Social Media Essay
At the present moment, many businesses are looking for new ways to advertise and promote themselves. It is especially true when it comes to small businesses that do not have a lot of finances in the first place that can be spent on advertising. As a result, instead of traditional promotion methods, such businesses use new tools that include social media. This work will explain some important differences regarding social media and networking, the methods that should be used for social media advertising, the functions of social media platforms for promoting small businesses as well as provide practical examples of social media being used for a particular business project. In the beginning, it is important to clarify the differences between some terms that are often being confused. These terms include social media and social networking as well as social commerce and eCommerce. Although the definitions of social media and social networking are often mixed up, and many people use one term to replace another, they actually mean different things. Social media means sharing information with a big amount of people using particular platforms when every user has an equal opportunity to share the information. Social networking means a different thing (Hartshorn 2010). This term means engagement act of community building. In other words, social media is merely a channel people use to communicate and exchange information with one another in order to be heard, and it is a system that does not have a physical appearance, but exists as a channel to transmit news and share. Unlike social media, social networking does not mean merely transmitting information, but receiving feedback or organizing groups depending on the interests. It is also much more difficult to measure the popularity of social media which is quite different when it comes to social networking. There are also big differences between social commerce and eCommerce. When using the term eCommerce, we speak about commercial actions being done on the website of the seller (like online chats). Social commerce, on the other hand, is about selling things via social networks that may or may not redirect the buyers to the official website of the seller. In other words, social commerce means selling things via Internet that includes social networking. This analysis allows us to see how important it is to use the modern tools for advertising a small business. After all, thanks to the social media, it is possible to become well-known and advertise one’s business to large amounts of people while spending the minimum amount of finances. First of all, social media can be used as an effective marketing and operational tool. It enables the employers to get connected with their customers. This way, they communicate online and are able to receive feedback from the people (Poland n.d.). It is an extremely important feature of social media because it enables building a group of loyal customers as well as monitor their likes, dislikes, and changing attitudes toward various services, products, and ideas. Besides, the customers get a chance to communicate with each other, too, and that can be used as an advantage by the company because it will enable it to use this communication as a tool to strengthen the product/brand loyalty. It is also important that social media helps a business operate because it gives it a better understanding of the competitors and the situation in the market. For instance, a business owner or a responsible worker is able to monitor the pages of the competitors, view the activity there as well as make some valuable conclusions. It is also a great way to communicate with representatives of other businesses, make important connections as well as establish a professional network. Besides, at the present moment, social media serve as an effective and mass replacement of the word of mouth. Whenever satisfied customers like the product or the business in general, this information spreads to their friends, and the customers advertise the business for free to a large amount of people. The beauty of such advertising is that it is very trustworthy because it is actually the evaluation made by the people, and it does not appear as an annoying ad people tend to ignore. Social media create an amazing opportunity for the businesses because the more people talk about them, the more popularity and customers they may get. It is also important to add that social presence serves as a proof for many people that the business is trustworthy, and they pay extreme attention to the customers who already liked or follow the product/business. Many people ignore traditional stores and buy online only, so social media activity should be used as a way to convince such customers to use the services or buy the products of a particular business. The social media also provide businesses with an ability to advertise themselves in a traditional way, but for less money. The advantage of advertising via social media is the fact that a client can actually choose the audience he or she aims to appeal to. In other words, the business owner does not pay for a billboard that will appeal to everyone with doubtful effectiveness, but determine the age, gender, location and other important factors of his or her potential clients while advertising one’s business to them. In other words, social media allow the businesses to appeal directly to their target audience without spending extra costs on appealing to people who have no particular interests in the products or services. Thus, it shows how social media allow small businesses to expand the reach and increase their business presence so they appeal to more people and are able to create a network of local customers as well as attract new ones. All of the described functions of the social media are perfect for the business plan I want to describe. As I want to sell the electronic devices such as phones, tablets and the accessorises by delivering them to the customers, I have decided to use Instagram and Twitter as tools to advertise the business. First of all, these social networks are the most effective for the target audience I am aiming to attract. The people I want to appeal to are young since the young people are the ones who follow technology the most, and who get bored and want to get a new phone the most often comparing to other people. They are also the ones who use social media such as Twitter and Instagram the most often. I believe that Instagram will be aimed at females because they are more interested in using this platform, and I will use Twitter to attract males to this business. The location does not matter as much when it comes to online business and advertising, but I will still focus on the local area in the US as the one I am the most familiar with. My pages on these websites will allow me to share videos, photos, news, ideas, products, customer reviews and customer care/service. I will also be able to organize various promotions and offers for the customers to see, and I will be able to communicate with the clients directly using the social media. They will be able to report problems and express their opinions, and I as a person monitoring these pages, will be able to see the comments and react to them. Even more importantly, I will be able to reach out to the needed audience with small amount f money since I will be able to advertise my Instagram page via Facebook and the mentioned-above social web-pages, and for around a thousand dollars, I will be able to reach to a very large audience attracting as many as few thousand clients. Usage of Instagram and Twitter is not new, and other companies can serve as successful examples worthy following. For instance, a company Urban Hilton Weiner launched a successful campaign for the customers to take a selfie in the outfits bought there (Cassinelli 2013). The company proved to be very successful with retailers giving a $10 coupon for everyone posting a selfie. Thanks to a smart choice, it was possible to attract many people, and it is something quite easy to do for my example. Thus, the research and analysis of the existing social media allows us to see that social media can be powerful tools to advertise and promote small businesses. They can build a loyal audience, develop a target group a company wants to appeal to, be used as a powerful word of mouth replacement and many more interesting examples. There are some recommendations that were developed while writing this paper, too. First of all, the business of selling technology and accessorize should use social media not only as an advertising tool, but as a part of the whole advertising campaign. For instance, people have to see why buying a particular device will simplify their social media presence and usage. Secondly, the promotion via social media has to create an atmosphere of everybody talking and buying the products by creating a discussion and launching a successful campaign similarly to the selfie’s example described above. Finally, it is recommended to use as many visuals and hyperlinks as possible that will make the business easy to remember. This way, it will be possible to develop an effective trend within a target audience that can grow into a brand for the business.