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Social media has enabled and accelerated the social construction of brand meaning. Are all brand communications (consumer, organisation or other originated) within this environment authentic, and trustworthy? Discuss.

  • Category:
    Marketing
  • Document type:
    Article
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
  • Page:
    4
  • Words:
    2781

Social Media Marketing and Brand Equity

Introduction

The Global market landscape is continuously changing. In this case, over the last decade, the market operations have changed ad shifted from the mere use of technology to support operations, to the use of technology and associated ICT systems as the core business operational basis. To this end, a number of ventures have relied on the use and application of technology as the basis of creating a brand loyalty in the market in the recent years. One of the main e-marketing platforms used for this purpose has been the use of social media. Although different nations and regions have their unique social media platforms, platforms such as Face book and Twitter are among the global leading social media sites. To this end, many organizational ventures have focused and resulted to using these platforms’ as a means of creating and sustaining a positive brand reputation in their respective markets. This essay develops a critical analysis on the merits and challenges of using social media as a platform to support and influence brand reputation in the global market. The ultimate conclusion is on the viability of the use of such a branding approach in the modern e-marketing error and how emerging challenge could be overcome into the future to make the e-marketing approach more effective and reliable into the future.

Advantages in Creating Brand Awareness

A critical exploration on the use of social media e-marketing indicates a number of merits and progress in the development and creation of a positive brand reputation in the global market. This section evaluates the process and extent to which the use of social media provides a positive brand reputation in the long run period.

Brand Visibility

The first rationale for the use of social media is the provision of increased brand visibility. In theory, brand visibility could be described as the extent and nature to which a brand is present to the customers on their day to day operations. The development of a brand visibility nature in the market has a long term impact on brand reputation by the customers. The social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have a growing number of users over the decades, a number expected to grow as more and more international and developing markets acquire internet connection and technology infrastructure development. In this case, the global market is gradually being saturated by international brands competing indifferent markets and industries. In this regard, a study developed by Dhingra (2013, p.15) could be applied to expound on this development. In this context, the study established that through the rising international market competition, there has been a declining trend on key brand visibility. In order to retain market visibility, organizations have to invest heavily in marketing strategies, a move that reduced the overall profit margins for such products in the long run period. However, the use of social media platforms marketing eliminates this challenge. In this case, most of the organizational brands, as already mentioned have their social media accounts. Through the accounts they interact and relate with the public, existing and potential customers respectively.

The social media platforms such as Twitter have applications such as trending. The trending application feature is allocated to showcase some of the most popular conversations across the globe and nationally. Thus, any conversation that has the highest number of retweets is classified as trending. This means that all those using the Twitter platform will have access to such trending topics and issues on a first hand basis. This makes the possibility of a majority of the users checking out on the trending issues a high probability. In this regard, if a brand can successfully create trending posts, the number of the retweets offered for such posts would increase, creating a probability of emerging as trending issues (Laroche, Habibi and Richard, 2013, p.79). On the other hand, the Facebook platform allows all the posts and comments on a post to be arranged in a chronological manner. Therefore, if a brand post has many comments and likes on a regular basis, it means that such brand informational post would be at the top of the users’ profiles all through. This crates the overall impact in that every time the user logs in into their Facebook account, they are bound to have a focus on the respective brand posts. Therefore, this has the overall effect of creating brand visibility.

The concept of creating brand visibility could be closely linked to increased brand awareness in the market. In this case, through the increased visibility, it means that the global consumer market, especially that connected to the social media platform acquire increased and rising levels of brand information. Awareness is a critical brand reputation tool. This is because; it has two main impacts in the market. The first logical impact of increasing brand awareness through visibility is by eliminating common market stereotypes. In this case, every product and consumer has a stereotype on a given brand in the market. However, through proper informational communication, the stereotypes’ are eliminated and replaced with the right set of informational basis in the global market. On the other hand, a second gain is the benefit of aligning the customers’ expectations with the offered brand quality. This can be illustrated and explained through the use of the service quality theory. The theory holds that a major quality gap and challenge is that the customers in most of the cases have higher expectations that can be offered by the brands. Hence, through using the social media to eliminate any such unrealistic expectations, the industry has the capability and potential to increase the overall customer satisfaction. In essence, it is theoretically and practically true that a high customer awareness levels increases satisfaction, which is closely related to a product trust levels and confidence in the market.

