USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR ADVERTISEMENT AMONG YOUTH

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USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR ADVERTISEMENT AMONG YOUTH

CHAPTER ONE

       INTRODUCTION.

 

1.1 Background of the study

To understand the evolution from old media to new media, it is important to distinguish between the two and understand how they both work as advertising tools. In order to understand the importance of using social media as an advertising tool, it is important to understand how advertising used to work and get to understand how it has evolved.

According to (Mulhern 2009; 10), media is experiencing a digital revolution which is liberating news, information, and advertising from the confines of traditional print and broadcast delivery systems.  Before getting into details on the evolution of traditional media to Social media and how to effectively communicate using Social media, it is important to understand the difference between the two forms of media communication.

1.1.1 Mainstream Media.

Mainstream media is the term used to encompass conventional forms of advertising media such as television, print, radio, direct mail and outdoor.  As depicted, below is the representation of different media channels of communication.

Fig 1: Visual examples of mainstream media

Media advertising is a form of marketing communication used to persuade an audience to take some desired actions, which in most cases is to buy a product or service. The intention is to drive consumer behavior by selling the product’s unique value propositions. Advertisers seek to increase consumptions by telling and repeating the brand message to the target market. Advertisers control the message and their brand. It’s a show and tell exercise.

Mainstream media advertising is one-way communication. This has been the basis of advertising since inception. In Kenya, the cost of advertising using mainstream media is a very expensive venture. According to Radio Africa rate card (2014) basic advertising campaign using mainstream media ranges from 5,000,000 – 9,000,000 shillings.

1.1.2 Social media.

(Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010; 4) define social media as ―a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, which facilitates the creation and exchange of user- generated content‖. It consists of different Internet applications such as blogs, social networking sites, content communities, collaborative projects, virtual game worlds and social worlds. Other scholars such as Russell S. Winer (2009)  affirm that many companies today are using some or all of the new media to develop targeted campaigns that reach specific segments and engage their customers to a much greater extent than traditional media(Daugherty, 2008; 33).

Furthermore Boyd and Ellison (2007) define social networks as “web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (Furthermore Boyd and Ellison 2007; 1).  We will use this definition to set the foundation for understanding social media and the way users interact with these platforms.  A few of the most popular social networking sites include the following: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube.   

 

Below are comprehensive descriptions of various social media platforms as described in pictorial form. These diagrams capture all social media platforms available as at October 2014. Due to rapid evolution of the digital era, the listed platforms are to change with time.

 

Below is an extensive description of all the available social media platforms as at October 2014. The picture below lists the various platforms and shows how to engage them. For example, Facebook is a social network that allows you to communicate with friends and family on a one to one basis. Twitter on the other hand is used a microblog. It allows you to share a story using 140 words. An indepth analysis of these platforms will follow.

Fig 2: Description of all social media platforms as at October 2014.

Source: World Wide Web (www.internetstatistics.com)

 

Further description of various social media platforms;

MySpace– This is a social networking site that allows its users to create webpages to interact with other users. Users of the service are able to create blogs,upload videos and photos, and design profiles to showcase their interests and talents. Myspace has provided a place for users to meet new friends and keep in touch with people across the world. The site has grown tremendously since its inception in 2003 and has even launched the careers of some music artists and actors. The site has received backlash from critics who believe that some users use the service to stalk and prey on other users. To combat this issue, Myspace has developed privacy settings to allow users to specify who they would like to view their profile and personal information. In 2005, the site was purchased by Rupert Murdoch’sNews Corporationsand it operated under Fox Interactive Media. Below is screenshot showing an example of a my space profile page of one Pei Pei.

Fig 3: Screenshoot showing an example of a MySpace profile page.

Source; World Wide Web; www.myspaceprofile/peipei

MySpace users access the site to search for music, old classmates, or new friends, creating a personal online community.  Despite its initial growth in popularity, MySpace usage is in decline due to the introduction of Facebook. Facebook allows for more options such as sharing of photos and tagging of friends, which is relevant to younger teens.

