Social Media Marketing (SMM) Lecture
Social Media Marketing (SMM) refers to the process of promoting products and services online through various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, among others (Tuten & Solomon, 2014). Similarly, SMM refers to the endorsement of corporate brands through various social media channels.
SMM, which is supported by creatively shared data, engages individuals towards given business objectives, regardless of their physical location. As such, SMM enables businesses to respond quickly and, thereby, minimise the amount of time between the inception of an advertisement and its impact on targeted clients.
Moreover, companies can employ SMM in every phase of the consumer lifecycle. Precisely, the consumer lifecycle refers to various stages of customer experiences when interacting with brands such as brand awareness, initial purchase and brand loyalty.
Nonetheless, unlike conventional promotional methods that depended on the chronological consistency of the customer lifecycle, SMM goes beyond connecting customers to businesses based on past predictable social and purchasing behaviour and establishes a significant relationship between businesses and customers, irrespective of the place or time a client interacts with a brand.
How frequently do you interact with brands through social media channels? If this channels did not exist, will your purchasing behaviour be any different?
To successfully capitalise on the free marketing opportunities offered through various social media platforms, organisations must formulate clear objectives. The objective should focus on important social and business goals such as building relationship with customers, creating brand awareness and driving new sales, thereby, increasing the profitability of the organisation.
Accordingly, by prioritising customer relationships through consumer engagement and interaction on Social Media Platforms (SMPs), businesses will realise massive success in terms of creating brand awareness and intensifying sales.
Moreover, formulating the right SMM objectives will enable businesses to obtain a competitive advantage on SMPs by strategically placing the involved company on appropriate networks at the right time.
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The success of SMM depends on understanding:
- The client as an individual
- The job, action and hobbies of customers
- Various mechanisms of connecting with the customer flawlessly through different devices and channels
- The result of interacting with each customer
- Where consumers spend most of their time online and offline
1.2.1. Successful Use of SMM
Most consumers use various search engines, brand websites and mobile applications to determine the quality, value and availability of products offered by various organisations. Accordingly, SMM enables firms to engage consumers through various SMPs, which in turn, enables customers to obtain all essential information on brands within the shortest time possible.
Moreover, SMPs provide businesses with sizeable amounts of valuable information about clients in real time. For example, platforms such as Facebook record 4.5 billion likes and status updates while tweets on Twitter’s total to 500 million every day. Consequently, through such information, businesses can obtain valuable clientele insights such as:
- who are the customers
- what are they like
- how they respond to the company’s brand
Thus, by engaging customers on social media daily, firms can obtain relevant information that enhances decision-making and strategy formulation. Furthermore, collecting information about customers across networks in real time enables businesses to measure client sentiment, determine what customers are saying about the brand and conduct real-time responses and reports.
1.2.2. Cost Effectiveness of SMM
In addition, SMM is one of the most affordable ways that could be employed to promote brand awareness and enhance the reputation of companies. As such, using SMPs results in an exponential growth of a company’s advertising opportunities and simultaneously, boosts the company’s public relations efforts at an affordable cost and using the minimum amount of time.
Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of SMM enables businesses to increase ROI (Return-on-Investment). Furthermore, the low operational costs enable businesses to constantly interact with consumers through SMPs, which in turn, enables firms to intensify sales and retain customers.
Equally, SMM is the most affordable and effective way for businesses to determine new opportunities in the market and identify the consumer trends.
1.2.3. Omnichannel Services
Additionally, integrating SMM into the marketing mix of businesses enhances the consistency and continuity of customer engagement during the customer lifecycle because promotional activities are optimised to be omnichannel. In a nutshell, omnichannel digital publicity campaigns exist in various formats that can be easily accessed by customers through several end user devices such as desktops and mobile phones, among others.
Omnichannel methods intensify the possibility of customers responding positively to various brands publicised through various SMPs (Vandermerwe, 2014). Moreover, because of omnichannel SMM, sharing abilities and the large number of daily users on SMPs provides businesses with an appropriate platform for digital exposure. Accordingly, businesses can penetrate the global market rapidly and in a cost-efficient way.
1.2.4. Brand Recognition
Furthermore, SMM increases brand recognition among consumers. As such, businesses must capitalise on every opportunity available to intensify the firm’s visibility on social media platforms.
