Social Media Plays An Important Role In Influencing The Consumer Behavior

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Social Media Plays An Important Role In Influencing The Consumer Behavior

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Social Media Plays An Important Role In Influencing The Consumer Behavior

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Discuss how social media plays an important role in influencing the consumer behavior? 

With the progress of science and technology, the concept of marketing as well as business transaction has evolved in a considerable way. The concept of business is no longer confined to the traditional system of purchase and sale, but rather it has evolved to use technological tools for extending itself to the masses. With the popularity of social media tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. the business organizations are able to communicate more freely with the customers, and are even capable of keeping a track on their performance by analyzing the consumer attitude on the social sites towards their organization. Further, the organizations enjoy the opportunity to gain wide recognition across the globe, in a short span of time through the effective use of social media tools. Keeping these factors into consideration, the researcher here intends to discuss and explain, with the help of several articles, the significant role social media plays in the process of influencing consumer behavior (Goh et al. 2013).
Topic 1: Incorporation of Social Media Tools in the Marketing Strategy:
The social media tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc not only help to connect the users with their family and friends, but if effectively used, it can also improve the relation between a business organization and its consumers. One of the most popular social sites, Facebook, not only helps a company gain brand recognition, but it also helps the potential consumers stay updated with the recently launched products, attractive discounts and offers, or new service of the company. According to Richradson and Lemoine, Facebook largely assists in the process of increasing brand awareness among the masses, and in fact the research suggested that approximately 53% of the Facebook users daily log in and check Facebook (Treem et al. 2012). This implies that an organization, if can open up a Facebook business page, and advertise about its products, its content will be viewed by a huge number of existent consumers. Further, it can also draw new consumers, as the whole organization enjoys higher chance of recommendation to friends and family, by the existent consumers, through Likes or Shares. Every business organization always has a group of target audience, who are most likely to consume the product or avail the service of the organization. Facebook, helps in identifying the target group of audience, with the help of information, regarding demographics, location or interest of the consumers. Opening up a Facebook page and inviting people to like Facebook business page is not sufficient; an organization must ensure that the advertisement of a particular product is relevant to the people, who are viewing an advertisement. Hence, the organizations, now also can take use of the Adverts Create Tool, which will help the company in reaching out to the specific and more relevant consumers. The diagram below especially highlights the importance of Facebook, among all the social media tools, for the purpose of marketing (Malthouse et al. 2013).