Facebook – Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. The site, which is available in 37 different languages. It has public features such as

  • Marketplace – allows members to post, read and respond to classified ads.
  • Groups – allows members who have common interests to find each other and interact.
  • Events – allows members to publicize an event, invite guests and track who plans to attend.
  • Pages – allows members to create and promote a public page built around a specific topic.  Presence technology – allows members to see which contacts are online and chat.

Within each member’s personal profile, there are several key networking components. The most popular is arguably the Wall, which is essentially a virtual bulletin board. Messages left on a member’s Wall can be text, video or photos. Another popular component is the virtual Photo Album. Photos can be uploaded from the desktop or directly from a smartphone camera. There is no limitation on quantity, but Facebook staff will remove inappropriate or copyrighted images.  An interactive album feature allows the member’s contacts (who are called generically called

“friends”) to comment on each other’s photos and identify (tag) people in the photos. Another popular profile component is status updates, a microblogging feature that allows members to broadcast short Twitter-like announcements to their friends. All interactions are published in a news feed, which is distributed in real-time to the member’s friends.

Facebook offers a range of privacy options to its members.  A member can make all his communications visible to everyone, he can block specific connections or he can keep all his communications private. Members can choose whether or not to be searchable, decide which parts of their profile are public, decide what not to put in their news feed and determine exactly who can see their posts. For those members who wish to use Facebook to communicate privately, there is a message feature, which closely resembles email.

In Kenya, Facebook is one of the most popular social media platform because it was among the first to hit the country. Facebook is also popular because it is easily accecible and comes pre- installed in every phone. This platform is also free to use.

Students have adapted to using social media including celebrities. Below is an example of a

Facebook page profile of one Jeff Koinange, one of Kenya’s most famous news anchors. He has personalized the page to his liking by using his images.

 

 

Fig 4: Screenshot of Jeff Koinange’s Facebook profile.

Source; World Wide Web https://www.facebook.com/JeffKoinange.php

Operating with a similar structure as MySpace, Jeff Koinange like other Facebook users can create a personalized profile with pictures and “friend” others.  Facebook also created numerous applications that users can add to their profile, such as character fan pages, jokes of the day, or trivia and quizzes.  A Live news feed on the user’s home page features what the users‟ friends are doing, as well as news and advertising from other various sources.

 

Twitter – Twitter is a free social networking microblogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called tweets. Twitter members can broadcast tweets and follow other users’ tweets by using multiple platforms and devices. Tweets and replies to tweets can be sent by cell phone text message, desktop client or by posting at the Twitter.com website.

The default settings for Twitter are public. Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, where members need to approve social connections, anyone can follow anyone on Twitter. To weave tweets into a conversation thread or connect them to a general topic, members can add hashtags to a keyword in their post. The hashtag, which acts like a meta tag, is expressed as #keyword.

Tweets, which may include hyperlinks, are limited to 140 characters, due to the constraints of Twitter’s Short Message Service (SMS) delivery system. Because tweets can be delivered to followers in real time, they might seem like instant messages to the novice user. But unlike IMs that disappear when the user closes the application, tweets are also posted on the Twitter website. They are permanent, they are searchable and they are public. Anyone can search tweets on Twitter, whether they are a member or not.

Here is an example of how you, as an a company might use Twitter:

Let’s say you are interested in learning more about cloud computing. First, you could search Twitter to see if anyone is talking (tweeting) about cloud computing. A quick search reveals that lots of Twitter members are talking about cloud computing.

Now you could do one of several things. You could simply keep tabs on cloud computing by returning and searching Twitter each day (not very efficient — but effective) or you could join Twitter and follow people who have posted tweets that catch your interest. As a Twitter member, you can post your own tweets or you can just remain a follower and lurk.

Below is an example of a currently running Kenya Airways twitter page.