Therefore, the social media platforms become significant channels for organisations to publicise the brand’s voice and content. As such, social media presence through SMM enables organisations to become readily accessible to new and potential clients as well as more recognisable and familiar to existing customers.
Hence, firms must increase brand recognition by constantly posting newsfeeds and using multiple networks to maintain and expand the consumer base. Furthermore, engaging on SMPs enables brands to receive a higher loyalty from customers. As a result, businesses must formulate open and strategic plans that will capitalise on social media tools to enhance consumer brand loyalty.
Besides, SMM enables businesses to increase the company's website traffic. Besides directing people to the company website, SMM intensifies corporate online activities and, thereby, increases a company’s ranking on search engines such as Google.
Consequently, the reputation of brands and the corporate image of the company is considerably strengthened, which, in turn, enables provides a firm with a competitive edge in the market and in the long-term, increases profitability.
Moreover, every newsfeed and post on social media provides companies with more chances for consumers to be drawn. Consequently, by developing a following on SMPs, businesses can easily engage and interact with old clientele, new customers and recent clients.
As such, every blog, comment, video or image shared on social media becomes an opportunity for people to react and, subsequently, every reaction results in more site visits and interest in company products.
1.2.6. Brand Authority
In addition, interacting with influential figures on social networks intensifies a brand’s spread and authority. Furthermore, the close interaction between customers and companies through SMPs intensifies the trustworthiness of organisations. Particularly, constant communication with customers on social media enables firms to become a reliable source of information, which is a valuable asset when promoting the credibility of the brand and corporate image. Consequently, the brand becomes more authoritative and valuable to new customers.
Accordingly, SMPs become a major source of customer service and enable organisations to transform the negative experiences of consumers, in the form of complaints, concerns and queries about products, into positive outcomes for the business.
Furthermore, by promoting constant interaction between the brand and customers, SMM enhances the possibility of developing a loyal community of clients. For instance, establishing an active Facebook fun page attracts many customers, which in turn, helps makes consumers have an emotional connection with company products.
Accordingly, marketing through the community is developed, which acts as a powerful branding force and enhances the business reputation and brand authority. Accordingly, SMM creates a sizeable community of loyal and active consumers.
1.2.7. Personalisation of Response
Additionally, SMM enhances the speed at which firms access the feedback of clients and, thereby, enables organisations to optimise their services accordingly. Consequently, the personalisation of responses enables companies to draw prospective clients and make them loyal.
Moreover, SMPs increase sales in an organisation by enabling a company to identify consumer preferences. Accordingly, by identifying the customers’ needs and tastes, a company can:
- Focus on meeting the special demands and expectation of consumers
- Obtain expertise on a particular niche
- Surpass the product list
- Conduct research on competitors
- Consequently, the company can expand sales and convert the marketing efforts into financial proceeds.
How important is social media marketing to an organisation you are affiliated to? What impact does SMM have on the promotional activities of the business? What role does SMM play in connecting consumers with brands?
Case Study Of Alibaba
Alibaba is a Chinese online retail giant that specialises in business-to-business sales through the company's web portal. The company has successfully employed SMM to connect consumers with producers, both in China and in over 190 countries overseas. Accordingly, by integrating SMM into the company's e-commerce platforms, Alibaba attracts a larger audience. As such, Alibaba is able to enhance interaction between brands and online consumers. In fact, Alibaba has over 400 million users, both in China and abroad. According to iResearch statistics, the successful implementation of SMM enabled Alibaba to conduct online transactions worth US$6.8 billion in the first quarter of 2015. To enhance SMM, Alibaba crafted two social media sites similar to Facebook and Twitter into the company's website. The two media sites incorporated social networking tools and activities that promote interaction and online purchases.
Furthermore, Taobao, which is Alibaba's main website, attracts foreign customers by inviting Western companies to use its various SMM functions. Furthermore, Taobao allows users to auction various items online including mobile phones and clothes. Additionally, Alibaba intensifies SMM by providing Taobao's users with recent newsfeeds from users, links to online games and other applications common on other social media platforms.
Moreover, the website surpasses other platforms by providing users with applications that facilitate bookmarking of items available on Taobao, thereby enabling the audience to request advice from other users. The company also rewards users who are experts in various product-related areas such as writing insightful reviews. In addition, Taobao also attracts users by providing instant messaging services.
