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Currently, numerous companies and organizations apply a variety of tools, mechanisms, and applications to make their business more effective, meet customers’ demands, and get a competitive advantage in the market. According to recent researches, the majority of organizations tend to use electronic approach with the aim of conducting, improving, and developing their business (Combe 2012). Thus, electronic technologies along with the Internet have improved the way organizations operate, communicate, produce, sell, and deliver products and services. Moreover, information technologies and Internet applications facilitate engaging with customers, particularly by means of social media and broad advertising campaigns. Analytical researches prove that a number of companies that use social media to promote and sell their products and services is constantly rising (Siricharoen 2012). Meanwhile, people consider social media and other Internet applications useful sources of information about required goods or services (Siricharoen 2012). Therefore, Internet technologies and social media have created a new commercial business reality that helps companies to engage with customers and meet their demands faster and more efficiently.
Usage of Social Media to Engage with Customers
The application of social media as a means of engaging with customers depends on three issues: management, organization, and technology. Thus, management of any organization should make a decision whether to use social media in their business. It may be appropriate to conduct analytical research to prove that usage of social media with a commercial aim will be beneficial to the company and improve engagement with customers or increase their number. Thus, according to investigations of Kumar (2013), 80% of managers consider that an efficient customer engagement campaign can result in stronger customer loyalty. Meanwhile, 76% of respondents state that social media engagement campaigns result in increasing the number of customers and companies’ revenues (Kumar 2013). In addition, organizations can analyze other companies’ experience of using social media as a means of customer engagement. There are numerous successful examples of companies that derive benefit from conducting advertising campaigns on social media and creating an account on Facebook or Twitter. For example, social media marketing campaigns of Whole Foods, Nike, and Shutterstock achieved extreme popularity among social media communities and existing customers. Therefore, the usage of social media in business depends on the decision of the companies’ top-level managers, who should evaluate all advantages and disadvantages and approve launching their marketing campaigns by means of social media.
The second factor that directly influences successful incorporation of social media in the business environment is organization. Rohrs (2013) defines social media marketing as a specific type of Internet marketing that involves creation and sharing of content by means of social media with the aim of achieving organization’s corporate aims and marketing goals. Thus, social media marketing relates to such activities as posting different content, videos, images, or advertisements. Companies have two ways to start business activity and marketing campaigns on social media. The first one is to create an account on the most appropriate social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. The second way is to delegate the task of creating and managing the marketing campaign to competitive agencies, which are specialized in advertising and marketing. Therefore, companies may organize social media marketing and advertising campaigns by their own work resources or by means of specialized agencies.
The most important issue of using social media in developing engagement with customers is technology. Thus, companies need to make a choice of social media that will help to conduct their marketing and advertising campaigns with the aim of improving engagement with customers. Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn can become powerful tools for engaging customers. According to Rohrs (2013), companies have great opportunities to acquire customers on social media websites as more than a half of the world’s population are registered with different social media platforms. In 2017, 52% of companies acquired customers by means of Facebook, 36% used Twitter, and 43% applied to LinkedIn (Statista 2017). The most popular and the world’s largest social network is Facebook, which has more than 1 billion members worldwide (Statista 2017). The online platform of Facebook offers users to observe and share diverse types of content. It comprises entertaining materials, advertisements, engaging infographics, professional and specialized content, interactive and image-rich data. In general, all mentioned social media provide appropriate facilities and applications to mount companies’ marketing and advertising campaigns.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Social Media
Application of social media with the aim of increasing customer engagement has numerous advantages as well as disadvantages. Thus, the majority of companies consider that customer engagement campaigns on social media facilitate establishing loyal relationships with customers, who will advocate for the brand by word of mouth. According to Kumar (2013), positive customer feedback is very important for companies as it facilitates business growth and development. In addition, it is an effective way of communicating and distributing information because many customers are more likely to trust their relatives or friends than the brand itself (Kumar 2013). Therefore, social media helps companies to establish loyal engagement with customers and get public promotion.
