Social media new opportunities associated exploitation and co-creation in the realm of marketing and public relations. A case study of General Motor Automobile Company
Social media with no doubt is a reality in our daily lives and a necessity for any business. Incorporating social media technologies and blending them well with public relation and marketing leads to greater firm performance (Jain, 2012:19). This urges organizations to strategize within the diversifying technologies if they want to remain sound and in track within their undertaking.
Firms must find ways to explore the new and sophicated brand changing customers and employees. This paper will evaluate the shortcoming of social media on marketing and public relation rather than the significances of social media as just an effective tool for marketers.
This paper will briefly examine the role of different social media tools. Also it will shed some light in the significance and contribution of social media in modern marketing strategies. The traditional marketing methods will be briefly highlighted.
The role of public relation, which is an important marketing mix ingredient in marketing, will be defined. It will then narrow down in deeper details to scrutinize how social media has colluded and adversely undermined the task of marketing and role of public relation in business marketing. The strengths and challenges of social media as a new window for business marketing will be examined.
The use of credible academic literature will be used for purpose of references. It will also provide well grounded argumentation. These will ascertain whether social media objective do propel firms progress. Also how social media hinders marketing and the role of public relation in business. A case study of General Motor automobile company will be used to illustrate the significance of social media in marketing. Its demerits with regards to hindering marketing and public relation tasks in a firm will also be examined. The paper will concentrate on just the key and important aspects of the content, as the area is very broad.
Social networking 2.0 refers to the various application or website the help in supporting maintenance of the personal relationships and at the same time aid in the development of the potential ties through utilizing the web 2.0 technology.
Public relations refer to the various strategies that different organizations use in order to manage and control information (Parsons, 2008:74).
Background of the company
The General Motors (GM) is a global company that is involved in the deigning and selling of cars and trucks. The company owns over 18 brands of vehicles (General Motors Acceptance Corporation SWOT Analysis, 2008:1). The global presence is one of the factors that have helped the company to grow and develop. The company is has a strong leadership that has in turn helped it to achieve its strategic growth objectives. Moreover the management of the company has also committed effort in ensuring the company continues to hold a substantial market share in US. In addition, the company has also implemented the Onstar satellite technology that helps the vehicles owner to be able to track their vehicles (SWOT Analysis. 2007:6). Through adopting this new technology the company has managed to attract and retain most of its customers.
Tradition methods of marketing used by the company
Traditionally various business relied on the use of the media such as newspaper, television and radios in order to pass information to their stakeholders. Despite having some advantage the tradition media had several disadvantage when compared to the new media that currently use ecommerce. First the traditional media is more expensive compared to the social media (Humphrey & Laveri, 2011:48). This is because in most cases the business had to incur a lot of cost in order to prepare and broadcast their advert. The tradition media are also linked with in ability to respond to changes with time. According to Pirraglia & Kravitz (2013:166) it was also hard for the various businesses to be able to reach out their target audience while using the traditional media. In addition, the tradition media delivered limited information compared to the social media.
Modern methods of marketing used by GM
Social media is one of the modern methods that the company uses in order to market their products especially to the youths. Social media follows under the category of the e-commerce, which are system that are internet based and use the worldwide web to pass information. The way a business utilizes the social media is mainly based on the nature of the products or the services that they are offering in the market. Most of the businesses have adopted the use of the ecommerce in order to enhance the traditional business communication models.
Use of the social media has helped the company to achieve their strategic objectives. Molloy (2010:54) notes that social media helps the business to reduce the cost associated with advertising various goods and services as well as enhance the customer reach. In relation to this the social media helps firm to reach out customers that are not accessible due to the temporal and different locational limitations.
Social media is known to allow the company to provide unlimited information to their customer regarding the quality of the products and services that they are providing (Humphrey & Laverie, 2011:51). Such quality information is known to help the customers to make informed decisions. The social media helps to create a platform where the firm is able to interact with their customers. The social networking also increases the performance of an organization in the market greatly. This can be linked to the fact that an individual purchase behavior gradually increases especially if his or her friends have adopted the product.
