Background of the study
New phenomena come and go on a frequent basis. But every now and then something with potential to change the business environment comes to the forefront. The business world is not immune to any impact that may arise. Social media is one such phenomenon. Social media which is sometimes referred to as social networking and Web 2.0 refers to 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 was launched in 1997 called Six degrees on sixdegrees.com. It allowed users to create profiles, list their friends and, beginning in 1998, surf friends lists. While Six Degrees attracted millions of users, it failed to become a sustainable business and, in 2000, the service closed. In 2002, social media received a great boost with the launch of Friendster. Within a year of its launch, Friendster boasted more than three million registered users and a ton of investment interest. In 2003, my space, LinkedIn, Last FM, Tribe net, Hi5 etc. sprang up. In 2004, popular names like Facebook Harvard, Dogster and Mixi evolved. From 2006 till now a lot of social media sites have been launched like twitter, 2go, watsapp, google plus, badoo etc
The tools and strategies for 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 (Mangold & Faulds, 2009).
Prior to the web, organizations had only two significant choices to attract attention; buy expensive advertising or get third party ink from the media. But now the web has changed the rules. The web is not television, the web is different. Instead of one way interruption, the 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 cost (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 an increase in the amount of social media (Baines et al, 2010). Digital technologies and the impact on digital television, internet, email, viral marketing, blogging, and social networking sites, now represents major forms of interactive and direct marketing opportunities. According to (Baines et al, 2010) the balance within the mix of media used by organizations is changing and new ways of delivering messages are evolving. As a result of an 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 we market in the digital space.
The rapid rise of social media has brought with it a large amount of business models which are more easy to implement, run, and profit-oriented. With these rapid changes in 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 (Zuwarimwe and Kristen, 2010). The 21st century has seen a shift in the way businesses market their products and services. Smith and Taylor (2013) reveal 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 are communicating with their customers. According to (CP Africa, 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 ecommerce 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 and business organizations in developing countries including Nigeria to step up their effort in the adoption of social media technology for effective communication (Nwabueze and Ugwonno, 2010). Entrepreneurs have been widely acknowledged as being the most viable vehicle for sustaining industrial development because they possess the capacity to promote an indigenous enterprise culture (Ugwushi, 2009). In most developing economies, entrepreneurship is being used as a strategy for employment generation, food security, poverty alleviation, rapid industrialization, and reversing rural urban migration, as well as being a tool for economic restructuring for development and growth (Johnson, 2011). This is why the development of entrepreneurial businesses has attracted the attention of governments, academics, researchers and policy makers around the world in finding ways to facilitate the development of entrepreneurial training and among other initiatives, through the effective adoption and utilisation of e-commerce.
Nowadays entrepreneurial businesses are increasingly using and adopting e-commerce due to the advent of Personal Computer, cost-effectiveness and cheaper information communication technology (ICT). ICT can improve business competitiveness with internet providing numerous opportunities for SMEs to compete equally with large corporations (Alberto and Fernando, 2007). E-commerce has a positive impact on business operations. It conveys a wide range of benefits, and companies that are left behind in adopting this new system cannot compete favourably in the global marketplace (Noor, 2009). Small businesses in particular can now overcome some of their major disadvantages, such as size, limited financial, technological and human resources, and limited exposure to the global marketplace, by adopting Internet technologies (Cooper and Burgess, 1998; Maswera, Dawson and Edwards, 2008; Olatokun and Bankole, 2011).
Despite the fact that many small businesses are turning more and more to global markets (Stockdale and Standing, 2004), studies have found that small businesses in both developed and developing countries are slow in adopting e-commerce than their larger counterparts and, indeed, invest less in e-commerce technologies per employee than larger firms (Buckley and Montes, 2002; Apulu and Ige, 2011; Iddris, 2012; Irefin et al, 2012).
Entrepreneurs use social media for creativity, open communication and sharing of knowledge among users. Social media allows 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 funding are available, promote innovation and help in the cultivation of strategic partnerships (Anderson, 2014).
Entrepreneurs rarely possess all the skills and knowledge needed to expand their enterprise, and finding people with the necessary skills, and getting them to contribute, is a vital aspect of their networking (Simon, 2012). The sky is the limit with social media. Owing to of the flexibility of social networking tools, businesses can realize different benefits. These according to Simon (2012) are greater access to different audiences, improved customer service, improved products and services and adoption of favourable pricing practices. As of January 2015, there were more than 900 million active facebook users, with over 350 million of them logging in everyday. 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 (Digital Buzz, 2015).