 

Fig 5: Screenshot showing an example of a Twitter Page. (Kenya Airways)
Source; World Wide Web; https://twitter.com/kenyaairways

The image shows how often Kenya airways communicates with its target market, how many followers they have and how many people they are following,

Users can follow other Twitter users to see what they are doing or search for topics to see a list of what all Twitter users are tweeting.  The ability to search in real time has provided a valuable tool for advertisers and researchers when seeking to understand how the public feels about an product. Also companies are continuously taking advantage of trending topics generated by twitter trends in the form of Hash tags. For example the #kanyari310seed.

Instagram – Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, and then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever.  Instagram allows you to experience moments in your friends’ lives through pictures as they happen. All photos are public by default which means they are visible to anyone using Instagram or on the instagram.com website. You can choose to make your account private, then only people who follow you on Instagram will be able to see your photos.

Below is an example of an Instagram profile;

Fig 6; Screenshot showing an example of an Instagram profile page.

Source; World Wide Web; http://instagram.com/myprofile/#

This image is used to show how an instagram profile page looks like and details some of the available user options. In Kenya, instagram is a relatively new feature and its taking sometime to be adapted by users because it requires one to have a phone with a very good camera. Internet speeds should also be very high because for a user to view any of these images, the phone has to download all the photos fast.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a social networkingsite designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site is to allow registered members to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally. Below is an example of a LinkedIn Page;

Fig 7: Screenshot showing an example of a LinkedIn profile page

Source; World Wide Web; www.linkedin/profile.php

Members on linkedin use the application to advertise their skills to the world. As on the screenshot, Mark White is a social media expert and trainer. It also shows his experience on the relevant field and further allows a link to some of the work he has done. In this case, he has attached sample websites.

This network allows you to connect with collegues, clients, and potential employers to accomplish professional goals.  Users create a public profile, can send and receive professional recommendations, and join groups with those of similar interests.

A LinkedIn member’s profile page, which emphasizes employment history and education, has professional network news feeds and a limited number of customizable modules. Basic membership for LinkedIn is free. Network members are called “connections.” Unlike other free social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn requires connections to have a preexisting relationship.

With basic membership, a member can only establish connections with someone he has worked with, knows professionally (online or offline) or has gone to school with. Connections can be seen on a member’s network, but the member is not allowed to contact them through LinkedIn without an introduction. Premium subscriptions can be purchased to provide members with better access to contacts in the LinkedIn database.

Flickr –Flickr is a website that allows you store, sort, search, and share your photos online. The free version of Flickr allows you to upload up to 20MB of photos each month (a paid version with a 2GB limit is available for $24.95/year).

In addition to being a place to host your images, Flickr is also a community site. All images uploaded to Flickr that have not been marked as private can be searched using the tags (labels) associated with them. You can also search for and join groups to view photos from other users that match your interests.

Flickr has a section for photos that have been shared with a Creative Commons license. This is a type of license that allows teachers to use images found on Flickr in classroom projects as long as they cite the person who took the picture (the conditions of use will vary depending on the type of Creative Common license).

Below is an example of a flickr profile page.

Fig 8: Screenshot showing an example of a flickr homepage
Source; www.flickr.com/profile.php

On this screenshot, you can see the various features on flickr including how users can upload, edit, organize, and share photos.  Through the creation of a profile, users can keep in touch with family and friends through their digital photos.  In addition, many use this service as a webhosting database for pictures for their website or personal blog. In Kenya, this feature has not yet become popular because not many people have access to fast internet that is required to upload the images.

WhatsApp –WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform instant messaging application that allows iPhone,BlackBerry,Android,Windows Phoneand Nokia smartphone users to exchange text, image, video and audio messages for free.

WhatsApp is especially popular with end users who do not have unlimited text messaging. In addition to basic messaging, WhatsApp provides group chat and location sharing options. Below is an example of a WhatApp profile page.

Source; World Wide Web; www.whatsapp.com/profile.php

On this screenshot, you are able to see how WhatsApp users can create groups, send each other unlimited images, video and audio media messages. In Kenya, this application is popular because it allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS.

