Social Media and Strategic Communication

Social media is not a trend. It became a necessary marketing tool for most business. Currently, the web activity takes one of the most important parts of everyday life, and social media has been increasingly influential when consumers decide to buy products. As matter of fact, in their consumer decisions, only 14% of consumers depend on ads while 78% follow other consumers’ advice (Media Funnel). Consequently, because consumers are getting more affected by the social media, how to effectively use social media to generate business, to communicate with consumers, and to increase profit become a great concern for business entities.

A recent study on the use of social media by Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that more than 70% Internet users between 18 and 29 years old use Social networking Services (SNSs) (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010). SNSs are a great instrument for electronic word of mouth because users voluntarily generate and spread product-related information through their social networks, which consist of friends and other acquaintances (Vollmer & Precourt, 2008). Advertisers make tremendous effort to utilize SNSs for marketing purposes. For example, according to eMarketer (2008), advertisers in the U.S. were expected to spend $2.6 billion on SNSs, and surprisingly, the spending in the U.S. and Canada will exceed more than $10 billion in 2016, increasing 31% from 2015. Advertising spending on social networks will reach $35.98 billion by 2017 worldwide, which represents 16.0% of all digital advertising spending worldwide (eMarketer, 2015).

Social media started around a decade ago, and blog is one of the initial forms of social media. Most of profit and non-profit organizations as well as media organizations are running their blog websites. Social media experts provide advice to bloggers to create and improve effectiveness of blog websites. For example, in “Six reasons Every Small Business Should Be Blogging… Are You Missing the Boat?” Lopin (2007) said, “The reality is if your company provides unique products or services, you should be blogging. And if your company doesn’t, you should probably consider a career change.” Though the return on investment (ROI) may be different among businesses, Lopin (2007) asserted that company will gain benefits by running a blog. For example, by posting professional insights about the company’s industry in the company’s blog or by getting comments on the blog about the post or anything from visitors, the blog can engage customers and partners to the website.

Twitter is one of the powerful social media and there are several ways to measure and analyze data of Twitter activities. For example, Klouts provide “Klouts Score,” which measures influence of Twitter activities. Klouts Score shows a few sets of figures, for example, reach, demand, engagement, and velocity. The figures are easily understandable and marketers can only choose the metrics that are most significant to their marketing strategies. GraphEdge is another tool to measure social media metrics. It is interesting and helpful because it can measure legitimate twitter followers by excluding spams. About identifying “legitimate” followers, GraphEdge use filters as follows:

Any of your followers who are following more than 2,000 people are considered not-Legitimate…they’re probably not really monitoring your feed, so we don’t count them as “Legitimate” Users who have been suspended by Twitter can’t read your tweets (and probably weren’t interested in the first place!). We don’t consider these Legitimate Followers (Kaushik, 2009).

Linguistic analysis about Twitter activities, which came from a qualitative perspective, can be much trickier than those from a quantitative metrics. Conner (2013) mentioned that natural language should be precisely examined because it could have different meanings in the same expression. Thus, the data of any social media metrics should be read holistically to figure out what really they meant. On top of that, sometimes, human language is too subtle to be fully caught by the social media metrics program. For example, humors, sarcasms, and different meanings because of cultural differences are pitfalls to obtain a substantial and adaptable from the metrics.

There are pitfalls regarding securities of social media. Fraudster hackers infiltrate company’s Twitter account and post false information that may seriously affect price of shares in the stock market. Now companies became more watchful to protect their Twitter account from hackers because the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) decided to allow businesses to provide information about financial condition via Facebook and Twitter in early April, 2013 (Kopytoff, 2013). Investors will stay more connect to social media to obtain material information such as quarterly earnings reports, acquisition announcements. However, hackers have easily infiltrated Twitter accounts, especially for businesses. For example, CBS, NPR, and AP, were victims of hackers in the past (Kopytoff, 2013). Strikingly, hackers wrote a false report on AP Twitter account in April, 2013. It was about fake bombing information at the White House and led the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) to plummet more than 140 points.

Social media has constantly changed through decade. In the annual Social Media Marketing report from Social Media Examiner provide interesting information that reflect current social media scene in 2013 (Conner, 2013). For example, the use of social bookmarking sites has dramatically decreased form 26% (2011) to 10% (2013), and Forums and geo-location services including Foursquare are reduced as well (Conner, 2013).  Further, Marketers became heavy users of Pintrest, Google+, Instagram, and Youtube if they use social media more than 40 hours a week. Social media became a requirement for business especially for young audiences.

Social media became the fastest, the most effective, and the most liberal communication tool for people living in modern life. Though they originally emerged by providing free account service to users, social media companies have gained billions of revenues because they connect people, reveal people’s interest and information. Consequently, ethically using social media is critical for strategic communicators to long run as social media expert adviser.

References

Conner, C. (2013, May 24). New research: Social media trends for marketers in 2013. Forbes. Retrieved from www.forbes.com

eMarketer (2008) Social network marketing: ad spending update. Available online at:http://www.emarketer.com (accessed 10 June 2016).

eMarketer. (2015). Social Network Ad Spending to Hit $23.68 Billion Worldwide in 2015 – Retrieved June 10, 2016, from http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Social-Network-Ad-Spending-Hit-2368-Billion-Worldwide-2015/1012357

Hay, D. (2011). The social media survival guide. Fresno, CA: Deltina Hay.

Kaushik, A. (2009). Social media analytics: Twitter. Retrieved from http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/social-media-analytics-twitter-quantitative-qualitative-analysis/

Kopytoff, V. (2013, April). The truth about social media for business: It’s a risk. CNNMoney.

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. L. (2007) A Framework for Marketing Management. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Lenhart, A., Purcell, K., Smith, A. & Zickuhr, K. (2010) Social media and mobile internet use among teens and young adults. Available online at:   http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2010/PIP_Social_Media_and_Young_Adults_Report.pdf (accessed on 3 March 2010).

Lopin, L. “6 Reasons Every Small Business Should Be Blogging… Are You Missing the Boat?” 6 Reasons Every Small Business Should Be Blogging… Are You Missing the Boat? N.p., 24 Sept. 2007. Web. 26 June 2016.

Vollmer, C. & Precourt, G. (2008) Always On: Advertising, Marketing, and Media in An Era of Consumer Control. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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