Social media as used by GM comprises a wide range of tools that help in the business to communicate to their target customers. It includes the use of the word of mouth forum, including the company-sponsored discussions and chat rooms (Kahne & Middaugh, 2012:54). The businesses are also currently using the tools such as buffer, blog among others tools. Use of these social media tools plays a role in helping a business to establish the techniques used by their competitors to advertise their goods.
The management of General Motors uses the social media in various ways. First, the management of the company has created a Facebook page where the customers are able to air their grievances. In order to enhance the use of social media the company has created a department that is specifically involved in handling of the customers complains that are presented via the social media. The company also uses the social media in order to advertise new products and services in the market. Use of the social media helps the company to communicate to million people worldwide. Using the social media the company has managed to create a brand loyalty among its consumers. In addition the company also uses the social media to establish new opportunities that are available in the market.
Use of the social networking 2.0 enables GM to be able to create a list of contact details of its customers as well as other professionals that can help it to achieve its strategic growth objectives. In relation to this the tagging and the social bookmarking that is provided by the social media helps the employee of GM to be able to locate expert, plan for discussions as well as make informed decision. According to Tuten, (2008:12)social networking 2.0 allows the users to have the latest version of a given documents. The social networking tool also creates a culture of sharing where the business is able to share information with their customers. In addition, the social networking is also known to create a platform where the
Risk associated with the use of social media
Schlinke & Crain (2013:90) notes the business must ensure that it undertakes the social media strategy since failure undertake such measures put a business into a risk. In this case a firm that does not engage in the social media strategy risks being defined by its competitor as firm that does not have media strategy. However adoption of the social media strategy also puts organizations such as General Motors in under several risks. For instance the use of a damaging post can have an immeasurable impact on the brand even if such a post is taken down it may it might be retained by the competitors. Social media strategy is also costly since them business is forced to employ staff to be in charge of the social media department.
Use of the social media in marketing also puts a business in the risk of losing confidential to the hackers. In addition the GM is also faced with the challenge of dealing with the security risks since the social media provide the employee with an opportunity to download certain illegal applications
Disadvantage of the social media
This paper argues that despite the fact that social media helps the business to achieve its strategic growth objectives it is also has several disadvantages that can affect the production. According to Tute & Angermeier (2013:68) privacy concern is one of the critical issues associated with use of the social media. Failure of the management of an organization to take enough care with regard to the amount of information they are giving in their social media can lead to the loss of confidential information. Tute & Angermeier (2013:70) notes that currently over 40% of the social media user have no privacy setting in their social media profile thereby enabling the public to view their content and profile details.
Another major disadvantage associated with use of the use of the social media is the possibility of distortion of perception or the original message. Social media also creates a difficult scenario since the business is forced to struggle toward ensuring that it protects the consumer data (Friedrichsen, 2012:118). The employee of an organization can also pose a great damage to an organization if there are found behaving irresponsibility in the social media.
Moreover the social media is also known to create a legal liability for a business. The legal liability brought about by the use of the social media range from the misuse of the online data in the recruitment to the sexual harassment that is associated with the social media. The comments that the employee makes on the official company page in a given social media can also have an associated legal liability. Due to the legal liability associated with social media some of the company have been forced to implement the social media policy aimed at regulating the way the employee utilize the social media. Increased use of social media in an organisation is also associated with increased cases of cyber bullying.
Social media also has a potential of lowering the production in an organization. This happens in the situations where the employee wastes a lot of time chatting in these social sites (International symposium SymOrg, Levi-Jakšić & Barjaktarović, 2012:431). In relation to this social media can also act as a tool of spreading inaccurate information with regard to the products and services that the company is offering in the market.
Social media and public relation
According to Furlow(2011:62) public relation refers to the various strategies that are used in business to help build relationships and manage reputation of a business. The General Motors also uses the social media to manage their reputation and at the same time build relationship with new customer. The social media play a critical role in enabling the company to engage their customers in various issues (Phillips & Young, 2009:10). This engagement is also critical since it helps to promote the brand of the product in the market.
