Free «Has Social Media Changed Branding Communication?» Essay
A society is not only a group of people, who are involved in continuous relations, but also a self-regulatory organ that shapes the way they are used to living in. It represents individuals, who tend to share a distinctive culture. Due to social integration and constant commitment, scientists always investigate society in motion, due to in many cases, it can be depicted as a complex socioeconomic infrastructure that consists of people with various purposes and ethnic groups. Regarding the fact that any society is a huge social mechanism that contains of humans and their attitudes manifested through their actions, or some respective organs, it is seen to affect and shape humans in terms of numerous aspects of their life. Such notion as social media should be analyzed in connection with society. Social media usage has risen over the last five years. Nowadays, it is increasing considerably day by day. Considering changes in media communication, business marketers have a great opportunity to present their brand to customers. Social media has changed the way brands communicate with the latter.
More than 70 percent of organizations operating around the world actively use social media. Many find significant advantages and unexpected risks referring to it. Moreover, socializing online is now used by more than 750 million people and companies worldwide. The aim of the study is to present how social media has changed branding communication.
Despite this, the vast majority of companies did not immediately join the technological revolution. Instead, they spent some time observing new changes and trends. However, when the first number of firms did join, it was due to the anticipation of significant business advantages that could be a result of the “brave new world”.
Using social media, everyone can become an editor, commenter, content creator, distributor, and producer. It provides communication in various forms, namely through Internet forums, weblogs, podcasts, wikis, pictures, message boards, and videos.
According to Malcolm Alder, the adoption of social media is widespread among businesses operating in the emerging Chinese, Indian and Brazilian markets, which use social media with 20 percentage points more than those based in the UK, Germany, Australia, or Canada (Baird & Parasnis 2011).
Two thirds of people from all parts of the world stated that their organizations were either increasing or planning to utilize social media for selling and marketing their products, and six in ten confirmed its use in business development. Almost six in ten respondents also pointed out that they got in touch directly with customers through these means for customer service purposes (Baird & Parasnis 2011).
Today, social media is a media channel, which has become more important than TV for customers for the last years. It has created a communication shift for fifty years. Nowadays, through social media, customers have access to the knowledge about brands. People talk about the favorite ones. Moreover, sending a communicative message is easy. Due to social media, people are more open and ready to observe and take all propositions from actual brands.
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Therefore, it is evident that standard advertising methods are no longer effective. If a company wants to reach today’s consumers, it must follow them using a new communication technology, such as social media. This strategy has created a positive change in business development.
According to Solis (2007), persons use new technologies to share some content, opinions, photos, profiles, points of view, experiences, and media itself. Social media fosters online communication between groups of people. One of the facilities that social media provides is the opportunity for users to share information or content with each other about brands, products and services. Therefore, nowadays, brands communicate less through the media then through social networks.
Day by day Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, MySpace, and YouTube provide news events and even product releases. As a result, social media are seen to have taken the first place affecting the way people communicate. Moreover, businesses find it a successful way to reach customers effectively.
The recent report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (2010) shows that two thirds of companies studied are using social media. The latter has caused a substantial change in communication between communities, individuals, and companies (Kiezmann, Hermkens, McCarthy & Silvestre 2011). Baird & Parasnis (2011) suggest that the use of social media helps companies get closer to their stakeholders. Over the last years, the Internet has showed an enormous change in sharing branding information between people and companies.
The 2008 Pew Internet Study has shown the percentage of online adults, who have a profile in social network sites. It is the following:
- 75 percent of those aged 18-24.
- 57 percent aged 25-34.
- 30 percent of people aged 35-44.
- 19 percent of those, who are 45-54 year old (Harvard Business Review Analytic Services 2010).
According to McKee (2009), 200 million people use Facebook, while more than 60 million have signed up for a LinkedIn account.
In the 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study, 59 percent of Americans, who use social media, interact with companies, and 93 percent of respondents feel that the latter should have social media presence (Leary, 2009). According to Leary (2009), new technologies have replaced the traditional paper method, when communicating with employees.