Figure 1: Diagram Showing the Statistical Data Regarding the Popular Use of Facebook for Business
Again, Wamba and Carter have claimed that Twitter no way does lag behind in boosting the promotion of an organization. Their research suggests that 64% of the Twitter users get influenced to buy products and avail service that they come across online. Considering this, the organizations have also opened up a twitter Account, customizing it, by giving it a personal touch, through meaningful image, strongly suggesting the motive and purpose of the organization. They have further pointed out that around 800 million users of YouTube regularly check out the latest videos at least for fifteen minutes per day. Hence, an organization now posts their advertisements on YouTube or Instagram as well. However, Carter also explains the importance of an organization to plan formulate a well-structured advertisement on these sites, as people using these sites, will be more interested in exploring a well-formed story, rather than a mere advertisement outlining the benefits of a product (Laroche et al. 2013).
However, if any organization desires to engage itself in promotional activity via social sites, it must approach the idea with an organized attitude. Social sites can either make or mar business. This is because it happens more than often, that on Facebook or Twitter, an user have had an unpleasant experience, and he or she intends to post defamatory or negative feedback on the social sites, which completely spoils the reputation of the organization. Hence, a strong social marketing team must be formed, that will always keep a track on the response on these social sites, so that as and when  a negative feedback is posted, they can instantly take immediate action reverting back with an apology. Again, Twitter has a major drawback, as it is a micro blogging site, and it usually reaches out to a limited number of followers only. For this reason, an organization must ensure that it uses hash tags in its tweets, following the latest trend, so that it can reach out to a wider mass (Gensler et al. 2013).
Topic 2: Social Media and Customer Support:
J.D Power has claimed that around 67% of the customers have affirmed that they feel their queries to be sufficiently answered and their problems to be instantly responded, because of the online presence of their favorite brands. This online presence of a firm enables the company to interact regularly with the consumers, and solve their queries, give them feedback around the clock. The regular interaction with the customers often helps in not only retaining them for a longer period, maintaining their brand loyalty, but also in increasing their consumer number many fold. To substantiate this point, Power has taken a recent example of a loyal consumer of Samsung, who has been a regular follower  of the company; he has recently asked for a free product of the recently launched phone of Samsung, and had also presented the request with a sweet animated picture of a dragon. However, Samsung immediately refused such a proposal, but to be polite, had sent him back a picture of a kangaroo drawn by them. The elated customer, soon made both the pictures viral on Reddit and as this picture got too viral in all the other social sites, it fetched enormous profit for Samsung (Sano et al. 2014). It often happens that a consumer is not content after using a product of their favorite brand, and because of such unpleasant experience, expresses his frustration on the social sites. Now, an organization, owing to the social sites can respond in a positive way to the complaints or grievances of the consumers, acknowledging their apology as well as sending an immediate reply to their queries. To explain this point, Power also refers to the incident of Citibank where a consumer had an experience of a bike accident, and reported to the organization about the mishap via Facebook. The organization, immediately took action, did not let the complaint ruin their reputation by sending a gift card to the customer. This not only helped the company in customer retention , but the company also got its total number of consumers and followers on social sites, increase by multiple times, owing to its kind feedback to the consumer . Around 68% of the customers being studied, affirmed the importance of customer service in determining their choice of selecting or continuing with an organization. Furthermore, the research also showed that approximately 95% of the customers will not only discontinue their service with an organization, due to poor customer service, but will also tell about their poor experience to peers and family. So, to keep up the reputation, an organization must constantly keep in touch with the changing desires and needs, complaints or demands of the consumers through the social sites (Rapp et al. 2013). 
Topic 3: Social Media and Sociological Model of Consumer Behavior:
The Sociological model of consumer behavior claims every individual is part of a social structure, to which they share a sense of belonging. Keeping this in mind, a consumer is influenced to buy a commodity depending on the demand of the commodity in the society he is living in (Smelser et al. 2013). This is the reason why Solomon claims that an organization must engage in the process of market segmentation, whereby the company can select the target group of consumers, based on the gender, preferences, location, before promoting its products randomly among the masses. This will help the organization reach out to the group of consumers who are most likely to be influenced by the advertisement on the social sites. This is the reason, companies rely more on social media, rather than traditional media for the promotion of their products. While the traditional media mostly address a general group of audience, social sites such as Facebook, Google+, etc. provide an option to the company to filter its advertisement in terms of gender, location, age, and other factors before posting it online (Lawler et al. 2014). A product, which is meant for the “youth culture”, will have not much significance for the group of people belonging to “grey culture”. Hence, an organization, nowadays takes help of Paid Targeting Services, through Facebook or LinkedIn that assures the company that it is circulated among the most relevant group of customers, and does not get lost in the multitude (Gregoire et al. 2015).
