Identified issues in the report topic
Social media marketing is a fairly new, hot topic for research and discussion. While many studies concerning Social media (SM) have surfaced, they generally focus on social issues. Comparatively there are fewer studies on the managerial and marketing aspects of social media network sites. (Boyd and Ellison 2007; Cha 2009; Kelly, Kerr and Drennan 2010)
A study conducted by Miller in 2010 states that SMM plays a very important role in persuading consumers to buy. Subsequently Eida & Elghoty (2013), inform us that small businesses owners should employ internet marketing to successfully compete in a business environment. Other research also agrees that marketing plays an important role in the success of small firms increasing their chances of survival. (Walsh & Lipinski, 2009; Jasra et al., 2011; Cronin-Gilmore, 2012; Halibi & Lussier, 2014).
The business issue at hand is that small business owners often face challenges with using SMM to promote products and services. (Walsh & Lipinski 2009; O' Donnel, 2011; Resnick et al., 2011) More specifically, the majority of small business owners Lack the knowledge to develop and implement a SMM strategy. (Resnick et al. 2011; Bharati, and Chaudhury 2012). Mendelsohn (2012) reveals that 53% of small business owners need help with SMM. Some of the most frequently asked questions include ‘How should we be using Twitter for marketing?', ‘How should we be using Facebook for marketing?'(Marketingzen, 2016) Business owners and marketers aren't seeing any benefits from their SMM efforts because they are lacking the knowledge and experience to implement a successful SMM strategy.
Business contribution of report
Researchers have noted that marketing is important to the success of small businesses. (Walsh & Lipinski, 2009; Jasra et al 2011; O' Donnell, 2013). SMM is more cost effective compared to traditional media and companies are shifting their marketing budgets to e-marketing. (Rollins, nickel and Ennis 2013)
As firms continue to relocate their marketing budgets from traditional to digital media in search for more cost-effective solutions, small business owners need to understand how to develop a well formulated SMM strategy. (Rollins et al, 2013)
The implications of this research include the potential to impact any small business by providing guidelines to help small business owners develop a successful SMM strategy, which can increase their competitiveness and survival rates.
Nike was one of the first companies to adopt SMM and have a well-founded, deep understanding of how to utilize each different social media platform to its advantage (Linkhumans, 2015). The company is way ahead of basically all its competitors (such as Adidas, Reebok) in social media marketing. (Etter, 2015). Nike has a successful social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. (Nike, 2016). They have many subcategories of Nike on social media like Nike-women for example. Nike sets a good example as a success story to analyse because of their early adoption of Social media marketing and their effectiveness after perfecting their strategies through real life experiences. Thus, it fits well as to the purpose of providing a success guideline on how to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for small businesses that are struggling with their SMM strategies.
Researchers have cited potential benefits of Internet marketing. Some of the benefits mentioned in the research apply to enterprises of all sizes, however some authors focused on highlighting the ways marketing online can benefit small and medium sized businesses (Harrigan et al., 2011; Kim et al., 2013). Researchers agreed that the benefits of internet marketing could help small firms become more competitive.
Researchers have demonstrated that the use of the internet may help improve a firm's operational and marketing efficiency (Hamidi & Safabakhsh 2011; Huang & Tsai, 2011; Eid & El-Kasswawy 2012; Dlodlo & Mafini, 2014). For example, Hamidi and Safabakhsh (2011) cited affordability of online marketing compared to other channels. The internet offers a range of opportunities for firms to achieve marketing and operational efficiency gain by lowering costs (Boyle, 2011; Hanafizadeh et al., 2012). Therefore, internet marketing may have a positive effect on the efficiency of marketing expenditures.
A benefit of SMM is the ability to reach wider audiences and advertise anytime and anywhere (Hamidi & Safabakhsh, 2011; Dehkordi et al., 2012; Fan & Tsai, 2014). Online marketing allows companies to grow internationally and expand to new markets; it also allows reaching audiences across different devices. Small businesses owners can use online marketing to extend their reach and promote their product or service to potential customers outside of their area (Sinkovics & Sinkovics, 2012) The ability to compete with larger organizations and reach more customers is important for small businesses.