 

 YouTube – YouTube is the number one website for videos  (http://www.youtube.com/advertise).

Source; World Wide Web; www.youtube.com/profile.php

On this screenshot you can see how users use youtube to watch videos or create their own, the database contains numerous videos on any topic.  While the site began with user-generated content, it now offers numerous types of videos including commercial videos. In Kenya, companies are using it to upload their advertisements incase their consumers would like to watch them over and over again.

1.1.3 Evolution from Mainstream Media to Social media.

 

Within the last 15 years, people not only among students in Ahmadu Bello Universitybut all over the world have been able to access the internet at a rapidly growing rate across all age group and have therefore started using social media platforms as a medium to communicate shop and gather information about relevant topics.

The graph below shows the evolution and adaption of internet usage from 1997 – 2013 among different age groups in Kenya.

 Fig 9; Graph showing the evolution and adaption of Internet Usage among students in Ahmadu Bello Universityamong different age groups.

Source: Miniwatts Marketing Group, 01.2008 (adapted from www.internetworldstats.com)

On this image, you can see how different age groups have adapted to using the internet over the years with teenagers between the age of 14 and 19 being the quickest to adapt.

Social media is different from traditional or industrial media in many ways. For example with Print media (e.g. newspapers and magazines) communication may only be consumed while in the physical possession of a reader. Television may only be watched when someone is sitting in front of it. In the digital world, content is not only free from such constraints, but may also be copied and repeatedly shared at little (if any) cost and without any degradation in quality. This capability for infinite reproduction demolishes the traditional business model of making money by selling duplicated content (Mulhern, 2009; 54).

As consumers, we are also accustomed to seeing news, entertainment, and advertising bundled together into neat packages for our viewing pleasure. However, a digital infrastructure allows these individual pieces to become unattached. For example, a news story may be unbundled from a specific media (e.g. newspaper) and delivered separately. As such, an advertisement may be packaged with the story without ever being attached to a newspaper. Therefore, one need not buy an entire newspaper for one story and still be exposed to the advertisement. This approach allows advertisements to become modular and associated with pieces of information which are of interest to specific customers. Customers benefit because they no longer have to comb through strenuous material in order to reach the content in which they are interested (Mulhern, 2009; 56).

Customers can now choose what to read what they want, when they want and discredit the rest.

While the differences between traditional advertising and the new world of digital communications are numerous, none is greater than that between the concept of communications focusing upon the delivery of messages via media channels and that of communications specifically designed to facilitate and manage the connections between information (products) and people. Naturally, as in traditional advertising, creative content remains at the center of these communications. Among students in Ahmadu Bello Universityfor example, the most memorable media campaigns on traditional media are those that grabbed and maintained our interest for example Toss Radio Advert that talked about a Secondary student ( Form 1) whose uniform has faded so much that the principal thought he was in Form 4.  Another example was the Pesa Pap campaign by Family Bank.

However, with the advent of social media, advertising success is now based on about simple advertisement placement. The way you position your adverts is now more important than the content of the advert. For example, companies in Social media professionals have learned the importance of ridding on pre-existing viral messages as advertising tools i.e. when #babawhileyouwereaway campaign went viral, (as seen on the screen shot below) Safaricom rode on the hash tag by stating “#babawhileyouwereaway we paid Anglo-leasing Ksh 1,4 Bn using Mpesa” which had people sharing the message all over the country for free.

Fig 10: Screenshot showing how Safaricom took advantage of a pre-existing hash tag to get free coverage on social media

Source; Ministry of Laughter and Creativity Facebook page, 01.2013 (adapted from www.facebook.com/ministryoflaughter)

 

On the screenshot, you can see how Safaricom took advantage of a trending topic to promote Mpesa- its mobile money platform.

