Corstjens & Umblijs (2012) state that a survey of over 3,000 senior executives across various industries indicated that organizations qualified as “networked” outperformed other companies when it came to market share, profit margins and market leadership. The impact of social media marketing on businesses is illustrated by the fact that in some industries, such as the travel sector, the expectation that a company operates an alternative customer service line through their social media account has become an industry norm (U. S News & World Report, 2014). According to Naylor et al (2012), Consumers are increasingly turning towards social media to acquire information about unfamiliar brands.
Big corporations, well aware of this development, are in turn using social networking sites to satisfy the consumer’s need for information. Naylor et al, further, note that, by 2011 approximately 83 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 were employing some form of social media in an attempt to connect with customers (2012). Starwood Hotels actively uses Twitter and linkedIn for the purposes of recruiting new employees (Tuten & Angermeier, 2013). The rush by businesses to develop a social media presence has been necessitated by what some commentators refer as social networking’s value addition to word- of -mouth marketing.
In the past, a satisfied customer would simply inform a handful of close friends or relatives about the positive aspects of a product or service. In terms of reach, one would argue that word-of-mouth, has limits. Social media marketing moves a step further to capitalize on electronic word of mouth (eWoM). In present times, a satisfied customer may hop to facebook, twitter or even their own blog and within minutes proceed to inform tens or hundreds of friends, relatives and blog readers about their experience (Payne, 2014).
Simply put, social media increase the speed of word-of-mouth marketing. Payne further notes that since most consumers tend to trust recommendations from people they know, then the key for successful corporations is to develop strategies that will result in an increase, in the number of personal recommendations given by customers. Huge corporations, by nature of their size, are seen by many as not having the intimacy of contact with their consumers as a small business.
The use of social networking to increase personal recommendations from satisfied customers is one strategy being employed by big businesses to create a feeling of close association with their customers.
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