Online marketing provides a cheaper and faster way of increasing brand awareness and brand building. The use of online tools such as websites, e-mail, online advertising, viral marketing and social media allow companies to increase their brand name awareness, loyalty, perceived quality and brand associations (Shanna, 2011; Simmons, Armstrong, & Durkin, 2011).
Understanding of the target audience can help identify appropriate channels and tools for communication with prospective and current customers (Durkin, 2013; Simmons et al., 2011).
The complexity and diversity of Internet technologies often require specialized knowledge and understanding of potential challenges and perils (Bordonaba-Juste, et al., 2012). For this reason, a case study was chosen to exhibit a successful SMM strategies through real life situations.
The purpose of this research is to study and evaluate Nikes social media marketing strategies on three Social media sites: Facebook Twitter and Instagram, in order to provide an in depth understanding of how social media is used in a business environment for marketing providing a clear picture of a successfully implemented SMM strategy.
Clarification of Theoretical Context
Social media is a fairly new concept. Advertisers and companies now utilize SMM as a major aspect of their showcasing procedure. Nonetheless, the use of SMM has only just gained attention in the field of research.
A lot of the success in SMM can be explained by different communication theories. Communication theories are used to explain the behaviours of people. This information can then be used to make SMM strategy decisions, in order to appeal to people.
This theory was formed to assess how users interact with mass media. Mark Levy and Swen Windahl (1984) provide a good definition of an ‘active user'. The term postulates a voluntarist and selective orientation by audiences towards the communication process. Meaning that users actively seek out mass media for their own gratification (Blumler & Katz 1974). For example, entry into a contest for a prize by liking or following the media page, gives people a reason to seek out the SM page. (Levy & Windahl, 1984)
Uncertainty reduction theory
The uncertainty reduction theory was developed by Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese in 1975. It is one of the only communication theories that specifically considers the initial interaction between people prior to the actual communication process. The theory asserts the notion that, when interacting, people need information about the other party to reduce their uncertainty. (Berger & Calabrese in, 1975) In gaining this information people can predict the counterpart's behaviour and resulting actions, all of which according to the theory is crucial in the development of any relationship.
Consumers can tell a lot about how a business treats its customers by how they act on SM. For example, if someone sees that many customer inquiries are ignored or handled unprofessionally, it might put them off.
Language expectation theory
Developed by Burgoon and Miller (1971), also known as the theory of persuasion, this theory assumes that language has a specific set of rules that are developed by the context and situation in communication. Businesses need to make sure they are using the right tone for the context (Burgoon and Miller, 1971). For example, it should be more formal on SM but not too informal that it's not taken seriously. By using the correct language and the expected patterns, customers are happy and at ease with the company.
Due to SMM still being in its early stages a framework has been established by analysing the different concepts and theories relating to Marketing, business and SM.
The N-REL framework on SMM strategies was approached by Ananda, Hernández-García, and Lamberti (2016) and is heavily influenced by the work of Constantinides (2009) and Mergel (2013). This framework is still limited by the fact that B2B marketing is not included.
One of the first decisions to be made for SMM tactics is the choice of SM platform to be used. Each SM platform promote different functions, features and characteristics. Therefore, companies should choose their platforms according to the tactics the wish to employ. Some SM sites are more adequate for particular types of content compared to others. E.g. Instagram for graphic content. Some SM sites are more appropriate for specific audiences within a network. (Falkow, 2011).
When choosing which SM site to use, companies must consider the different applications and capabilities each site features. The design and build of the social networks hence characterize the roles and relative impact of every actor. (Peters, Chen, Kaplan, Ognibeni, & Pauwels, 2013) propose that the accompanying system measurements portray the structure of SM sites.
1. Size e.g. Number of actors
After the planning and decisions phase there 9 actions a company can take which fall into 3 categories.
1. Public relations: communications in marketing aimed at gaining public understanding and acceptance. (Hollensen, 2010)
2. Sales and promotions (Ananda et al., 2016)
3. Engaging with SM personalities or advocates. (Constantinides 2009,2014)
4. Personalizing user experience/products to strengthen relationships between consumer and brand. (Constantinides, 2009,2014)
5. Product development through personalized products. The companies can gain valuable feedback and offer personalized products to other customers.