1.1.4 Significance of using advertisements on Social media in Kenya.

 

We have looked at how mainstream media advertising differs from social media advertising. Why is it important to find the perfect way to communicate using social media in Kenya? As noted earlier, Kenya like the rest of the world is adapting to this new advertising platform; social media. This revolution may pose significant challenges to those media companies, agencies, and brand marketers among students in Ahmadu Bello Universitywho have focused their efforts on sending advertisements to target audiences through traditional media channels without investing the time and effort to learn how to effectively communicate on with their target market social media.

These marketing professionals among students in Ahmadu Bello Universityshould also understand the importance of social media to their companies. Social media can make or break a brand. (Foux, 2006; 19) suggests Social media is perceived by customers as a more trustworthy source of information regarding products and services than communications generated by organizations transmitted via the traditional elements of the promotion mix. (Mangold & Faulds, 2009; 47) argue that marketing managers should comprise social media in the communication mix when developing and executing their Integrated Marketing Communication strategies and they presented the social media as a new hybrid element of promotion mix. (Mohan Nair, 2011; 89) takes social media as a complex marriage of sociology and technology that cannot be underestimated in its impact to an organizations marketing communications, choice as to when to engage, how to manage and measure, and whether to lead or to follow is complex but not an impossible task. These cannot be answered simply by one formula because the context and the market dynamics are strong variables in these decisions. Even though the interest for social media is huge, few companies understand what the term ―social media can mean to their businesses (Cooke, 2008; 56).

 

It can be thus concluded that social networking sites are a form of social media. The increasing dependence on technology for basic communication highlights the importance of analyzing how these networking sites area affecting daily processes. Anyone including teens and young adults, women, men, affluent consumers, and older individuals can join a social network site. Once registered the person can begin to socialize and create his/her own network of friends with common interests or goals. Sites like Face book, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Instagram, and LinkedIn are influencing the way users establish, maintain and cultivate a range of social relationships, from close friendships to casual acquaintances. Consumers today want to be more informed about products before they make the purchase. Most importantly, social networks are extremely capable of informing and influencing purchase decisions, as many users now trust their peer opinions more than the marketing strategists. Customers now have the power to talk back at the brand and broadcast their opinions of the brand (Casteleyn, 2009; 12). Numerous studies indicate an increase in social network usage (Goldsborough, 2009; { 4). However not so many Social media Marketing Companies/professionals, specifically in Kenya, have studied the art of communicating with their target effectively.

In conclusion, most marketing professionals in Kenya, are required to have credentials that relate to studying a business degree. Ideally this should theoretically be enough credentials to run a Sales and Marketing department. As part of the business degree curriculum, the professionals learn how consumers behave, how to effectively advertise to the said consumers, their cognitive process when making purchasing decision among other. However, we have not yet incorporated in the curriculum anything on Social media. With that said, social media practitioners lack the critical knowledge on how to communicate with their target market effectively on social media. Therefore this study will first seek to distinguish between how advertising is effected on mainstream media in comparison to Social media in Kenya. Then, the paper will act as the critical bridge between the consumer of social media and products/services to various companies here in Kenya.

 

1.2 Statement of the Problem

 

The increased fragmentation of media and customers, as well as the revolution in mass communication by the new communication channels internet and mobile communication technologies has created the need for a new approach to advertising through social media is effective and creates consistency of communication messages sent towards various audiences.

Despite the acknowledged impact of the internet on advertising, very few studies have investigated the effectiveness of social media as an advertising tool. (Vollmer and Precourt 2008, 19), addressed customers are turning away from the traditional sources of advertising, such as radio and television, and that they consistently insist on more control over their media consumption. (Lindberg, Nyman & Landin, 2010; 23), examined how to implement and evaluate an online channel extension through Social media, which compares and contrasts conventional advertising practices with social media marketing in the context of micro firms and then suggests these micro firms as which tools are more suitable for them.