Yang and Kent (2014, p.563) study and evaluation created a link between the perceived brand visibility and trust level in the global market. In this regard, the study argued that trust was largely linked to the extent to which the customers viewed and saw a brand in the market. In this regard, brand visibility was termed s one of the psychological factors through which the trust levels would be increased. This can be illustrated and explained through a human psychological analysis. In this respect, a human being tends to have confidence and trust with things and products that they have and experienced over a longer period of time. In this context, the offered brand visibility makes the interaction and information from the brand s a way of the customers daily life encounters. As such, this has the lasting effect of increasing brand perception and familiarity, a move that increases the overall trust levels in the long run period of time.

Thus, this analysis argues that through crating a positive brand visibility, the social media marketing process allows for increased brand trust among customers in the long run period. This should be perceived as a positive gain due to its cost benefit analysis merits. An evaluation of the costs of developing such an ideal and effective system indicates that the main costs incurred are the initial ICT systems development costs and the cost of maintaining ICT specialists to manage the social media accounts (Bruhn, Schoenmueller and Schafer, 2012, p.779). However, this cost is way lower than the traditional marketing costs such as search engine optimization or even the traditional mass media marketing strategies respectively. This, leads to the realization and conclusion that the use of social media marketing and the resulting brand visibility increases customer trust levels at lower than the average market costs respectively.

Increased Brand Association

The second rationale and merit fir the use of social media as a marketing and branding tool aimed at raising customers trust, authenticity, and confidence levels. In theory, brand association is described as the extent ad level to which the customers feel as part of the overall brand in the market. In this case, this is achieved through a number of avenues. The first is customer engagement in the brand production and manufacturing process. In this stage, the brand development process include the posing design and template products pictures and descriptions online to get the customers feedback prior to the official launch of such new designs in the market. In this content, the use of social media allows for the adoption and application of the pull marketing strategy. The pull marketing strategy is a marketing approach in which the key product and marketing decisions are derived from the customer needs, rather than pushing such strategies and products from the managements’ decision to the customers. The use of a pull marketing strategy and customer participation and association in a brand is achieved through a number of social media platform features.

On one hand, under some of the social media platforms, such as Facebook, it is possible for the brand to create a fan page platform. In this connect, all the fans and customers to such product s have access to participate and be part of the overall virtual community. This offers a sense of belonging and association with the brand. In addition, the fact that the customers can interact with fellow lovers of such a product and brand in the market raises their association levels in the market. The rationale for the use of the social media virtual communities as a source of belonging could be derived from De Vries, Gensler and Leeflang (2012, p.87) arguments. Through an empirical study analysis, the authors evaluated the extent to which the global society was shifting form physical to virtual relationships. As such, focusing on the USA market, it established that the millennial generation was more included to forming virtual communities’ and associations online, rather than the physical relationships respectively. Therefore, this indicates that a rising rate and level of customers prefer and feel free and content with online relationships and associations. Therefore, the above analysis indicates that through the use and the development of brand social media virtual communities, the sense of belonging and association among the customers increases.

There is a direct relationship between a customer’s brand association levels and their trust and perceived authenticity of the brand in the market. In this regard, as the level of brand association rises, there is a correlated rise in the level of customer satisfaction and loyalty in the market. Such customers are less likely to venture and seek to sue other alternative products in the market, besides their desired brand. In this case, the developed virtual communities create an opportunity for the customers to engage with one another on a direct one on one basis. This platforms and communication system provides an opportunity for two main things. First, it allows the customers to vet and critically evaluate offered, marketing messages and products by the company. Thus, customer is able to relate and contact with peer customers to establish the reliability of offered brand messages. The second merit is that it enables the customers to interact with the brand staff and pose their burning questions, and effectively acquire a suitable response. In this regard, through acquiring real time information and feedback on posed queries and concerns, the customers trust levels on the respective brand is exponentially increased. Similarly, through interacting with peers, the functionality and effectiveness of product can be easily validated through the respective members experience with the brand. This analysis argues that through the combination of the above two analyses, the use of social media and the resulting brand association increases the overall customer satisfaction and trust levels in the market.

