The study examined the extent of utilization of social media by entrepreneurs in Anambra State. The study adopted the descriptive survey research design and used a population of 1450 entrepreneurs out of which 10% sample size was taken. Four research questions were used to guide the study, four null hypotheses were tested. Questionnaire was used as main data collection instrument, mean and standard deviation was used to answer the research questions. The analysis of data collected were derived using t- test analysis tested at 0.05 level of significance. Findings made from the study showed that entrepreneurs in Anambra State mostly utilized social media sites which created much traffic for them in marketing their products as compared to those that generated low traffic. Social media such Facebook, whatsapp and blackberry messenger were noted to be highly used by marketers in creating brand awareness. The findings also showed that the use of social media was considered very effective in creating business identity as it ensures that marketing is cost effective. It further indicated that instant customer engagement and follow-up and instant feedback is one of the reasons why social media is considered effective for marketing purposes. Findings also showed that social media sites enable entrepreneurs to monitor the progress and failure of brands and create links between businesses and customers among others. These enable entrepreneurs to measure customer engagement and feedback through the number of retweets a customer makes about a product. The study therefore, recommended that entrepreneurs in Anambra State should make effective use of social media sites and utilize the potentials of social media in marketing their products in other to broaden the scope of their businesses and generate more revenue.
Background To the study
In the old days, the traditional medium of advertising which is also known as a non-targeted advertising via newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and direct mail were the only way to communicate with the audience. These media make targeting specific buyers with individualized messages very difficult (Scott, 2010). For a long time commercial media have been used to convey messages designed to develop consumers’ attitudes and feelings towards brands. Today, many of the messages are designed to provoke audiences into responding, either physically, cognitively, or emotionally, (Baines, Fill and Page, 2011).
Traditional media, also known as old media, has been used in the marketing advertising world for years. Traditional media encompasses that of television, newspaper, radio and magazine advertisements. Traditional media was the root of advertising till it was found not to reach a broad target audience thus led to the emergence of social media. Every business wants to grow and develop a strong client base, and promotion is a key to achieving this growth. The tools and strategies for promoting a business and communicating with customers have changed significantly with the emergence of the phenomenon known as social media, also referred to as consumer generated media. This form of media describes a variety of new sources of online information that are created, initiated, spread and used by consumers’ intent on educating each other about products, brands, services, personalities and issues. Social media have become a major factor in influencing various aspects of consumer behaviour including awareness, information acquisition, opinions, attitudes, purchase behaviour, and post-purchase communication and evaluation, (Grant, 2014).
Social media which is sometimes referred to as social networking and Web 2.0 is known as collaboratively produced and shared media content (Tapscott and Williams, 2008). Social media came into existence in the 1990s. Boyd and Ellison, (2007) documented that the first recognizable social network site called “Six degrees” was launched in 1997 on sixdegrees.com. It allowed users to create profiles, list and surf friends lists. While Six Degrees attracted millions of users, it failed to become a sustainable business and, in 2000, the service came to an end. In 2002, social media received a great boost with the launch of Friendster. Within a year of its launch, Friendster recorded more than three million registered users and a ton of investment interests. In 2003, my space, LinkedIn, Last FM, Tribe net, Hi5 among others sprang up. In 2004, popular names like Facebook Harvard, Dogster and Mixi evolved. From 2005 till date a lot more of social media sites were launched for example twitter, 2go,watsapp, google plus, badoo and facebook.
Kaplan and Heinlein, (2010) defined social media as computer mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas and pictures and videos in virtual communities and networks. Social media is defined as a group of internet based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 and allows for the creation and exchange of user generated content (Hussian and Adamu, 2014). Social media is a category of online media where people talk, participate, share, network and bookmark online. It is also known as the new media that speed up conversations in a more interactive way which makes communication more effective and worthwhile. It is an online media that takes communication beyond the limitations, of the traditional media (Ogbe, 2014). According to Okoro and Nwafor, (2013), the social media are interactive web-based platforms that offer citizens opportunity and place to connect, share opinions, experiences, views, contacts, knowledge, expertise, as well as other issues like job and career tips. An expanded definition is that social media isa process that empowers individuals to promote their websites, products, or services through online social channels and to communicate with and tap into a much larger community that may not have been available via traditional advertising channels (Stan, 2012).
