As one of these procedures of this modern world, social media has a lot of effect on societies and it is the most controversial application in most of the networks and virtual societies. It can actually be said that because of the nourishment of social media, the world is turning into a global village and it can even create closer relationships in between people. Social networks make people enough able to use and to take benefits from the technologies and advancements of overlapped social markets (Thackeray et al, 2008). Along with this, social media can actually influence the marketing cultures dramatically, like purchasing habits, marketing strategies and advertisements. Social media provides researchers the platform to make researches. For instance, such type of media gives users the chances to get engaged in links and connections with the help of social media, making participations in communications, weblogs, and immediate messages and through emails (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2011). Customers basically tend to trust the friends than the ones who deal with selling products and marketing. The researches have shown that as a culmination of social media, there have been over 955 million people who login to Facebook every 30 days. Half users login the systems at regular basis. Users have devoted one-third of their time in using social media. Some of the researchers and scholars in scopes of industries motivate different business men to link social media and to get at most benefits from it like in case when there is tendency to survive (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010).
Social media is quite new developments in the world of communication but still there are different researchers have provided different interpretations about it, they provided various definitions (Chung and Austria, 2010). Different authors had different understandings, but one point was kept consistent; social media is getting changed with a rapid speed. Along with it, social media has changed the way of communication of people and that there is a communication of brand with their customers. Social media consists of different methods of online communication like podcasts, collaborative websites, organization-sponsored websites, multimedia sites, user-sponsored blogs, and social networking sites. This description only involves the total activities that a large number of people make participation in the online communication (Hoffman and Fodor, 2010).
It is no more secret that social media like real time, interactive, non-hierarchical, transparent, open and global are changing the expectations of organizations and behaviour of customers (Berthon et al, 2012). It is becoming quite impossible to follow the structures of traditional communication of hierarchy and non-transparency when people communicate with each other through platforms of social media. This is basically true of business communication. Now customers can easily access the information without any difficulty (Mangold and Faulds, 2009).
The internet makes different sources of information available that customers can even draw on as they look for information and they build their choices regarding commercial offerings. Some of the information sources are uncensored in-depth information regarding product, online product reviews (may be through experts or peers), and social media sites on different websites along with a large number of other sources (Michaelidou, Siamagka and Christodoulides, 2011). Customers in the customer-built brand societies want to become the most effective partners. They are being driven through same ethos or passion to make and to engage in communities of online brand, therefore making the meaning of culture on their own (Kim and Ko, 2012).
The way, in which information is discovered and shared, the most important shift is social media. It makes retailers and individuals enough able to make cultivation and to have a communication and touch point with the potential consumers and customers. Every retailer owns a particular group of customers or tribe of consumers. Social media assists in making the group broader and get engaged with them (Evans, 2012).
Customers are being engaged online with the social media. Social media is considered as an internet-based tool which is used for discussing and sharing information among people. Social media is basically networking and it is networking in this regard that it espouses belief among communities and parties involved. Such website in which people can share their views, content, opinions, interact with each other can comes in the class of social media. Some of the renowned sites of social media are Twitter, facebook, Flickr, Instagram, MySpace etc. These social media sites have become popular in very less time span. Social media has helped human being in many ways and it has made life simpler for them. Communication is no more an issue, one can video chat, and message and calls each other through media. It is the only platform where people have the freedom of sharing their views and opinions. These social media websites are also a way of promoting business without any hassle (Fischer and Reuber, 2011).
The term social media’s meaning can be taken from 2 words that establish it. Media usually means the communication and advertising of information or idea by means of publications. Social refers to the communication or interaction among community or group. As a whole, social media implies the publication/interaction manifestoes that are sustained and produced by interpersonal communication of personals by means of particular tool or medium. Another definition of social media is that it is equalization of the information, converting human beings from merely content readers to the publishers of content. It is the switch from an advertisement function to many-to-many model, implanted in communications between peers, people and authors (Kietzmann et al, 2011).
