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Social Media And Marketing

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Changes in the market and emerging promotional tools

There has been a tremendous amount of change in the global markets in the past few years. This has predominantly due to the fact that there is a shift in the consumer mindset, consumption patterns, changes in demography and organizational attitude brought through by advancement in technology. This has led to a change in marketing strategies and practices across the world. Marketing thinkers and companies are prompted to frequently re-think their strategies and adopt new theoretical and practical approach to address specific marketing changes and also to think beyond the scope of traditional marketing theories (Constantinides, E, 2006). A majority of the changes were influenced by the advent of internet and easy accessibility of users to this medium of communication. The internet has grown to become a highly accepted source of information and consumers can now benefit from the expanded range of timely and relevant product-related information accessible through the internet as quite rightly pointed out by Quelch and Klein (1996, cited Soumava 2001 ). In these changed circumstances prevalence of Social Media tools like YouTube, Podcasts, Wikipedia, Blogs etc has prompted businesses to adopt these as an effective and potent marketing and promotional tool and is changing the face of conventional media. Fernando opines that social media offers phenomenal opportunities to marketers with fewer pitfalls. Today Social Media refers to an intersection of software, marketing, media and entertainment. (Fernando, 2007).

�Promotional Mix’ : An overview

�Promotional Mix’ is the term used to describe a set of tool that businesses use to communicate the benefits of its products or services to its customers. This includes advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, personal and direct selling and public relations. �Promotional Mix’ is hence part of the wider marketing mix. (Guide to Promotional mix, www.cim.co.uk, 2004). Fig: 1.0 gives an illustration about the same.

The success of this model works on a structured, balanced and planned use of the tools. The combination of

the five tools one uses depends on the target audience,

the message one wishes to communicate and the budget

available. (Guide to Promotional Mix, www.cim.co.uk,

The Chartered Institute of Management 2004)

Fig 1.0

Advertisements and Sales promotions can be quite useful to garner market share provided the target markets and the financial implications have been identified and justified. Public Relations is another important aspect as it helps to shape a brand and helps the company maintain its reputation intact. (Guide to Promotional Mix, www.cim.co.uk, 2004).

Promotional Mix, widely practiced still, has its own limitations and shortcomings. An example would be the advertising costs as research has proved that people need to see an advertisement at least seven times for it to mean anything to them and hence can prove to be quite costly. (Guide to Promotional Mix, www.cim.co.uk, 2004) Similarly small and medium businesses might not be able to afford a robust public relations team or involve a direct marketing team. (Guide to Promotional Mix, www.cim.co.uk, 2004). Researchers dealing with issues and problems emanating within the new marketing domains often dispute the 4ps of marketing and the �Promotional Mix’s appropriateness as the underlying marketing paradigm, at least in its original form (Constantinides, E, 2006). One can argue that the basic drawbacks of this theory is its fixation on Internal Orientation or the lack of customer orientation as observed by Kotler (1984 cited Constantinides, E 2006), lack of consumer interactivity as this mix ignores evolving nature of the consumer as noted by Yudelson (1999, cited Constantinides, E 2006) and lack of strategic content making it susceptible to external, uncontrollable factors as pointed out by Ohmae (1984, cited Constantinides, E 2006).

Social Media: An emerging influence

In this era of internet marketers, Social Media (blogs, social networks, content communities, wiki's and podcasts), have largely changed the face of marketing and media. Social media relies on consumer generated content and hence doesn’t conform to the ideals of traditional media where content, both commercial and other, is �engineered’ to suit the need of a promoter or seller. (Fernando 2007). This hence is in direct contrast with the traditional promotional mix as consumer interaction and orientation is at an optimum. This medium, in the light of a business communication strategy, is highly conversational, collaborative and credible. This involves opinion makers, journalists, seasoned practitioners and the audience who interacts with one another on a regular basis. (Fernando 2007). This high level of interaction and involvement is devoid in the traditional media and the marketing field as well. Capon and Hulbert have observed that the modern consumer is different: demanding, individualistic, involved, independent, better informed and more critical (2000 cited Constantinides, E 2006). Social Media as a whole provides the modern consumer a platform to express the above mentioned qualities.

The corporate world is accepting this change in consumer behaviour and is aligning themselves to accept

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