Social media platforms have proliferated in the recent past owing to growth and sophistication of technology in the information communication. The use of social medial has become popular in the business world, especially in advertising and promotion of products. This is largely because of a large number of people who use social sites. These people are also potential users of goods and services produced by firms. Tools offered by social sites are cheap to advertise various products. However, social sites have a fair share of their problems, especially when it comes to safety of organization’s data.
Social networking has not only become a social tool, but it has also been rapidly adopted by businesses and organizations because of numerous benefits that it offers to many business firms across the world today. This transformation is occurring in real time. Many organizations do not look at social media, for instance Facebook, as just social media sites, but they are contemplating on how they can use it to move their businesses to the next level. In the last few years of this century both the speed of adoption of social networking tools and the age of majority of users have increased rapidly above the expected levels. Ne number of people using networks like LinkedIn and Facebook amounts to millions of users. Therefore, it is no wonder that organizations are chatting on how to support the use of such applications to create value to their businesses. Today social networking is playing a strategic role in corporate communication, marketing, promotion, and relationship management between employees, consumers, and other vital stakeholders (Knapp 2006).
While social networking began as a way of interacting for individuals, businesses are now engrossed in it to capitalize on this revolution as they search for specific strategies and moves to obtain value from it. There has been increased investment in social networking by businesses. If used effectively and efficiently, social networking sites and tools can enable marketing executives, sales managers, and customer service agents to initiate meaningful interactions with customers in many new ways. The true value from social networking tools, however, cannot be gained in isolation. Organizations need to keep track of their core business processes and customer management moves and identify how social networking can further enhance and improve those initiatives. The biggest question has been how social media impacts business operations today (Sharma 2009).
Social networking is prevalent in most societies today because of increased Internet access and because of the availability of technology platforms such as phones, personal computers tablets as well as devices for accessing the Internet. More than two million people in the world today have access to social network Facebook. Facebook has become a multi-billion business firm in the world. It issued its shares through an initial public offer that was highly oversubscribed. With this huge potential many business executives are trying to ponder on the roles of social media in business affairs management. In order to understand this, it is critical for the business to understand various social media tools that exist in the world and can be of benefit to business firms today.
Social Media Tools
Twitter allows business firms to promote their goods and/or services on an individual capacity. The use of a product or a service can be expounded in short messages that users view. These texts appear on users' home pages. Messages can provide links to the websites where goods and services are produced, Facebook profiles, photos, and videos. These links give users the opportunity to spend more time viewing the goods and services online. This interaction creates a sting connection between goods and users and can also result in more promotion opportunities. Twitter promotes a product in real-time and attracts a lot of consumers. A transport firm can utilize Twitter to promote its services to its clientele who have joined Tweeter social media (Michael 2008).
Facebook is the most popular social media in the world today. It has a huge fan base as compared to all other social sites with over two million users in the world today. This makes many business firms prefer it over other social media sites in the world today. Many business firms advertise and promote their products and services through it. Facebook profiles are normally more detailed as compared to those on Twitter. They allow products to air videos, photos, and other detailed descriptions of their products. Videos are used to demonstrate how products are used by the consumers. These also can include testimonials as other followers of these sites can comment on product pages for others to view. For the road transport sector Facebook can be of utmost importance since it can be used to increase awareness of Facebook users about the existence of business as well as about the services that it offers to its clientele.
There are many reasons for business firms to add blogging platforms to their social media portfolio. A platform like LinkedIn creates an environment for business firms and clients to connect online. Companies that do recognize the need for information, creativity, and accessibility use blogs to make their products popular and outstanding and to ultimately reach out to consumers, who are savvy to social media platforms. They allow a product or a company to provide detailed descriptions of products or services to people, who engage in blogging activities. Longer descriptions usually include reasoning and uses. They can incorporate testimonials and can bridge from Facebook, Twitter, and many social sites and blog pages. Blogs can be updated regularly. They are promotional techniques for sourcing and maintaining customers. Online users benefit businesses since they enable them to reach clients of other businesses using the blog platform. These online environments can be accessed by virtually anybody, and thus consumers are invited to be a part of the innovative process. To allow firms measure their standing in the corporate world there is a site where employees can place evaluations of their companies. This is known as the glass door.
