Background to the study
The 21st century is characterised by numerous macro-environmental changes that present a myriad of opportunities and threats to businesses. For example, the Internet has motivated inventors do develop different applications and platforms thus improving degree of connectivity in the society (Brunty, Helenek & Miller 2013).
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To achieve business continuity, organisations and entrepreneurs should take advantage of the technological innovations. One of the aspects that businesses should focus on is social media. Social media refers to a web-based medium that enhances the effectiveness with which individuals’ interact and communicate with other parties who are a part of the network (Brunty & Helenek 2013).
Statement of the problem
A survey conducted by Optus in 2010 revealed that only 28% of small and medium sized enterprises have integrated social media in their operation, which represents a relatively small proportion of all SMES (Somers, Cain & Jeffery 2009). Thomas and Wasmund (2011) emphasize, “There is not a business or an entrepreneur that should not be using social media in one way or another” (p.16).
Moreover, Waters (2013) opine that social media is here to stay; therefore, organisations and entrepreneurs should determine how they will utilise social media. Failure to integrate social media in business operations will limit businesses in their pursuit for a high competitive edge.
This study intends to achieve the following objectives.
- To evaluate how organisations and entrepreneurs can utilise social media in order to maximise profitability.
- To investigate the social media strategies that organisations can integrate in order to improve organisational performance and productivity.
The following research questions will guide this study.
- How can businesses utilise social media to maximise their profitability?
- What social media strategies can individuals and organisations integrate in order to improve their businesses’ performance and productivity
Significance of the study
The study will provide organisations and individual entrepreneurs with insight on how they can utilise social media to develop their competitive edge. The study will illustrate the various ways through which organisations can utilise social media to enhance their survival. Some of the main areas of focus relates to application of social media in marketing, research and development and human resource management.
The interne technology has led to the emergence of numerous social media sites, which are designed to meet the user’s needs. Businesses can use social media in a number of ways as illustrated herein.
Social media has significantly changed the consumers’ behaviour. Therefore, it is imperative for businesses to align themselves with market changes (Sweeney & Craig 2011). First, businesses can use social media in their communication processes. Social media has become one of the most effective communication tools. Thus, entrepreneurs and businesses can use social media to enhance their marketing capability.
Some of the social media platforms that businesses can use in their marketing communication include You Tube, Twitter, and Facebook. According to Somers, Cain, and Jeffery (2009), consumers are increasingly consuming social media services. Businesses can exploit this trend in consumer behaviour by designing a fan page on social media sites such as Facebook. This will increase the firms’ customer base.
Social media also provides firms with an opportunity to maximise their sales revenue and hence profitability. For example, marketers can use LinkedIn to connect with certain prospective customers.
Bodnar and Cohen (2011) are of the opinion that social media enable businesses to develop a clear understanding of their customers’ needs. It is estimated that there are approximately 165 million Twitter users, 500 million Facebook users, and 75 million LinkedIn users. Additionally, approximately 200 billion videos are watched daily on You Tube (Thomas & Wasmund 2011).
According to Lardi (2013), social media can increase the effectiveness with which a firm communicates with its customers. As a result, a firm is in a position to enhance its customer relationship. For example, a firm is able to respond to customer complaints and opinions (Safko 2012).
Human resource management
Firms are using various social media to improve communication and interaction within teams. Thomas and Barlow (2011) assert that a team “remain the most flexible and the most powerful unit of performance, learning, and change in any organisation” (p. 30).
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Thus, team members can share information and critical knowledge effectively. Additionally, social media enable teams to formulate action plans effectively and efficiently.
Developing a strong human capital base is one of the factors that businesses must take into account in their pursuit for higher competitive edge (Jacobson 2009). Entrepreneurs and organisations can use social media in their staffing processes. Firms can post job adverts on various social media platforms.
The likelihood of a job advert posted on social media reaching a large number of potential employees is relatively higher as compared to conventional methods of advertising jobs. This assertion arises from the fact that the fans on the social media share the information with their friends and family members seeking a job (O’Leary, Sheehan & Lentz 2011).