6. Participatory promotions: Providing incentives for consumers to share feedback and reviews on products (Parent, Plangger and Bal 2011)
7. Engaging with the competition. The main goal for this is competitive analysis (Bianchi and Andrews, 2015)
8. Customer support: Proactive engagement with consumers to post concerns or feedback. (Andzulis, 2012; Ananda et al., 2014) Engage with suppliers and business partners for B2B context (Michaelidou et al., 2011; Ananda et al., 2014)
9. Market research for the selection of target markets and monitoring the voice of the consumer (Slater & Olsen 2001; Ananda et al., 2014)
For the most part, representation actions involve posting success stories on SM, (Andzulis et al., 2012) SM advertising (Curran, Graham & Temple 2011) or consumer appreciation posts. (He et al., 2013)
On the other hand, Engagement-situated SMM activities aim to set up long term relations with consumers by drawing in online influencers, (Saravanakumar, 2012) Connecting with consumers to share brand encounters (Ananda et al., 2014)
Listening-in mostly includes the firm's ability to learn about customers and competition. Allowing constant identification of occasions and patterns in present and forthcoming markets (Day, 1994)
Entities that approach transactional based marketing will likely lean on representation actions, whereas relationship based marketing will focus greatly on engagement actions to take the most out of SM opportunities. (Ananda et al., 2014)
Metrics and key performance indicators
For the purposes of this report both Quantitative and Qualitative, primary and secondary data has been collected for analysis and evaluation.
Three SM sites have been chosen due to their size and success on the SM arena. These are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The three sites are to be evaluated by how the company utilizes each for their applications and features, using key performance indicators to assess the level of success from the actions performed.
The first step to assessing a company's presence is to confirm the existence of their official page the SM sites in question.
Representation can then be measured by followers/ fans of the page, since the SM page is the initial connection for public understanding and acceptance. Presentation and stream lining of the page is very important. For example, high definition pictures and videos are more likely to catch the user's attention. In the case of stream lining, content should be uploaded directly to the SM site rather than posting a link to a different page. This enhances the consumers experience by making content viewing easier and faster.
The number of inbound links can also be considered in evaluating presence. Inbound links are web-links on the SM site that redirect the user to the company's official website. Using inbound link statistics, a conversion rate can be calculated. Conversion rate is defined by the amount of purchases made from an official website after redirection from a SM site. [ ]
The followers and fans statistics can be cross examined with sales and promotion periods to evaluate correlations. [ ]
Engagement can be measured through six categories:
• Likes – number of times someone clicked the ‘Like' button.
• Comments and replies.
• Video views.
• Shares/ retweets- how many times a post is forwarded.
• Clicks – average clicks per post.
• Mentions- number of times tagged on a comment.
• Reach – metric to determine the potential size of an audience any given message could reach.
• Share of voice- social media mentions compared to competition.
From these six features, we can calculate day to day or monthly growth rates. Total engagement can then be calculated along with engagement per post and engagement per follower.
The growth and fluctuations of this data can be analysed against campaign ads, promotions, product personalization campaigns and content produced with celebrities, SM personalities and advocates.
A company's listening- in potential can be assessed by the speed of issue resolution on SM, how quickly consumer queries are attended to. This also ties into the uncertainty reduction theory. This can also be influenced by the post rate per day which can control exposure. The time of day in which content is released must show consideration of peak traffic times.
Following the language expectation theory, we can consider the type of language that is used whether it be slang, motivational or informative according to the content it portrays.
Summary of Current situation
Facebook currently has over 1.94 billion monthly active users as of March 2017, with 44 million in the UK alone. This is an 18% increase from last year. (Aslam S. 2017) There are 1.28 billion daily active users worldwide with 25-34-year olds covering 30% of all users. (Aslam S. 2017). Highest traffic occurs midweek between 1-3 pm with engagement increasing significantly in the evenings. (Asano, E. 2017; Aslam S. 2017) On Thursdays and Fridays engagement is 18% higher than during the week and an average user will spend around 20-35 minutes per visit. (Asano, E. 2017)
Facebook is a SM site that allows users to create a profile and connect with friends and likeminded people with the availability of posting content in the form of pictures, videos or text offers a range of features to its users including a business page setup.