In addition, social media is a preferred means for customers as it assists in interacting with companies and getting detailed information about the required goods or services. The market has expanded due to the Internet. Thus, consumers gained an opportunity to compare prices and services for the same product. Moreover, they can find detailed information about required goods or services, responses from other customers, and make their decisions. According to recent statistics, 83% of customers prefer to get information about companies, products, goods, or brands on Facebook (Statista 2017). In addition, 60% of customers make purchases after reading and analyzing recommendations available on social media sites (Statista 2017). Therefore, they may get valuable information about required goods or services following companies’ activity on social media.
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Moreover, business presence on social media facilitates conducting market research. In most cases, market research is a time-consuming and costly process. However, many companies use social media as a cost-effective tool to analyze preferences of their customers, market tendencies, and other business trends. Thus, companies can examine what customers are talking about in real-time by simply searching the latest posts. Furthermore, it may take months to organize and conduct market surveys or study groups. However, by means of social media, market research can be organized and carried out within hours. Therefore, social media makes analytical and comparative analysis of consumer demands and preferences faster and more efficient.
Furthermore, advertising and marketing on social media is cheaper and can cover a large number of target consumers. Thus, the majority of social media web sites are free to access, create a profile, and post information. Therefore, a company will save a sufficient amount of money that would otherwise be spent on creating and designing advertising and marketing campaigns. In addition, social media gives an opportunity to spread the company’s posts and news within personal networks. Therefore, people and potential customers can distribute companies’ posts to each other in no time. Moreover, businesses can attract customers by engaging them with some interactive methods such as Questions and Answers, Polls, etc. Finally, companies can interact with customers directly. Therefore, organizations have an opportunity to increase the number of their customers and distribute advertisements by means of social media.
On the other hand, companies may experience some disadvantages of using social media. Thus, consumers can post negative comments about company’s services or quality of its products. Consequently, it may damage the company’s reputation. In addition, unscrupulous competitors may provoke and distribute negative posts about the company’s activity, products, or provided services. Furthermore, business activity in the Internet makes company’s privacy and security issues vulnerable. Thus, companies may face the threat of hacker attacks. Hackers can take over a company’s page or post and share false information that may quickly become viral. Therefore, hackers pose risks to companies as well as people who follow the company’s activity on social media.
Finally, updating social media accounts takes much time and efforts. An authorized employee with sufficient knowledge about the company’s services and products should handle its social media presence, which means that social media is not completely free (Rohrs 2013). In addition, finding and posting new information about goods or services is a continual process. Moreover, the posted information is visible for a short time as new posts replace the previous ones. Consequently, companies should present information in the form of conversation, or they will lose followers. Therefore, significant disadvantages may influence companies’ decision to start marketing or advertising campaigns on social media.
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Companies that Use Social Media for Customer Service
Many companies successfully use social media as a tool to retain their customers. According to a recent research of Saleh (n.d.), companies have to spend more money while trying to attract new customers instead of saving and developing loyal engagement with the existing customers. Saleh (n.d.) considers that the probability of selling goods or services to the existing customers is from 60 to 70%. Meanwhile, the probability of selling products to a new client ranges from 5 to 20% (Saleh n.d.). In addition, customers are more likely to buy goods or use services of companies that establish loyal cooperation with their clients (Saleh n.d.). Therefore, top-managers of AirAsia have established a strategy to promote retention of their clients. The company is an active member of the Facebook community. It posts many promotions on social media to retain its loyal customers. In addition, the company’s advertisements and posts have informative, entertaining, and educational character (AirAsia 2017). Therefore, customers appreciate the company’s activity on Facebook.
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Nike’s management has made a decision to use social media, namely Twitter, as a means to establish efficient engagement with customers and respond to their inquiries and issues faster. Thus, the company has created a Twitter account @NikeSupport for responding to customers’ complains and questions, which has a huge social following of more than 4 million people (NikeSupport 2017). Therefore, the company enables customers to contact Nike when they have problems or experience misunderstandings. Moreover, Nike Support on Twitter is very active and responsive. Nike Support team replies to customers’ posts every few minutes (NikeSupport 2017). It proves that customers can trust Nike and rely on loyal cooperation. Therefore, the company values customer engagement and makes its assistance available for customers online.