(Wikström &Wigmo, 2010; 70) in their research- social media as marketing tool analyze and explore how companies can use social media to promote themselves and transform their businesses to consumer relationship focused. (Quiroga & Kamila, 2010; 59) in their research- Marketing and Facebook, describe how fashion companies promote themselves on social media platforms such as Facebook. Considering the lacks and gaps on a general level, there is a lack of quantitative (empirical) studies regarding effectiveness of using social media as an advertising

tool.

Looking on a business perspective, it goes without saying that Social media Marketing has offered a large variety of new opportunities for companies to promote their brand, products and services. Thanks to the personal autonomy and freedom that Internet offers, people are actively connecting with each other and talking about their experiences, sharing their opinions about products and services they have tested or even just heard about. However, it seems still unclear the most effective way to communicate with Students on social media to attain maximum results.

Therefore, in this Master thesis report, I will aim at improving the understanding of the business benefits of Social media Marketing and the most effective way to utilize social media platform as an advertising tool.

As a consequence, the problem statement of this report will be defined as following:

Social media marketing: What is the most effective way of using social media as an advertising tool?

In order to provide understanding and answers to this issue, the report will start by presenting Social media and its relation to Marketing, defining the terms and their features. Then, on the one hand, the theoretical analysis will use a wide literature review to discuss the evolution of Social media Marketing, explaining why every business should have their Social media sites and how to effectively use them as advertisement tools. On the other hand, the empirical analysis will examine the main marketing techniques used by companies on the Social media channels, analyzing how Kenyan businesses should develop their Social media Sites and how they can effectively communicate with the Kenyan market to receive maximum results.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

 

The main objective of this study is to establish the effective ways of using social media as an advertising tool. The specific objectives are;

  • To establish the general level of awareness on the importance of social media as an advertising tool among students in Ahmadu Bello University.
  • To find out the consumption habits of advertisements by the general public on social media among Students in Ahmadu Bello University
  • To examine the effectiveness of social media advertisements in influencing buying decisions among Students in Ahmadu Bello University

 

1.4 Research Questions

  • What is the general level of awareness on the importance of social media as an advertising tool among Students in Ahmadu Bello University?
  • What are the consumption habits of advertisements by the students of Ahmadu Bello University on social media?
  • How effective are social media advertisements in influencing buying decisions among Students?

 

1.5 Justification of the Study

 

Given the absence of research on the effective ways of using social media by students in Ahmadu Bello University for advertising, this report seeks to analyze the different benefits encountered by businesses if and when they implement Social media marketing strategies effectively. The study will further reveal how to go about communicating to a company’s target audience effectively using the social media as an advertising tool.

This research will also aim to fill the intellectual gap brought about by lack of incorporation of

Social media as a major course in the theoretical framework of any business degree in the school premises. The research will do this by describing how advertising on traditional media is different from doing it on social media (which is what many universities in Nigeria are currently focusing on) therefore emphasizing the importance of incorporating social media as part of the curriculum. It will go further and act as a guiding tool for any social media professional in Ahmadu Bello University who wants to excel in their field by revealing critical information on how they can use social media as an advertising tool.

The main benefits presented and described by the theoretical analysis of this research will be brand exposure, targeted traffic, leads generation, but also, market insights, including market research and competitor monitoring. Furthermore, the customer interaction, which takes into account customer service and their feedbacks, as well as the costless nature of Social media marketing, will be detailed as important benefits of using social media as a marketing platform.

Moreover, the report will implement an empirical analysis of the various Social media Channels, presenting each of the different types of Social media platforms, how they work, how Students have adapted the said social media channels, their principal actors and their main features, looking at the advantages for businesses. It will then tap on how to use the said social media platforms effectively to communicate with target audience. Therefore, we will take a closer look at social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

This study also seeks to revolutionize how the social media industry works in Nigeria, by providing critical solutions on how to engage with a company’s potential target market, when to engage the said target market and the tone/language to use when engaging them. Imagine knowing exactly when your target market engages in social media and how to grab their attention without fail! The research aims to find the perfect way communicate using social media, eliminating any chances of wastage in terms of time and revenue on behalf of companies.

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