A critical discussion on social media marketing and what makes a successful social media strategy
The term social media can be defined as “Many online tools that allow people with similar interests to share information, learn from others, or network in an open process. The information found on these sites is commonly referred to as ‘user-generated content’, which means anyone is able to post with minimal restrictions or oversight.” (Wilson, 2010) There has been a huge explosion in business social media marketing, used to engage effectively with consumers and as such, there is a lot of research and literature on the impact of social media on organisations. This has been brought about by the remarkable increase in the progression and adaptation of technology, demanding that businesses rethink their digital marketing strategies. The aim of this essay is to critically review social media marketing and to analyse the reasons behind its success. The essay further aims to discuss the models and frameworks that support successful social media strategies for organisations, both large and small. This essay offers a platform that would enable the reader to understand the need for this research and also provides a background about recent developments both in the industry and in research circles with respect to social media branding. The rapid development of technology, and the reach of such technologies at affordable costs, have revolutionised the ways in which businesses operate today. The Internet is being used by millions of people at this very moment; therefore these technologies have led to a paradigm shift in the way that communication happens. Business reputation and presence in a market is more driven by ‘social media’. (Tuten, 2008) It can also be noted that the shift and focus on social media has been drastic and many businesses have been caught off-guard. However, the use of social media has created opportunities for online marketers to engage with customers who they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to reach using traditional marketing methods. This reach though, has posed many challenges to businesses that have viewed social media like any other traditional media, such as magazine or television, thus causing wider gaps rather than bringing them closer to the customers (Qualman, 2012). On the contrary, it can be said that more and more retailers and business are becoming increasingly aware of social media and are waiting to exploit the potential that it offers (Olivas-Lujan, 2013).
Social Media is a relatively new form of marketing that just about every business today is at least aware of, if not already utilising it in some form or another. The global fixation with social media, or social networking as it’s often referred to, can be easily compared to the hysteria of the Internet revolution in the 1990’s. As reported by Mangold and Faulds (2009), this marketing medium differentiates from the traditional communication channels in terms of reach, frequency and immediacy, with the most obvious difference being user-generated content.