1.1 Background of social media
In the recently year, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are more likely to be growth companies than other large corporation in the UK. According to the statistics at the beginning of 2012 by Business Population Estimates (2012) state that there are about 4.8 million SMEs, comparison with previous year it increased by 253,000, and it took 99.9% of all private sector businesses all over the UK. It is obviously that SMEs are playing a most important role in the UK economic. At the same time, with the rapid developing of internet, then social media, as a part of Internet product was growth fast as well. Social media is kind of online word of mouth forums, customer can discuss on the board; write a comment and some social networks. As Gillin (2007) stated conventional marketing can share the information to 10 friends nearby, however social media may tell 10 million. There are amount of issues in social media. Face book as one of the popular example, "has over 955 million active users, who log on at least once every 30 days, half of these active users actually log on every day."(Michel, et al, 2012). It means social media provide a unique connection to foster their together. Furthermore, there are many kinds of other social media, such as, Youtube, Twitter, and Blog.
1.2 Background of brand awareness
Nowadays, brand awareness, as the basic dimension of brand equity is most important to marketing success. Brand can shape customer decision and finally increase sales and income to enterprise, (Czinkota and Ronkainen, 2010). According to Norback (2005) stated that one of the familiar brand in the marketplace can provide a certain level of quality, while marketers had extra opportunity to attract loyal customers. Ultimately, brand awareness is well known and is easily recognizable. In a simply example, McDonald is the first brand in your mind when people is hungry, it means McDonald is a successful brand awareness. This is because brand awareness plays an important role in consumer decision-making. There are three reasons for this, Learning advantage, Consideration advantage and Choice advantage. (Keller, et al 2012). Therefore, brand awareness determines the success or failure of any enterprise, while using modern social media is a good way to increasing their brand awareness. The competition among business for customer has never been greater. In this environment, enterprise needs to stand out and have every possible advantage to be successful.
1.3 Problem discussion
As discussed above, most enterprise is aware of raising awareness through social media marketing for their brand; this is because social media could be opportunity and/ or threat in SMEs. In addition, the social media offer a cost effective way for the SMEs to improve their brand awareness. One of the difficult questions as most entrepreneurs realized is, how to improve their brand awareness in positive way in order to let more potential consumer know. As Weber (2009) pointed out that creating a dialogue with customers is better than other finding them through internet, and social media is a most promise way to bring the new customer and enterprise closer. Social media can discover the priorities and values of those who might be interested in this kind of product or services, and it provides very effective and practically instant feedback from online communications. However, it sometimes can be in a negative way as well. For instance, comment was written from lots of different user ID, but it could be a same one. Then it could be decrease the customer’s trust for any particular enterprise. The combination of social media and brand awareness is a complex process; the influence of social media was affected by both of them. Due to the limited resource in this area, and with the discussion above, this dissertation will be focus on social media in SME’s brand awareness.
1.4 Research aim and objectives
Aim: To explore how social media (Facebook) contribute to the SME’s brand awareness.
To explore the importance of brand awareness in the SMEs.
To investigate the role of social media played in the process of brand awareness.
To establish if there is a relationship between social media and SMEs performance.
To analysis the advantages and disadvantages of social media in SMEs.
2. Literature Review 2800
2.1. What is social media? 400
In addition to the definition given in section 1.1, Blackshaw& Nazzaro (2004) defines social media as " a variety of new sources of online information that are created, initiated, circulated and used by consumers intent on educating each other about products, brands, services, personalities and issues."
The tools and strategies for communication has been changed since the development in Internet in the last decade, social media as the future of communication, a countless array of internet based tools and platforms that increase and enhance the sharing of information. This new form of media makes the transfer of text, photos, audio, video, and information in general increasingly fluid among internet users. As Nielsen (2009) stated that two third of internet users visited a social network or blog in 2009 all over the world. It also is a familiar phenomenon in daily life. Waiting for the bus or taking the subway, most of people are looking at their mobile phones, among whom most of them are reading updates or information from the social media( such as Face book and Twitter).
The theory of social media was started around ten years age. It began with LinkedIn, which was launched in 2003, followed by both MySpace and Facebook in 2004, Youtube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006. In less than a decade, its population has grown rapidly, and it has reached billions of people in the worldwide. Facebook has more than 500 million users worldwide; Twitter has approximately 175 million users; LinkedIn has more than 90 million users; and MySpace has 57 million users. (Curtis, 2011).
