The study takes a look at companies’ participation in social media marketing and product promotion in Warri. The purpose of the study is to determine whether companies in Warri advertise their products online. The study draws on the survey research method. It tries to ascertain from social media users whether they have seen products and services advertise by Warri companies online. The study equally draws on the uses and gratification study because the respondents who are residents of Warri would be driven to notice or patronize products and services advertised if only such products and services would meet their needs. The uses and gratifications theory actually perceive the audience as active to determine what he/she wants to do with the media rather than the other way round. Relevant literatures were reviewed to background what other scholars have done in the academic field in similar situations. The findings is that companies in Warri are yet to get accustomed to online advertisement and begin to use it to market their goods and services. The study recommends that the companies in Warri should cultivate the habit of advertising their goods and services online and that research should be carried out to identify the most popular social media sites among Warri residents and educate them through such media of the importance of online business.
The mass media perform many functions. It inform the people, educate them, plays correlating roles in the society as well as perform many other functions. The advent of the internet seems to have increase the possibilities that they are in the use of the mass media.
The new media operations on the principles of interpersonal communication has not hampers its wide coverage in the communication business. This perhaps is due to its ability to provide a platform for all other media to operate. So, we have the traditional media in the new media – that is in the internet.
The internet therefore is a kind of meeting point for participants in the different media of communication.
Berger and Nasr (1998) noted that the “internet has emerged as a cost effective communication channel between organizations and customers. In 2008, online sales were reported to be $165.9 billion, an increase of21.8% from 2007”
Crosby and Johnson (2000) observed that:
The surge in online sales can be attributed to the Internet’s unique characteristics as a marketing channel. Traditional marketing channels such as television, print media, and radio have focused on reaching as many people as possible. Mass media allows for neither customer targeting nor the customization of products and services. Marketers have, however, seen the need for product customization and targeting of customers through the Internet.
Acording to Dwyer, Schurr, and Oh (1987), modern marketing through internet marketing, is bound to yield a high return among the competing companies. The authors further revealed that network and technology utilization is going to play a major part in relationship marketing.
Tapscott and Williams (2008) notes that Social media enables people to share content and network within communities. The social media is inundated with sharing of views and encounters. This is the hallmark of Facebook, Skype and other discussion forums which assists in creativity, open communication and sharing of knowledge.
For Zontanos and Anderson (2004) “Social networking allows businesses to gain access to resources that might otherwise not be available to them… increase the customer and supplier contacts, bring to light where resources and funding are available.”
Thus, this study seeks to determine the awareness and participation of Nigerian companies in social media marketing sphere.
1.1 Background to the Study
The coming of the internet has open the frontiers of communication. It has reduced the delayed process of posting messages. It has through its social media platforms created that automatic feedback process that is lacking in the traditional media. The multiplicity of the social media platforms has equally opened the frontiers for business promotions.
We have such social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, QZone, Tumblr, Twitter, Baidu Tieba, Skype and many more. They all provide that unique avenue for visitors to advertise their products.
According to Digital Buzz (2012), billions of contents well over 3,5 billion are shared online. The Digital Buzz paper further add that there are over “800 million active Facebook users, with over 250 million of them logging in everyday”.
Maymann (2008) noted the remark of Mark Zukerberg a co-founder of Facebook who said that that advertising is turning a new leaf and that businesses need to catch up with the revolution in the new media/social media sphere. And the need to use the social media for business purposes it was noted applied to both the big and small business.
For Mukolwe and Korir (2016) the:
…latest statistics by the global web index, over 42% of the world’s population is connected to the internet and more than three billion users worldwide use social media…and that in Facebook 2016 records, more than three million businesses are actively advertising on it and more than fifty million small businesses are using free pages on their platform (Mukolwe and Korir, 2016:248).
Evans and McKee (2010) noted that the use of new media/social media platforms gives understandings, outlooks, and thoughts on how to improve customers and grow trades on ground-breaking new ways to “conduct business or new products and services to offer customers”
According to Akinola and Okunade (2006):
The Internet beats all other media (radio, television etc.) with its features of up-to-date information availability and the ability to deliver contents to the user on the go. Practically, users of the Internet can view information and also access archives, read consumers ‟reviews at the click of the button. Even today, radio and television are taking advantage of the Internet by creating websites for live streaming and other possibilities where viewers and listeners can hook up via their mobile applications. By offering true interactivity, the Internet enables commercial and non-commercial organizations to develop and nurture relationships with their customers and other (Akinola and Okunade, 2006, pp. 12-19)
1.1 The New Media and Warri
The ICTs issues discussed in the preceding chapters set stage that business companies and individuals in Warri have to come to do business online. Warri as we all know is an oil producing town where both the indigenes and other persons who have come in search of greener pasture.
Warri has as its original indigenes the Urhobos, Ijaws and Itsekiris. Over the years the Igbos, Hausas, Yoruba and other tribes have come to populate the town. It is a town with more than its fair share of Nigeria’s population. The 2006 census would put the population of Warri at over three hundred thousand (NPC, 2006). Projected to 2017, a period of over eleven years, the population of Warri would not be less than 800,000 to one million people.
It thus mean that Warri is a veritable ground for good business. This has made it possible for many companies to establish business outreaches in Warri. There is a lack of information (statistics) about the companies that does business online in Warri. This study thus is a quick survey of the consumers in Warri to establish if the services and products they consume emanates from online information.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
People in business are still in the dark on what social media sphere can help them achieve in terms of marketing their products. Many are yet to come to term with the possibilities that there are in using social media platform for marketing purposes.
Perhaps, the issue is that if the internet with its wide social media frontiers for business opportunities is under research for its possibilities, the impact these wonderful innovations have made on businesses would be lost on both sellers and consumers of produces and other economic services.
Thus, the use of the social media for marketing is still evolving. It is only those who pay attention to it and applied it that will benefit.
It is against this background that this study hope to assess the views of consumers about companies participation in social media marketing and product promotion in Warri.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are as follows:
- To determine if the goods and services of the companies in Warri are advertised on the internet/social media.
- To determine how often the goods and services of the companies in Warri are advertised on the internet/social media.
- To determine if the purchases of the goods and services of companies in Warri made by customers are motivated by internet/social media advertisement?
1.4 Research Questions
The study will be guided by the following research questions
- Are the goods and services of the companies in Warri advertised on the internet/social media?
- How often are the goods and services of the companies in Warri advertised on the internet/social media
- Are the purchases of the goods and services of companies in Warri made by customers motivated by internet/social media advertisement?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The study would be focused on Warri residents’ – customers - evaluation of the online advertisement of Warri based companies’ goods and services. The residents – customers - rather than companies’ officials would be the ones to do the assessment since they are the ones searching for the goods and services to buy.
1.6 Significance of the Study
- The study will offer added information on online marketing in Warri.
- The study will help project online business in Warri.
- The study will provided added information to academic data base for future researches.
- It will contribute to the information needed by government to plans and budget for producers and consumers of goods and services.
1.7 Definitions of Terms
- Companies: Businesses or individuals who produces, buys or sells goods and services.
- Costumer: A person who buys goods and services.
- Social Media- New forms of communication inspired by the multiplicity of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) that enables instant feedback.
- Marketing: Sales of goods and services online.
- Products: Consumables or services rendered by companies.
- Promotion: The popularization of produces for the attention of consumers online.
- Participation: To join in online business in the form of marketing of produces and services.