“Wisdom of crowds” is used by social media in order to connect information in cooperative aspect. There are various different forms that can be taken by social media, comprising of forums of internet, weblogs, podcasts, video, pictures and message boards. User-driver websites are involved in making of social media which are generally intensified on a particular feature. Every now and then, the community is the core attraction itself. Social media involves social interactions, by making use of highly scalable and accessible publishing strategies (Lin and Lu, 2011). Web-based technologies are used by social media in order to shift communication into bilateral dialogues. Michael Haenlein and Andreas Kaplan explained social media as an association of applications which are based on internet and that are constructed on technological and ideological infrastructures of Web 2.0, which permits the exchange and formation of content generated by the user. Social media is a source for socializing. A web-based technology is used by the social media to convey information and knowledge to massive number of people all over the globe. Social media permits formation and exchange of content generated by user. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media websites altogether known as social media. Low-cost tools are represented by social media which are used to integrate social interaction and technology with words’ use. Generally, these tools are mobile or internet based like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and MySpace (Ellison, 2007).
Social media is basically a type of online media where people do bookmarking online, networking, sharing, participating, and talking. From all of these factors, it can be stated that social media has been revolutionized with the passage of time and now it involves a large number of customers (Chou et al, 2009). Whenever any purchase is made up by the customers, they buy more than a single product; they buy the whole brand. Keller further elaborates the statement through saying that perceptions of brand are the main features in the memory of customer that are actually related to the name of brand. Perception is considered to be the process with the help of which an organization is interpreted, organized and selected. Marketers play the most important in providing shape and in defining the perception about brands (Hays, Page and Buhalis, 2013).
A lot of opposition was done in opposed to social media in the start. Some of them stated that social media did not started up with computers, and that the basis of social media was phone. These early explorers of social media made boxes which were devices being made in homes that could actually cause tones which do allow them to get approach to the back end of telephones and to make free calls (Xiang and Gretzel, 2010).
On the other hand, the other authors argued that social media came into being some years ago. The launching of first known site of social media was done in 1998, surf the list of friends. Every attribute was in some form before Six Degrees. For example, there were many sites on some of the major community sites. People were enough able to communicate with their high school or college friends with the help of classmates.com, but still users were not enough able to make friends list or to make profiles until some years. Six Degrees was the very first website which combined all of these features. According to the definition of Boyd and Ellison (2007), the basically admitted interpretation of social media and what it has transformed into would have suggested the platforms as they are being interpreted today (Scott, 2009).
Social media are web-based applications and innovative in online marketing (Yang et al, 2010). Organization uses social media to make online communities. Some new business samples should be developed that should involve the marketing channel of the new product (Chung & Buhalis, 2008). In addition to this, strong relationships should be made with customers through crossing the limits of place and time (Bolotaeva & Cata, 2010).
As an advance marketing channel, online societies allow the marketers to get information regarding recent customers from profiles and about the potential customers, infer the preferences and needs of customers dependent on the history of usage of community, get direct replies of customers (Brennan and Croft, 2012). Marketers can get a high customization level with the help of monitoring content which is posted by the members of community and can get better understanding of the requirements of customers, utilizing the information to make new services/products. This assists the marketers in making advertisements of their offerings to the focused customers (Hanna, Rohm and Crittenden, 2011).
Marketers look at the online societies as the most effective tool to develop strong links with the customers. The increment in the relationships can be done through the idea of stickiness of Websites (Kim and Ko, 2010). The definition of website stickiness is its quality to retain and to draw customers through making values of customers, like trust, customized services/ products, personalized products, rewards for loyalty. Through website stickiness the customers can be encouraged to get more interaction with their group members of online society and with the organization (Neti, 2011).
However a large number of opportunities are provided to organizations through social media, negative results can be generated concerning the privacy issues. Social media motivate people to give personal information. In some of the situations, although, people can eventually fail in considering potential risks, like opening their general information in front of the public (Khan and Bhatti, 2012). Details like particular information, age, and contact information can actually be misused or it can even cause in robbing of identity or third-party outsourced organizations (Scott, 2015).