Social media is more than just a means of seeking information,it could be used to connect with other people, whether for business or commercial purposes, make new friends, reawaken old friends and long lost relatives. Social networking sites (SNSs) are easy to use and navigate. Their use does not require advanced knowledge or experience; this means that just about anyone can connect (Curtis, 2011).
The emergence of social media is changing many traditional ways of doing business. The innovative application of social media platforms, (notably by konga.com, Jumia.com, olx, gloo.ng, and gidimall and so on in Nigeria) helps to drive customer awareness, interaction and marketing campaigns and has been identified by industry watchers as a fundamental factor responsible for their massive success in business, (Uzor, 2014)
The rapid rise of social media has brought with it a large amount of business models which are easier to implement, run, and are profit driven. With these rapid changes in the business environment and processes, it has become paramount for traditional media to move along with time by changing their advertising platforms in order to remain relevant and competitive in this modern time (David, 2015).
The 21st century has seen a shift in the way businesses market their products and services. Ramsay (2010) revealed that businesses are presently experiencing several new unanticipated events and the development of the social media as a communication channel is almost certainly one of the most influential factors. The social media has brought about several new elements. It has made consumers more accessible, it has emerged with a completely new set of communication tools that make the process of exchanging information much easier and faster, and it has compelled entrepreneurs to rethink how they communicate with their customers.
The tools and strategies for marketing have changed significantly with the emergence of the phenomenon known as social media, also referred to as consumer generated media. This form of media describes a variety of new sources of online information that are created, initiated, spread and used by consumers’ intent on educating each other about products, brands, services, personalities and issues. Social media have become a major factor in influencing various aspects of consumer behaviour including awareness, information acquisition, opinions, attitudes, purchase behaviour, and post-purchase communication and evaluation (Mangold&Faulds, 2009).
Prior to the existence of the web, organizations had only two significant choices to attract attention- buy expensive advertising or get third party link from the media. But now the web has changed the rules. Web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the precise moment that a buyer needs it. The web has also opened a tremendous opportunity to reach niche buyers directly with targeted messages that cost a fraction of what big-budget advertising costs (Scott, 2010).
The development of social media has had a profound impact on the way client organizations communicate with their audiences. Generally, there has been a trend to reduce the amount of traditional media and increase the amount of social media (Baines et al, 2011). According to Baines et al, as a result of increasing internet penetration in developed countries, there has been a development and adoption of digital resources from mobile technologies to internet and social media resources such as blogs, social networking sites, wikis, and similar multimedia sharing services. These digital trends are not only altering consumer expectations of their interaction with the web or an organization, but they are also changing how marketing takes place in the digital space.
According to Corruthers(2013), Nigeria has overtaken other African countries to become the largest user of social media networking sites. The social media is playing a significant role in the success of e-commerce in Nigeria since it came into existence in the country in 2005. The power of the social media in the 21st century in transforming the business system cannot be over emphasised. This has prompted governments, male and female entrepreneurs in developing countries including Nigeria to step up efforts in the adoption of social media technology for effective communication (Evans, 2012).
Entrepreneurs have been widely acknowledged as the most viable vehicle for sustaining industrial development because they possess the capacity to promote indigenous enterprise culture (Ugwushi, 2009). In most developing economies, entrepreneurship is used as a strategy for employment generation, food security, poverty alleviation, rapid industrialization, and reversing rural urban migration, as well as a tool for economic restructuring for development and growth (Johnson, 2011). This is why the development of business ventures has attracted the attention of governments, the academics, researchers and policy makers around the world in finding ways to facilitate the development of entrepreneurial training among other initiatives, through the effective adoption and utilization of e-commerce.
Nowadays businesses are increasingly using and adopting e-commerce due to the advent of information communication technology (ICT). ICT has the potential to improve business competitiveness with the internet providing numerous opportunities for SMEs to compete equally with large corporations (Alberto & Fernando, 2007). Small businesses in particular can now overcome some of their major disadvantages, such as size, limited finance, technological and human resources, and limited exposure to the global marketplace, by adopting Internet technologies (Olatokun & Bankole, 2011).
Entrepreneurs use social media for creativity, open communication and sharing of knowledge among users. Social media allow businesses to gain access to resources that might otherwise not be available to them. It can also aid the development of a firm’s worthiness, increase the customer and supplier contacts, and bring to light where resources and fundings are available, promote innovation and help in the cultivation of strategic partnerships (Anderson, 2014).
