The business realm across the world has been undergoing enormous transformations and one of the foremost changes in the entrepreneurship sector is the emergence of technological advancements (Evans & McKee, 2010).
Modern technologies have been integral in supporting the growth and development of rapturous networking activities and Social Media (SM) has presently become one of the main issues in the business paradigm. Social media platforms, which comprise the actively consumed websites that are enhanced by the advent of the net 2.0 technologies, have been significantly influential in major business undertakings.
Social Media Marketing (SMM) is a modern marketing technique that uses social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Google+ among other social networks (Neti, 2011). The use of social media marketing strategies is increasingly becoming viral across the world, thus becoming renowned as viral marketing. This study examines the overall impact of SMM on modern entrepreneurship.
Reasons behind the popularity of SMM
Marketing as a business strategy entails activities such as advertisement, announcement, promotion, and these marketing components require effective communication. As one of the best contemporary innovations, social networks are exceedingly becoming the focal point of human social interaction, thus presenting unique entrepreneurial experiences (Evans & McKee, 2010).
Social media is one of the modern communication tools that have recently proven to be powerful in influencing both informal and formal communication where millions of potential consumers interact freely. Having the ability to engage consumers in an active interaction where sharing of information is effectual through powerful technological devices, social media is gradually receiving attention from businesses of all sizes.
Social media platforms currently tend to associate with flexibility, effectiveness, convenience, and efficiency in business communication where investors are capable of sharing important information with their stakeholders, who include potential business clients (Bailyn, 2012).
By using social networks in business communication, flexibility is achievable via devices that support these platforms, which mainly include accessible technological devices like mobile phones, computers, and tablets (Pradiptarini, 2011). Users access these social networks at their convenient time, hence communication consistency.
Businesspersons consider social networks as convenient communication and information-sharing tools for they involve instant feedback ability where messages reach users expediently. Most recently, researchers have found a great correlation between the use of social networks in businesses with enhanced sales output following increased connection between consumers and entrepreneurs (Pradiptarini, 2011).
Communities, which form the greatest composure of active consumers of products and services of businesses, are the main cause of rapid growth of social media marketing.
Since social media involves engaging in diverse online social networking communities, it potentially has substantial influence on attracting enormous consumer population (Pradiptarini, 2011). More specific, as all modern businesses in the markets are targeting the youthful consumers, vibrant youths in social networks offer business boom.
Advantages and disadvantages of SMM to entrepreneurs
Social media marketing emerged with numerous experiences and brought several opportunities as well as challenges that entrepreneurs have encountered. Being a hotly business contested subject, social networks seem to have presented some potential benefits that have encouraged businesses in their performance (Evans & McKee, 2010).
Social media platforms are important facets of exposing the business to the competent markets and reaching out potential consumers. The foremost advantage of social networks in businesses is the enhancement of communication, information exchange, and knowledge sharing.
This aspect of social networks enhances a mutual connection between consumers and entrepreneurs that subsequently boosts the productivity of the businesses. During promotion, advertising, and announcement of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace are progressively becoming essential communication tools (Bailyn, 2012).
These social media networks play a pivotal role in boosting marketing campaigns for organization’s products and services, which subsequently influences positive business outcomes. Modern consumers currently rely more on social networks to access important information concerning new products and services offered by companies.
Marketing also involves procedures of unveiling and introducing new products to the market in a process commonly known as product launching. Research considers social media as a great platform useful in creating the accurate market buzz prior to launching a new product or service (Vries et al., 2012).
As consumers are currently demanding exemplary services, social media enhances marketing campaigns, which are becoming useful in strengthening product and service information within the markets.
Consumers tend to concentrate and associate with famous market products and since social media are assisting in communication of information pertaining to product and service, they help in building brand reputation.
Companies using social networks are capable of attracting public attention more easily and marketing effectiveness of these networks becomes eminent when business performance enhances through increased market share and revenue performance (Vries et al., 2012).
Using powerful videos, photographs, audio streaming, widgets, and other social media features, companies create and share quality content to communicate their services and products to the business community.
