In the present society, the internet has been incorporated in all aspects of our everyday lives. It has become the primary means of communication for the majority of people in the world through such avenues as emails, social media networks, and chat applications. Subsequently with the rising abundance and affordability of devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, and technologies such as Wi-Fi hotspots, accessing the internet has become easier as compared to the past, leading to most people almost always being online throughout their lives. Thus, in the business world, social media seems to be a prime avenue for marketing and advertising. However, there are some marketing experts and entrepreneurs that view social media as a trend that will pass with time and as such businesses should not take aggressive steps towards advertising in social media. Although such assertions may be true, social networking sites may become unpopular with time thus no longer be viable options for advertising, the concept of social media advertising will not go away. Consequently, as more business activities are moving towards the online sphere, organizations should also concentrate more on social media advertising as it is an effective and relatively cheap means of marketing.
One of the major reasons why business enterprises should make use of social media advertising is because it increases brand visibility. A core objective of marketing and advertising for any organization is to increase its brand visibility. This objective has always been a priority whether advertising is done through television commercials, radio ads, and print ads. In this regard, advertising has not changed much over the years as many people still watch television and listen to the radio and according to statistics, television commercials still remain the most effective form of adverting (DeMers). However, it would be risky for businesses to stick to only the best form of advertising while ignoring other avenues. In marketing a product, advertising a product in any avenue increases its visibility regardless of the popularity of the avenue employed. Thus, as the majority of people are now on some form of social media network and use it on a daily basis it is only logical for businesses to make use of the various social media platforms to increase the visibility of their products.
For instance, a study by McDermott (2014) revealed that television commercials that were supplemented by the use of Twitter delivered a fifty percent higher return on investment as compared to television only advertising campaigns. Additionally, social media also increases a product's visibility among the growing population of people who do not watch television frequently, typically the young generation. For this demographic, television ads will have little to no effect on them as they are mostly on social media thus advertising through such social networking sites as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram among others is crucial in order to reach this section of the population. Presently, a larger portion of people is only aware of a product because it was first mentioned on their Facebook wall or in their Twitter feed with a likely possibility that such people would not have been aware of a certain product through other means (Hensel and Deis 94). As such, in order for organizations to effectively and quickly increase their brand visibility, they should put considerable resources towards social media advertising.
In addition to increasing brand visibility, social media advertising also enhances brand loyalty. An advantage and a common characteristic of social media sites are that they are basically run by the general public. It is the people who belong to the social networking sites that create the larger percentage of the content in these sites and the content can be characterized as the unfiltered thoughts and opinions on the general public (DeMers). Hence, although a business enterprise can employ social networking sites to execute a well-crafted advertising campaign, it is the general public that facilitates the spread of the advertising campaign to other users on the site across the world. Similar to word-of-mouth advertising, social media advertising also grows organically, thus if a user on a social networking sites sees that their friends or connections like a particular product through such actions as retweets, followers or likes, they will be more likely to try the product for themselves (Bell).
Furthermore, social media assist companies to better connect with their consumers. The organizations can take advantage of the potential and the innate benefits of virality whereby tweets and Facebook postings about a particular product can be retweeted and shared multiple times across the internet thus reaching more potential customers (Torgautova). Thus, social media sites also have the potential to create product awareness and spread messages in a manner that is different from conventional advertising methods as people are more likely to remember and respond to a funny video or an app pertaining to a particular product than a television advert or a print ad and as result people will easily remember the business and the product that such social media ads were meant to promote.
Another reason why business enterprises should turn to social media advertising is that it is less expensive compared to other forms of traditional advertising. Although social media networks are constantly evolving and changing over the years, one aspect of these sites still remains the same, they are free to use. The only cost that an organization incurs to advertise on such social networking sites as Twitter Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr is the time spent in setting up the organizations account (DeMers). A well designed and memorable account on the aforementioned social networking sites only takes a few hours to create and maintain while gaining the advantage of reaching millions of potential customers. As compared to traditional methods of advertising whereby an organization creates a big budget video to be played on television every day with the hopes that a majority of people will see it, social media advertising only requires something as easy as a 140-character tweet or a Facebook post that can be created in a matter of minutes and will not cost the business any money. In a situation where such a post tweet, image or video of a product goes viral, it provides the organization with weeks or even months of free advertising at no cost.
The use of social media advertising leads to more conversion rates for a business. By increasing the visibility of a product through the use of social media advertising, companies also gain more opportunities for conversions. Through social networking sites, every tweet, post, image or video of a product has the potential to lead the viewer of such content to the organizations website. Social media advertising allows a business to provide a positive impression through the humanization factor (Bell). When organizations interact with social network users through product posts, comments on products and sharing content on their products, it personifies the brand which is beneficial to the organization as people prefer to deal with people as opposed to a business entity. As reported by Hensel and Deis (2010), over fifty-one percent of marketers stated that taking the time to create relationships with online clients leads to improved sales as a better impression on a websites visitor prompts such an individual to think of the business whenever the need for the companys goods or services arises.
Further studies have also revealed that social media advertising has a hundred percent higher lead-to-close rate compared to outbound marketing (DeMers). The higher lead-to-close rate is because when an organization is interactive in the social media, present and potential customers who follow the organizations social media account eventually start to fully trust the credibility of the company. Since individuals in social media platforms stay connected to the family, friends and the community, by advertising a product on social media, these individuals will over time eventually mention the product to their friends and connections when the need for the companys product arises which will also result in the business acquiring the social proof in the quality of their products. Thus, companies should make use of socials media advertising as putting a product in an environment where people are talking, sharing, and liking can only enhance the conversion rates on existing traffic.
Social media advertising also enhances customer satisfaction. The core of social network sites is communication and networking, thus creating a voice in social media through the various platforms available plays a significant role in humanizing the organization. Humanizing a company is crucial as it shows consumers that the company is willing to provide a personalized response to comments on the various products as opposed to offering an automated message. Furthermore, social media affords the organization an opportunity to demonstrate to its customers its customer service levels by being able to acknowledge and respond to each customers comments on the products thus proving that the company is attentive to the needs of the clients and aims to provide the best experience (Torgautova). Therefore, social media advertising is important for a business as it is a personal interaction between the organization and the consumers in that customers' complaints about a particular product can immediately be dealt with and also an organization can personally respond and thank a customer in the case of a compliment on a particular product or service that the business offers.
Subsequently, through brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, social media advertising also enhances brand and product authority. Regular interaction with consumers about the various products a company offers shows present and potential customers that the company cares about the satisfaction of the customers and it is willing to answer any questions the customers may have about a particular product. Thus, by an organization advertising and interacting with users on various social media platforms through posts on various products, and more importantly, replying to customers feedback, it makes the company seem more credible (Bell). Such regular interactions will lead to more satisfied customers that will be eager to spread the word, on the various social media platforms, about a great product or service being offered by the organization. Thus, the more people talking about your product on social media, the more authoritative and valuable the product and brand seems to potential and new customers. Furthermore, the satisfied customers that are vocal about the companys product will, in the future, advertise the product to a greater population without any additional effort by the organization.
Advertising on social media also increases the inbound traffic to an organizations website. Without social media advertising and marketing, a companys inbound traffic is restricted to the people that are already aware of the business, as such individuals know and only search for the keywords that the organizations website is already ranked for (DeMers). However, by employing social media advertising, each social media profile that is created by an organization on the various social networking sites available is another avenue that leads back to the organizations website and all the content syndicated in these different platforms is a new opportunity to convert a new customer. Additionally, social networking sites are a pool consisting of various types of individuals with distinct backgrounds, prefer...
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