It is important for businesses to identify the difference between traditional marketing and SMM. Identifying the differences will enable businesses to re-examine the role, purpose and activity of SMM and, thereby, align the company's objective accordingly.
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One of the main difference between SMM and traditional marketing is analytics. Analytics simply refers to the analysis of past data to identify how various marketing techniques influence consumer behaviour. Unlike traditional marketing, SMM provides businesses with data that can be used to track the impact of promotional campaigns on consumers. Accordingly, companies can determine the success of SMM through various metrics such as:
- Identifying the number of likes, shares, and visits on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Determining the age, demographics, location and the lifestyle of customers.
- Determining other insights such as the size of goods ordered through online channels, customer conversions and brand loyalty.
- Identifying the source of visits, conversions and movement of consumers through websites.
Therefore, by identifying a number of individual interacting with brands through analytics, SMM surpasses traditional advertising and enables businesses to identify various ways of creating brand awareness among new customers and enhance the loyalty of existing consumers. Moreover, marketers can use the metric results to advertise trends and re-align promotional campaigns.
Additionally, traditional marketing requires businesses to subsidise promotional content. Accordingly, businesses pay hefty amounts to advertise brands on platforms such as television, radio stations, newspapers and magazines among others.
On the contrary, most social media platforms provide marketing opportunities at a minimal or no cost at all. Although some SMPs such as Facebook have attempted to monetise their platforms, the emergence of ad-free platforms such as Snapchat have revolutionised SMM and enabled most organisations to employ such channels to enhance interaction between brands and customers (Evans, 2012). Consequently, businesses increase profitability by scaling down on the costs required to operate various traditional marketing platforms.
The traditional methods provided a one-way communication channel only the organisation processes and distributes the message but cannot receive any feedback from consumers.
On the contrary, SMM is an interactive process that facilitates information exchange between the organisation and the clientele. Besides, the feedback process through SMM is fast and enables customers to receive responses immediately.
In fact, various servers have developed automated apps that respond to consumers without human involvement. As such, the exchange process on SMM provides a similar level of interaction between the audience and involved brand and thereby, establishes a fast interaction and feedback relay system.
Unlike conventional marketing methods that are driven by assumptions and thus involve audience numbers, SMM marketing conveys brand experiences to customers at a personal level.
In fact, whereas traditional marketing involves mass distribution and consumption of information, SMM involves personalised marketing. Particularly, by using programmatic tools to determine specific demographic, geographic and psychographic markets, SMM ensures that business promotions are mostly delivered to the interested audience.
Moreover, while the general approach of the traditional methods is less effective because most customers are detached from personal interaction with brands, consumer engagement through SMM makes customers feel more valued and appreciated by businesses.
As a result, more individuals are converted through digital marketing, thereby, becoming brand ambassadors and followers. Furthermore, companies can use SMM to segment the audience based on the SMP chosen, geographical location, age and gender, among others.
For instance, the market on Facebook may require a different promotional approach from the audience on LinkedIn or Instagram. In contrast to traditional media that deals with an undefined audience, SMM enables businesses to interact with actual customers in real time. Consequently, companies determine current demand, which in turn, enhances quick response.
While social media platforms are an effective marketing tool for most organisations, Cader & Al Tenaiji (2013) state that contrary to traditional marketing, SMM can also have adverse effects on the brand reputation and corporate image. For example, consumers can post negative comments regarding a brand and given the rapid flow of information on SMPs, such information will be disseminated quickly across the platform. Consequently, the negative posts may have irreversible effects, which in turn may have a negative business impact on the organisation. Besides, negative publicity may result in loss of revenue by the company.
Table 1: Showing the difference between SMM and Traditional Marketing
Social Media Marketing
Created in real time
Brand and User-generated content
Case Study of Coca-Cola
As already mentioned traditional marketing differs from SMM in numerous of ways. While traditional media is passive, SMM is active. As such, SMM has made corporations such as Coca-Cola to shift from the conventional methods of advertising to SMM. ‘
Whereas in the past the company focused on television, radio and print for promotional activities, currently the firm has adopted social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to enhance customer relations and promote the company’s brand. The SMM campaign has been personalised through the “Share a Coke Campaign” whereby, individual’s names are included on the bottles of their favourite drinks.