With respect to the Report of Social Media Marketing Industry in 2010, most of the marketing executives are making use of social media for more than 6 hours in a week, and around 1 in 3 invest, more than eleven hours per week. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and LinkedIn were the top 4 tools of social media that are being used by the marketing executive to promote the business of their enterprises. Small size enterprises are most likely to involve social media as their marketing objective and most of the marketing executives are engaging social media for the purposes of advertising. Seventy Six percent of the marketing executives are surfing at least four hours every week on their endeavours for marketing. In the recent times, it is growingly turning out to be relevant for the organizations to construct a commendatory foundation of consumers and to make them involve in decision making (Safko, 2010).
With respect to Softpedia, during last three months of 2009, eighty six percent of the merchants online in United States had a business page on Facebook. An estimate was made that this number might reach ninety nine percent in the near future. During this same duration, it has been pointed by the e-marketer that sixty five percent of its inspected online merchants were operating on Twitter. However, more twenty six percent were making plans to integrate Twitter in this business plans. It has been projected by E-marketer that online merchants shall have a Facebook page online and shall be Twitter ready. At present, more than seven hundred enterprises have an operating page on Facebook and nearly eighty thousand portals are connected on Facebook at present. A mechanism to interact with customers, potential customers and peers and a voice is given by social media to the marketers. It illustrates the ‘brand’ and assists in expanding message in conversational and calm way (Neti, 2011).
Despite of the privacy concerns, social media are considered as the best platforms to build the online community of an organization because of the given marketing benefits (Lovejoy and Saxton, 2012). To get benefit from the use of online community for the purpose of marketing, an organization should determine its basic focused customers and it should promote the factors which let them to visit the online community. Due to increased nourishment of online societies, most of the organizations now do not question like if they should make an online community with the help of social media (Weinberg and Pehlivan, 2011).
Social media is a group of applications which are based on the internet and are based on the ideological and technological basis of Web 2.0, and that allow the exchange and development of user-developed content”. With the help of Web 2.0 technology, two way conversations can be done with the consumers to enable them to give proper responses and to listen to the needs of customers. Companies and customers both are now using the websites in order to share, collaborate and discuss (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
The connection of social media is with self-generated and authentic communication in between people regarding some specific subject holding a common interest, which is being created depending upon the thoughts and experiences of participants. Therefore; the link of Social Media is with the sharing and it basically targets the collective interest, which gives more suitable opportunities or informed choices at the end. Moreover, different alterations are made in social media with the passage of time, it makes people enough able to enter their own content in a very participative way whenever they want to add up an information. Social media is revolutionizing rapidly because of the reason that it is the main part of internet technologies, modifications are being done in it on regular basis through adding some of qualities or through replacing the features (Khan and Bhatti, 2012).
A great number of services are provided by social media on Internet. Because of this, it is quite difficult for the organizations to understand that which of them are best in usage and how to use the. Different kinds of social media consists of: social networks (Link ed In, Myspace, FaceBook), micro-blogs (Frined, Plurk, and Twitter), ratings and reviews (Trip Advisor, Amazon and Yelp), and video (You Tube and Vimeo) and many more. Social media is nourishing day by day. There are above 80 million active users of Facebook and 50% of these users log into facebook on daily basis. According to Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo, there are almost 200 million active users of Twitter and they log into Twitter on daily basis. There are 230 million tweets in a day on the service of micro-blogging (Correa, Hinsley and De Zuniga, 2010). Now-a-days the organizations desire to look on the opportunities which are given to them through the services. Now-a-days social media has enabled organization to get their consumers engaged in timely and direct manner at lower and higher efficiencies costs as compared to traditional communication tools. Therefore, social media has become the most suitable tool for communication, not only for the organizations which are of high rank but also for smaller organizations (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
The basic perspective of social media is to target people not the products basically. The representation of the product is done with a large number of promotional tools and with the most qualitative qualities by the organization, but the most important factor are comments and appreciations made by customers. Social Media Marketing is too much challenging and as such scary for some of the marketers, the major reason behind this is that people give the index. There is no control on the marketing content any more. Negative factors can be spread so easily in the entire world and in just less time. As the internet based messages have got emerged, the ones which are transmitted through Social Media, now the most important role is being played by them in influencing different approaches of behaviour of customers like awareness and consideration, information gathering, opinions, attitudes, purchasing decisions, and post-purchase evaluation. The power and critical nature of communication should be understood by the international marketers, the conversation which is done in between the customers who use social media. The main quality which is offered by the marketing is the quality to affect the crowd in the most effective manner (Evans, 2008).
