I. Table of Contents
II. List of Illustrations
1.1 Statement of the situation
2. Basic information
2.1 Definition of Social Media
3. Channels and Instruments of Web 2.0
3.5 Benefit of Social Media
4. The development of media utilization
4.1 The internet gives users a voice
4.2 The wisdom of crowds
5. The Social Media phenomenon
5.1 Target audience: Generation Social Media
5.2 The importance of giving
6. Application of Social Media in the context of events
6.2 During the event
6.3 After the event
7. Strategies for Social Media performance
7.1 Setting goals for Social Media
7.2 Research the company's Social Community
7.3 Understand and listen to your audience
7.4 Formulate a strategy
7.5 Strategies and tactics - how to network
8. Beyond the borders of Social Media: face-to-face contact
8.1 Performance measurement
II. List of Illustrations
Illustration 1: Social Media Landscape
Illustration 2: Google Screen Shot: Social Media
Illustration 3: World wide average of consumer's orientation
Illustration 4: Internet use 2009-III
Illustration 5: Internet use 2011-III
Illustration 6: Online applications
Illustration 7: Key aspects for memberships in social networks Illustration 8: Changes in communication Illustration 9: Social Media Strategy
The internet plays a major role in the life of many people. I-phones, Smartphones and flat rates enable the unlimited internet access both at home and en route. By the use of Social Media many new possibilities are created for internet users. Content can be created and shared with other members. The content does not only consist of words but also pictures and videos are published. Social Media provides interactive usage that guarantees the easy and vivid exchange of information.
Companies have already realised the potential of this new technology and are beginning to use these new methods of marketing due to the resistance of social communities to brash online marketing.
Social Media marketing is on the rise. More and more companies are using it as a part of their marketing concept. Classic banner advertisements are barely noticed by the consumer any more and hence have little influence on their decision. Content provided by other community members is becoming more important than that presented by the company. Hence, new concepts which gain consumers are in great demand.
Each company can assume that its target audience utilizes the world wide web, discussing various aspects of the company such as the brand, its products or even the company's social responsibility. Regardless of the size of a company, Social Media should be utilised. It enables a company to promote its brand, initiate dialogue with target markets and stand up to criticism and negative publicity.
Social Media marketing pursues the strategy to meet users whilst they are online. Instead of merely confronting each other with information, it is about the active participation in social communities.
Applying an established strategy is the determining factor for the effective use of Social Media.
1.1 Statement of the situation
Social Media can be viewed as a vast interconnected web of applications, platforms, and services. For example: Twitter posts can be displayed on Facebook’s wall whilst the Facebook logo can be integrated in the company's website.
While confusing at first sight, every tool can be connected with the other and hence reduce the expenditure of administration time.
The following chart illustrates the richness and diversity of Social Media:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Illustration 1: Cavazza, F. (2008): n.p.
Nowadays, companies experience the problem that their marketing experts do not know how to use Social Media correctly to meet their target audience. There are different usages between young and old participants and there isn’t any Social Media application where every single market segment can be found.
Social Media is the brand new trend. The aim of this paper is the illustration of Social Media usages as a marketing instrument with a special focus on the event industry. This paper will outline and explain the wide use of Social Media and should be understood as a recommendation on possible actions. For this purpose the environment and influencing components of Social Media will be analysed in the main part of the paper. It is important to first set a goal which the company wants to reach. That will help to decide on a strategy and the corresponding tools. In this process it is essential to understand Social Media, its functionality and its members. In addition, the development of the media utilization and the changes in technology will be identified. The conclusion will summarize the key arguments.
2. Basic information
Firstly, it is necessary to establish a definition of Social Media.
2.1 Definition of Social Media
“Social Media is about building a conversation with clients and consumers.”1
The common grounds of social communities are primarily „shared resources, common values, and reciprocal behaviour"2and the chance to interact with members. At first, it means that people mingling in social communities have similar interests and values. Although the community is not limited to a special group of people, users within a community team up on the basis of these similar interests. However, members within this interest group differ in all kinds of aspects. The interest in a specific subject does not reveal the user's attitude towards the subject matter.
