such as access to information about the products on offer and support in the development of a social identity thus amplifying a symbol meaning.
Consumers derive their meaning from brands and thus, they are transformed to become fundamental objects for enhancing individual identity. An unknown value associated with brands is that they lead to social integration because of the interactions they ignite among their community of consumers as demonstrated by Nike sportswear customers.
Brand equity is a concept in which the reputation of an organization is viewed as a valuable asset and the role of brand management has evolved to become a core function in an organization. Social network sites are an important link that leads to the realization of social capital by acting as an avenue for driving branding messages (Ozuem, 2016 p 47). Notably, the increase in membership to brand communities has an influence on the brand equity. In essence, there are social benefits that accrue from the ability of consumers to congregate in the virtual world, the access to information about a brand and the identity value associated with online communities.
Relationships that are developed due to social media conversations are an important source of social capital. These interactions are described as relationships that are value-creating because they develop a sense of community that generate content that positively builds the reputation of a brand (Walter et al., 2014 p 17). A consumer experience is ignited through social media an interaction that is a phenomenon of the contemporary world that improves a brand value.
The concept of ‘Social Brand Value” is achieved as a result of supporting and creating platforms that brand communicate can interact to enhance the presence of information about products on offer from a specific company. Modern brands should concentrate on constructing identities and spreading positive messages about their products to directly link with the customers. Integrated marketing communication has been intensified by marketing initiatives using the social media.
Social media sites employ self-expression as a strategy to enhance social interactions through sharing of information between different people. Social network sites offer an avenue to businesses in which they can prospect and target a particular consumer base that has established online communities (Kucharska, 2018 p 16). Some brands are using sites such as Instragam in disseminating visual information on giving instructions on the usage of their products. Nike`s business value has improved over time because of establishing trustworthy relationship with consumers though their brand communities. The imperative of using social media in marketing for organizations such as Nike is dependent on the understanding of the dynamics of social sites, and the reasons why people join them (Heggde, G. and Shainesh, 2018 p 23). Another critical aspect of social media that has contributed in enhancement of brand value is by contracting online influencers. The main influencers that have been hired by Nike in this case include football stars such as Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo (Kucharska, 2018 p 14). Essentially, social media can increase sales of a company by increasing traffic by sharing positive messages related to a brand. The integrated nature of social media has fundamental value with regard to understanding brand meaning and value. Brands have network links to the consumer profiles in social media sites and thus, they can disseminate product information without incurring extra cost.
Most social media marketing strategies fail to build brand equities for companies because they are not focused in creating an intimate relationship with the consumers. In essence, marketing initiatives in online platforms should be informed by the utilitarian value that a product has for the consumer (Ajanthan, 2017 p 3). Consumers as content creator pose a great risk to the brand value, especially because of the volatility of social networks in making fakes news viral. Social network sites are instrumental in helping a brand in crisis to restore its value through consistent positive engagement with brand communities. Consumers interacting with a brand on internet platforms can offer feedback to the organization and share the information with other users hence expanding the target market.
Social media becomes a volatile marketing because of the multiple and interactions and sharing of content that has value in terms of interaction impacting on brand equity. Nike`s superiority in sportswear industry is as a result of exploiting the power of the social media through virtual reality and concerns about customer experience. Notably, customer experience had been practically been applied by Nike though customization of their products and services (Walter et al., 2014 p33). Brand managers must learn the dynamics of social media and the power that is wielded by influencers that have a large number of following. The promise to deliver by a particular brand is legitimized through constant interaction with potential consumers to build positive perception on quality and exquisiteness.
In conclusion, usage of social media in marketing and other consumer interaction activities to a great extent builds brand equity for a corporation. Mainly, this model of marketing influences the consumer`s buying habits and furthermore, help in forming social media communities that have an interest in a particular brand (Karamian et al 2015, p 2). Additionally, social media is transforming the channels that organization use to communicate with stakeholders in case of a brand crisis. Prejudices and misinformation as a result of negative trending on social media can be reduced because social media is a platform of sharing ideas hence contributing to the elevation of brand value. Direct communication through an interactive media is a desirable undertaking that is different from the traditional communication channels because consumers are given an opportunity to express their feelings about a brand.
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