Taking into consideration the book by Mari (2010), by 2014, twenty percent of organizations will use social networking tools. More than a half (or 60 percent) of the Fortune 1000 companies with a website have created some type of online community in order to connect to customers (Ginsburg, 2010).
Social media is one of the fastest growing areas of the Internet. It is witnessed in many countries and the UK in particular. In 2013, the number of people communicating through the social network can be 21.9 million, which corresponds to 50 percent of all UK Internet users (Harvard Business Review Analytic Services 2010).
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Households of $ 100,000 spend on average 24 hours a week online, including nine hours on Facebook (Mari 2010).
Several cases can show how brands communicate with customers. For example, Johnson and Johnson, a baby product giant, uses Facebook and YouTube to reach “mommy bloggers”. Moms share their experiences with fellows and promote products through virtual word-of- mouth (Wright, 2009). One more useful example is Coca-Cola, which uses the “Blog Blast” in order to involve customers in the dialogue about the company’s values (Culhane, 2008).
Scott Goodson (2012), who is a founder of the global marketing firm called StrawberryFrog, describes the movement of marketing as the best way for companies to communicate with customers through social media. Furthermore, the interaction between clients and companies can lead to positive social changes. In his book, Goodson (2012) provides strong practical tips how nonprofit brands can connect with people in an increasingly global and technologically connected social network. The old way of marketing with the goal of pitching a product to the largest possible audience through mass media is gradually disappearing now.
In order to show how social media has changed branding communication, such social media brand as Dell should be taken as an example. It has ten different blogs, the value of which is that users can communicate directly to Dell. Company’s support forums allow users to ask questions and get answers concerning many spheres, such as mobile devices, peripherals, and laptops. On Twitter, the firm has more than 1.5 million visitors, deals with which have brought more than $1 million of revenue. On Facebook, it has nearly 200,000 fans. Dell has almost 4,000 YouTube subscribers.
Talking about branding communication, it is examined to be possible with the help of social media. It inspires employees with confidence and empowers them to interact with customers. Secondly, there is an important priority of social business, such as listening to customers or social listening. Companies, which work through social media, have studied the ways of profitable working with customers. They give the latter the ability to be independent in relation to influencing and willing to share both positive and negative brand experiences online. The most popular companies have their own social media practitioner, whose job is to guide conversation with social customers.
To get the final answer to the question whether social media has changed branding communication, the most popular social media networking tools have been studied. They include Facebook, Flickr, photo sharing program Google Alerts, which is a media monitoring service, Linkedin, a professional networking tool, MySpace that provides social networking, Newsvine containing social news, PitchEngine, which is a social media release service, Snapfish, a photo sharing/printing service, Tweetbeep or a Twitter monitoring service, Twitter, Wordpress being a blog publishing platform, Yammer that is a micro-blogging service, Yelp, which provides business ratings and reviews, and YouTube.
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According to Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (2010), many companies have accounts on Twitter to get access to news earlier than reporters. LinkedIn helps salespeople post articles aimed for their customers. Facebook provides companies’ social responsibility efforts, and blogs enable firms to exchange information with customers.
To answer the question about the impact of social media on brands, some examples of how the former has been used by both small and large organizations should be reviewed. The first one is 1-800-FLOWERS.com, which from the beginning has been looking to increase its online commerce business. The company has an e-commerce website, but wants to have digital presence at a higher level. While such companies as Pizza Hut, Target and Starbucks use Facebook and Twitter for promotion, no one uses these social media for a one-stop purchase transaction, without entering a home page. 1-800-FLOWERS.com was the first organization, which had decided to install an e-commerce storefront on its Facebook fan page. As a result, the company succeeded with Facebook’s 350-million member community.
