Social media is a phenomenon that has turned into a significant perspective in marketing of products and revolutionizing the way companies interact with customers. They are less research areas and a quick literature search reveals that they aren’t a lot of studies about how social media is influencing the sales of products across the world. Furthermore, the few existing studies on social media with industry information, have rushed to conclude that the emergence of social media has led to the improvement of sales and have almost demised the traditional advertising mainstream media and has significantly improved product advertisement among companies using the tool efficiently. This research is designed to explore the use of social media as a tool to effectively improve sales of products on the brand management perspective and find the implementation challenges that makes it amazing and phenomenon for Brand awareness marketing among emerging companies across the world.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Social media is the new wave in our modern era that has brought a lot of attention both to companies and individuals interacting on the social networking platform. However, when it comes to giving a clear definition of what social media really is, the understanding of the term is very important, social media is a channel through which collective means of online communications is dedicated to community-based input provided by users, interactions are made, and content-sharing and much more. Social media marketing is a new significance trend and a quick way businesses are growing and reaching out to targeted customers easily. Social media marketing can be simply defined as the use of social media channels to promote a company’s brand awareness and its products. This kind of brand awareness can be thought of as a major factor for online marketing activities that complete traditional Web-based promotion strategies, such as e-mail newsletters and online advertising campaigns (Barefoot & Szabo 2010). There are more than 8 major social media platforms, and they take many different forms and contain different features. Undoubtedly, the most common social networking site that first comes to our mind is Facebook. Facebook launched in February 2004, owned and operated by Facebook, Inc., according to the company as of May 2018; Facebook has over 1 billion active users. Users must register, then login with registered details, before using the site; they may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and exchange messages, like pages and other friends post or pictures including automatic notifications when they update their profile (Facebook, 2012). Moreover, social media enthusiast may join common-interest user groups; categorize their friends into lists such as "People from Work" or "Close Friends and family members". Facebook’s main mission, is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected, which businesses across the world are utilizing. Other social media communities sites include Twitter, Google plus, and LinkedIn may differ in some ways, but essentially they work using the same principles, helping users to socialize. Social Media can be used as a significance tool to drive sales of products for businesses and these can take multiple shapes. The traditional Facebook model and a list of other social media platforms, in particular, involves replacing the concept of a human “friend” with a brand or tangible product or creating of pages or groups (Facebook, 2011). A social media user who elects to “like” a product or company advertises that connection to their own private network of contacts. This concept is extended to other social media networks as well. According to Bernie Borges (2009), Twitter social media network is a combination of micro blogging and social network (Borges, 2009). Twitter, allows registered users to receive small updates and advertisements from businesses that have paid the company from sponsored advertisements (Hafele, 2011). Twitter social network gives opportunity to users to involve in real time sharing. A tweet is usually no more than 140 characters, which other or friends of the followers can see (Borges, 2009). According to Watson et al. (2002) cited by Sheth and Sharma (2005) with the popularity of digital marketing on the rise, many businesses are introducing social media into their businesses and how it can help them promote their business products and services to aspiring and existing customers. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have improved the way many businesses think about advertising their products and services. Many businesses now direct their customers to their social media network pages more than they direct them to their own websites. There are certain advantages to marketing through social media, but there are also related drawbacks as well (Watson et al. 2002; Sheth & Sharma 2005).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The study research problem can be conceived as how social media can be used as a strategic tool to drive sales of product, services and drive brand identity for businesses. Social networks can be effectively used by companies to create brand awareness. Businesses are faced with many challenges facing the growth of their companies, which use the traditional advertising channels only. Social networks refer to the connection, relationship and interactions that happen within the social media platforms. On a marketing perspective, these are interactions between the marketers and those interacting within the constructs. To study the above research question, it is therefore broken down into the following research problem area;
- The significance role of social media and its impact to drive sales of products for business.
- Determine whether social media platforms can be the best tool for creating brand awareness.
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The aim of this study is to research how a company can utilize the modern era of using social media networks as a tool to drive sales and create brand awareness to increase brand visibility. Then again, listening to the top analysts and major digital marketing experts, the census is that the traditional means of advertising i.e. television, radio, newspapers etc., are no longer effective due to the rise of social media networks and the amount of time a lot of people spend interacting. This is however a debatable position even though social media in terms of reachability could potentially reach many people. The objective of the study is to strategically explore ways social media can be used to drive sales of business products.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of the research is focused on using social media as a significance tool to drive sales of products using Airtel Telecommunication Network, Nigeria.
1.5 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The major limitation of this research is related to sample size. The case company is a Multi-international business, with over 1 million employees across the country in total. Therefore the findings cannot be generalized to include all the companies that use social media, therefore these findings in the study are only related to the case company because different companies use different social networks like Instagram, facebook, LinkeIn, Youtube etc, and also some might have social media strategy for their businesses with different objectives.
1.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS
- Social Media - interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.
- Brand Awareness - refers to the extent to which customers are able to recall or recognize a brand.
- Brand identity - is the visible elements of a brand, such as color, design, and logo that identify and distinguish the brand in consumers' minds.
- Advertising - is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product or idea.