Some businesses opt out of integrating social media platforms into their traditional marketing promotional means and methods because their workers dislike such online environments. There are also specific corporate measures that apply when interacting online. To ensure that they benefit in a business-consumer relationship, businesses have to be aware of four factors that consumers maintain. These factors are information, involvement, community, and control.
This is a professional business-related networking site, which allows companies to create professional profiles for themselves as well as their business to network and integrate with others. It makes use of widgets where members can promote various social networking activities such as Twitter tweets or blog entries on their product pages on their LinkedIn profile page. It gives its members a chance to generate sales streams and business partners. Their members can use pages similar to those of Facebook to create a place that will allow business professionals to promote and advertise their products or services and interact with their customers (Wauters 2009).
This is another popular site today, where advertisements are presented in a way to meet expectations of its target group. The kind of language used in commercial adverts and the ideas used to promote goods or services reflect style, preference, and taste of target groups. The adverts on this social platform are usually aligned with the content of the video that the user has requested, which gives advertisers another advantage by using YouTube. Some advertisements are presented with certain videos, particularly if the content in the video is relevant to the features of the product being advertised. Promotional events, like sponsoring a video, are also feasible on YouTube.YouTube also enables publishers to get revenues via what is called the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). YouTube also allows marketers to promote their product free of charge.
It consists of comprehensive online indices of business profiles. One can search a business by location in the same way as by using Yellow Pages. The website is used in seven different countries, including the United States and Canada. Here business people create, share, and edit their business profiles. They post information on business location, its contact information, pictures, and information on the kind of services it offers. The website also allows individuals to post evaluations about their businesses and rate them on a five-point scale. Messaging and talk features are availed for general users of the website to assist the members in making their buying decisions (Harris 2008).
The above mentioned social networking sites are of strategic importance to business firms today. As explained in the way they are used in promotional and advertising activities, these social media platforms can affect the road transport business in certain ways, which are discussed below.
1. Social networks allow to transfer power from business firms to consumers since majority of consumers can influence each other. Social networks are increasingly growing in popularity, and profit making businesses today cannot rely only on traditional forums such as radio, newspapers, and television to improve the attitude of general public to products they offer. Customers in the transport sector, once they are satisfied with the services that the company is offering, are likely to share this information. In this way the business is transferring its promotional functions to consumers, who are also users of social media, to advertise its products in the market. However, the firm should be cautious to offer high quality services because in case the firm offers poor services to its consumers, they are likely to spread this negative impression to their friends on social sites.
2. Modern communication media also enable businesses to use means and methods to establish and keep a continued connection with their constituents. By utilizing this information coming from social networks businesses become able to identify their influential consumers, enhance their participation in product development process, and increase brand loyalty of users. Normally, an organization has a group of consumers, who largely consume its products and services. Such consumers are very influential, and the business has to do everything within its power with a help of social sites to consistently stay in touch with them. For a transport business corporate clients are very influential, and hence it should use appropriate social media to keep in touch with them constantly.
3. As businesses continue to deliver business value through social networks, care should be taken so that the company would not lose control of whatever information it is spreading in the market regarding the product. Like numerous firms have discovered, it is necessary for a firm to get involved in social media chats. Social networking cites should be perceived as media that business organizations ought to continuously keep track of. Therefore, the transport firm should take caution on what information is present in the social media regarding its services to avoid any misinformation reaching its clientele.
4. Social networking media not only provides the ability for users to communicate with each other, but it also enable users to find individuals with whom they share opinions and views. Once they find each other, they can form groups based on their mutual shared interests. In this case, if a consumer has been satisfied by firms' transport services, he/she can find other friends and colleagues in the social media, who they share interests with. In this way, they will spread positive word of mouth on the social websites, and this will lead to increased number of people demanding firm's transport services. This will consequently increase its client base and its revenue streams (DiMicco 2008).
5. An organization should adopt a social networking application for internal use. This transcends traditional collaboration tools such as Microsoft Power Point by putting more emphasis on the user rather than on the content of the system. Each and every user can create a profile, exchange information, and establish relationships with fellow users within the organization. These social media tools can be integrated with other internal applications and organizational processes.