Furthermore, specifications such as age, gender and city that are used for traditional market segmentation mostly are not obvious. The communities' users are not necessarily equivalent to a company's target audience.3 Social Media is composed of the terms social and media. Fred Cavazza defines these terms individually, saying that the social character implies sharing content as well as social interaction. Media describes the digital place for publication. Consequently, Social Media can be defined as a place where individuals are able to express themselves online via tools and services.4
Social Media is a totally new type of communication. Not only because it takes place online and therefore can be called “location-independent”5, but also due to its accessibility every user can voice their thoughts and opinions. No other tool diffuses faster than Social Media and therefore reaches the target audience earlier.6The importance of Social Media hence lies in its fast transmission of news. The road to success in the handling of Social Media is neither ignoring nor deleting critical content but benefiting from the feedback.
Social Media is the generic term for technologies that are part of the new internet era Web 2.0. The term Web 2.0, created by Tim O'Reilly in 2005, stands for the further development of technical possibilities online and thus, the next generation of software. The web is more important than ever, with exciting new applications and sites turning up with surprising regularity.7The difference to the former Web 1.0, where only a few users were responsible for the distribution of content according to the principle one-to-many is the change in communication. Web 2.0 stands for the active involvement of users, which requires the online communication to adjust in favour of the many-to-many communication.
Additionally, Web 2.0 tasks provide a feedback channel in which the receiver of messages has the opportunity to reply to or repeat the content. Social Media channels present the decentralisation of information and the networking of users.8
So if media is an instrument of communication, the software would be a website that does not just provide information but at the same time interacts with the user, asking for comments or letting the user vote on an article.9
Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff define the new trend of social communication as groundswell, a social structure in which technology puts power into the hands of individuals and communities, not institutions. The people forming a part of the groundswell are ready to handle this change in technology and the movement consistently finds new supporters. Already everybody is surrounded by social technology such as virtual worlds (Second Life), social networks (Facebook), YouTube, Twitter, etc. The groundswell "is a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of from companies”10- these technologies are called Social Media.
There has been a permanent and lasting effect due to this technology. If expectations are correct then organisations will be forced to address and discover successful methods of dealing with social media, even whilst technologies change.11
3. Channels and Instruments of Web 2.0
The characterization of Social Media tools is affected by the general classification of the Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (English: Federal Association for Digital Economy, furthermore referenced as Bundesverband). This classification results from the user's point of view: the main activity decides on the grouping. A distinction is drawn between networking, contribution, sharing, and messaging. Networking, meaning the linking-up between users and general activities such as linking, inviting, and befriending, is the most popular task in Web 2.0. The contribution is the active production of content by uploading, commenting, judging, or writing. Sharing implies the spread of content available on platforms or generally in the World Wide Web, especially through forwarding, suggesting, and linking. The last category is messaging, signifying the one-to-one- or one-to-many-communication via e-mails or news services.12The advancement in communication which makes a difference is the many-to-many-communication that gives power to the consumer and makes companies face the challenge of interacting with the crowd.
Still the classification always depends on the perspective. With the help of RSS-Feeds, different tools can be linked, simplifying the handling of Social Media. Channels such as consumer portals fulfil the function of informing the consumer and should provide an indication of the company's ranking. Advantages of consumer portals will be defined during the course of the paper.
All of these technological changes form the internet and have made it what it is today.13The feature of Social Media tools is the wide variety of application possibilities and its diversified audience.