However, the company combines conventional marketing with SMM to conduct promotional activities. For instance, the company includes hashtags on traditional marketing channels which are used to direct the audience to SMPs where they can tag friends and share posts.
In summary, Coca-Cola Company currently focuses on SMM which unlike traditional media that focuses on the mass consumption of information, is more specific. Moreover, SMM is more cost effective and provides real-time interaction with consumers.
Compare and contrast the traditional and modern methods of marketing.
As an international company, is there any difference between the advertising methods Coca-Cola company employed ten years ago and the current online promotion being undertaken by the company? Has the current method enhanced Coca-Cola's marketing endeavours? What has been the impact when compared with its previous (conventional) marketing method?
This section focuses on social media marketing theories and how the models affect the performance of businesses.
Pseudo theories on social media marketing constitute one of the micro-models that contribute towards SMM from an intuitive point of view. This section will focus on two major pseudo theories that apply to SMM.
The major contributors to this theory are Jeremiah Owyang and Carlene Li from the Altimeter Group. The central focus of the model is social-graphics. As such, instead of focusing on psychographic, geographic and demographic aspects of customers, social-graphic theories focus on developing social strategy approaches in marketing.
Based on this theory, businesses focus on various social aspects such as the website usability, online consumer behaviour, the social influence exerted on clients by the people customers depend on as sources of information, and so forth.
By focusing on the social aspects mentioned above, the theory enables businesses to divide and engage customers according to their online activities. By identifying customers based on these online engagements, social-graphics enable businesses to segment customers and provide relevant tools and avenues to enhance consumer’s social interactions.
As a company that deals with modern fashion trends, who are the frequent visitors of the firms' website. What social media activities do most of the visitors engage in? Do the users prefer to share, comment or generate online posts?
3.1.2. The Social Feedback Loop
Dave Evans who is one of the advocates of the Social Feedback Loop, states that the model links the purchase behaviour of consumers with the media. The main component of this model is the loopback of customer behaviour.
The loopback refers to a process in which customers report their product usage experiences, which, in turn, circulates back and influences the decision of other consumers. As such, the theory focuses on three stages of the customer lifecycle which include awareness, deliberation and purchase.
The social cycle involves word-of-mouth, in which the value of products or service influences users to inform their friends and family about the product. As such, businesses must focus on the feedback loop because it is more important than the singlehanded promotion of products on SMPs, although the two cannot be separated.
Consequently, the social-graphic and the loop back theories advocate that businesses should defocus from the effects of mass media on pre-purchase consumer decisions and focus on post-purchase promotion through word-of-mouth. However, the frameworks indicate that businesses must analyse different types of engagement of consumers to determine various methods of encouraging promotion through social media and, thereby, influence the conversation of consumers.
The Social loop back theory appeals to most businesses employing SMM because it enables the companies to establish an after-purchase relationship. The relationship enables customers to create product awareness among other consumers.
The social exchange theory mainly uses the cost-benefit framework to explain various behavioural relationships between human beings such as exchange of information. According to this theory, individuals participate in rewarding behaviours and avoid very expensive behaviours.
In other words, information exchange is based on how individual assess the cost-benefit of sharing information. However, the benefits accrued must not always be monetary; in fact, individuals can benefit from non-material rewards such as prestige (Hoffman, Frederick & Schwartz 2014).
Therefore, individuals participate in social exchange because of the expected benefits, for instance, status and influence on others, altruism, expected reciprocity, and direct reward. Consequently, because participation is sparingly compensated, most people participate in social exchange for altruism, reputation and expected reciprocity.
However, most individuals prefer to receive information rather than generate or share information. For example, YouTube, which is one of the most popular SMPs, has received two billion uploads in the past ten years while over ten million users visit the platform daily. As such, most people prefer to consume and receive rather than generate and contribute information.
Why do most of the users engage in social networking? Do the users receive any compensation?
Most people participate in the social exchange to obtain status and impose influence on others, altruism, anticipated reciprocity, and direct reward.
However, because engaging in social exchange is sparingly compensated, most people participate in information exchange for non-monetary reasons. As such, social media users can be divided into watchers, sharers, commenters and producers. The majority of users are watchers.
