Relationship marketing is relevant to this thesis, as it was the first theories where, brands wanted to build a relationship with customers, instead of the mass market approached.
Egan divides marketing into 6 stages, in each decade; consumer marketing, industrial marketing, non-profit marketing, service marketing and relationship marketing. The 2000 are not analysed, and Egan (2011) names it the future of marketing. One can argue, that the future of marketing is social media marketing. However, social media marketing can be compared to relationship marketing, and relationship marketing can be seen as frontrunner for social media marketing. According to Egan is it hard to define relationship marketing, and therefor relationship marketing can be described as an “umbrella philosophy”. Most of relationship marketing are present in Gronroos (1994) and can be describes as;
“The objectives of RM is to identify and establish, maintain and enhance and, when necessary, terminate relationships with customers and other stakeholders, at a profit so that the objectives of all parties involved are met; and this is done by mutual exchange and fulfilment of promises.”
For this thesis only some aspect for relationship marketing are relevant, there are as followed
• Continuous customer contact
• Focus on customer value
• Orientation to customer retention (Egan, 2011).
Social media marketing
Social media marketing is a relatively new form of marketing, and has gained popularity over the last decade. Therefore, some of classic marketing models, are no longer as valuable as before. One of them being the traditional and heavily used marketing mix 4Ps,being, price, promotion, place and product, this framework was developed before social media marketing and therefor there should be another P, named participation (Solomon et al., 2015). As social media marketing encourage customer to engage with brands (Solomon et al., 2015). Hence, with social media marketing, companies aim is to engage with future and current customers. In addition, According companies should to move away from mass-market approach, in order to build long term relationships, by engaging consumers in a more personal manner (Shih, 2012).
Social media marketing facilitates the opportunity for businesses to connect and communicate with consumers anywhere at anytime, in a fast and efficient way (Taneja et al., 2014). The unique ability of social media marketing is transforming the way companies can connect to and current/future customers (Taneja et al., 2014). In addition, there seem to have been a switch in what is allowed to express online (Coleman et al., 2013). Social media is a less costly way to reach consumers for companies than traditional marketing (Taneja et al., 2014).
As competition does not come from traditional places anymore such as television ads or paper ads, but directly from the internet and social media Taneja et al., 2014). Thus, it is profitable for companies to engage in social media. Social media marketing can provide companies with visibility, viability, and sustainability to create competitive advantages (Taneja et al., 2014).
It is important for companies to identify and understand the demographics of their target market and to develop a relationship with consumers is necessary in the social media age (Taneja et al., 2014). Social media platforms are unique in its cross- cultural reach and utilization; therefore the increase in global communication signifies many opportunities and challenges for companies (Coleman et al., 2013). In addition, Ashley et al., (2014) suggest that social media participants are more likely to desire entertainment and informativeness, and entertainment is a stronger motivation of engagement with brands than informativeness.
With the emerge of social media marketing consumer engagement and online presence has grown rapidly. Social media marketing has driven a change in consumers communication and facilitates the opportunities for consumers to express feelings online. Hence, companies are not in control about what is being published about them and who can read it (Coleman et al., 2013). A very important aspect of social media marketing, is the affordability and availability. The disadvantages of social media marketing is the lack of control, which means organization need to have solid strategies (Byers, 2016).
Ebbesen (2013) has developed a theory based on online fandom, hence fans refers to all kinds of segments, who are fans/customers of a band, sports team and products etc. As media and marketing has transformed, customers have also gained more power, as the Internet has become a local marketplace (Ebbesen et al., 2013). ”Old” customers were immobile, unable to communicate with a brand and depend on middlemen (Ebbesen et al., 2013). Where, ”new” customers are global, mobile, can incur in dialogue and are independent of middlemen. Therefore, it is important for brands to develop a relationship with customers, and thereby creates loyalty towards the brand.
Thus far, theories of relationship marketing, social media marketing and social media zones have been discussed. However, another import part of social media marketing is strategy, and will be discussed in the following section. Strategy provides the groundwork for a brand\'s marketing plan, and with a wide range of social media platforms being available, it is important to choose wisely. Ebbesen et al., (2013) emphasises, that brands offline and online strategy need to create a synergy.
It can be a challenge for brands to choose the right social media platform, and brands have to be aware that choosing various social media platforms without research, it not a good solution (Ebbesen et al., 2013). According to Ebbesen et al., (2013) it is important to pick the right platform. However the challenge is how, brands use them. Ebbesen et al., (2013) emphasises, that brands need to remember they are talking to real human beings and not technology.
First part of a successful social media marketing strategy is to gain knowledge and research the various platforms, and after a furrow assessment decided, which platforms to use. In addition, it is essential that brands determined, which target group they want to reach, and which platforms who are popular among the target group (Ebbsen et al., 2013). In addition, it is also important to ensure, that the company has the right resources to manages the social media platforms chosen, as social media is 24/7, it is important that the channels are staffed.