6. The use of these tools is increasing in big organizations, where consumers' needs are paid much attention to, are highly valued, and quickly noted. They also play important role when customers need to be contacted and effectively engaged. These tools also provide a social dimension by helping build relationships between employees with common interests in an organization. Anyone with some business understanding can establish that communication between employees. It is a very important factor when it comes to motivation of employees. Use of social media will ensure high mobility of workers in the transport firm because they are constantly move owing to the nature of the work that they do (Powell 2010).
7. Social sites are also instrumental in fostering better and stronger customer relationship. It is critical for a firm to maintain a positive relationship with customers, and with a help of social networking tools in place this can be achieved expeditiously at a minimum cost. These forums create a cohesive warm relationship with customers. These relationships are vital to the transport business, which is a service business and requires friendly relationships with customers.
Social networking tools though important to the business holistically, are particularly vital to sales and marketing departments. This is vital to the firm as a whole because it is these departments that maintain the organization. Once the firm does not promote or sell its service, it is automatically going to drop out of business and its future performance and reputation will be at stake. Therefore, it is prudent for a transport company to develop social networking tools in each of these departments independently.
The Role of Social Media Tools in Marketing
Marketing is very important to any business organization. This is largely because the firm has to sell products or services that it produces to the market if it wants to remain in the business. Social networking offers organizations new marketing tools and knowledge about their products, innovative means to carry out and implement marketing activities, and new ways to turn disorganized online chats into implementable activities. However, to be able to do all this, organizations has to find ways and means to understand, monitor, and effectively participate in those online chats in social websites. It also has to evaluate them in connection with its current marketing strategies and activities. Social networking websites provide valuable opportunities for online marketing initiatives. Since social networking cites are disorganized and informal, they can appeal to numerous consumers on a more personal level in a way that is different from traditional marketing channels.
Marketing through social networks should not, however, replace traditional marketing, but it should instead be perceived as a complementary tool, which has its own special features and quality that complement and supplement company's marketing initiatives and activities. This approach can consequently increase effectiveness of channels used to promote the products In the transport business, therefore, social media can be effectively used alongside other methods of promotion such as the use of television, radio, and newspapers. The firm should create a data base to store all information it collects from the social sites and consolidate it so that the firm can take an action and respond to the views and opinions of customers for their satisfaction (Li 2008).
Role of Social Media Tools in Sales
Business is sustained by the sales department. Sales generate revenues to a business, and thus fostering and enhancing sales activities in a firm is critical. Social networking can be used to boost sales. Social networking can deliver positive results for a business by providing them with modern and improved ways to attract, create relationships, and increase understanding of their clients. Regardless of the benefits, there is certain degree of uncertainty that exists in relation to social networking in numerous organizations. More established sales professionals can perceive social networking as unreliable channel that shifts focus from business core activities. There is a tendency that more sales organizations realize the advantages of including social networking in their everyday sales processes. Any business, therefore, has to appreciate the role of social networking in promoting its sales. Moreover, social networks store reach information about interests, lifestyles, and attitudes of customers. This information can be difficult or impossible to be acquired otherwise. Together with accurate analysis information about customers from social networking sites that is publicly available can give a company additional insights into preferences, tastes, reactions, and behaviors of customers. This in its turn will result in increased sales activities and revenues. In the case of transport business, sales involves sales of services and it is important that the firm manages its sales carefully so that it can stay in business (Kassotakis 2010).
Conclusion and Recommendations
In conclusion it is apparent that social networking tools are vital to any business organization today. Business organization cannot exist in isolation, it has to appreciate current trends, especially the dynamics in the information communication technology. Business firms today have to accept the fact that social media tools are revolutionizing the way business operations are carried out. Managers have to integrate social media tools in their decision making units, especially those relating to sales and marketing.
Bearing in mind that there are millions of people in the world who are connected to these social sites, these same people are potential buyers of goods and services offered by firms. It has also been facilitated by increased affordability of technological platforms such as phones, personal computers, and tablets. It is, therefore, recommendable that business firms regularly utilize this information and response as well as reactions from the users of social media tools and come up with implementation plans that the business will try to address the concerns raised by existing and potential users of social media tools. Business should also focus on these sites because they are cheap to carry out their promotional activities online (Tobin 2010).