Notwithstanding its ability to transform almost every aspect of modern business activity through sophisticated technologies, social media has also received criticism from entrepreneurs (Pradiptarini, 2011). The foremost challenge that comes with the modern technologies and the social media networks is the presence of insecurity within these platforms.
Entrepreneurs have little potency to control the growing cyberspace and Internet security, possess little control over the entire conservation, and can barely manipulate the pessimistic perceptions of clients expressed in public social websites (Vries et al., 2012). There is a high possibility of getting negative feedback from ill-motivated clients due to bad opinions from competitors expressed on social media.
The vibrant cyber activities that engage genuine civilians and illegitimate users across networks with little control strategies placed by the organizations, places companies at high risk of encountering fraud (Bailyn, 2012).
Tracing the route of negative conversation and fraudulent activities is a challenge and as many companies continually engage in social media marketing, the fears about losing billions of finances in fraud cases remain unsettled.
How SMM helps Pepsi gain more customer insight
Since its inception as a potential marketing tool, social media marketing has been the most anticipated practice among several small, medium, and even multinational corporations. As Neti (2011) postulates, “Adult beverage companies, exotic automobile manufacturers, pastry shops have been using social media tool” (p.8).
Alongside other major multinational companies, PepsiCo is one of the world leading international companies famous for producing carbonated Pepsi soft drinks, and currently its Pepsi Refresh project has provided a new breakthrough in its marketing strategies.
Pepsi Refresh project is responsible for turning individuals’ dreams into realities by producing and researching about marketing possibilities of PepsiCo and funding amazing ideas that support the notion of Pepsi as a soft drink that refreshes the world.
Being responsible for managing resources of the billion dollars worth corporation PepsiCo, Pepsi Refresh project has recently associated with social media marketing as one of its major strategy to make Pepsi a world refreshing drink.
In marketing their major business, going to the market, unveiling, and launching new brands from the company, Pepsi undertook an online consumer-based study in which it concluded that social media was important in creating and sharing ideas.
Results on the investigations from the 2009 Pepsi Optimism Project about the means of communication of the research impelled PepsiCo to develop off and online forums where social innovation could help in marketing the Pepsi Refresh project. According to Neti (2011), “Pepsi Coke, Nokia and many of the top brands have effectively used social media for achieving their business objectives” (p.8).
During the process of establishing and informing people about the Pepsi Refresh project, PepsiCo consistently used social media tactics to access multitudes of people.
PepsiCo used Facebook, Twitter, and refresheverything.com to market its idea, and this viral marketing through text messages and video clips captured a huge public attention successfully. In using social media in marketing the Pepsi Refresh project, the company spent less money.
Through refresheverthing.com, Pepsi became the most publicly renowned Super Bowl brands. In its impact, approximately 37% of Americans familiarized with Pepsi compared to 12% for the same marketing program. Over eighteen million exceptional consumer-oriented visitors engaged in activities of the refresheverthing.com website.
In online brand rating and voting, more than 12,000 projects received consumer votes, with approximately 2 million online comments from 76 million votes cast.
Benefiting from the newly developed refresheverthing.com website, brand attributes increased exponentially with products receiving favorability, trust, and attention among other important public interests. Online communities and consumers’ fan pages concerning the Pepsi products started developing following the initial influence.
Two businesses that have used SMM to their advantage
Demonstrated by a continuum of studies, investigations on the marketing rivalry among the major U.S corporations have continuously identified Pepsi and Coke as the biggest rivalries. However, most American companies including those in the fortune 500 have already integrated social media marketing. Apart from the beverage companies, exotic automobile manufacturers are using social media marketing.
Retail companies as well as other major corporations have noticed the positive impact of social media in marketing. Microsoft and Wal-Mart are two major fortune 500 companies that have demonstrated exemplary approach towards social media marketing, with Facebook, twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn being the most used social websites in marketing their products.
The two companies have established social media as one of the most effectual communication and interaction tool where millions of active potential consumers made of optimistic youthful population meet freely. Pradiptarini (2011) acknowledges a substantial influence of these social networks in enhancing marketing strategies, boosting sales revenues, and subsequently influencing financial growth.