The social media networks allow individuals, businesses to connect with one another. It is important for entrepreneurs and marketer 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 can, without the need for extensive resources to achieve success with the online marketing; the marketers need to have a presence in the environment that their customers inhabit. Mark Zukerberg, co-founder of Facebook supports this by saying that advertising is fast changing and businesses need to understand the usage of Internet technologies in order to remain relevant (Maymann, 2008).
Social media is more than just a means of seeking information and it could be used to connect with other people, whether for business or commercial purpose, make new friends, reawaken old friends and long lost relatives. The use of social networking sites (SNSs) simplify the whole process as they are easier to use and navigate. Their use does not require advanced knowledge or experience; this means that just about anyone can connect (Enikuomehin, 2011). The emergence of social media is changing many traditional ways of doing business. The innovative application of social media platforms, notably (konga.com, Jumia.com, olx, gloo.ng, gidimall e.t.c) in Nigeria helps to drive customer awareness, interaction and marketing campaigns has been identified by Industry watchers as a fundamental factor responsible for their massive success in business, (Uzor, 2014)
Kaplan, (2010) defined social media as computer mediated tools that allows people to create, share or exchange information, ideas and pictures/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 creation and exchange of user generated content (Pavlik, 2014). Social media is “a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking and bookmarking 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 limitation, 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 things like job and career tips. An expanded definition is “a 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” (Weinberg, 2009). In Nigeria today 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 categories collaborative projects like wikipedia, yahoo, Blogs and microblogs like twitter, instagram, Content communities like you tube, videorder, Social networking sites like facebook, watsapp, 2go etc. which are very effective for business activities ( Jagongo and kinyua, 2013) Social media differ from traditional media in many ways, including quality, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in communities and networks, (Kim, and Kim, 2010). According to (Joe Marchese, 2007) suggests 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 issue of acceptability of social media by entrepreneurs in marketing products and customers in obtaining information stated by (Oholakiya, 2013) are no longer in existence. Customers are no longer the latent majority since media outfits like radio, television, and newspapers are no longer the gateway of obtaining information. Entrepreneurs can now use social media to engage in both receipt and postage of information to potential customers without going through the old ways of disseminating information. Thus, giving modern ecommerce an opportunity that was never at the disposal of such business.
Social media are relatively inexpensive and has accessible tools that enable anyone especially entrepreneurs publish or access information about products, customers. The traditional media also known as mass media or industrial media require significant resources to publish information, reach customers (Oppong, 2009). According to (Glikk, 2007) in terms of accessibility which is a major factor to consider in business affects the traditional media. The traditional media are owned privately or by government while the social media is accessed by everyone wherever. Also in terms of usability traditional media requires specialized skills and training. Most social media do not require any skill because anyone can operate it. The time lag between communications produced by traditional media can be long (days, weeks, months) compared to social media which is capable of instantaneous response. The traditional media once an article is created or printed cannot be altered except its reprinted which information can take days or weeks to be effected. Comparing it to social media, which instantly makes a correction or change to the same article (Tabbaa, 2010).
As marketing activities are aimed at making the goods reach the final consumers, suppliers, industries, groups or individuals for effective utilization and satisfaction of their wants and needs. Production is not complete until the goods reaches the final consumers. The quest for faster ways and means of entrepreneurs sending their message on the availability of goods, prices, location has led to the use of social media where everyone is present (Ascent, 2013) Marketing is a crucial activity for that aid survival and success of a going business concern Businesses in the 21st century today, have more marketing opportunities than compared to those days (Bresciani & Eppler, 2010). Social media aid business to connect with customers with the motive to build relationships and help to take advantage and understand better the needs of customer. Therefore, businesses strife to ensure that their messages reach as many audience and customers as possible. To do this effectively, a business must ensure that they have presence via social media network (Halligan, Shah, & Scott, 2009). Social media bring about numerous opportunities for businesses to market to consumers and aid to build rapport and provide more profitable interrelationships.
Wow Effect communications (2014) succinctly submit that the benefits of social media marketing includes increased exposure, increased traffic, provided market place insight, developed loyal fans, generated leads, improved search ranking, grown business partnership, reduced marketing expenses and improved sales. For a comprehensive understanding of the positive effect of the usage of the social media for business and marketing, (Oholakiya, 2013) summarizes the importance of media marketing as Promoting open communication between entrepreneurs and customers by enabling entrepreneurs share ideas and get feedback, product definition, product development. Finally social media marketing promotes better content, such as webcast and videos, on the use of products than just simple text.
