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The supposed future of the real-time social web which is defined as "Web 2.0" first heralded by Tim O'Reilly in November 2005: " Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform." ( 2005, O'Reilly )
During the breakout years (1999 - 2010), many evangelists, media experts and industry watchers such as Carfi (2009), Lassica (2009) and Owyang (2009) discovered new marketing concepts in the realm of social media.To some extent, there are some experts, such as Solis, Bernoff, in this field recommending their clients by utilizing more awareness of new media rules, using of social marketing concepts, tools and practices through social media networks to think beyond "social media marketing".
Despite, Social Media is a growing area in marketing, it has a tremendous amount of noise in the market particularly for nearly a decade. Social Media Marketing sources are available on blogs rather than in articles, journals and academic papers. Additionally we are able to reach to industry leaders' opinion by social media networks.
Social Media is creating incredible new opportunities for companies. They utilize from social media marketing to become more sophisticated and competitive. The new media's chancing face is very new concept for the companies and they do not know how to apply it into their marketing strategies.
According to Forrester (2009), most of the big companies (%84) hasn't improved and implemented their social web marketing strategies as much as ordinary adults people apply into their daily life. According to the source, the goal of this project is to see how Technogym is using social media in an innovative way in marketing, and how the social media applications has impact on company's marketing and brand strategy. Through social media, how they drive creativity to gain awareness of brand in all around the world rather than big budgets.
The Technogym is the world's leading fitness equipment designer company. Company has a large range of facilities in different type of venues such as hotels, spa and rehabilition centers, gyms, private homes and universities.Technogm's philosophy takes three key concept into account in their activities. These are first of wellness life style, social responsibility and innovation. Italian manufactured equipments are aiming to make feel every customer special with their excellent design. Wellness is the company's reference point in their every single activities and strategies. Through this consider, Technogym has been started to use social media in effective way to achieve competitive advantage as other leader companies does.
In this study whilst estimating a variety of possible research questions, I intend to consider two main objectives. First of all I will research the substantial literature and theory which the works have done on social media marketing. Secondly i will clarify the research objectives.
Before launching my investigation, Firstly, I will review the relevant, extent literature to see if the study has done already in the field of social web marketing. After that, I will have a look at for the particular question that I have asked to see if it has emphazised by others earlier. Eventually by taking consider the findings, I will extend the substantial knowledge on social media.
In this work, by concerning approach which are emphasized above, research objectives have been determined as below:
To examine the current literature and theory associated to the Social Media
To what entent does Social Media effect marketing practices. And to overview which tactics, methods are more efficient for different targets in the organization. And what are the challenges that they faced in applying the tactics.
to investigate how the Social Media is integrated into businesses in a way that fits their brand image, their customer and strategies and what type of techniques they apply to be different from their rivals in Social Media.
Recommendation to the other companies for the best methods that can be implemented into their strategies by considering the Technogym's work in the Social Web Marketing.
In order to conduct my inquiry and to give detailed information on Social Media, I aim to answer following research questions:
How Social Media effect the organizations marketing practices? Which tactics and methods are followed for the different targets in the organization? And what issues the companies faced in the scope of Social Media?
How companies are integrating the social media and networks into their businesses to manage their brand in an effective way? What type of different method they apply into their businesses to gain competitive advantage from the others?
The companies who shows resistance to use social media networks, can they keep their place in the market for long term?
METHODOLOGY AND WORK PLAN
Methodology is the major part of the research before framing our investigations. It is a technique to systematize the materials and sources which are associated with the area where we work on. Another point that we should underline, we can not allege that methodologies can be true or false. We may only assert that it can be more or less useful.
The process of the writing which refers to methodology is very essential in the research. Because it may change the idea that we want to build up our researches by taking concern on. Therefore it may cause to the big differences on the conclusion. There are two main research philosophies which emphasize the research strategy. These philosophies are the "positivism" and "interpretivism".
The Research Paradigm
The research philosophy has involves the assumptions which are highly important for the methodology that you use. In other meaning this assumptions refers the way you view the world. And the research paradigm underlines this assumptions.
According to Collis and Hussey (2009), "Positivism provided the framework for the way research was conducted in the natural sciences â€¦ underpinned by the belief that reality is independent of us and the goal is the discovery of theories based on empirical research (observation and experiment)."
In contrast, Interpretivism is "a philosophical position which is concerned with understanding the way we as humans make sense of the world around us, the underlying assumption is that by placing people in their social context, there is greater opportunity to understand the perceptions they have of their own activities" (Hussey,1997)
In addition to that, we will examine five main ways of thinking about research philosophy. These assumptions have an impact on the researcher's paradigm choice: these are the ontological, the epistemological, the axiological, rhetorical and the methodological assumptions.
Regarding to this assumptions are mentioned above I will apply the ontological assumption through taking consider my own view of the reality and my own past career experience will be basis of assumptions' resource. In addition to that, Social Media settles in the social sciences field. And also in this study I will mainly need to use qualitative data. Due to this, i will employ the "interpretivism" as an ideal paradigm in this work.