Similarly, Mercedes-Benz has launched a top social media campaign in 2016 (McAbee 2017). The company has created a compelling content on social media collaborating with an influencer to amplify the brand and appeal to the target audience. Mercedes-Benz has chosen a novelty influencer to promote its brand the 2017 GLS SUV on Instagram (McAbee 2017). The company partnered with Loki the Wolfdog and his owner Kelly Lund. A mix of Siberian husky, malamute, and Arctic wolf Loki has a nearly 2 million followers on Instagram (McAbee 2017). Mercedes-Benz used an Instagram-famous dog and virtual reality technology to establish #MCPhotoPass influencer campaign. The strategy for the company’s social media campaign with Loki was based on two concepts: to produce videos with Loki which give fresh perspectives on Mercedes-Benz cars and create a set of beautiful photos to reach a target audience. Consequently, the company’s advertising campaign generated 173 million impressions, 2.3 million like/comments, and $4 million revenue. Thus, the company used the content of this successful influencer campaign as a way to appeal to different buyers and get the audience engaged.
Shutterstock has developed engagement with its customers’ by means of Twitter. Thus, the company’s activity on social media stipulates interactive cooperation with customers. Shutterstock’s social media team practices interaction with people who post relevant content. In addition, the company promptly handles both negative and positive feedback from customers (Shutterstock 2017). Shutterstock shows detailed information and contacts of all departments, which may help customers to solve problems or get necessary information.
Finally, Whole Foods Market’s activity on Facebook is another example of a successful social media marketing campaign. The company posts news, healthy recipes as well as entertaining content (Whole Foods Market 2017). Whole Foods’ manages respond to Facebook users in a fast, fun, and friendly manner. The company distributes informative posts about its products and brand. In addition, it frequently interacts with customers on social media by asking them entertaining questions or posting useful information. Therefore, the company encourages establishment of loyal and friendly interaction with customers.
Should All Companies Use Facebook and Twitter for Customer Service and Advertising?
Not all companies should use Facebook or Twitter for customer service and advertising. Taking into consideration that running advertising or marketing campaigns on social media has some disadvantages, the management should make the final decision whether to use it as a tool of customer engagement. Thus, social media is not appropriate for small organizations as business activity on social media is time-consuming and requires constant presence online. Besides, small companies may lack employees to be engaged in conducting advertising or marketing campaigns by means of social media.
In addition, not all types of companies may use social media with equal benefits. Thus, advertising and marketing campaigns on social media platforms are the most suitable for companies engaged in e-commerce. Currently, the majority of people use the Internet as a means of making purchases as it is the most convenient way of shopping. In 2016, the firm UPS has conducted an annual survey which proves that consumers are now more likely to purchase products and order services online than in stores (Farber 2016). More than 5,000 consumers were polled. According to the results, “shoppers now make 51% of their purchases online, compared to 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014” (Farber 2016). Thus, many people are active users of the Internet. Therefore, companies engaged in e-commerce tend to use the Internet and social media platforms to advertise their goods and services instead of distributing advertisements in newspapers, magazines, or on TV. In such way, they can target customers faster.
Social media marketing is considered the next generation of business engagement, a beneficial tool to engage customers, increase sales, fight off competition, and reach target audience. The benefits of social media marketing are establishment of loyal cooperation with customers, increased number of customers, public advertising, reduced marketing expenses, and increased sales. In addition, usage of social media to engage with customers is a competitive advantage of any organization as it helps to create loyal and long-term relationships with customers. Therefore, numerous organizations strive to launch their marketing and advertising campaigns on social media. Currently, most companies make their commercial advertising on the Internet by means of Facebook and Twitter. The analytical results show that companies which use social media have increased the number of their customers and generated greater profit. In addition, social media facilitates conducting market research, making it cheaper and faster. However, not all companies should use Facebook or Twitter for customer service and advertising as it requires significant work resources and much time. Nevertheless, big companies that conduct their activities by means of the Internet, for example e-commerce businesses, may save a significant amount of money and engage more customers by launching their advertising and marketing campaigns on social media.
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