Instagram currently has 700 million users globally (Instagram, 2017; Aslam S. 2017; Statista 2017) of which 400million are in active every day (Aslam S. 2017; Statista 2017). 300million users are in the UK alone with an average of 14 million monthly active users. (Aslam S. 2017 Statista 2017) The majority of Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 29 (Aslam S. 2017; Asano, 2017). On average the highest traffic for engagement occurs at 5 pm on a Wednesday and the average time spent on the SM site per visit is 15-20 minutes. (Asano, 2017)
Instagram's main features are for uploading pictures, videos and following other users' feeds (Gilbertson, 2012). Photos can be geotagged with a location (Long, 2012). Instagram accounts can also be linked with other SM sites i.e. Facebook, providing ease of access and enabling users to upload content to other SM sites through Instagram. (Instagram, 2017)
The SM site offers a wide variety of filters for photo editing directly on the site (Huang, 2013; Ulanoff, 2013). They also allow high definition and full-size landscape photos (Yeung, 2013) to the point where one can upload up to 10 pictures in one post (Ha, 2015; Lopes, 2014; Instagram, 2017). The site also supports widescreen videos of up to 60 seconds (Instagram, 2017) with a further capability of also uploading 10 videos per post (Instagram, 2017; Lopes, 2014; Ha, 2015).
Twitter has 328 million monthly active users worldwide as of June 2017(Aslam S. 2017; Statista, 2017) with around 20 million in the UK. 64% of users are between the ages of 18-29 (Statista, 2017; Asano, 2017) with peak traffic times on average occurring between 11am to 3pm and at 1 am. (Asano, 2017) The average time spent on twitter is 1-10 minutes (Asano, 2017; Statista, 2017).
Twitter is characterized as a microblog allowing users to post short tweets (text messages) up to 140 characters long. Users can then follow others and read their tweets. (Kwak, Changhyun, Hosung & Moon 2010) Hashtags are used to categorize content (Kwak et al., 2010). Twitter offers verified accounts for official pages, celebrities and social personalities. The SM site has video streaming capabilities and photo uploading features although inferior to Instagram's. Users are still able to interact directly with the content by liking, commenting or sharing. (Kwak et al., 2010) Twitters main application is the speed of which short tweets can be released conveying powerful messages or vital information. Also, great for customer support and queries.
Nike's Current situation
Nike being the multinational brand that it is and SM being a global phenomenon, it is no surprise that Nike does not maintain a separate SM page for each country/region they operate in. In fact, they have been very smart in their utilization of SM sites. They have decided to operate their Facebook and Instagram accounts for global audiences, but have separate Twitter accounts depending on the country it covers. This route of operations has been developed around the uses and features of each SM site. As there use of Twitter involves ore informational posts, event details or announcements for new releases it had to be location specific. For this purpose, the report is considering the official Nike pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but also taking into consideration the Nike_UK Twitter account as an example of location specific content.
The official and verified Nike page on Facebook currently has 28,424,624 followers and 28,685,046 Likes. Nike averages 0.13 posts per day and 1.0 average posts per week. Average engagement is 21,000 interactions per day or 156,000 per week. They are experiencing 219 interactions per 1000 followers per day which translates to 509,000 per week. (Facebook.com, 2017; Socialbakers, 2017)
The official and verified Nike page on Instagram currently has 73.4 M followers and 904 posts. They are also following 136 accounts. They have an average of 0.10 posts per day and a 0.75 for posts per week. Average engagement is 21.7k interactions per day and 163k per week. 88.8 interactions per 1000 followers and an average follower growth rate of 5.1k per day or 37.4k per week. (Instagram, 2017; Socialbakers, 2017)
Nike currently have a verified Twitter account as their official Nike page but they also maintain a verified account for the UK i.e. Nike UK.