The Research Strategy
Before framing the research strategy we need to consider two key steps. In the research study, if we are aiming to develop a theory and hypothesis and analyzing them, then we should use the deductive approach. However if we are planning to collect data and to develop a theory according to the data analysis, then inductive approach is employed. Regarding to this, I will use the inductive approach in this research.
There are some strategies related with Interpretivism which are defined as, Case-Studies, Participative Enquiry, Action Research, Hermeneutics, Grounded Theory, Feminist, Gender and Ethnicity Studies and Ethnography. Regarding to these approaches, Collis and Hussey (2009) defined the Case-Study as "a methodology used to explore a single phenomenon (the case) in a natural setting using a variety of methods to obtain in-depth knowledge."
There are four types of case - studies such as: descriptive, illustrative, experimental and explanatory case-studies. In "Illustrative Case-Study" methodology, researchers attempt to demonstrate the possible practices through a case for particular organization. In this research project, similarly I will try to illustrate the new practices and adopt it to the Technogym activities.
The current criticism of the Single Case-Study methodology might not be able to genarate a conclusion. Conversely, Yin (2003) has argued that multiple case studies may be preferable to a single case study : "General applicability results, not from whether a single case or several cases may be used, but from the set of methodological qualities of the case, and the rigour with which the case is constructed."
Another criticism of the "Single Case -Study" is about data collection techniques are likely to be used in combination and triangulate multiple sources of data. According to this view, Jick (1979) asserted that: "Triangulation is the use of multiple sources of data, and different research methods to investigate the same phenomenon in a study. This can reduce bias, and lead to greater validity and reliability than a single method approach, providing all the methods used all reach the same conclusions".
Regarding the criticisms in the the field of "Single Case-Study Methodology", this research study will apply "triangulation with available and accessible quantitative data" to the overall approach.
DATA COLLECTION METHODS
One of the important data collection method which is "interviews"
interviews, "can be highly formalised and structured, using standardised questions, or they may be informal and unstructured conversations, or anywhere in between".
In this research semi-structured and in-depth personal interview has been chosen as the primary data collection method. Main reason to choose "semi structure interview" method is likely to be very time consuming.
According to this, Face-to-face interview, to study of the Company's social web activities, will be with the General Manager or Marketing& PR Manager of the company. In addition to that, if needed telephonic recorded interviews with his subordinates can also be completed. Beside, accessible quantitive documents and datas related to company's Social Web activities may also been take into account.
To choose the data analysis method mainly depends on the chosen paradigm i.e. whether the Positivist or Interpretivist. The Data Analysis for this research project will be "Qualitative and Inductive". Collis and Hussey (2009) emphasize that analysing qualitative data can be challenging in itself because " â€¦ no clear and accepted set of conventions prevail â€¦ and also because the data collection method itself can also incorporate or condition the data analysis."
Ethnographic interviews have become a commonly used qualitative methodology for collecting data (Aronson, 1992). Once the information is gathered, researchers are faced with the decision on how to analyze the data. There are many ways to analyze informants' talk about their experiences (Mahrer, 1988; Spradley, 1979; Taylor & Bogdan, 1984), and thematic analysis is one such way. In Brief, "Thematic analysis" is used to summarize, categorise and structure of information.
If there is an assumption like " one research philosophy is better than another", this would miss the point. Because they are better at doing different things. Whether you use thematic approach, in which you develop a theory and hypothesis or the inductive approach, in which you would collect data and develop theory as a result of your data analysis. As it described by Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill ( 2009) as well, "Inductive Analysis involves starting to collect data and then exploring to see which themes or issues to follow up and concentrate on." In this case, thematic approach owes more to positivism and induction to interpretivism.
Every research method
In Social Sciences to set your research by considering the ethical issues is more difficult than the natural sciences without running it into ethical debates. This is because, in business research there is no written list .It is up to you.
Ethics are one of the major value for any successful research project. Therefore when I am conducting this research project, I took number of ethical issues for this particular work. Ethics which are admitted clearly in this inquiry are, objectivity, honesty, respect for the intellectual property, social responsibility and openness. By taking as a guide these principles, I intend to conduct my research project.
Proposal presentation -------------------------------------------In the beginning of June
Written project proposal (final)---------------------------------- 21st June 2010
Information and data collection-----------------------------------August 2010
Interview with the companies Marketing Manager----------September 2010
Analysis of the information collected---------------------------September/October 2010
Final writing of the dissertation-----------------------------------November 2010
Submission -----------------------------------------------------------End of November 2010
During the term of research this work, I predict that possible costs are going to be the telephone and travel expenses. Concerning the timescale, in this project, i intend to do information and data collection on the subject in four weeks time till end of August 2010. After that in the forward month I am planning to do the interviews with the companies Marketing PR Manager and also I am aiming to start to analyze the information and data which I collected on September 2010. Lastly I intend to do final writings of the dissertation on November 2010.