Owing to the flexibility of social networking tools, businesses can realize different benefits. These according to Payne (2012) are greater access to different audiences, improved customer services, improved products and services and adoption of favourable pricing practices. As at January 2015, there were more than 900 million active Facebook users, with over 350 million of them logging in every day. In addition, the average Facebook user has 130 friends and likes 80 pages but this figure is expected to expand with time. Additionally, over 3.5 billion pieces of contents such as blog posts, web links and news stories, business adverts, are shared on this social network (Fray, 2015).
It is important for entrepreneurs to grasp how the social media functions and the expectations of its users. Many businesses are now turning to social networks as a worthwhile communication tool and, if used adequately, they can significantly improve their online presence, in the form of effective promotion. Small businesses can now make use of social media in the same way that large corporate organization can, without the need for extensive resources to achieve success with online marketing. The marketers need to have a presence in the environment where their customers inhabit. Mark Zukerberg, co-founder of Facebook according to Ashin (2010) held that advertising is fast changing and businesses need to understand the usage of internet technologies in order to remain relevant
In Nigeria today the social media and marketing are like twins that are inseparable and are becoming increasingly important in business awareness and development. They have become more important than traditional media as a trusted, faster, and direct connected source of information,(Adegbuyi, 2013). Social media can be classified into collaborative projects like wikipedia, yahoo, Blogs and microblogs like twitter, instagram, content communities like you tube, videorder, social networking sites like Facebook, watsapp, 2go and so onwhich are very effective for business activities ( Jagongo & Kinyua, 2013). Social media differ from traditional media in many ways, such as quality, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in communities and networks (Hausman, 2012)
According to Diamond (2008) the difference between traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television and social media is not the media itself, but the system of discovery, distribution, consumption and conversation surrounding the media. Even though both social and traditional media have the ability to reach small or large audiences, production costs usually are large for what has become a small number of traditional media outlets while social media technologies basically give anyone with access to internet the ability to reach a potentially global audience at little or no cost.
The quest for faster ways and means of entrepreneurs sending their messages regarding the availability of goods, prices, and location has led to the use of social media where everyone is present. Marketing is a crucial activity that aidsthe survival and success of a going business concern. Businesses in the 21st century have more marketing opportunities today than ever before (Bresciani&Eppler, 2010).
Babbie(2014) succinctly submitted that the benefits of social media marketing includes increased exposure, increased traffic, market place insight, loyal fans, generated leads, improved search ranking, grown business partnership, reduced marketing expenses and improved sales. For a comprehensive understanding of the positive effects of the usage of the social media for business and marketing, Flekel(2013) summarized the importance of media marketing as promoting open communication between entrepreneurs and customers by enabling entrepreneurs share ideas and get feedback, product definition, and product development. Social media marketing promotes better content, such as webcast and videos, on the use of products than just simple text.
Social media brings about numerous opportunities for businesses to market their goods and services to consumers, aid to build rapport, and provide more profitable interrelationships.It is therefore necessary that entrepreneurs who desire to enjoy global transformation in business should use social media, hence the need for the study on the utilization of social media by entrepreneurs as marketing strategy in Anambra state.
Statement of the Problem
According to Flekel(2013) today, businesses literally fight for consumers’ attention and this competition has forced entrepreneurs to seek new unconventional ways to get their messages across to their audience. The increasing noise and the frequent promotionshavecommercialized the society and have also made consumers jaded when it comes to advertising. According to Flekel(2013) one of the problem in traditional media with respect to marketing is that consumers are no longer seen as latent in the use of traditional media as compared to social media. Another problem associated with the use of traditional media is that it is no longer the gatehouse of quick access to information because messages are not quickly passed on traditional media as compared to social media. Challenges associated with the use of traditional media in marketing such as lack of active involvement of consumers in business through consumers feedback on product is a limitation in the use of traditional media in marketing product to consumers.
On the other hand, the use of social media in business according to Adams, (2013) is a very effective marketing strategy compared to the traditional media like newspaper, television, radio and so on. This is due to the fact that social media helps to increase traffic by creating a communication link between the consumers and the business. Satisfied consumers can influence others and shape their opinions. The use of social media in business also helps in brand building through the use of social forums, and blogs which allows customers discuss about a product strengths and weakness. The use of social media in business helps to engage the customers by knowing their views, opinions about a product instantly which the traditional media cannot do.