According to Evans (2012), brands need to identify their business objectives and thereby create their social media marketing strategy. However, it is also important to create goals for a social media strategy (Evans, 2012). Also, creative content is an important part of a social media strategy, and content needs to fit to each platform (Solomon et al., 2013) Hence, a long post on facebook, does not necessarily have to be reposted to Instagram.
Also, brand needs to to monitor and track their social media campaigns and content and carefully monitor to what is happening on their social media channels, especially in times of crisis (Effering et al., 2017)
As, Snapchat is a relatively new social media platform, not a lot of academic theories have been publish. However, there have been some studies, which will be discussed in the following section.
Louis (2016), conducted a study about branding building by using Snapchat among college students, findings suggests that respondents thought Snapchat was a low-consequence media, due to the “disappearing act”, also respondents highlighted that benefits of using Snapchat, was the feeling of feeling included and the effortless of Snapchat. The study was based on focus groups, with college students as participants.
Findings also suggested that the unique aspect of Snapchat takes college students to a sweet spot of pleasant relatability, inclusion, and empowerment of no decisions making and no commitment. Louis., (2016) findings also showed that respondents were not using Snapchat to make purchase decisions, but more to engage in low effort connections. Snapchat are a good tool for brands, who want to grow their relationship with user and it is doable to manage successful relationships as long as companies maintain a friendly persona and do not expect anything in return from users. Also, findings suggested that snapchat users tend to have lesser connections and closer connection than other social media platforms.
In 2016, B. Falk, conducted a study, researching social interaction on Snapchat. Bayer et al., (2016), collected data through literature and tested the outcome, by collecting data from survey and in-depth interviews of college students, at an American university.
The findings from Falk et al., (2016) suggests that interacting with Snapchat, were perceived as more enjoyable , and was associated with more positive mood, than other communication technologies such as Facebook and Instagram. However, findings also suggested that Snapchat interactions were also associated with lower social support than other social media platforms.
Findings from the study also highlighted aspects of Snapchat use that may facilitate positive affect including sharing mundane experiences with close ties and reduced self-presentational concerns. Also, participants reported to pay closely attention to snaps, because they knew the snaps would disappear after a few seconds.
Overall, participants did not see Snapchat as a platform for sharing or viewing photos, but more as a lightweight channel for sharing spontaneous entertaining experiences with trusted ties. Hence, users only used Snapchat to communicate with trusted relationships. Where weak ties and less trusted relationships can “like” a edited photo on Facebook, only close ties can see an ugly photo on Snapchat (Falk et al., 2016).
Also, users compared Snapchat to face-to-face interaction and reported attending to Snapchat content more closely than archived content, which may contribute to increased emotional rewards (Falk et al., 2016).
Jan (2016) conducted a study comparing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Findings suggests that, users who use Snapchat to follow brands, used Snapchat for passing time, sharing problems, and improving social knowledge.
Findings also suggested that Snapchat was useful for entertainment and relaxation purposes, as well as being fun and a form of escape from daily routines and users also felt that the site most fulfilled their need for improving social knowledge, making them feel most involved with what\'s is activities in other people\'s lives (Jan et al., 2016).
Jan et al., (2016) argues that the aforementioned findings are likely due to the personal nature of Snapchat, hence users send snaps via their mobile and are able to receive immediate, personal replies from recipients. Compared to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, posts are less personal and can be seen by numerous people over an unlimited time period. As a result, users of these sites may not be as comfortable sharing problems, and therefore, feel less involved with whats going on in others lives, compared to the more private, nature of Snapchat.
In 2010 Saber & Messinger, investigated the effect of disintermediation residential real estate agents arising from increased customer access to property information online. The study was conducted in Canada, and data was collected through a survey. Findings suggested that from the transaction cost viewpoint that since buyers now have access to online information without the help of an agent, buyer-perceived value of agents and agent usage will decline.
Findings also suggested that the social aspect, hence the connection between buyers and real estate agents were very important to buyers, and thereby the likelihood of using an real estate agent will increase, finding also suggests that the same hypotheses could be applied to sellers (Saber et al., 2010).
In addition, findings also suggested that sellers compared with buyers, are more likely to use make use of a real estate agent when the housing market are slow, and less likely to use real estate agents when house are selling fast.
Crowston, Sawyer & Wigand (2015), researched the relationship between intermediaries, buyers and sellers in the US residential real estate industry. Data was collected through a survey. Findings suggests that for markets, such as real estate, where transaction can be complex, it appears market intermediaries are useful for the good functioning of the market and specific types of social connections are important among other industry professionals (Crowston et al., 2015). The findings help to understand why some market still use intermediaries even in the presence of new sources of information, such as online real estate information.
Findings suggests that intermediaries persist in the real estate market due to the value they offer clients, in form of connections, and services, and intermediaries are useful in markets where transactions are complex, such as real estate, and former theories about real estate agents disappearing are untrue. Crowston et al., 2015 findings also suggest that rather than simply connecting buyers to sellers, successful agents connecting bother professionals, and thereby embedding themselves into and making markets through their ability to draw together collections of other value-adding professionals into a quasi-firm-like arrangement.
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