The tools and strategies for the communication with consumers have been revolutionized by Social Media. In accordance with Mangold & Faulds (2009), “social media connects the qualities of magnified kind of word-of-mouth (consumers communicating with each other) along with the traditional IMC tools (companies communicating with one another) whereby the marketing managers cannot actually have any control on the content and frequency of this kind of information”. There are certain limits of organizations in having control on the content and distribution of information. To avoid the content produced by the user is not an option. This should be monitored by the organizations that they are responsible for the communication, whether it is positive or negative, all around the brand. Although, there are some of the methods that companies can influence the description in a way which have a lot more consistency with the objectives of organization (Mangold &Faulds, 2009). With the help of social media marketing, organization can have even an improved understanding of the requirements of customers to develop effective links.
Internet is now termed as the most significant tool of conversation; internet is being used to get information related to the products and services. Moreover, the family and friends’ opinion, while making any decision regarding the purchase of product, internet is considered to be the first source of information. Different conversations are hold by the people on internet relative to the products and services, even if it is liked by them or not, sharing both bad and good experiences and responses. Basically two from three online communications deals with the product, brand or service (Castronovo and Huang, 2012).
The unique role played by social media is to make customers enough able to communicate with one another. Different questions are being asked by the managers like how they can use the power to provide advantage to the organization. Although, the customers’ saying are not controlled by the organizations; they have control only over the communication of customers (Mangold & Faulds, 2009).
A research work done by SMB group explored that there are very less number of organization who do not use the strategy of social media. The efforts cannot be evaluated by the organization without proper strategy or planning. The organizations who work without any planning are proven to be less comfortable with the features of social media to develop new leads. A plan should be set up by the organizations while utilizing a particular social media (Chi, 2011).
There has revolution in the techniques and tools which are being used by the customers for communication. The social media tools help the organization to have communication with their consumers, which can actually help in creating long-term links. Some of the social media tools such as forums, blogs and chat rooms develop an interactive communication for the organization to get their customers engaged. However at the same time, customers are enough able to develop information relative to the company and they are enough able to give education to some consumers regarding services, products and brands and much more (Evans, 2012).
Hoffman and Fodor (2010) described some of the other links in between the satisfaction of customer and loyalty of customer. The first factor can be that both negative and positive feelings regarding the services can exist. In some cases, the customers can have positive feeling regarding approaches of organization but along with the it, there can negative feelings too. Through social media, feedback forums and opinion sites can be used by the organizations to gauge negative forums regarding the business and they can make effective technique to overcome such type of negative feelings, and altering customers into most loyal customers.
Organizations use social media marketing because of the reason that it depicts cost-effective marketing solutions. The Social media marketing weapons can be used largely, in opposed to some of the other tools of promotion. Social media provides a large number of advantages to the organization. Social Media Marketing provides a large number of benefits for the prosperity of organization, whether it concern is small or medium organizations or even large sized organizations. Communication is increased through social media around brands and products, enhancing negative and positive word-of-mouth around an organization and its products and services. Any message or information shared on Social Media channels can be seen by thousand people in less time (Ang, 2011).
Social media is a promotional tool and it does not need any of high costs of advertisements or long times. It is strategy of doing better marketing of organization and doing priceless marketing. When the focused audience are identified by the organization, then small investment can even be much fruitful. Through social media, the returns can be truly amazing. Basically, the Hubspot’s report explains that 63% of the organizations that use social media said that it has increased their effectiveness of marketing with some other benefits (Lovejoy and Saxton, 2012).