Social networks represent real or virtual relations online.14Members of these websites are able to set up a profile, unite with other users and interact. Mostly, users can unite in groups or communities to exchange experiences or opinions. The key activity is to befriend, a mechanism to give notice of friendships and network. The aim of social networking sites is by definition the facilitation of relationships through technology.15The most popular communities are Facebook for exchanging news and views, and Xing in business networks.16
Social networks allow businesses the establishment of personal connection with clients. The company should encourage employees to create profiles, especially in business networks to contact existing clients. This might strengthen business relationship due to the more informal communication between members while conveying a positive image of the company. The alternative solution would be to create a page for the business to offer exclusive content for members and provide a space for fans to interact with each other. It might be a good idea to also motivate followers to compile website content17in order to attract more clients because advertisement through users is much more effective than company's advertisements.18
Founded in 2003 by Mark Zuckerberg, himself a Harvard student, The Facebook started as an exclusive site for Harvard students. Little by little the site began to include other colleges although primarily only elite schools were admitted to the community. Afterwards other colleges, then High schools and eventually everyone possessing an e-mail address was allowed to register.19
Nowadays, Facebook is the most successful social networking-website, providing most of the features beneficial for Social Media marketing. Even though students represent the main portion of members, the percentage of users older than 35 years of age increases. For these users Facebook offers a compromise between seriousness of business sites and the stomping place of youth: this platform is fun, easy to operate and there is the possibility to contact old friends. Companies can create official profiles, open a public wall and add events and pictures. Users have access to the profile's content if they connect with the page by liking the profile. The Facebook page should include parts of a campaign and be linked with the official web page. Critical comments should not be deleted but marketing experts should have confidence in its followers who will defend the brand. The best Social Media marketing is always provided by its fans.20
Xing forms part of the business networks. It was founded in 2003 by Lars Hinrichs as an open business club and established itself as the most successful German business network.21
Xing provides special profiles for companies which include different features. The simplest automatically shows the employees of the firm. The standard package offers additional scope for design and the possibility to maintain business information and personnel. The premium package allows updates and subscriptions however these additional features are with costs. The communication with business partners and prospective employees rank first in business networks. Accordingly, the content should meet the member's expectations according to information based on facts.22
Active production of content can proceed in online diaries, so-called weblogs or blogs. A defined number of writers publish reports or various kinds of articles which are listed chronologically. Nearly all of these form expressions which initiate commenting.23The reader is allowed to comment on the content and has even come to expect this. The missions of these platforms are different: it might be used for knowledge-sharing (Wikis) as well as media-sharing (Flickr), especially popular with expert groups or private use.24
The term Blog is a combination of the words Web and Log, and a short form of Weblog. Blogs are a kind of Content Management System (CMS) that enable the easy publication of short articles to a specified subject. The subject should be selected advisedly and at best be a niche subject, to place one's individual view. Creating a new blog around an old subject that is already discussed in several successful blogs should be avoided. There are different possibilities to direct attention to a blog:25
1. high-publicity, exclusive news are hard to get. Generally one just comes across such news by being in the right place at the right time. The way is to act fast and be the first to publish because it counts for nothing to be the second or third reporting. 2. Lists or short articles are favoured because they are easy to read. 3. If your company is the pioneer in an area, write a tutorial, add videos or pictures and number the steps of the procedure. The easier a complicated job is defined, the more publicity the website gets. 4. Try to discuss the subject controversially but remember that only a good argumentation basis permits a successful discussion.26
A blog is not a communication medium for press releases or official business communication. It is a collection of news and interesting posts about the company written in an informal style. These posts can consist of either 100-200 words or to the point of several pages. Due to its commenting function, it is an excellent environment to build a community and receive feedback. It should be the company's aim to answer as many comments as possible, even the negative ones in order to strengthen customer loyalty. Due to its diversity of social tasks, it is suitable for Social Media campaigns.27
Wikis are a collection of websites that are created and revised by the users themselves.28 They result from the collaboration of people whom creating some of the biggest encyclopaedias which include nearly every subject. The term is derived from the Hawaiian term of fast. Wikis are generally known and frequently used. If a term is googled, a Wikipedia article will be on the first page and that is the reason why people have such a great power: the masses decide what is on display. Those who organise, classify or even write the articles determine how we see the world. And that is why it is most important to analyse and watch these websites due to their high position in online searches.29
Illustration 2 shows the importance of Wikis and their high degree of popularity. The more visitors a page has, the higher it is ranked in search engines. The concept of Wiki, allowing the community to share their knowledge and write what has become the biggest encyclopedia makes it as famous as it is now.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Illustration 2: Google (2011): n.p.