To provide the second example of the success of a brand created by social media, the FedEx Company have been studied. It used branding communication through the mass media, which in 2009, showed that the interaction with clients was at a low level. The solution the firm had made was reducing its annual TV costs by using a dedicated YouTube channel instead. The company produced a five-minute film, which was launched on YouTube. The success was that FedEx saved up to $10 million annually by shifting its focus from traditional to social media.
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The third example of the effect of social media on branding communication is brand Smirnoff. The problem faced by the company was the competition in the crowded vodka market. Smirnoff wanted to be closer to customers. Its experience with traditional media did not work, and it decided to change the branding theme from “Clearly Original” to “Be There”. After that, the company created several social media campaigns, using Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Based on its early success, Smirnoff considers using this social media model with other brands, including Guinness, a brand with a 250-year-old history.
Not surprisingly, the majority of businesses use social media to enhance their relationships with customers. However, more than a half of them increase the use of social media for driving innovation in products and services and for recruitment. Companies are searching for a wide variety of business ways of the use of social media.
One more reason for the company to use social media is the success related to the quality of ideas, but not to the size of the budget. Social media also creates a new world of privacy, security, intellectual property, employment practices, and other legal risks.
In the article about social media risks, Lisa Brown has commented that people have closer relations with companies through direct communication and the possibility to provide feedbacks on products or services (Harvard Business Review Analytic Services 2010). However, social networking sites offer opportunities for a business that are not provided by any other public interface, namely they make it possible to monitor the perception of their brand, products, and services by customers real-time. As a result, companies also have the opportunity, as well as the responsibility, to provide a quick and effective response. As cited by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (2010), a large U.S. construction company employs a variety of social networking platforms in order to accomplish many business-supporting aims.
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Social media marketing consists of the attempt to use social media to persuade consumers that companies’ products and services are worthwhile.
To sum up, this paper makes it clear that social media are used both by a broad range of people and by a wide variety of businesses. Today, it is among the best opportunities available to a brand for connecting with prospective consumers. It explains why nearly every business on the planet, like Starbucks and IBM, explore social media marketing initiatives. Social media is a medium for people to socialize. Global companies have recognized social media marketing as a potential marketing platform utilized with innovations to empower their advertising campaign.
The new consumers’ experience with the digital age and social media has transformed the very relationship between the buyer and the seller of goods and services. The former does not simply choose, or even prefer. Today, he or she is in charge of the brand. Social media make up a new channel of communications. When integrated with traditional technological tools, Web and mobile media enable companies to have the key elements for optimizing their communication. The positive effect of social media usage is that at the basic level it is generally free. However, there is a growing trend among the major platforms to provide premium packages for heavy-user business customers.
Using social media, businesses can build ongoing relationships with consumers, who will then remain loyal to the brand. It also allows companies to move away from overt advertising and focus on providing consumers with valuable information and insights. Furthermore, because seventy percent of social media users have been already shopping online, social media marketing tactics are much more effective than print advertisements and phone calls, which are usually ignored anyway.
From online dating to professional networking, social media has revolutionized the way people communicate.
Due to the introduction of social media, consumer-driven communication has the power to transform the way, in which businesses communicate. The revolution in this sphere has shaken up the traditional one-way communication, where a message is controlled by a business and delivered to its audience. Now, the consumer determines the message and has access to participate in an interactive, two-way communication with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of other people.
Social media can be used to provide information about companies and products or services that they offer. It is necessary to be aware of the fact that social media plays an extremely important role in the sphere of brand interaction. It is an obvious and undeniable fact.
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Social media helps in creating relationships with people, who may not know about the products or services, or what a particular company represents. It makes firms “real” for consumers. If they want people to follow them, they need not just talk about the latest product news, but share information with them.
To sum it up, based on the examples taken from many academic literature sources, the positive effects of social media outweigh the negative ones. It can be used by companies to associate with partners or competitors that may be serving in the same target market. Social media platforms are known to be one of the most powerful and the fastest means of branding. Some big brands, such as Coke, Ford, Dell, IBM, and Burger King, have powerfully used these to endorse themselves. It is high time for every business to adopt social media and take it seriously.