Based on the social exchange theory, watchers usually receive but do not reciprocate because they fear to raise their status or consider the cost of posting to be too high. Sharers exchange information by uploading and forwarding information to others. Commentators review and rate products, as well as make comments on posts, which serves to publicise involved products and services.
Producers express their identity and recognition by creating their own content. As such, businesses create relevant information to attract watchers and sharers by identifying the SMPs they prefer to use, the information they seek, and what makes users engaged.
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The social exchange theory benefits most businesses because marketers can segment, and therefore, easily access customers based on online their activities and segment them into various groups, for instance, watchers, sharers, commenters and producers.
SEO (Search-Engine-Optimisation) refers to the online marketing efforts employed by businesses to enhance the visibility of a company’s website listings, which in turn, elevates the ranking of THE website to the highest position in the SERPS (Search-Engine-Results-Page).
Natural or organic listing is the page listing displayed after users enter keywords on a search engine and a web page based on the ranking algorithm employed by the search engine.
4.1.1. Advantage of SEO
Business must carefully select and combine relevant phrases and keywords to enhance the success of an SEO campaign on SERPS. Consequently, the company’s website ranking will be increased by making the keywords prominent for search engine algorithms.
To intensify online marketing activities through organic search engine ranking, businesses can employ on-site or off-site optimisation. Concisely, on-site SEO refers to the use of website elements such as textual content, domains and images to increase visibility. On the other hand, off-page optimisation refers to the process of link building, where links are posted on other websites and SMPs such as Facebook and Twitter to refer users to the site being optimised.
SEO is beneficial to most businesses because no fee is required to display or click on advertisements. Furthermore, search engine robots usually crawl through the home page of highly ranked sites, thus enabling new marketing content from popular pages to be included in search engines. Consequently, more visitors are attracted to the sites, and thus, the business can easily create a brand and increase sales.
However, unlike other SMM methods, SEO is unreliable in the context of the ROI because it is not easy to predict the outcomes of investments. Moreover, SEO requires time to implement, especially when a business is opening a new website. As such, the method may not be appropriate for short-term marketing activities, particularly for new entrants.
Nonetheless, businesses can combine SEO with other tools to enhance brand awareness and customer interaction. Moreover, SEO is not very effective in terms of creating brand awareness because it requires users to be familiar with brand services or keywords to interact with the brand.
4.2. Web 2.0
Web 2.0 also known as Internet 2.0 refers to a collection of various internet applications including social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, which enhance online marketing by focusing on collaboration and interactive sharing rather than concentrating on content delivery.
4.2.1. Elements of Web 2.0
Some of the elements of Web 2.0 include Wikis, cloud computing, nomadicity, User Generated Content (UGC) and social curation, among others.
- Wikis refer to websites such as Wikipedia that enhance online marketing by enabling users to collaborate, contribute and edit information.
- Nomadicity refers to mobile computing, whereby users can connect and access information from any location. Accordingly, nomadicity is enhanced by the increased usage of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and the availability of Wi-Fi networks.
- User-generated content (UGC) refers to marketing efforts applied by individuals who write, create video and audio content and produce business images that are then posted online freely.
- Social curation is a Web 2.0 element that is organised around one trending theme. As such, social curation can facilitate brand awareness when members of the group collaborate on promoting products of a given company.
Web 2.0 users can easily promote business activities, and enhance the corporate image by creating and uploading blogs and using a web page to communicate current events to customers in a more efficient way.
As such, online consumers can easily access shared content, video uploads, comments, reviews and recommendations on products offered by a company. Ludwig et al. (2013) observe that most online consumers depend more on recommendations made by other online users than direct online ads from businesses.
In fact, over 25% of online consumers conduct a minimum of eight online reviews before they make purchasing decisions (Mayzlin, Dover & Chevalier, 2014). Therefore, businesses must capitalise on the marketing opportunities available through Web 2.0 to influence the purchasing behaviour of consumers.
4.3. Cloud Computing
While Web 2.0 mostly benefits consumers through user generated content, businesses also benefit through cloud computing. Cloud computing is an element of Web 2.0 that provides SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and thereby, enables businesses to easily manage and secure data.
In fact, Cloud computing help achieve what Internet 2.0 envisions because customers can use SaaS, IaaS and PaaS to store and compute data on servers, thereby, replacing on premise office applications.