The real problem with the traditional marketing however comes down to one truth: marketers are out of touch with consumers to whom they are marketing. The gap between what the consumers want and what the traditional marketing is offering is the reason why many consumers are looking somewhere else for ideas about which products to buy and which brand to promote.
Traditional media cannot be compared to social media in measuring customer engagement and feedback of a product. Through the use of social media entrepreneurscan easily get feedback instantly from consumers. This enables businesses to be informed of the progress or failure of their campaigns through customer comments, likes, and reviews and so on(Sandsiv, 2011).
Another reason why traditional media is falling out of style for marketing purposes is the cost of promotion. It requires businesses to hire teams of marketers, to evaluate consumer population, perform research, and develop strategies and many more. The new marketing strategy like social media marketing cost almost nothing. Social media is relatively inexpensive compared to traditional media and has accessible tools that enable anyone to publish and access information anywhere anytime. Challenges of high cost incurred in the use of traditional media with respect to publishing, easily access as compared to social media make traditional media adequately ineffective as effective business marketing strategies. This makes social media not only relevant for large multinational firms, but also for small and medium sized businesses, and even non-profit and governmental agencies to get information faster to their target audience (Kaplan &Haenlein, 2010).
Social media marketing is much connected, very interactive than traditional marketing and it is easier to reach out to larger consumers. It is no longer a remarkable fact that most of the advertisements carried out through traditional media are not as efficient and effective as social media, because social media is designed to reach far more people (Weber, 2009).
It is against this backdrop in traditional media as contrasted with social media that this study examined the extent of utilization of social media by entrepreneurs in Anambra state.
Traditional media marketing can’t compete with the new devices like smart phones, tablets and computers. It cannot help to generate a community of consumers who trust each other and make helpful product recommendations. It is perceived as dishonest, slanted, and self-serving. Indeed none of these characteristics is appropriate for marketing to the modern consumer. Traditional media is dead and business need to look to fresh marketing strategies which involves the social media, if increased profits are ever going to occur, (David, 2015)
No study has been carried out on the extent of utilization of social media by entrepreneurs as marketing strategy in Anambra State. The study therefore, focused on bridging the gap which the traditional media failed to provide in a business that brought about the invention of social media.
Purpose of the study
The main purpose of the study was to determine the extent of utilization of social media by entrepreneursas marketing strategy in Anambra State. Specifically the study determined the extent:
(1) Social media sites are used as marketing strategy for customer awareness.
- Social media sites are used as marketing strategy for brand awareness.
- Social media is considered effective as a marketing strategy by entrepreneurs
- How social media helps entrepreneurs measure customer engagement and feedback.
Significance of the study
The findings of the study would be beneficial to entrepreneurs, the society communication technology industries, and future researchers.
The findings of the study would equip entrepreneurs with more knowledge about the effectiveness of using social media in business. Entrepreneurs will be able to measure consumer feedback on goods and services in order to improve their business and increase profit. The findings of the study would also enable entrepreneurs consider different social media tools for marketing purposes, and know the benefits of using each tools effectively.
The findings of the study would enable the society become aware of the positivity of social media marketing, its influence and need on anybusiness growth. Also the society is able to know different social media platforms and how to use each one to the advantage of promoting a business.
The findings of the study would enable the communication technology industry to know the influence social media has made and will continue to make to a business. Also the findings will encourage the ICT industry upgrade to a higher technologiesand platforms to make business more global.
The findings of this study wouldprovide future researchers withthe right information about social media and guide them towards carrying out more research on how social media will grow business.
Scope of the Study
This study wasdelimited to the utilization of social media by entrepreneurs as marketing strategy in Anambra State. The study focused onsocial media sites used by entrepreneurs for customer awareness, brand awareness, effective marketing purposes, customer engagement and feedback measurement.
The following research questions guidedthe study:
- To what extent are social media sites utilized as a marketing strategy for customer awareness?
- To what extent are social media sites utilized as a marketing strategy for brand awareness?
- To what extent issocial media considered effective for marketing purposes?
- How do social media help entrepreneurs’ measure customer engagement and feedback?
The following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance:
- There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of male and female respondents regarding the utilization of social media sites as a marketing strategy for customer awareness.
- There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of male and female respondents regarding the utilization of social media sites as a marketing strategy for brand awareness.
- There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of male and females respondents regarding the effectiveness of social media as a marketing strategy in business.
- There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of male and females respondentsregarding how they measure customer engagement and feedback using social media.