However, though the idea of Sociological Model of Consumer Behavior can be put to use, by implementing the target audience method, the organization must remember that it is quite an expensive process altogether. Further, in order to know the target audience, an organization has to engage in much extensive research which will also be time consuming. Again, demographical identification of customers can lead to the omission of some customers, and this may have a negative impact on its sale growth (Aral et al. 2013). 
Topic 4: Consumer Research and Online Presence of the Organization
According to Morrison, approximately 81 % of the shoppers do an extensive research before buying their products, and hence the online presence of an organization is very important. Morrison further states that 61% of the people, were found on the basis of a research, that they will never straightaway purchase a product, but will rather compare its cost with that of the other products, and check the public review of the specific  product before making the purchase decision (Hsu et al. 2013). Keeping this fact into consideration, an organization needs to be able to update its customers constantly about the new discounts and offers, and the latest products and recently launched services. Since, most of the customers tend to research online about the best available products or services, the organization can influence the consumers to buy their products merely by their online presence (Bolton et al. 2013).
However, recent research has suggested that the customers will simply unfollow or block the company site if they understand that the copany is trying to influence them into buying their products. So, the whole idea is to make connection with the customers primarily, valuing them for being their customers, offering them interesting discounts or involving them in price winning competitions. This will enthuse the consumers about the company, and will lead to the word of mouth publicity of the organization, in a much effective way (Fan et al. 2014).   
Social media plays an important role in influencing the consumer behavior. Research suggests that 71% of the consumers feel attracted to buy a product instantly as they come across the products on social sites. Hence, the organizations nowadays involve much time and invest much money on the marketing procedure through social sites. However, it must be remembered that any organization should be well organized and actively engaged in the process, otherwise it may lose customers or get its reputation ruined, owing to the negative feedback from the customers that get viral in no time. In addition to this, social marketing can prove to be an expensive marketing method, as it must engage new employees for this marketing system, spend money for the promotion of the content among the targeted audience, and if necessary, hire people as part of the paid sponsorship method. Hence, the organization, must ensure that it is making the best use of these tools, and reaching out to the maximum possible number of consumers, before investing heavily in this (Chen et al. 2012). 
Reference List:
Aral, S., Dellarocas, C. and Godes, D., 2013. Introduction to the special issue-social media and business transformation: A framework for research.Information Systems Research, 24(1), pp.3-13.
Bolton, R.N., Parasuraman, A., Hoefnagels, A., Migchels, N., Kabadayi, S., Gruber, T., Komarova Loureiro, Y. and Solnet, D., 2013. Understanding Generation Y and their use of social media: a review and research agenda.Journal of Service Management, 24(3), pp.245-267.
Chen, H., Chiang, R.H. and Storey, V.C., 2012. Business Intelligence and Analytics: From Big Data to Big Impact. MIS quarterly, 36(4), pp.1165-1188.
De Vries, L., Gensler, S. and Leeflang, P.S., 2012. Popularity of brand posts on brand fan pages: An investigation of the effects of social media marketing. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 26(2), pp.83-91.
Fan, W. and Gordon, M.D., 2014. The power of social media analytics.Communications of the ACM, 57(6), pp.74-81.
Gensler, S., Völckner, F., Liu-Thompkins, Y. and Wiertz, C., 2013. Managing brands in the social media environment. Journal of Interactive Marketing,27(4), pp.242-256.
Goh, K.Y., Heng, C.S. and Lin, Z., 2013. Social media brand community and consumer behavior: Quantifying the relative impact of user-and marketer-generated content. Information Systems Research, 24(1), pp.88-107.
Grégoire, Y., Salle, A. and Tripp, T.M., 2015. Managing social media crises with your customers: The good, the bad, and the ugly. Business Horizons,58(2), pp.173-182.
Hsu, C.L., Chuan-Chuan Lin, J. and Chiang, H.S., 2013. The effects of blogger recommendations on customers’ online shopping intentions. Internet Research, 23(1), pp.69-88.
Laroche, M., Habibi, M.R. and Richard, M.O., 2013. To be or not to be in social media: How brand loyalty is affected by social media?. International Journal of Information Management, 33(1), pp.76-82.
Lawler, B., Loh, E., Martino, P. and Pincus, M., Cisco Technology, Inc., 2014. Methods and apparatus for targeting communications using social network metrics. U.S. Patent 8,682,995.
Malthouse, E.C., Haenlein, M., Skiera, B., Wege, E. and Zhang, M., 2013. Managing customer relationships in the social media era: Introducing the social CRM house. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 27(4), pp.270-280.
Rapp, A., Beitelspacher, L.S., Grewal, D. and Hughes, D.E., 2013. Understanding social media effects across seller, retailer, and consumer interactions. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 41(5), pp.547-566.
Smelser, N.J., 2013. Essays in sociological explanation. Quid Pro Books.
Treem, J.W. and Leonardi, P.M., 2012. Social media use in organizations: Exploring the affordances of visibility, editability, persistence, and association. Communication yearbook, 36, pp.143-189.

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