Accordingly, businesses can access information stored on various servers and easily use the data to conduct marketing activities globally. However, cloud computing is prone to security breaches, which may have adverse effects on the brand reputation, corporate image and the company’s bottom line.
4.4. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
Pay-per-Click Marketing refers to use of search engine for promotional activities. To deploy PPC marketing services, businesses pay some fee to a search engine, which makes ads that direct users to the company website on being clicked. However, when properly deployed and managed, the benefits of PPC outdo the expenses incurred.
4.4.1. Benefits of PPC
PPC enables businesses to expand the customer base by connecting firms with consumers who are looking for services and products online. Besides, PPC enables businesses to respond in real-time by instantly engaging customers through applications such as IM (Instant-Messenger) and providing consumers with products and services relevant to the client’s search.
Although businesses pay a minimum fee for services, PPC enables organisations to generate leads at a low cost. Leads are easily generated and used to directed users to the firm’s site. Accordingly, the company draws prospective consumers at the same time they are researching and seeking to purchase products.
PPC applies to all businesses including companies seeking to sell products online, generate leads for software or service-based business or create brand awareness.
Although PPC can be time-consuming, the success of the methods depends on the key Ad words employed by companies. Consequently, to maximise profits, ensure a high click rate and, simultaneously, obtain a low fee per click, business must ensure the keywords and phrases are relevant to the company’s online marketing goals.
Moreover, businesses must ensure that keywords are exhaustive by embracing the most prominent and frequently searched keywords (Hopkins & Turner, 2012). Long-tail keywords can also be employed because they are more specific and less used, although, they account for most of the search-driven traffic. Furthermore, the keyword must be expansive to ensure that businesses constantly expands and iterates the advertisement campaign.
4.4.3. Managing PPC
Accordingly, businesses must regularly manage the PPC campaigns to enhance efficiency and effectiveness and, thereby, guarantee success of the PPC promotion. Some of the management activities that will enhance success include are a reduction of keywords that are unlikely to convert customers, which helps increase the relevancy of advertisements and reduce unnecessary costs (Kapoor, Dwivedi & Piercy, 2016). Besides, businesses should review costs by evaluating keywords that are under-performing and, if necessary remove them.
How many clicks are generated through Toyota Company every day?
Social network refers to the new media avenues that provide free, earned or paid-for platforms, which require creativity and constant contribution from users. In fact, online social networking is a personalised venture where everyone receives attention based on their platform of usage.
As such, online social network defines experiences in terms of the relationships formed, the content shared and the devices used by individuals to interact.
The formation of the relationship depends on the social platform being used by customers. Social networks have various features that enhance interaction and sharing of information, such as the ability to find and make friends, blog and video posting, among others.
However, each platform has distinct rules and methods for finding and making friends. For example, the Myspace platform allows users to make friends with people across the entire network including complete strangers who are not members of the network.
On the contrary, Facebook allows members to search and make friends with people within the same network. As such, accepting friend requests enables individuals to access the personal information of users on the same network. Accordingly, businesses can use social networks such as Myspace and Facebook to create enhance consumer loyalty, and increase customer retention levels.
Accordingly, to succeed in the SMM campaign through online social networks, businesses must design more customer-centric products and services.
Moreover, businesses must comprehend the motivations, emotions, and rational feeling of existing and potential customers through information available on social networks (Crane & Matten, 2015). By implementing these measures, businesses will realise marketing initiatives that create immersive experiences among customers.
When was the first time you interacted on social media networks? How many times do you frequent various social media platforms per day?
Case Study of Alibaba
Alibaba is one the Websites with the best ranking on SERPS. As such, companies that provide gifts on festive seasons such as “Festive 14 limited” can employ the services of Alibaba to create product awareness during Valentine. Accordingly, by using Google Keyword Planner, or browsing through the product listings on Alibaba’s website, Festive 14 will determine the best keywords for the festive season. Subsequently, identifying keyword such as, “Valentine-gift-jewellery-customisable-wholesale" will provide customers with a specific description of the products and optimise results for search engines.
The current business world is changing rapidly. As such, to survive and succeed, businesses must identify and embrace emerging trends and integrate them into the marketing mix.