As it mentioned earlier, there is a diverse ecosystem of social media sites which is depend on their scope and functionality for different kind of people. Some social media are social networking sites (Myspace, Facebook, Faceparty) while other (apple.com) pay more attention on company sponsored websites. (Mangold and Faulds, 2009). A comprehensive social media example list was provided by the below table.
Source: Mangold and Faulds, (2009)
With the social media platforms, the "consumers are in control; they have greater access to information and greater command over media consumption than ever before’’ as cited by Vollmer and Precourt, 2008. Meanwhile, with the shift in power over control of disseminated information in favour of the consumers, the consumers have now been demonstrated to market information in a significantly different way and are more tend to rely on one another for receiving valuable product information (Singh et al., 2008).
2.2 Comparison between social media and traditional media600
During the traditional marketing area, marketers employ integrated marketing communications principles in order to present a unified message to the target audience. As Mangold and Faulds (2009) stated that integrated marketing communications not only try to put the promotional mix (advertising, personal selling, public relations, publicity, direct marketing and sales promotion) into the scope of marketing activities, but also it is a sample way to help enterprise show their unique information to customer.
The majority of media theories assume that traditional media has singular power to disseminate information and thus, impact public opinion; however, in the age of net-worded media, citizens can bypass traditional media to engage with other, like-minded citizens. As the supply of media shifts away from the limited content offerings of traditional media monopoly ownership towards a long tail of niche-based, personalized media forms( Anderson, 2006), it is important to examine how the impact of social influence within networks of like-minded communities impact traditional media power.
Social media has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years and as a result of this popularity, other traditional media have experienced decline in both business and popularity. Palmer and Lewis (2009) argued that the main stream media channels have faced many challenges in recent times that have led to closure with TV facing down turn in their profits levels. Palmer and Lewis are correlating the performance of these traditional channels to the rise of social media in marketing and brand management. As a result of completion and tough economic environment, companies have tightened their budgets especially advertising budgets which have shifted to online channels. According to Forrester research study (Ernst, et al, 2011) found that companies or brands are gradually shifting their advertising priorities to align better with today’s buyers. Today’s buyers are tech savvy and social media maniacs.
Also, it has been noticed that consumers are starting to be averse to traditional advertisement platforms such as television and the print media and are constantly looking for ways of self determine how much mass media they are exposed to. In this light, Rashtchy et al. (2007) observed that consumers are demonstrating affinity for accessing and obtaining information promptly according to their perceived need and without jeopardizing their convenience.
2.3 Social media and marketing600-800
According to Web (2009) state that marketing to social media means to adopt a completely new way of communicating with an audience in a digital environment.
The popularity of social media sites has also spread to companies and firms as part of their strategies. Lots of enterprises have received some benefits by using social media marketing. A study by public relation firm Burson-Marsteller shows that 86% of 100 largest companies on the Fortune 500 list use at least one of the social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or blogs, and 28% of them use all these four platforms. The study also shows that 65% of these companies use Twitter, which makes it as the most popular social media site among business firms (Burson-Marsteller, 2010). According to social media marketing industry report, 64% of marketers spend five hour or more per week on social media and 39% of them spend ten hours or more weekly( Stelzner, 2009). As Meadow-Klue(2007) state that social media marketing is the right channel for marketers to regain attention from potential customers. Furthermore, social media marketing may able to build closer relationships between company and customers; it is a good way to expand the market to the new customers that could not reach before (Rooney, 2011). These finding show that more and more companies are becoming actively involved in social media, which also shows the emerging of social media sites as the new marketing/promotion platform that is also known as social media marketing.
However, social media marketing is not only for the largest multinational corporations; it may be easier and more effective, argues Weber (2009), for a relatively small or medium size company to take maximum advantages of the social media.