Statement of the problem
Today businesses literally fight for consumers’ attention. Competition has forced both marketers and companies to seek new unconventional ways to get their message across to their audience. The increasing noise and the frequent promotion commercialized society have also made consumers jaded when it comes to advertising. One can sense a greater scepticism and disbelieve from consumers’ side against the companies and their products and services. This has led to consumers now more than ever trust their friends, neighbours, and colleagues instead of traditional advertising messages that are sent out as to which products or services to be consumed (Marjamäki & Svensson, 2008).
Social media allow firms to engage in timely and direct end-consumer contact at fairly low cost and higher levels of efficiency than can be achieved with more traditional communication tools. This makes social media not only relevant for large multinational firms, but also for small and medium sized companies, and even non profit and governmental agencies. (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). One may be wondering what the advantage of having a presence on a social networking site like Facebook when the business already has a regular website. The answer is reach. You want your message and story to reach as many people as possible. To maximize your reach, you need to have a presence where people are hanging out and increasingly they are hanging out on social networking sites. (Halligan & Shah, 2010, p. 89).
A unique role of social media is that customers can use it to communicate to one another. This has resulted in that a person has the tools to tell 10 million people if they are dissatisfied or satisfied. In a sense, this role of social media – enabling customers to talk to one another is an extension of traditional word-of-mouth communication. The question for managers becomes how this power can be harnessed for the benefit of the organization. While companies cannot directly control consumer-to-consumer messages, the do have the ability to influence the conversations that consumers have with one another (Mangold & Fauld, 2009). In order to stand out from all the media clutter and find their niche, companies and marketers must segment the market by defining customers with similar values. Segmenting the market appropriately allows marketers to reach people who can ignite and fuse interest among others (Wright, 2010).
Marketers that have the understanding of their brand and positioning on the market also have the vision. The social media strategy should therefore fit with the established brand identity. But it is important to not blindly apply the same strategies for social media as for offline broadcast because that has shown to be one of the worst mistakes. Entrepreneurs play a crucial role in economic development and survival, and are strong drivers of new innovation which is an impetus to job creation and economic rejuvenation. Beaver (2002) acknowledged that entrepreneurial businesses are important and have gained growing recognition due to their contribution to economic vitality, employment generation, innovation and business development. Due to the fact that social media usage in marketing of product has being viewed by some marketers to be more effective than the traditional method of marketing the study therefore, focus on the utilization of social media as a marketing strategy in entrepreneurial business in Anambra state.
Purpose of the study
The main purpose of the study is to determine the utilization of social media as a marketing strategy for entrepreneurial businesses in Anambra state. Specifically the study aims to:
- Determine the extent social media sites have been utilized as a marketing strategy by entrepreneurs.
- Determine the extent social media sites have being effective for marketing purposes.
- Ascertain the extent the influence of social media serve as effective marketing strategy to entrepreneurial business.
- Determine the impacts of social media as a marketing strategy in creating customer awareness.
- Determine the factor that influences the use of social media as a marketing strategy?
Significance of the study
The findings of the study would be meaningful to the entrepreneurs, customers and business owners.
The findings of the study would enable the consumers to benefit from getting information on how to access the availability of products in the market.
The findings of the study will enable the consumers to know how to make choice among alternatives without having to be at the market physically
The finding of the study would enable entrepreneurs to learn about the customer’s information which can help them cater campaigns and products offers to the target audience.
The findings of the study would enable entrepreneurs know how to find new customers and target audience
The findings would enable entrepreneurs to know the impression of positive or negative feedback and how to strategize for customer satisfaction.
The findings of the study would enable the communication technology industry to know the effectiveness and efficiency of social media tool as a marketing strategy in business and know how to upgrade for better business development.
The findings of the study will reveal the extent of utilization of social media sites for marketing strategy in business.
The findings of this study will reveal the influence of social media on the sales volume, advertising and customer relationship in business.
Scope of the study
This study is limited to the utilization of social media as a marketing strategy in entrepreneurial business in Anambra state.
The following research questions will be examined in the study as follows:
- To what extent have social media sites been utilized as a marketing strategy by entrepreneurs?
- To what extent have social media sites effective for marketing purposes?
- To what extent has the influence of social media serve as effective marketing strategy to the entrepreneurial business?
- What are the impacts of social media as a marketing strategy in creating customer awareness?
- What factors influences the use of social media as a marketing strategy?