Disadvantages

Despite the key merits and rationale of social media to increase the overall brand trust and authenticity levels. This section explores on the key variables and areas through which the use of social media limits on brand trustworthiness in the market. This is mainly through the lack of informational trustworthiness in the market.

The main challenge in the use of social media as a [platform for brand equity development is the lack of information control and authenticity. In this case, the social platforms have a control and privacy policy that covers on the retention and protection of the privacy of the used social media accounts. As such, there is no single validity approach through which the customers can adopt and apply as a means of indicating and proofing on the authenticity of` the used social media accounts. This as Laroche, Habibi and Richard (2013, p.79) noted, increases the overall link of the social media ghost accounts’ that can be used to either create biased negative criticism on a brand support d by the competition. Similarly, there is the risk of the brands supporting ghost accounts’ to support and Larry a positive brand image and reputation through positive response posts on social media platforms. An additional challenge in the market is the main challenge on the use of parental control on comments offered on the social media platforms. In this regard, the administrator at times has been accused of deleting the less favorable comments in the market. Therefore, this has had an overall negative implication on the trust levels of the customers’. To this end, the customers in thus scenario are less trusting on the authenticity and reliability of the social media brand information. In this case, the overall impacts of using social media as Smith, Fischer and Yongjian (2012, p.105) argued, although the platform offers a huge information base through which to increase market awareness and reputation, the platform provides low informational levels for facilitating brand trust and reliability among customers in the market.

In order to overcome and mitigate this challenge on trust and effectiveness’ in the market, this essay recommends the use of more liberal and alternative brad empowerment levels. In this case, the overall recommendation is for the organizations to use supporting approaches to complement the social media platforms in the industry. As such, this could include the development of a platform in which the brand has no control over the conversations. In this case, the social media platforms developed should be hosted and managed by a third party that is independent and has an ICT reputation for credibility in the market. This should be well known to the customers and all the social media users connected to the platform pages and posts. Through the use of this strategic approach, the ventures will ensure that the risk of using parental control to eliminate less favorable posts in the market.

Conclusion

In summary, this essay offers a critical evaluation and analysis of the nature and extent to which the use of social media e-marketing has impacted on customer trust and authenticity perception of different brands in the global market. In this context, the evaluation established that through the use of social media e-marketing, organizations increase their brand viability, awareness, and association levels. All these have a direct contribution and link to raising trust levels in the global market. However, as illustrated in the analysis, the lack of control on posted information, and the risk of parental control by the ventures to eliminate less desirable posts is a major trust issue. To overcome this challenge, the essay recommends’ on the use of a reputable third party to manage such social media accounts to create a reliability of the posts retention.

References

Bruhn, M., Schoenmueller, V., & Schäfer, D. B. 2012, ‘Are Social Media replacing traditional media in terms of brand equity creation?’, Management Research Review, vol. 35, no. 9, pp. 770-790.

De Vries, L., Gensler, S., & Leeflang, P. S. 2012, ‘Popularity of brand posts on brand fan pages: An investigation of the effects of social media marketing’, Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 83-91.

Dhingra, S. 2013,’Trading away wide brands for cheap brands’, The American Economic Review, vol. 103, no. 6, pp. 2554-2584.

Laroche, M., Habibi, M. R., & Richard, M. O. 2013, ‘To be or not to be in social media: How brand loyalty is affected by social media?’, International Journal of Information Management, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 76-82.

Laroche, M., Habibi, M. R., & Richard, M. O. 2013, ‘To be or not to be in social media: How brand loyalty is affected by social media?’, International Journal of Information Management, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 76-82.

Smith, A. N., Fischer, E., & Yongjian, C. 2012, ‘How does brand-related user-generated content differ across YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter?’, Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 102-113.

Yang, A., & Kent, M. 2014, ‘Social media and organizational visibility: A sample of Fortune 500 corporations’, Public Relations Review, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 562-564.