Recent research confirms that human are living in the digital information age, marketing managers should consider the power and critical nature of the discussions being carried on by consumers using social media. The impact of the interactions between the roles of customer in the develop process of social media and execution of marketing strategy is illustrated by the following points. First of all, marketing managers have to accept the reality that a large number of information about product or view is being discussed via social media by individual customers. According to Rashtchy et al (2007), the internet starts to become a mass media for consumer communications. Internet is top one useful source of media at work and home. The number of internet users reaches more than 60% of all US consumers, nearly half of Americans get some form of local news on a mobile device, and 46% of people get some their news online at least three times a week. Secondly, with the increasing number of consumers are turning away from the traditional elements of promotion mix. For instance, customers are reducing their reliance on tradition advertising to lead their decision making. As Foux (2006) state that social media is realized by customers as a most trustworthy source of information by introduce their product or service than the traditional communication. Finally, managers who are accustomed to exerting a high level of control over company to customer messages must learn to talk with their customers. This is because consumers are turning more frequently to various types of social media to conduct their information searches and to make their purchasing decisions. ( Lempert, 2006)
Furthermore, online marketing has lots of strengths, like the speed of accessing the information is very first and extremely cost effective, and there is a not geographical boundary for online marketing. In addition to cost effectiveness, the marketer likewise has the opportunity to research new supplier at a fraction of previous search costs. In other words all the marketing research conducted through internet is very cost effective (Gay et al.2007). On the other hand Gay et al (2007) are quick to point out some major weakness that online marketing face. The first problem is that cultural and language difference may present difficulties in information gathering across national boundary. Another one is that, it can be difficult to guarantee that person responding is the person the marketer thinks they are.
Therefore, it is imperative for marketers to find suitable platforms to suite their marketing objective. A good marketing objective enables marketer to acquire new customers, while retaining the already existing ones through customer satisfaction.
2.4 What is branding? 400
Over the last few decades, there are a great number of companies that began to use brand as their invaluable source of competitive advantage and marketable asset (Kapferer, 2008). The well known brands examples are Hilton, Mercedes-Benz, Coca Cola, and Samsung. In brand management literature, the traditional definition of a brand was formulated by the American Marketing Association in 1960. The American Marketing Association (2012) defines brands and branding as "A brand is a customer’s experience represented by a collection of images and ideas; often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme." Aperia and Back (2004) look at the brand and branding from another angle and he claims that brand building is a process which takes places both within the consumer and company’s minds. On the one hand, branding is recognized by more and more people, especially when most of the companies offer the same product and service. On the other hand, branding is a good way to help companies to build a good reputation and a sign of quality to satisfied customers. It is usually stated that the companies appreciates strong brands because strong brands contribute to high profitability, and also the customers appreciate the brands because they reduce uncertainty. Therefore, According to Keller, 2003), in order to building a successful brand, it is important for the companies to create unique brand associations.
2.5 Social media and brand awareness 600-800
As Keller (2003) state that the definition of brand awareness is "the consumers’ ability to recall and recognize the brand as reflected by their ability to identify the brand under different conditions and to link the brand name, logo, symbol, and so forth to certain association in memory." In another words, brand awareness is about the strength of a brand in the mind of its target audience along a continuum ( Aaker, 1996). In addition, Aaker(1996) emphasizes that brand awareness can be important for new or niche brands; and for well-known brands, brand recall and top of mind are more significant.
In the social media environment, enterprise gains the increased exposure to its brand when customer uses their product or service every time. Traditionally, brand awareness is measured through racking studies and surveys. However, marketers have lots of way to track brand awareness by social media. As Weber (2009) compares the traditional way of looking at brand equity, in terms of brand recall and point to that social networks have become an important media channel, brand equity is a living thing and should be measured not in terms of brand recall but by dynamic measures such as customer word of mouth.
A strong brand ought to be based on the dialogue you have with your customers and prospects, the stronger the dialogue, and the stronger the brand. The social web allows companies to have these kinds of dialogues more efficiently and less expensively than the past. (Weber, 2009). In addition, Aaker (2005) predicts that with multitude of new social media have developed and it is constantly becoming more challenging to create this brand awareness. Instead of creating brand awareness through brand recall, it is about how likely customers are to highly recommend the good or services to others.
To create brand awareness in a successful way considering that consumers everyday are bombarded by a great quantity of marketing messages, two things are needed. On the one hand, it is necessary to have a broad sales base; this is because it is expensive and often impossible even to support brands with relatively small unit sales and short lifecycle. This is the reason why many firms reduce the number of their brands and focus only on a few brands. On the other hand, enterprises need to acquire the knowledge of operating outside the traditional media channels. There is also a close connection between brand awareness and brand positioning.
According to Kotler (2003), positioning is about enabling a brand to occupy a "distinct and valued place" in the mind of the target consumer. In a positioning statement, the benefits a brand offer specific target audiences in order to satisfy a particular need are addressed. Brand positioning can be thought of as the element that tells the potential customer what the brand is, who it is for, and what it offers. (Elliott &Percy, 2007).