5.1. Mobile Optimisation
Mobile optimisation is one of the emerging SMM trends that has prompted changes in consumer and market behaviour. Most consumers are abandoning the use of laptops and desktops and embracing mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones to conduct online research.
Therefore, businesses must generate leads and customer conversions by directing marketing efforts towards the mobile devices audience. One of the steps required for businesses to create brand awareness, increase leads and convert more customers on mobile devices is to optimise websites for mobile usage. Moreover, businesses must design user-friendly webs that provide quality experiences to users irrespective of the mobile device they are using.
Enhancement of apps provides users with quality experiences that augments interaction with brands and products posted online. For example, the Instant Articles by Facebook enables users to conduct multiple activities without leaving the app.
Moreover, Instant Article provides users with quality experience by loading faster than normal websites. Therefore, the trends on mobile optimisation, app optimisation and enhancement of app functionality increases the ROI of businesses by increasing consumer interaction with brands, which in turn, raises the sales of businesses.
5.3. Use of Voice Search
Another trend that has greatly shifted consumer and market behaviour is the use of voice search instead of keyword search to conduct online marketing activities. Voice search refers to an online app feed that enables users to search for products and services and obtain quick by speaking to a mobile device or computer. As such, businesses must optimise search engines to ensure that consumers easily conduct voice search. Voice search requires long-tail ranking words; therefore, companies must include such keywords to enhance chances of increasing ranking on search engines.
Another major trend on SMM is live video streaming. LVS enables businesses to humanise brands through various SMPs such as Periscope, Facebook Live and Instagram, among others.
Moreover, live video streaming connects consumers with brands in real-time, which is more essential in terms of influencing consumer behaviour than pre-recorded video content. In addition, live video streaming does not require high production quality, thereby, simplifying the production process.
As such, businesses can use LVS to create awareness of new products, demonstrate the company's organisational culture, conduct a live coverage of business events, or conduct a live question and answer session with customers.
More trends, in in the SMM field, are likely to come up as key players such as Facebook, Twitter and Google continue to produce new features that improve the experience of users and provide new strategies for businesses. Accordingly, by becoming aware of the trends on SMM, businesses can outdo competitors, receive better visibility and achieve a high brand awareness on SMPs.
Have the current trends changed the way you conduct online activities through various social media channels?
6.1. Web 3.0
Various scholars observe that Sematic Web or Web 3.0 will enable internet users to obtain information in a faster and easier way (Dominic, Francis & Pilomenraj, 2014). In particular, Web 3.0 will enable users to enter a single sentence that contains several distinct products or services on the browser and the search engine will identify all available options online, and organise the options for the user.
Moreover, as the user makes searches, the Semantic Web becomes acquainted with the user’s constant searches and, therefore, easily identifies what consumers require without users being very specific.
Currently, a consumer looking for entertainment and searching for a given type of food in a nearby restaurant had to undertake multiple searches through Web 2.0. However, instead of conducting multiple searches, using a single search Web, 3.0 enables the user to identify the nearest theatre, movies available, the adjacent restaurant and food available, as well as the prices of each. Besides, by simply typing the word ‘fashion’, Web 3.0 will identify all boutiques around and the clothes on offer (Dominic, Francis & Pilomenraj, 2014). Accordingly, this development will enhance SMM by encouraging businesses to provide information online that will be easily accessible to users.
6.2. Ubiquitous Computing
Another major development that will enhance SMM is ubiquitous computing. Ubiquitous computing, also known as pervasive computing, refers to the next generation technology where computing will be accessible from a wide range of devices.
Unlike desktop computing where the internet can only be accessed through particular devices, ubiquitous computing will involve devices such as refrigerators, cars, and even a pair of glasses, among many others. As such, the internet of things will employ advanced internet frameworks to connect to various devices.
For instance, at home, a connected fridge will suggest a list of menus from the food available in the refrigerator. Besides, the fridge will also notify users about the conditions of refrigerated foodstuffs.
Therefore, as technology evolves, industries will develop more applications that will enhance SMM by intensifying interaction between customers and brands. Moreover, businesses will be able to even conduct predicative marketing by using data on social media to identify to what consumers need based on the content posted by users and responding to the demands in advance. As such, it is important for businesses to keep abreast with all the developments on social media and, thereby, implement SMM strategies successfully.
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