The concern of organizations is to make profits or maximize them, which is the primary purpose for their existence. However, this success depends on engaging customers as much as possible. The current world makes this easy through the increasing use of the internet, which has birthed social media. Therefore, most companies use social media as a successful way to engage customers. The use of social media is also increasing ever since 2008, making it the most suitable for reaching a wide range of consumers. Firms have further used social media to influence the sales process, with Facebook being the most used platform to engage with customers. Nonetheless, social marketing has faced challenges such as privacy concerns and the creation of appropriate content. The new findings on social media marketing still give company owners and marketers hope. The latest results present the opportunity of educating the customers and addressing privacy issues related to customer data. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to present the current situation on social media use and how the new findings suggest its practical use as a marketing strategy.
Firms are looking for ways by which they can increase their profitability. One of the essential steps towards achieving profitability is the ability to market the brand. Marketing is basically done by communicating what the organization offers to the customers. The internet has taken the most significant part of communication in the current world, and connectedness cannot be ignored. Indeed, there is a considerable increase in the internet and digital technology (Devereux et al., 2020). Consequently, the trading environment for all businesses has significantly been altered. Both business owners and customers exploit the internet through social media. According to Chatterjee and Kumar (2020), firms are in constant search of the effective use of social media to connect with different stakeholders and establish their presence on such platforms.
By definition, social media is the secured generation of web design and development aiming to facilitate communication, become a source of information sharing, and facilitate collaboration and interoperability on the world wide web (Chatterjee & Kumar, 2020). The attractiveness of social media in business and marketing is found because it allows for free interaction between customers themselves and between the customers and the company owners (Appel et al., 2020). Businesses also find it attractive to use social media as a main part of marketing since it is cost-effective. No huge charges are incurred as opposed to other advertisement channels (Devereux et al., 2020). Despite the seeming success in using social media, other challenges come with it (Appel et al., 2020). These may include sharing of propaganda or additional false information. Nonetheless, it is still possible to extract the most appropriate practices from social media that can help company owners maximize their benefits.
Previous data show how companies have taken advantage of the lucrativeness in social media marketing to achieve success and competitiveness. These approaches come from the fact that there has been a constant increase in most social media platforms. Figure 1 shows that the use of social media has been on the rise across the years except for 2019 when there was a slight drop in the number of uses (Zuhdi et al., 2019). Nonetheless, the step made since 2008 is a clear indication that social media is a successful model of connection and communication whose opportunity should be exploited to the maximum.
Figure 1. Usage of social media over the years
Source: Zuhdi et al. (2019)
Social media has also been used as a model of consumer engagement. For instance, consumers can use social media to directly connect with new services, brands, and products (Chatterjee & Kumar, 2020). The good bit of this connection is that social media creates an environment where individuals can have free interaction with others (Enyinda et al., 2021). Consequently, marketers can easily reach out and engage the consumers by collecting their views on the new products and services they are offering. Consumers also use social media substantially per day. Chatterjee and Kumar (2020) reported that customers spend more than 330 minutes per day on social media platforms. Therefore, using social media as a marketing platform allows the clients to interact.
Social media usage is also shown to significantly influence the sales process in every organization. Figure 2 demonstrates this interconnectedness. All the social media platforms help understand the customers, approach them, discover their needs, present the appropriate product or service to satisfy the requirement, close the sale, offer assistance, and follow up the service delivery (Enyinda et al., 2021). It is evident that social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram influences every sales process, of which marketing is the key.
Figure 2. How social media influences the sales process
Source: Enyinda et al. (2021)
Scholars have also demonstrated their interest in using social media for marketing success. It is shown that consumer engagement is related to various cognate concepts, including consumer product involvement, brand loyalty, marketing orientation, relationship marketing, and brand networks and communities (Devereux et al., 2020). Social media has helped business owners quickly create their brand to improve their various business activities (Chatterjee & Kumar, 2020). This is because the consumers can see the information on the products and then indicate their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the consequences. Such feedback helps the company managers to adjust their products and services accordingly. Furthermore, social media has strengthened the use of word of mouth (WOM) through various platforms to help reach a wide range of customers (Appel et al., 2020). Thus, it is a feasible option for sales and marketing.
Companies are also maximizing Facebook as the main platform for marketing, followed by Instagram than Twitter. Figure 3 presents a table determining the frequency at which customers use social media and the percentage of those involved using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Figure 3. Facebook Maximization
Source: Devereux et al. (2020)
Despite the success of using social media for marketing, it presents many challenges. One of the challenges is privacy concerns, where consumers might fear commenting on some posts due to fear of others reading (Appel et al., 2020). Furthermore, Facebook and other social media platforms are highly interruptive, making it challenging for users to visualize product marketing posts.
The previous findings present hope to marketers, but various improvements can be made. An opportunity within social media marketing that has not been fully exploited is educating the users on the importance of certain products. Food niche and drug product companies can take advantage of this. For example, research indicates that adolescents are less likely to consume food that matches their dietary requirements (van der Bend et al., 2022). Recently, social media has become a common channel through which marketers advertise their foods and beverages products (van der Bend et al., 2022). Nonetheless, this has raised concerns among the public over the claims that adolescents are vulnerable to such content because they are still under cognitive development (Smith et al., 2019). Thus, educating content on taking healthy diets can benefit marketers and consumers. Such strategies can further be improved by using an influencer who is attractive to the target market (van der Bend et al., 2022). The same strategy can be used in other areas as well.
There is also no need to fear confidentiality issues with user data over social media platforms. The social media landscape is omnipresent, which is the primary source of privacy concerns (Appel et al., 2020). Table 1 demonstrates how individuals, firms, and governments can address these privacy issues.
Table 1. Social media is immediate, near, and far future
|Predicted imminence||Stakeholders Concerned|
|· Immediate future
· Near Future
· Far Future
|· Omni-social presence
· Combining isolation and loneliness
· Increased sensory richness
|· The influencers’ rise.
· Integrated customer care.
· Online or offline interaction and complete convergence.
|· Privacy concerns on social media.
· Social media is a potential marketing tool.
· Social media by non-humans.
Innovation is the way to success in social media marketing. The source of this innovation is the ability of the marketers and company owners to understand the needs of customers then address them as appropriately as possible. Social media has become an effective tool for marketing, but it has not been exploited to its full potential. This is because the main problem persisting is creating the correct content for the consumers during the marketing and addressing privacy issues. Focusing on these areas can help achieve the ultimate business success through social media.
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