Consider the great importance that brand awareness has in the creation of brand equity, and that recent research take into account also how social media influence brand awareness, brand awareness is the aspect of branding that his thesis will focus on. The approach will be a combination of Weber’s and Asker’s theory, which is the strongest form of brand awareness will be considered to be word of mouth (Weber, 2009). Consequently, social media plays a significantly role in building and improving brand awareness in modern marketing situation, and it can be in negative way as well.
A methodology is used to explain the method to investigate, describe and explain a particular phenomenon claimed by Levin (2005). Some researchers treat methodology as a synonym for methods, however, Reich(1995) stated that methodology as a compatible collection of assumptions and goals underlying methods, the methods, and the results of carrying the methods out being interpreted and evaluated. In addition, as Saunders et al. (2007) announced that research methodology is a certain way to gain knowledge in a systematic way.
In fact, whatever in any kind of research, a clearly sequential process should be defined for it, and a good research must be follow those series of stages. The methodology employed for this research methodology is a seven-step approach which consists of: identifying topic/ research problem, Literature review, designing the research, collecting data, analyzing data and writing up thesis.(Malhotra& Birks, 2006).
3.1 The purpose of research
There must be an objective for any research in order to carry out the result. This is the reason that researchers are in three categories: descriptive studies, explanatory studies and exploratory studies.
3.1.1 Descriptive studies
Descriptive studies are observational studies which describe the patterns of disease occurrence in relation to variables factors, such as situation, event or environment. It is normally the first step or initial enquiry into a new topic or condition. Most of descriptive studies involve a lack of a clear, specific and reproducible case definition and establishing a casual relationship which the data cannot support. So this type of research purpose is frequently used when a problem or situation is well explained.
An explanatory study is trying to explain why things happen in this way. As Kumar (2011) state that the purpose of Explanatory studies tries to establish and clarify why and how there is a relationship between aspects of a situation or phenomenon. It aims to develop precise theory that can be used to definitively explain the phenomena, which leads to the generalization from the research.
An exploratory study is undertaken when not much is known about the situation or no information is available on how similar problem or research issues have been solved in the past. More details should be known in order to clarify the concept and scope of this study, so the major emphasis of exploratory studies is on the discovery of ideas and insights (Saunders et al. 2009). The most popular way for exploratory research is using the exits information, for instance, literature review, interviews, focus group and case study.
The main purpose of this research is to identify whether social media (Facebook) contribute to the SMEs, because both social media and brand awareness are prior information, so the research purpose is descriptive studies and exploratory studies. The process of research for this project will be discussed in the chapter.
There are two main research approaches which are often used: inductive approach and deductive approach. The choice of approach depends on the extent to which existing knowledge and theories are available related to the topic, and also the research can be conduct from different ways. Simply, the fundamental difference between these two approaches is that inductive is creating the theory while deductive is testing the theory.
As Saunders et al (2009) state that inductive approach normally start from the specific observation, to explore patterns and regularities, and finally develop some tentative theories. At the same time, inductive approach is suitable for a small size of research. In contrast, the deductive approach always moves from general theory to the specific details. This research has been adopted by deductive approach, because the topic was based on the theory, and the intention is to produce the specific factors or explanations.
Qualitative and quantitative
There are two main research methods which are often used: qualitative research and quantitative research. According to Malhotra (1996), qualitative research is unstructured, primarily exploratory design based on small samples which intends to provide insight to understanding. By contrast, quantitative research is to use quantified data and apply a series of forms of statistical analysis (Narech & David, 2006).
Qualitative research refers to discover what may account for certain kinds of behavior, such as brand awareness. It explores many covert understanding which has great impact on buying decisions and aims to satisfy consumers’ needs. However, it is intrinsically subjective and it cannot provide statistical evidence on probability sampling (Chisnall, 2001). There are four main methods to do qualitative research: survey research, direct observation, in-depth interview, experimentation (McDaniel & Gates, 1995) and the analysis on document and material (Narech & David, 2006).
Quantitative research, which always compared with qualitative research, is concerning more on numbers, measurement without many words or phrases analysis. It establishes the casual relations between two variables and figures out the relations on the significance of these data or numbers (Miles & Huberman, 1994). In other words, it aims to classify features, count them, and construct statistical models in an attempt to explain what is observed. It provides the basic relations between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. In addition, quantitative research is logical with linear structured hypothesis (Malhotra,1996).