Collection and distribution are the major tasks of so called knowledgesharing websites.30
Flickr is the most popular photo-sharing site at present. The possibility for a company to upload pictures and videos about the brand and products is a great opportunity to give the customer an understanding of the company's social responsibility, the company history or the production of goods. In business it is well-considered to inform the audience about the company rather than to simply advertise its products. Uploaded pictures should be special enough to be presented in the web's biggest publicly available photo archive.31
There are two different kinds of profiles: one free of charge and another which costs. Accounts with costs are not expensive and offer a substantial amount of web space for pictures. A positive side effect is the rise in credibility that accrues from the small Pro-icon next to the user name. Due to the social character of Flickr, companies should search for groups that bear upon the business. The next move would be to join the group and pass interesting and fitting pictures on. Furthermore, the user should look through other member's pictures and comment on interesting pictures in order to become a valued member of the community.32
Media-Sharing websites are platforms where multimedia-based content such as videos or pictures can be published, so-called User Generated Content33 since it is the user uploading and providing the content. Due to the ease of operation through digital cameras or camera phones, MediaSharing sites are extremely popular.
Companies create a lot of content such as power point presentations, graphics and sometimes even videos. There are two different ways how to get the content online: at the beginning of Social Media usage it is important for the marketing experts to upload the content online. If the company has a great community, after a while they may start to upload uninfluenced, organic content, this is the highest level of trust customers can show a company. Without any technical know-how, marketing experts can produce videos and publish these on websites such as YouTube. An exemplification for a specific product is the easiest way to reach millions of users.34
Social News sites present another form of sharing: Users can recommend 3 and evaluate web content.
1 Socialmediamarketing.com (2011): p. 3
2 Hummel, J. and Lechner, U. (2001): p. 6
3 Cf. Gruber, G. (2008): p. 51f.
4 Cf. Cavazza, F. (2008): n.p.
5 Socialmediamarketing.com (2011): p. 5
6 Cf. Socialmediamarketing.com (2011): pp. 4-7
7 Cf. Schulz-Bruhdoel, N. and Bechtel, M. (2009): p. 34
8 Cf. Oblasser, C. et al. (2011): p. 4
9 Cf. Nations, D. (n.d.): n.p.
10 Li, C. and Bernoff, J. (2008): p. 7
11 Cf. Li, C. and Bernoff, J. (2008): pp. 7ff.
12 Cf. Oblasser, C. et al. (2011): p. 6
13 Cf. Stanoevska-Slabeva, K. (2008): p. 2
14 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): p. 61
15 Cf. Li, C. and Bernoff, J. (2009): pp. 28ff.
16 Cf. Oblasser, C. et al. (2011): p. 6
17 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): p. 100
18 Cf. The Nielson Company (2009): p. 2
19 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): p. 65f.
20 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): pp. 77ff.
21 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): pp. 93ff.
22 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): p. 95
23 Cf. Li, C. and Bernoff, J. (2009): pp. 24ff.
24 Cf. Oblasser, C. et al. (2011): p. 7
25 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): pp. 15ff.
26 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): pp. 33-35
27 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): pp. 15ff.
28 Cf. Oblasser, C. et al. (2011): p. 7
29 Cf. Li, C. and Bernoff, J. (2009): pp. 30ff.
30 Cf. Oblasser, C. et al. (2011): p. 7
31 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): pp. 115ff.
32 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): p. 117
33 Cf. Stanoevska-Slabeva, K. (2008): p. 2
34 Cf. Zarella, D. (2010): p. 101
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- University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück – Faculty of Business Management and Social Sciences
- Marketing Veranstaltungsmanagement Social Media Facebook Web 2.0 Social Media Strategy Event Industry Event management