In the present technology influenced environment, the business model viability is no longer the conventional brick and mortar model. Today, most businesses have a virtual presence to reach out to their customers easily and also explore the possibilities of far-fetched geographical markets. Marketers need to keep abreast of the current social trends and formulate marketing strategies accordingly. Globally, there has been a tremendous upsurge in the usage of social networking across the globe. This has been catapulted with the extensive internet accessibility and smart mobile phones with internet connections. Thus, present-day marketing strategies cannot be effective without considering social networking into the marketing and promotional mix (Bashar, Ahmad and Wasiq, 2012).
Understanding the basics of social network marketing
Online social networks facilitate internet users to interact with others virtually and establish their relationships. When companies or marketers register on these networks, they are setting up a platform for direct interaction with their consumers and get genuine, quick and clear feedback which conventionally used to come through the supply chain partners. Social network web portals like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus YouTube, Pinterest and blogging platforms enable followers to “post”, “tweet”, “retweet” or “repost” comments instantly. Messages are viewed by other visitors. Thus, social network websites work as a source for word of mouth publicity. This kind of personal interaction fosters a sense of loyalty and satisfaction among the consumers (Bajpai, Pandey and Shriwas, 2012).
Social network marketing in India
India is emerging as one of the largest internet users in the world. India is ranked 3rd for accessing social networks and photo sharing after the United States and China. India is evolving as the global target consumer market with more and more international brands venturing into the Indian territory across all product vertices. Moreover, India has one of the fastest-growing cellular phone penetrations with more and more people are accessing the internet through their mobile phones. One of the primary usage of the internet over phones is found to be for social networks. Social network marketing helps marketers and companies to augment their brand’s online visibility, manage brand image and company reputation, generate sales and improve customer relationships (Pandya, 2012). According to a survey conducted by the Nielsen Company in alliance with AbsolutData, Indians have become smart shoppers with nearly 40 million consumers looking for product reviews online before making any purchase decision. This accounts for 67 per cent of the Indian net users (Banka, 2011).
According to a report by Ernest and Young (2013), nearly 95.7 per cent of organizations considered for using social media in India, use social networking for establishing communities and vouch for the utility of social networking. Nearly 76.1 per cent of the organizations use it as means to spread the brand news. But only 16 per cent of the companies use it for customer service, generating sales lead and consumer research apart from the purposes mentioned earlier (Ernest and Young, 2013).
Social network marketing is highly effective in India as it has a tremendous potential to attract consumers with interesting web content and enable interactive sessions which will keep the customers engaged. Also subconsciously register the brand and its features into the consumer’s mind. This will have a positive impact on brand recall and brand image. However, it is necessary that companies align their website design and content with their social media strategy and subsequently plan out the entire social network marketing program within the view of consumer profiling and the nature of the product.
- Bajpai, V., Pandey, S. and Shriwas, S. (2012). Social Media Marketing: Strategies and its Impact, International Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary Research, 1(7), Pp. 214- 223.
- Banka, D. (2011). All Aboard the Social Bandwagon, [online], Available at: http://imrbint.com/downloads/Impact_feature.pdf [Accessed 24 February 2014].
- Bashar, A., Ahmad, I. and Wasiq, M. (2012). Effectiveness of Social Media as a Marketing Tool: An Empirical Study, International Journal of Marketing, Financial Services & Management Research, 1(11), Pp. 88- 99.
- Ernest and Young. (2013). Social Media Marketing: India Trends Study 2013, Insights from Social Media- Savvy Organizations in India, Report, E& Y.
- Pandya, K. (2012). Social Media Marketing in India- Creating New Groundwork in Marketing Innovation, Excel International Journal of Multidisciplinary Management Studies, 2(5), Pp. 91-99.