With respect to internet, the aim of marketing is delivering messages regarding products of company to customers. This is considered to be two-way communication, as social media marketing also involves communication from customers of company (Ketter and Avraham, 2012). The process of social media marketing includes communication in an interacted way. It has been found by them that the leading aims of social media marketing include interaction with customers through their recognition as prosumers that is a term used for producers as well as consumers. Prosumers are considered to be active users of web who are involved in creating active content for internet and consuming content produced by others (Akar and Topçu, 2011).
It has been found that it is not just a term, rather than that it has become a significant part of individuals’ life, because of increase in online communities. Through online communities, the interests and preferences of people are shared by them with each other. This has created a big opportunity for businesses to use social media for the purpose of advertisement and marketing. In contemporary marketing, it has become important for marketers to use social media for spreading their messages to potential customers. In most of the organizations, traditional media has been replaced by social media (Park, Kee and Valenzuela, 2009). With respect to utilization of social media as a tool of marketing, it has also become important for marketers to analyze the creation of new opportunities through advanced technology. With respect to new opportunities, organizations have got new ways of strengthening and expanding long term relationships with customers and building brands through using Facebook, Youtube and other related social media blogs (Kietzmann et al, 2011).
In addition to these opportunities, marketers of companies also have to face some challenges regarding management of relationships with customers. For example, customers can also share their negative views about products offered by company. Due to this, negative word of mouth is created by those customers and this result in shifting of customers to alternative products offered by other companies (Williams and Chinn, 2010). In contemporary business world, there is a need by marketers to communicate every aspect of product to customers. In addition to this, social media helps companies in gaining insights of customers and listening to view points of customers related to a product or service (Khang, Ki and Ye, 2012).
In today’s contemporary world, internet is considered to be the most common tool used by consumers for finding information related to products and services that they want to buy. The potential consumers use social media as a platform of gaining view points of other customers and this information is used by potential customers for making decision regarding purchase of specific product. Social media sites are highly used by consumers for sharing their experiences and feedbacks about products and services bought by them. These opinions and feedbacks are considered to be very important by consumers while making purchase decision. Social media marketing is also helpful for companies to get feedback of customers related to specific product or service (Fischer and Reuber, 2011).
With the help of internet, positive as well as negative word of mouth related to a product or service is created. Word of mouth is considered to be highly important for consumers while taking purchasing decision. So, social media has a significant impact on purchase decisions of customers, because opinions and suggestions are sought by consumers through this. It has been found through research that 78% of customers stated that they consider recommendations and feedback of other customers while buying any product or service (Safko, 2010).
Social media marketing affects customers as feedback loop is formed using social media and in this way their channel of purchase is influenced. Social media marketing creates brand awareness as customers get to know about the products or services offered by specific brand. Customers get a chance of evaluating different brands on the basis of recommendations and feedback given by existing customers. This way, they can decide that which brand or product they should buy (Chi, 2011).
To participate in online societies can be stated as passive or active. Active society members are termed as the ones who have interaction with their other members in opposed to the ones who only analyze the information. Passive members do the browsing of the online societies but they do not get involved in the activities of community. Such members are called as lurkers of free riders. Because of the reason that lurkers make traffic and they increase the Website hits, if there will be more number of members in the online communities (like both of the active and passive members), they will be more prosper. However, the success of the community is not dependent on the number of lurkers, which states that the members do have any involvement in the activities of community. But lurkers tend to follow their own objectives and get less benefit from the community works (Castronovo and Huang, 2012).
On contrary to this, active members are the ones who are too much encouraged to make participations in the online societies and therefore they tend to share knowledge and information, they make contribution in the rapid dissemination of effective content to other people, and they give emotional support to other group members (Sterne, 2010). For example, the main reason of Youtube popularity is because of the active members and their contributions. As the members of community actively post any information regarding product and they share their experiences, the society gets information that can get new customers and they maintain powerful links with the present members. Along with this, active participation of members increases the knowledge related to the products and brands and therefore make them enough able to give suggestion for solving the issues with usage of product and assist each other in making decisions regarding products (Halligan and Shah, 2009). According to the researches, it has been proven that behaviours of members have changed from passive to active. New customers have made participation in the online activities in order to get information and to determine for if they should share their interests regarding community or not (Hensel and Deis, 2010).