Therefore, because this study is an explorative study and the aim of this research is to explore how social media (Facebook) contribute to SME’s brand awareness, so the best qualitative research strategy is a case study. The following section outlines the research design and analysis adopted, highlighting the benefits of cast study research and its design limitations.
The research design is very important for the collection and analysis data, because it is the foundation and the logical sequence in this process. According to Bryman and Bell (2007) state that there are five different kinds of research designs and it is suitable for both qualitative and quantitative strategy, including experimental design, cross sectional design, longitudinal design, case study design, and comparative design. Although it is important to design a study by using the diverse aspect in terms of methodologies, and a multiple date collection method has been suggested to use for supporting this exploratory study. The purpose of this chapter is trying to find the useful information while collect the right one from diverse to give accurate results for the final research. In studying social media phenomena and brand awareness, a case study method is adopted for this research.
3.4.1 Case study
According to Yin (2009) state that the case studies method can be use as a suitable research when the investigated factor are complex and deeply embedded in the organizational context of a company. When using a case study method in a research, the natural question in the mind is whether to focus on one case or multiple cases. As Yin (2003) pointed out that single case study are normally used to describe and explore the situation where complex interactions occur in a single environment, but multiple case study pay more attention to explain a situation from many examples. Gillham (2000) concludes that multiple cases are about incorporating several cases to establish whether the findings of the first case occur in others as well. So this research is based on the multiple case companies and the research approach is presented as a qualitative case study, it is going to explore how social media (Facebook) contribute to SME’s brand awareness.
3.4.2 Social media choice: Facebook
Social media, also known as user generated media, is a new phenomenon that serves different purposes with numerous service providers around the world. Since it is impossible to study all social media platforms in one study, for the purpose of this one, Facebook was determined to be the best fit. Facebook is a privately held social media company founded in 2004. The company provides the utility that helps people communicate with each other and facilitate the sharing of information by digitally mapping people’s real world social connections online (Facebook,2011).
As it mentioned early, Facebook had about 1 billion users all over the world, and it is a good social media tool for connection between organizations and their consumers. The original purpose of creating Facebook is easy to connect and communicate with other student in American, but now it is used by government, corporations and nor-profit organization to promote their brand and publish news. Therefore, Facebook is adoption by global internet users and organizations, and it will be the only choice as the social media laboratory for this study.
In the empirical study, Studio A technology company can be considered as a case company in the area of this research. The reason of selecting this company start from This Company was established in 2007 in Taiwan, as Apple premium resellers. It means that all over of their products is only apple product, such as Iphone, Ipod, Ipad and other apple products. A range of accessories are also available in the shop. Studio A has a strong brand awareness in Taiwan as SMEs, most of local citizen can recognize their brand. In 2012, Studio A has a turnover of approximately 4 million dollars and has about 170 employees. (Studio A.com, 2012) Studio A has an outstanding reputation for providing service and care for apple products on Facebook. Due to the good situation, Studio A is planning to open more branches at other Asia countries.
ONE MORE COMPANY WILL BE DISSCUSS LATER
3.4.4 Data collection methods
Considering the scopes of qualitative research, several data collection approaches are adaptable for exploratory investigations of management questions and case study thrives on multiple sources of data resulting as a result of triangulation (Blumberg et al. 2008). Because it not likes quantitative research, so there is no plenty of statistical data and fixed formulas for the analysis of case study data.
And this is the advantage of case studies because it permits the combination of different source of evidence, for example, interviews, documents and archives and observation. First of all, interviews are the most widely used source for collecting information for evidence and case study interview are often unstructured unlike surveys which are structured. And also relying on one key informant can cause validity issues which can lead to bias. Secondly, secondary data and archives is a very rich source of data. Examples of document are reports, articles, newspapers and internal memo. It is also worth mentioned by Blumberg et al (2008) that documents have shortcomings, this is because most of documents are in written form and therefore can be objective and one dimensional. Archives records are also an important source of information and examples include customer survey data, database of customers’ online comments or activities and charts. Thirdly, observation is also a good source of information and also a research approach in itself. It gives the research additional information to augment other data collection methods. The benefit of observation as a source of information is that it grants the researcher access to firsthand information through casual approach.
Any kind of social research asserts its claims to fulfill certain quality criteria for measuring and collecting data. It is widely accepted that measurement or the methods of measurement should be as objective, reliable and valid as possible.
Weber, L. (2009) Marketing to the cosial web. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.