Social media has changed the way the people communicate and how businesses advertise. Social media offers an interactive experience that is two way, as customer are able to provide instant feedback to originators and among each other (Merrill, Latham, Santalesa, & Navetta, 2011). Social media is the interaction among people in which they author, share or exchange knowledge and ideas in virtual communities and networks (Merrill, et. al., 2011). Social media are Internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of original content (Hoffman & Fodor, 2010).
Social media depends on mobile and web-based applications hosted on interactive platforms where individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify self-authored content (ISACA, 2010). This individually created content introduces consequential and alternative vehicles for communication between, individuals, businesses and organizations, and communities. Social media is different than more traditional media in quality, frequency, reach, immediacy, usability and longevity (Merrill, et. al., 2011). Internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site (Neilsen, 2013). The benefits of participating in social media for content contributors have surpassed merely the sharing of life’s moments to crafting a reputation and developing career opportunities and monetary income.
As with more traditional marketing strategies, social media marketing is a technique that uses social media to promote a product or service (Hoffman & Fodor, 2010). Marketing through social vehicles means that a product or service is being offered or promoted for consumers to take advantage of or purchase. In terms of pricing, there is pricing of the product or service that would entice consumers, but also the costs associated with marketing avenues. Social media offers very economical vehicles for advertising.
One social media outlet is Twitter, where a message is communicated in 140 characters. The popularity of Twitter stems from the ease of communication and the brevity of the message that allows most people to get the ‘message’ without having to take a lot of time reading a log monologue about a product or service. The key is to create a short 140 character message that will draw potential customers or clients to take more time and investigate what is being offered. Twitter accounts and while there are only so many followers allowed as Twitter wants to maintain the database, get followers and those who follow you to re-tweet messages to reach more people.
Even though social media is predominately virtual, the products, services or experiences being promoted have a location or place where it is being offered. To get people to participate the location must be convenient and easily accessible. The promotion of the product or service must reach a target market to increase success as well as encourage others to promote on behalf of the product or service. In other words, if a particular person is not interested or unable to use the advertised product, he or she will pass the information, or with Twitter, re-tweet the post to someone they know can benefit. Just as positive experiences can help businesses grow and expand, negative ones influence potential clientele to find alternative providers for services with more positive feedback from customers. One company interested in creating positive social media experiences and expand their offerings is the National Association of Stock Car Racing, NASCAR.
NASCAR was interested in engaging their fans in other ways than just watching races on television (Olenski, 2013). In order to expand its reach and to create and maintain its fan base NASCAR altered its marketing strategy to include relationship marketing in order to establish communities where fans could interact together, with celebrity fans, and with the company. From the popularity and success of social media NASCAR sought to create a social media experience of racing and give its fans a 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year outlet to be involved with NASCAR and racing in general.
NASCAR wanted to engage fans and increase their experience and partnered with Livefyre, the leading provider of real-time social software to create an interactive tool which allows fans to have conversations in real-time across NASCAR.com, on a PC, tablet or mobile device, to discuss all things NASCAR from the latest in-depth news to live action on the race track (Bromberg, 2013; Olenski, 2013). NASCAR fans are also able to bring others into the conversation by tagging friends on social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. Fans can also share comments to those networks for additional viral impact.
NASCAR has created a balanced relationship with social networks by expanding their social marketing efforts to engaging consumers on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest, and continuing to use them for awareness building, viral impact, and new customer acquisition. They have also completed loop by making their owned properties just as social and engaging so that they can keep those consumers coming back.
Fan and Media engagement combines social with traditional and broadcast media analysis as announcers can read comments from fans, thus making fans who may not be online, aware of the online community. Before, throughout and after the broadcast, fans have the opportunity for engagement. NASCAR’s Fan and Media Engagement center combines not only social, but also traditional and broadcast media analysis. Industry and business partners are better able to connect with NASCAR fans across the world (Bromberg, 2013).
Social media is fundamentally changing the way society communicates, collaborates, consumes, and creates symbolizing one of the most metamorphic impacts of information technology on business internally as well as externally (ISACA, 2010). Social media has refashioned the ways businesses relate to the marketplace fashioning a new genre of possibilities and challenges for all aspects, from marketing, operations, finance, and human resources (Rees & Hopkins, 2009). Social media has been an integral component in recent advances in charting details about consumer preferences, predictions about demand, and targeted marketing techniques. The metamorphic power of social media surpasses traditionally studied marketing and consumer business behavior aspects. Social media is also transforming the way businesses relate to employees, creating an environment which encourages relationship building, brainstorming, and the engagement of outsourcing (Rees & Hopkins, 2009). Social media has the power to alter the transfer of knowledge and expertise within organization, speeding up innovation and new product development. Social media is a transparent medium which disrupts and redefines organizations
Social media is about relationships. The use of the internet as an advertising medium has expanded how companies communicate, but not eliminated the duty of how companies relate and treat their consumers; rather, it is increased. The goal of public relations is to persuade and while the field is not fully regulated, professional adhere to a code of conduct that maintains ethical considerations to levels of transparency to maintain consumer trust and loyalty. with a larger potential customer base and a two-way communication chain, in order to stay top-of-mind with customers and gain new ones, companies which use social media should practice an even more committed dedication to customer service and satisfaction.