As social media gives marketers opportunities to communicate to the public and more specifically, the vibrant peers, consumers and potential customers, both Coke and Pepsi have been lively in promoting their brands through major social networks renowned in the US.
Microsoft and Wal-Mart have been using social media marketing as a strategy in building brand awareness, launching new products from the company, and generating leads. As Vries et al. (2012) affirm, “Companies can place brand posts (containing videos, messages, quizzes, information, and other material) on these brand fan pages” (p.83).
Wal-Mart and Microsoft have engaged their potential consumers in advertisements, promotional activities, and other marketing activities that reveal product information to the consumers.
Regarding their involvement in brands and companies on the social media, Pradiptarini (2011), noticed that approximately 71.14% of the Facebook users proved to be fans of brands produced by the two companies. In addition, 38.63% of their Twitter fans and followers, followed brands advertised by the two companies.
Future expectations of SM on marketing
People have awakened towards a contemporary business world that requires present and forthcoming technologies to improve their overall effectiveness and social media is the probable marketing tool whose influence may never cease (Vries et al., 2012). The world is currently experiencing a shortage of youth employment and social interactions have been one of the leisure activities that keep youths engaged.
With the emergence of powerful technological devices like tablets, upgraded laptops, and the Smartphone technologies, social media continue to be a trendy business and social tool. The number of Facebook accounts, Twitter users, and other social media users following new brands and products online is rapidly increasing (Neti, 2011).
Coupled with unique and captivating experiences that social networks provide to the active youths and businesspersons, online working opportunities like brand advertising, social media may continue influencing social and business life for millions of decades to come (Pradiptarini, 2011).
Social media is an all-inclusive advancing technology where all age groups have their portion and as the present population gets weary, new generating still admire these experiences.
Notwithstanding its great potential in influencing millions of users, emerging issues in the cybercrime and related cyberspace insecurity may continue posing significant challenges to the social network users. Internet hacking activities, cyber bullying, and several other unethical practices associated with social networking are subjecting users to frustrations (Evans & McKee, 2010).
Since few policies and rules are currently present in curbing cyberspace insecurity and users are becoming used to social networks unaware of the mushrooming dangers, use of social media may face drastic collapse in the occurrence of a major concern (Evans & McKee, 2010). Organizations themselves do not have governance and processes for controlling the use of social media within and outside the company.
Both Facebook and Twitter have reported criminal challenges and even in their privacy terms, abuse related concerns are not addressed appropriately (Bailyn, 2012). In other websites, cases pertaining to social media crime remain undermined, go unreported, or even lack enough evidence to capture and prosecute the offenders.
The US is among the nations experiencing a rapid influx of social networking activities with this rise in social media networking providing companies and consumers a gateway to enhanced communication. Advanced beverage companies, exotic automobile companies, and even pastry shops have recognized social media as a powerful marketing tool that connects companies with consumers.
Pepsi, Coca Cola, and Nokia technologies are among the American multinational companies that have embraced the use of social media in marketing and successfully witnessed impressive results. They have reported increased brand positive reputation, increased product attention, enhanced customer relationship, and boosted sales turnover.
Although most likely to continue facing high risks related to cybercrime, social media marketing may continue influencing marketing strategies of companies as present and maybe future generations will still continue anticipating for these experiences.
Bailyn, E. (2012). Outsmarting Social Media: Profiting in the Age of Friendship Marketing. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Evans, D., & McKee, J. (2010). Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement. New York, NY: Wiley Publishing Inc.
Neti, S. (2011). Social media and its role in marketing. International Journal of Enterprise Computing and Business Systems, 1(2), 1-15.
Pradiptarini, C. (2011). Social Media Marketing: Measuring Its Effectiveness and Identifying the Target Market. Journal of Undergraduate Research, 14, 1-11.
Vries, L., Gensler, S., & Leeflang, P. (2012). Popularity of Brand Posts on Brand Fan Pages: An Investigation of the Effects of Social Media Marketing. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 26(1), 83–91.