The global Nike page has 7.11M followers, 5533 Likes and an average of 0.17 posts per day or 1.25 posts per week. They have a total of 32,3k Tweets with an average of 1.6k mentions per day and 11.2k per week. It has an average engagement of 1.7k interactions per day and 12.7k interactions per week. (Twitter 2017; Socialbakers, 2017)
The Nike_UK page has 409k followers, 1573 Likes and an average of 0.43 posts per day or 32.5 posts per week. It has a total of 21.8k tweets with an average of 67.07 mentions per day or 488.5 mentions per week. The follower growth rate is 9,100 followers per day or 6538 followers per week. (Twitter 2017; Socialbakers, 2017)
Evaluation and analysis
Representation and Network
Nike have a multitude of SM accounts on various SM sites, namely Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Linked-In, Pinterest. They have different accounts for each of the sports they are involved in e.g. Nikebasketball along with separate accounts for the major regions in which they operate e.g. NikeCanada. They even provide a page offering help to athletes from other athletes this increases their reach and influence on SM by targeting different audiences within the same SM network..
Figure 1- Extract of Nike search on Twitter, 2017
Figure 2-Extract of Nike search on Facebook, 2017
Figure 3- Extract of Nike search on Instagram, 2017
So, as not to overcomplicate matters, this report focuses specifically on the activities presented on Nikes general accounts and their NikeUK Twitter account.
The SM sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been chosen for this report as these are the three largest SM sites. Nikes choice of actions for each SM site correspond the features and characteristics that each site has to offer.
Nikes page on Facebook operates much like a central hub for their online presence and activities. Firstly, their page is verified with their logo and slogan clearly displayed which increases user confidence and trust.
This page has an ‘About' section where Nike has provided some information about the company and their goal as well as contact details and addresses.
It functions as a normal fan page but with customized tabs that link to their Instagram page as well as to a support page. Other outbound links direct users to their main website and they've even incorporated a ‘Shop now' button redirecting users to Nikes global online store (Facebook, 2017). Facebook is the most suitable for this SM network as it offers the widest variety of features and has the largest user and follower base, with almost 2 Billion monthly active users(Aslam S. 2017), compared to other SM sites. (Aslam S. 2017; Statista, 2017; Instagram, 2017) Facebook have even dedicated a setup process solely for business allowing greater freedom in customization for businesses specifically. (Facebook, 2017)
On Instagram again we see their page is verified with their logo, boosting user confidence and trust, but unlike their Facebook page this network is used solely for sharing photos. This means there is no company information available. It provides a link to their main website but that's about it. There is no ‘shop now link' or an ‘events tab'. The photos however are in eye catching high definition and inspiring in nature.Twitter
Nikes Twitter accounts are simple much like their Instagram, in the sense that there's minimal company information and its whole focus is on the content being delivered. They do however still include a direct link to their main website. On twitter they play towards the networks strengths primarily posting short videos with a short piece of wisely chosen text and a link, just enough to get the message delivered, but very frequently.
The first step to engaging an audience on SM is to frequently post new content preferably at general peak traffic hours. One of the best advantages Nike has against its competitors is the standard of content they upload. On Facebook, which is designed for friends and family to talk and communicate, Nike provides information about the company on their page but they also post social events. They still maintain this network by uploading videos and pictures of athletes and their products. But it's mainly for representation. Secondly, for updates on new releases as well as event organization, Nike highly depends on twitter as it is a microblogging service specifically designed for short messages. This is especially effective when delivering release dates or event information. Nikes Twitter accounts have been separated by country due to the nature of the content released. This is so they could focus on different audiences while still providing useful information. Instagram is heavily used for Photo and video sharing. In fact that's all Nike posts on Instagram. No message and no description. Their success on Instagram can be attributed to the fact that all their photos are very high resolution and they are able to post full landscape photos thanks to the design and features of Instagram.
Engaging with SM personalities or advocates (Constantinides, 2009, 2014) is one of the best ways for a company to extend their reach beyond their usual audience and increase their engagement rates. Nike has been doing this for many years and have near perfected the celebrity content they release by producing inspiring pictures and videos with famous sports personalities.  Nike have extended their efforts to produce ad campaigns around major sporting events, creating individual small posts through different networks, as part of a larger picture having great results on reach and engagement, by targeting a specific audience with common interests.
Personalizing user experience/products to strengthen relationships between consumers and brand (Constantinides, 2009, 2014). Nike started a shoe customization option for its customers, where customers can design their own shoes and then post it in their SM page for feedback and reviews from their friends and family. Not only does this strengthen the consumer-brand relationship but it exposes Nike once more to a greater audience they would have otherwise missed, additionally Nike uses the information of what people like and dislike in their shoes gaining valuable feedback for developing new shoes.
