In conclusion, research has determined that retailers can increase awareness of theirbrand by being creative when engaging customers on social media sites. “As more shoppers areusing social media (e.
g., Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn) and rely on them formarketing shopping decisions, promotion through these media has become important” (Shankaret al. 2011, 32). According to Curran et al. (2011), social media sites such as Facebook are betterthan other advertising avenues because it stores information on all its users thus ensuringmarketing reaches a retailer’s specific target market. Social media sites are a great stage forretailers to create an experience and retailers can use information stored on social media sites toimprove user experience with their brand.Furthermore, Hill, Provost, and Volinsky’s (2006) research establishes that a firm canbenefit from social networks to predict the likelihood of purchase intention.
This can be done bytaking into account a firm’s choice of network (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc.) and byexamining that network’s data. Assessing a network’s data substantially improves a company’smarketing efforts because it provides the company with vital information on the network’s users,which helps determine the best social media tactics for that particular site (Hill, Provost, andVolinsky’s 2006). Based on this study, it can further be argued that knowing which social mediasites a company’s target market utilizes is another key factor in guaranteeing that onlinemarketing will be successful.
Sorescue et al. (2011), stress that a retailer must go beyond the advertising aspect ofsocial networking sites and find groundbreaking ways to use them as a way to conductconversations with consumers, instead of a one-way communication network. Sinclair and 21Vogus (2011) determined that large companies are regarding social media sites as strategic toolsand some businesses are even hiring employees to oversee their social media pages. “Consumersare no longer passive receivers of marketing messages; instead, they are using Facebook,MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter to voice their opinions-both positive and negative” (Sinclairand Vogus 2011, 293).
Consumers’ participation with a brand on social media reinforces theneed for retailers to be active participants in social networking sites and the virtual brandcommunities they create.Since social media sites can be exploited for the information it provides on consumerbehavior with regards to their purchasing intentions, research further suggests that businessesshould incorporate social networking sites into their business model or promotional mix. Abusiness model is a system of codependent structures, activities, and processes that serve as afirm’s organizing logic and create value for customers, itself, and its partners (Sorescu et al.2011). Mangold and Faulds (2009) recommend that social media should be regarded as anintegral part of an organization’s integrated marketing strategy and should not be taken lightly.As Curran et al.
(2011) points out, almost 1 in every 13 person in the world is an activeFacebook user, which points to the potential of finding a ready market for any product or service.Social networking sites are being utilized to enhance a company’s brand appeal andincrease their target market because “new technologies allow for more personal, targetedcommunications, as well as increased consumer participation in the creation of marketing andbrand related information” (Cappo 2033; Jaffe 2005 as cited in Muñiz and Jensen Schau 2007,35). Mangold and Faulds (2009) stress that traditional communication examples, which relied onthe classic promotional mix to create integrated marketing communications, must give way to anew paradigm that includes all forms of social media as potential tools in designing and 22implementing integrated marketing communication strategies. Retailers are paying attentionwhen it comes to social media because it provides a key component that businesses havestruggled to collect for years: feedback (Gonzalez 2010). Feedback from consumers has alwaysbeen important when it comes to product, brand, and business model development. Since, moststudies have examined social media marketing in terms of suggesting how to incorporate itwithin a business plan, and how to gauge consumers’ responses, it is important that furtherresearch address which strategies work.
Although some studies have started to touch uponinfluences and factors that affect consumers’ responses, previous research does not clearly stateif social media marketing is valuable to retailers’ in terms of return on investment.Moreover, research based on a small retailer’s perspective is limited. How have smallerfirms utilized social media within their business model? How successful has social media beenwith increasing their customer base, brand awareness, and sales? It has become clear that whenmarketers from large corporations present a new product or brand, they consider both traditionaland nontraditional media in which to place advertising in order to make sure they reach theirtarget market (Cheong and Morrison 2008).
Small retailers also need to start utilizingnontraditional methods of marketing in creative and engaging ways to make certain that theyattract a larger number of consumers. Sorescu et al. (2011, 11) states “another way in whichretailers can engage customers is by selling not just products, but an entire experience that –while centered on the products, adds an entirely new exciting layer to the retail setting.”Additional research is warranted regarding which social media marketing tactics areeffective for small retailers. Further studies could look into both the positive and negative longtermeffects of social media marketing on a small firm.
Small retailers have a smaller budget andtighter constraints yet provide more personal retailing, therefore a study examining how these 23aspects factor into a small store’s social media tactics would be beneficial. Studies should alsosuggest how small retail businesses could initiate and maintain social media marketing toimprove relationships with their customer base. To stay relevant retailers need to keep up withthe changes to ensure that they will be noticed by consumers, reinforcing the fact that moreresearch would be valuable to all parties involved: retailers, marketers, and scholars. “Anyonewho’s not engaged in some form of social media is making a mistake in today’s world giventhe volume of people who have embraced and utilize social media” (Le Veque as cited inGonzalez 2010, 84). Social media opens up a whole new world for small retailers by providingan endless array of potential interactions with consumers, which is the main reason why there isa need for an increase in studies examining the impact of this new phenomenon on smallretailers.