O’Leary, Sheehan, and Lentz (2011) further assert that LinkedIn ranks as the most effective social media platform for firms to recruit professionals, which arises from the fact that LinkedIn users share their professional information on the platform. Approximately 50% of Fortune 100 firms depend on LinkedIn in their recruitment drive. Moreover, using LinkedIn is cost effective and saves time (Pride 2009).
Research and development
Social media provides organisations with an opportunity to undertake research and development. For example, organisations can depend on social media rather than focus groups in the process of conducting marketing research and development (Soderman & Dolles 2013).
A number of social media monitoring tools have been developed due to increased innovations with regard to social media. Examples of companies that have developed such tools include Radian6 and Spredfast.com. The firms have developed web-based software that can be used in managing social media marketing. Through these tools, businesses are in a position to assess the size of their audience and level of engagement.
Therefore, firms can determine whether their investment in social media is improving their effort to build a strong brand. On the other hand, other web-based software enable businesses to determine the number of visitors who view the firm’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube updates (Soderman & Dolles 2013).
Creswell and Clark (2011) are of the opinion that the research methodology provides a framework that guides the entire research process. The research design is one of the elements of research methodology. The research design outlines the method collecting and analysing the data collected (Maxwell 2005). This study will adopt qualitative and quantitative research design.
Qualitative research design will enable the researcher to acquire a substantial amount of data from the target population by conducting an in-depth analysis of the subject under investigation. Quantitative research design will be incorporated in order to improve the process of interpreting the research findings, which will be achieved by integrating numerical aspects of the phenomenon.
The target population for this study will include entrepreneurs and organisational leaders in different business sectors. Random sampling technique will be incorporated in selecting the sample. Random sampling enables the researcher to eliminate the element of bias in selecting the sample (Deming 2002). The researcher will select a sample size of 100 respondents from the target population.
The researcher will adopt both primary and secondary methods of data collection. This will improve the credibility of the study by increasing the likelihood of collecting relevant data from the field is increased.
Questionnaires and interviews will be used as the main instruments of collecting primary data. On the other hand, the researcher will depend on surveys and reports on social media that have already been published by credible institutions, which will increase the reliability of the study’s findings.
Analysis and presentation
A comprehensive analysis of research questions will be conducted. By analysing the research question individually, the researcher will be in a position to gain sufficient understanding on how social media can be used in business. The researcher will use tables and graphs in order to interpret the data collected. Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint software will be used.
The proposal shows that social media can improve the likelihood of firms achieving their desired competitive advantage in a number of ways. First, social media can enable firms to increase their profitability, as they can use social media in their marketing efforts. For example, social media enable firms to create awareness of their products and services to a large number of potential customers in addition to interacting with their customers.
Therefore, the likelihood of developing customer loyalty is very high. Firms can also use social media in their employee recruitment drives, which can increase the firms’ competitiveness with regard to human capital.
The proposal also shows that social media can be used in the process of conducting research and development. Therefore, businesses and entrepreneurs should consider integrating social media in their marketing, human resource management and operational processes.
Summary; Operationalising the Case Study
The case study will be aimed at achieving two main research questions. First, the study will analyse how businesses can utilise social media to maximise their profitability. Secondly, the study will evaluate the social media strategies that individuals and organisations can integrate in order to improve the productivity and performance of their businesses’ performance and productivity.
Decision to conduct this study was motivated by the high rate of innovation with regard to communication. Inventors are increasingly developing various social media platforms. In the course of their operations, businesses are supposed to scan the environment and take advantage of the changes occurring in the macro-economic environment.
The study will focus on two main units of analysis, which include individual entrepreneurs and business organisations. The study will not be limited to a particular business sector but will evaluate how businesses in different economic sectors can use social media. In conducting the study, the researcher will use various academic articles on social media and business.
The central message of the study will be to provide insight on how social media can be a source of competitive advantage to businesses. A comprehensive literature review will be conducted to illustrate how entrepreneurs and organisations have incorporated social media in their business processes.
Moreover, the research will collect primary and secondary data in order to understand how social media is being used in the business environment. Interviews will be used as the main source of primary data.
A pilot study will be conducted prior to the actual study in order to determine the resources necessary to conduct the study. Additionally, the pilot study will enable the researcher to be effective in developing the research question.
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