Participatory promotions: Providing incentives for consumers to share feedback and reviews on products (Parent, Plangger and Bal 2011). This action refers to the idea of users liking a post or leaving a comment as entry to a competition with a prize. This action towards engagement also ties into the previous point raised about customizable products, apart from encouraging engagement and building consumer-brand relationship it diverts users to their official website.
Proactive engagement with consumers to post concerns or feedback (Andzulis, 2012; Ananda et al., 2014). Nike have a very good customer support system with a twitter handle specifically for support while still responding from any network. Nike are consistently quick with their responses  and always try to help the consumer as best they can. This gives a very good image for Nike considering the uncertainty reduction theory, because it gives new followers and fans an indication of how Nike treats their customers strengthening consumer-brand relationship.
Nike have been successful on SM for many reasons but the Listening-In actions allow them to offer better value to their customers. To start, Nike had identified that their target market of 15-35 year olds to be the same as the average SM user. After identifying their target audience, the content released on each platform can be adjusted to fit the audience of particular networks, thus giving them wide coverage and higher chances for engagement. Secondly, they successfully develop and sell shoes based on user customizations , to better fit the needs of their consumers. Nike are very fast to respond to consumer questions through Social media and they take into account complaints and try to remedy them. 
Metrics and KPI's
A Prime example of Nikes engagement power can be shown by Figures [&]. Figure  represents an example post from Nikes Facebook page that was posted on the last day of the Wimbledon tennis championship on 16/July/2017.
On the same day we can observe a dramatic bump on Nike interactions on Facebook, where there average of 165k interactions jumped to 275k. This confirms that Nike know how to grab people's attention and retain it focusing in their customer relationships rather than direct sales.
Other indications of Nikes successful SMM strategy is the engagement growth they acquire. As we can see in the two figures below, they have a healthy like and follower growth with 30,000 and 35,000 for the month respectively.
Nike's growth strategy is heavily influenced by their E-commerce efforts which in turn is led by their SMM strategy. In 2012 the company set a goal of reaching $7 billion in online sales by 2020. For this to be achieved a compound annual growth rate of 42% would be required. The company successfully maintained such a high growth rate through the year 2016 due to their online expansion to other countries.
Since then the company's online sales growth has since slowed down to 18% in the most recent quarter. For the first 9 months of fiscal 2017 thus far, Nike has managed to grow its sales in the channel by around 35%, which is lower than the expected growth rate, nonetheless their online sales have increased.
Discussion and Recommendations
• Identify target audience
The more you know about your target audience the more successful you'll be at engaging with them to the point where they actively seek your content. Are you Customer relations driven or are you sales driven?
To decide which social platforms to use and how best to use them, take note of the following:
Facebook is the largest social platform on the planet and is used primarily for personal conversations but it can be effective for business as well. Create a company page to attract fans and promote engaging content relevant to their interests. Test out Facebook ads to get additional shares, likes, and conversions based on your content. But remember this is a social place, so try not to be overly focused on sales.
Twitter the micro-blogging tool can be a great way to promote your content with quick links and can help you build relationships with your audience. Twitter is also great for customer service and answering questions.
There are a number of other popular platforms but don't try to be on all of them; be selective and strategic to get the most out of your social media marketing.
After you've prioritized and selected the platforms you want, you need to create an account for each one. Be sure to optimize your profiles and use high-quality images.
Make sure you nail down what brand messages you want to use on which channels to resonate with your audience. For example, you might use Facebook for feel-good content about your company and your employees, Twitter for quick facts and statistics links to your content. You'll want to schedule different posts on different platforms – do not post the same thing on each platform. Differentiate your messaging and then create a social media calendar to keep your content fresh, interesting, and purposeful.
Be patient when building your fan base. Post interesting and relevant content. Post on a regular basis so people don't get bored and stop visiting, and respond to feedback or when someone engages with you post reply.
Mention your SM pages when speaking to customers and encourage them to follow your page.
Pay attention to your followers and re-evaluate your content taking into consideration what's trending.
• Can be measured by post engagement
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