It has been seen that customers are engaged in various cognitive processes in order to evaluate the information related to the competing and preferred brands (Laroche, Habibi and Richard, 2013) The selection process of information can be affected because of the brand commitment, which is depicted as the powerful and positive attachment of customers with a particular brand. Whereas, customers who tend to be committed in a particular brand do the evaluation of competing brand and ignore taking into account the brands of competitors while making decisions regarding purchases (Michaelidou, Siamagka and Christodoulides, 2011). They are likely to defend their attitudes regarding brands while assuming threats like unlikely information related to the preferred brands or favourable information related to the competing brands (Castronovo and Huang, 2012).
Consumers who perceive such threats tend to secure their positive attitudinal position toward their preferred brands by searching for favourable information about their brand and maintaining their beliefs about the brands. In other words, consumers want to see evidence that their preferred brands are different from other brands (Ang, 2011).
Customers who do not have much interest towards the particular brand tend to be afraid of their competing brands. These customers tend to take into account any brand which fulfil their requirements and to get information regarding emerging brands (Chan and Guillet, 2011).
These customers tend to consider the brand that does the satisfaction of their requirements and to get information related to new brands. They tend to consider the similarities in between the positive approaches of their preferred brands as compared to the competitors. There is a possibility that replacements can be adopted by the customers when they feel like that preferred brand is similar to the competing brand (Bruhn, Schoenmueller and Schäfer, 2012).
An online community tends to involve a group of customers because of the reason that group involves the people with common objectives and interests. Members tend to explain how products will be used and ask various group members for repairing the product and maintain the information regarding product. As there is frequent and active participation of members in the online communities, they get more knowledge about the brand, and therefore they produce expertise on brands and products. These members can also assist some other members of community. Content or information which is being posted by the members involves some of the positive message supporting the famous brands, which secures their positions related to the brands (Mangolds and Faulds, 2009).
Through active participation the commitment of members related to specific brands is increased because of the reason that members with same interest in the brands can interact and communicate with each other with the help of discussion boards of community. Why shared sympathy is experienced by them on some particular problems regarding consumption experiences, or preferred brands, positive attitude about the brands can be increased (Aydin, Özer and Arasil, 2005).
Due to advancement in internet and digital technology, companies are increasingly adopting social media for introducing their products to potential as well as existing customers. Different social media platforms are used by organizations for the purpose of marketing like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Marketers are encouraged through social media for targeting customers in a way that is cost effective. Social media marketing helps companies in introducing their products to customers in less cost. The platforms of social media provides excellent analytics and this way executers get help to stay at top and to take decisions in proper time in order to make effective campaign. It is not easy for organizations to use social media for the purpose of marketing. There is a need of proper planning and time for effectively using social media to market products to customers. In contrary to traditional media, social media adaptation is much easier for companies whether big or small organizations.
Social media is considered as a cost effective source to market products or services of a company and through effective utilization of social media, the companies can increase brand loyalty. In addition to brand loyalty, the customers’ decision to purchase products is also changed through social media marketing. Companies become capable of achieving their goals and objectives through using social media. The most important platform of social media is Facebook, that can be used by companies for attracting customers and in addition to this, companies can also get feedback of customers through Facebook. Social media has provided a lot of benefits to companies. In order to draw more positive and beneficial outcomes, there is a need of effectively adopting social media for the purpose of marketing by companies. Organizations utilizing the methods of traditional marketing methods (like test marketing, focus groups and surveys) often spend a large number of amount in order to position the focused markets. Creating a strategy of social media will assist them to visualize where are potential customers. The organizations can look forward to Fan pages and related groups with the help of Facebook, initiate account on the bookmarking websites like StumbleUpon or Digg, and test who is interested in your site, through testing that who is connecting to your website.
Social media provides business with less budgets the facility to discover that what are people's views about them (and others) present in the industry, without even making large payments on the research of markets. With ears on the social media ground, the first one to know about the working of the product will be organization itself or if alterations are required, then organization will abruptly analyze that.
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