Concepts of Social Business and Social Media Dissertation

Pages: 50 (12746 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 50  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .

" This point is also made by McGriff (2012, p. 49) who writes, "The emergence of social media platforms has expanded the communications reach of consumers who have become increasingly vocal through boycotts about the misdeeds or malfeasance of companies that market products or retail brands." In the past, companies have enjoyed exclusivity over communications control to improve brand equity; the emergence of interactive two-way online communications such as social media sites have exploded in growth in recent years, and it remains unclear just how much more growth the medium will experience before saturation levels are reached (McGriff 2012). According to McGriff (2012, p. 50), "The growth of the social media platform poses immediate communications challenges in the management of brand image and reputation."

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Furthermore, the relative newness of social media resources has resulted in some mixed reports from the field as to the effectiveness of this medium for building brand image and growing a company's customer base. According to Fluss (2012, p. 10), "There are so many misconceptions in the market about using social media, many of which are due to the newness of the solutions. We all have seen and read vendor claims that make their solutions sound too good to be true, and, more often than not, the promises do not match up with the actual performance." Likewise, De Laurentis (2012) cites the proliferation of social media sites and the growing hyperbole concerning the impact of social networking and social media on business. According to DeLaurentis (2012, p. 46), "Many organizations have been slow to adopt its use, doubting its practical value for business. And, among those who have adopted, many lack the strategy for leveraging the capabilities of these tools to elevate business results or for understanding how to measure success."

TOPIC: Dissertation on Concepts of Social Business and Social Media Assignment

Another problem that has adversely affected the take-up rate and effectiveness of social media sites for many retailers is the manner in which retailers have applied the media for their own purposes which may ignore the real power of these media. In this regard, Liyakasa (2012, 45) reports that, "The fundamental issue in retail, still, is that most organizations don't really start with the customer experience and work backwards. They start with their own, internal perspective of a channel and they see the customer through individual customer lenses, which doesn't actually reflect how customers buy these days." Therefore, understanding how consumers actually go about making their purchase decision in a dynamic marketplace represents a timely and valuable enterprise. As Liyakasa (2012, p. 45) points out, "A top challenge for retail brands will be to connect the many dots that characterize their in-store, online, mobile, and social presence. There's a significant amount of consumer empowerment that results from new technologies, including social media and the smartphone that everybody has." Furthermore, there remains a lack of relevant studies concerning other aspects of social media use by retailers in this changing environment, particularly in an increasingly globalized marketplace where cross-cultural factors must be taken into account when formulating marketing plans,. As Liyakasa (2012, p. 46) emphasizes, "Then there are cultural and social factors, in particular, how consumers interact with each other, the brand, and the stores themselves. That is changing significantly."

Although the situation is dynamic, there are some constants that are involved that will inevitably influence how consumers use social media content presented by retailers. For instance, Kunz and Hackworth (2011, p. 2) report that "Results of research conducted by a team of Fellows of the Society for New Communication Research found evidence to support the significance of social networking to current promotional mix decisions." Perhaps the most compelling aspect of social media for retailers is the value consumers attribute to the recommendations and testimonials of their friends, colleagues, family members and members of communities of interest in formulating their purchase decisions. As Kunz and Hackworth (2012, p. 2) point out, "While the economy has changed the way consumers shop, and how they spend, what has not changed is that consumers trust the opinions of friends and family, as well as people they do not know, usually more than anything the retailer has to say about the company or their products."

In addition, Geho and Dangelo (2012, p. 62) also note that companies of all sizes and types face a number of challenges in their businesses operations, especially "maximizing the marketing potential of social media while at the same time being able to measure cost benefits." According to these authorities, "Traditional marketing methods can no longer sustain a business. Businesses have been aware for the past few years that social connectivity was becoming the key to marketing. However, the time, effort, usefulness and ability to measure outcomes made using social media for marketing impracticable" (Geho & Dangelo 2012, p. 62). The introduction of various analytical tools, though, has made projecting and measuring the effectiveness of social media sites more cost effective. In this regard, Geho and Dangelo (2012, p. 63) emphasize that, "Entrepreneurs are finding that they can now not only take advantage of social media as a marketing tool but use data to optimize their social media marketing campaigns." These are vitally important issues in a changing marketing landscape where growing numbers of consumers are doing their shopping online. In fact, fully 60% of consumers who use three or more digital methods for researching their product purchases report learning about a specific retailer or brand from a social networking site (Geho & Dangelo 2012). As Geho and Dangelo (2012, p. 62) emphasize, "This statistic, and a host of others, serves to prove that tried and true social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and newcomers Google+ and Tumblr are here to stay. Furthermore, they are influencing the way consumers buy products and services." Therefore, identifying opportunities to achieve business goals using social media represents a timely and valuable enterprise as discussed further below.

Aims and Objectives

The overarching aim of this study was to develop a set of best practices for using social media for business applications in general and retail operations in particular. In support of this aim, the study was guided by several objectives as follows:

1. Deliver a comprehensive and critical analysis of the relevant secondary peer-reviewed and scholarly literature concerning the concept of social business in general and social business with retailers and their use of social media for business applications;

2. Provide an informed synthesis of the research that addresses the study's overarching aim; and,

3. Develop a series of recommendations concerning a set of best practices that business managers can use to guide their use of social media to achieve their organizational goals.

The final objective is congruent with the guidance provided by Vernon (2002, p. 21) who advises best practices are "ways of conducting business processes that are generally agreed to be the most efficient or effective. The argument is that best practice in processes is what delivers improvements in the most important business indicator, customer satisfaction."

Literature Review

Concept of Social Business

There is a growing trend towards the use of social businesses to achieve a specific social objective, but it differs from traditional for-profit enterprises such as retailers. For instance, according to Yunus, Ariail, Banik, et al. (2012), "While similar to the typical for-profit corporation, the social business has a different goal-instead of striving to maximize profits, the goal is to maximize the social good provided by the business" (p. 98). In contrast to conventional businesses where the main priority is on profit maximization, whereby shareholder return on investment is also maximized (Yunus et al., 2012). Because profit maximization is the overarching goal for conventional businesses, founders can select the business model that is most suitable for this purpose. Social businesses, though, are founded and operated in a different fashion. In this regard, Yunus et al. report that, "In a social business, you start out to solve a problem, and you design a business for that purpose" (2012, p. 99).

Another major difference between conventional businesses and social businesses is that shareholders are expected to be patient while the company becomes profitable. As Yunus and his associates point out, "Investors in a social business must have a space or time where they can wait for the return of their investment -- and finally it should break even" (2012, p. 99). Some retailers, though, have embraced the social business model and have leveraged it into increased profitability, including the Elvis & Kresse Organisation (EaKo) which takes industrial waste materials, turns them into stylish luggage and hand bags and gives half the profits to the UK Fire Fighters Charity (Ghalib & Hossain, 2009). Integrating social business into a retailing business model is more difficult that just slapping on a set of goals and principles and waiting for results to happen, and these issues are discussed further below.

Concept of Social Business with Retailers

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