Social Media Platform has become so ubiquitous in today’s society that it is not surprising that its adoption as a critical Relationship Marketing Strategy has immensely contributed to the bottom line of early adopters of this phenomenon, particularly in the Small Medium Enterprise (SME) sectors. The Enterprise and Industry Publication of the European Commission defines Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs ) as the category of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover of not exceeding 50 million Euros, and /or an annual balance sheet total of not exceeding 43 million Euros(European Commission, 2005).
The goal of this Report is to investigate how Social Media Strategy can be a useful marketing tool for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Social Media have revolutionized the online marketing landscape to the extent that many businesses that have recognized and mastered the Social Media as efficient and cost effective marketing tools have become commercial success in a relatively short period of time. Social Media in Relationship Marketing has emerged as a disruptive and substantial alternative to the traditional 4P (Product, Price, People and Places) approach to marketing. The Social Medium is an electronic communications outlet where users create online communities to share information, messages, ideas, music and videos.
The findings of the investigation will be analyzed to validate or void the theoretical basis upon which the Case Study of MySahwira.com, an international consulting firm that focuses its services on the Zimbabwean Community in the UK, is based.
The internet has become an exceptionally potent marketing tool because of its interactive ability to help consumers interact with sellers to learn about their needs, particularly, in today’s competitive environment, sellers must understand consumers’ needs and how to meet their needs (Kotler, P.,2005).
This study will apply results from an SME’s Case Study and the applicable theoretical modeling to identify relationship between MySahwira and SMEs, in terms of human behavior factors upon which relationship marketing is based.
User personality factors such as extraversion, emotional stability and openness to experience have been proven to be related to uses of social applications on the Internet. A recent study using a national sample of US adults investigated the relationship between these three dimensions of the Big-Five model and social media use and whether gender and age played any role. Results revealed that while extraversion and openness to experiences were positively related to social media use, emotional stability was a negative predictor, controlling for socio-demographics and life satisfaction. These findings differed by gender and age. While extraverted men and women were both likely to be more frequent users of social media tools, only the men with greater degrees of emotional instability were more regular users(Correa, T., Hinsley, A. W., & De Zúñiga, H. G., 2010).
4. Historical Background
Social Medium has always been in existence since the early civilization when people met to hunt together, exchange farming or construction ideas to support their respective families. But the old Social Medium has evolved to the phenomenon that is now known as the online Social Media whose origin can be traced to Social Media tools like Mainframes of the 1970’s, Personal Computers of the 1980’s, the Internet of the 1990’s, and the Social World Wide Web of the first known platform like SixDegrees.com in 1997 and today’s Smart Phones which allowed users to create profiles and list their friends through the middle of the first decade of the 21st Century (Larson, K., & Watson, R. T.,2011).
Social Media help connect friends and family, provide information on people's background and work experience (Taparia, R.,2011).
Consumers increasingly use the internet to buy products and services. They utilize platforms such as content sharing sites, blogs and the rest of social media to have an impact on a firm’s reputation, sales, and survival (Correa, T., Hinsley, A. W., & De Zúñiga, H. G,2010).
5. Theoretical Framework
Modern Social Media Platform is still evolving. Various studies have been published with various theoretical models.
Organizations lack valid and reliable measures for social media effects, without which they are unable to align their social media initiatives with organizational goals and ultimately create business value. There is now a ‘social media ecosystem’ framework, otherwise known as ‘The Social Media Measurement Dilemma’ which explains the social media relationship among stakeholders and how future questions would be addressed based on this framework.. It clarifies social media into multiple layers of firm- initiated and customer-initiated actions and provides an understanding of what firms and customers accomplish using social media. It sets the stage for developing measures of those firms/customer social media activities with a critical bearing on firm performance. The measurement of social media effects is an increasing concern for organizations (Hoffman and Fodor 2010). Without the ability to define and measure the consequences of social medial strategies, it is difficult for firms to align their social media initiatives with organizational goals and ultimately create business value (Culnan et al, 2010). The concern is warranted given the explosive growth of organizations that interact through social media interfaces and the diversity of such channels for reaching customers (Boyd and Ellison 2008).
A 2010 study counted 23 percent of Fortune 500 companies with blogs, 60 percent with corporate Twitter accounts and 56 percent with corporate profiles on Facebook (Barnes 2010). As customer expectations of such brand-support communities compel organizations to implement these initiatives, they become the norm for both customers and organizations. Competitive pressures induce companies to jump on the ‘social media bandwagon’ to avoid the impression of being outdated or out of touch with innovative technologies compared to their peers and competitors (Sterne 2010). Forrester projects social media marketing in the U.S., to grow at an annual rate of 3 percent from 2010 to 2014 or 300 percent over five years reaching about $3billion (VanBoskirk 2009).
6. Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
The European Commission released a new definition of SME on January 1, 2005.It defines SME as the category of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is made up of enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million Euros. According to European Commission, SMEs play a central role in the European economy. They are a major source of entrepreneurial skills, innovation and employment. 23 million SMEs create 75 million jobs which represent 99% of all enterprises in the 25 countries that make up the European Union. An average European SME employs about 6 persons.
- Quote paper
- Joseph Katie (Author), 2011, How an SME can use Social Media as Part of its Relationship Marketing Strategy, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/215313