Social media provide General Motors with an opportunity to listen and therefore be able to respond to complain that are raised by the customers. Social media also provides the management of the company with a perfect opportunity to carry out market research in order to establish the consumer view with regard to the product (Brown, 2009:29). Through conducting research the company is therefore able to establish the demands and concerns that are raised by the customers. Most importantly using the social media to carry out market research enables the managers who are involved in the public relation to be able to establish some of the strategies that are used by the competitors.
Social media has helped to lower the cost associated with public relations. This is because the company in some cases can use their official Facebook page in order to release their PR statements. It is therefore worth noting that the social media has played a role in making the PR more interactive and engaging. In relation to this the social media has helped the PR to understand the minds of the consumers. The social media has provided the PR professional with an opportunity to be able to use the knowledge and insights from the consumers in order to communicate to them effectively (Duhé, 2007:99)
Negative impact of the social media on public relations
Despite the many opportunities social has brought about in the PR it is important to note that it has also brought several negative impacts. First, it has led to the emergence of more demanding consumers who are out to tarnish the image of the company (Noor & Hendricks, 2012:118). The consumers are now able to use the internet in order to search for information with regard to the different types of products that are present in the market. With such information the consumers can therefore use that knowledge to dispute the information given by the management of the company regarding the quality of the product.
The emergence of the social media has also complicated the marketing mix that was initially used by the PR staffs in GM( Phillips & Young, 2009:12). This is because the company has been forced to adopt marketing mixes that include both the traditional methods such as newspaper, billboard, and the new methods such as social media. Attractive social media page such as that GM often attract negative online publicity from the online customers who might be unhappy with the progress made by the company. The management GM has thereby been forced to implement strategies to help in motoring the company official page.
Theoretical perspectives of the social media marketing
One of the theories that are often applied by the social marketers to market their goods in the online platform is the theory of reasonable actions (Hunt, 2002:180).
The theory of reasonable action is often constructed on the behavioral and normative beliefs that people often have in the society. The behavioral intention is often dictated by the attitude that one has toward a particular thing. According to this theory the social marketer are supposed to carry out enough marking research in order to establish the beliefs and cultures of the consumers. After establishing the cultural beliefs the marketer are therefore supposed to develop a marketing strategy that is able be to capture the attitude of the customers. Through capturing the attitude of the consumers the social marketers are thereby able to capture the consumer buying behaviors (Blair & Tindale, 2012:174). However analysis of this type of theory it is evident that, it is to some extent exploitive since the marketers often take advantage of the consumer naivety to impose products.
Moreover, the social marketers in some cases also use the social cognitive theory in order to capture the interest of their target audience. According to the social cognitive theory the behavior the cognitive and other interpersonal factors and environmental factors are interrelated. The environment as used in the social marketing theory refers to the factors that can affect the behavior of an individual. The social cognitive theory assumes that learning is directly related to with the behavior of an individual (Baker & Saren, 2010:275). Through applying this theory in social media marketing the marketers are able to capture the consumers buying behavior. However application of this theory in order to capture the interest of the consumers can also be regarded as form of exploitation since the marketers appear to take advantage of the consumer ignorance.
From the above it is evident that the use of social media has provided a great opportunity in marketing. GM has managed to utilize the social media in order to reach out to its target customer. Using the social media the company has managed to promote its brand as one of the leading companies in the manufacture of the vehicles. Social media has also provided the company with an opportunity to outsource resources from other organization.
With regard to the public relation the social media has played a key role in ensuring the company is able to pass information to its customers regarding the products and services that it provides in the market. However it can also be argued that social media has also presented GM with several risk and challenges. The company faces the risk of losing some of its confidential information to its competitors. In order to solve some of these risks the company has been forced to implement measure to ensure that they regulate how their employee utilizes the social media.
The various strategies that the markers use in order to reach the target audience can also be seen as a form of exploitation. This is because in most cases they aim at capturing the attitude of the consumers in order to entice them to buy their products. Furthermore, the integration of the social networking technology with the traditional methods of marketing is also costly to an organization. It is therefore possible to conclude that social media has helped to create new opportunities although it is also associated with several disadvantages.
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