1. 0 Introduction According to Proctor (2000), there is an increasing number of on-line purchases made everyday as social media consumption hits the mainstream. Consumers are sharing more of themselves, discussing new products they bought and influencing each other on-line. This shift in people’s web behaviour induces marketers to engage with their customers across whole new social media platforms such as twitter, facebook and LinkedIn. Brand can not push itself any longer and traditional marketing is losing its glory.
All these changes give rise to a whole new form of marketing called social influence marketing which is seeing great potential in this world where actions speak louder than advertising. This report will give a brief introduction of what the social influence marketing and social influencers are about, then explaining how markers use this new marketing method to develop their businesses, and finally discuss the benefits of social influence marketing after comparing with more traditional marketing. . 0 Definitions 2. 1 What is social influence marketing? “Social influence marketing is a technique that employs social media and social influencers to achieve an organization’s marketing and business needs” (Singh, 2009, p. 10) Social media is the content created by people using web-based technologies such as microblogs, social networks, or podcasts. Influencers are everyday people with greater peer influence depending on how much content they share on the Internet.
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In conclusion, social influence marketing is about recognizing, accounting, explore the fact that potential customer is being affected by various circles of people around him via conversation with them on-line, when he or she is making a buying decision. (ibid. ) 2. 2 What are the social influencers? According to Singh (2009, p. 13-14), social influencers can be divided into three categories: referent influencers, expert influencers and peer influencers. 2. 2. 1 Referent influencer
Referent influencers, according to Singh (2009) are people who participate on their social platform. Typically, these people are active participants in a consumer’s “social graph” and they have a considerable influence on “brand affinity” and “purchasing decisions” by constantly commenting on blogs and forums and updating their status or twitter feeds on-line. Since customers trust and know their referent influencers, they are confident that their advisers are also scrupulous and honest. As a result, potential buyers value referent influencers’ advice over other people.
In this case, according to Singn (2009) , reference influencers influence purchasing behaviour more than any other factors at the consideration phase of the ‘marketing funnel’. 2. 2. 2 Expert influencer It is the expert influencer whom a consumer would normally turn to when he or she is mulling over a “high-consideration purchase”. ‘An expert influencer is an authority on the product that the consumer is considering purchasing. Also called key influencers, they typically have their own blogs, huge twitter followers, and rarely know their audiences personally. ‘ (Singh, 2009, p. 13) . 2. 3 Peer influencer The peer influencer, according to Shirky (2008) is also called positional influencer. This type of influencers has a greater impact on “brand affinity” and “purchasing decisions” than traditional marketers as the popularity of Web 2. 0 grows. Moreover, these peer influencers are mainly family members or close friends to the potential buyers. According to Singh (2009), the motivation to share is at the root of peer influence. People share on-line when they are either encouraged by incentives or because there exists potential for personal value to be realized.
In another word, once a person is able to obtain a great amount of personal interests from a particular experience, the incentive to share it increases dramatically. To sum up, this sharing behaviour takes place as the user comes to realize that through the experience, there exists opportunity to gain more personal value from it. 3. 0 What are the fundamentals of social influence marketing? The most important factor that affects a person’s buying plans is the product itself. The type of products can be divided into two categories: “low-consideration purchase” and “high-consideration purchase”. Low-consideration purchase” are products involve low risks, e. g, buying soap. While “high-consideration purchase” are things involve high risks, like car or condominium. Therefore, it is rare for customers to seek influence or to be influenced by others when he or she is buying a “low-consideration purchase”. On the other hand, a customer’s buying decision can be easily swayed when the product is a brand-new car since its maintenance costs or its reputation making it a “high-consideration purchase”. (Singh, 2009, p. 15) 4. 0 How do marketers employ it to develop their businesses? 4. 1 Market segmentation
Before implementing social influence marketing strategies, the first thing marketers do is to divide up the total market. The market is made up of various types of consumers, products, and needs, and the marketers have to determine which segments promise the best opportunity for accomplishing company objectives. Buyers are served and classified on the basis of geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral factors. Market segmentation is the process of dividing a market into different groups of customers with distinct needs,characteristics, or behaviour who might need individualized products or marketing mixes.
A market segment consists of buyers who give homogeneous response to a particular marketing effort. ( Armstrong and Kotler, 2003, p. 61) 4. 2 Market targeting According to Armstrong and Kotler (2003, p. 61), the second step is targeting one or many market segments. After market segments are determined, marketers can enter the segments of a given market. Market targeting involves evaluating the attractiveness of each market segment and choosing a particular segment to enter. A given segment is only targeted when it can generate the greatest profit and consumer value.
Marketers can either target one or two special segments or choose to serve several related ones, where different kinds of customers share the same basic wants, on the basis of the marketers’ resources. 4. 3 Market Positioning Market positioning is defined as arranging for a product to take over a distinctive and ideal place relative to competitors’ in target consumers’ minds. After marketers have determined which market segments to enter, they must decide what position they want to occupy in those segments. A product’s position is the place this product taken over in consumers’ minds relative to competing products.
Buyers would not decide to buy a product if it is similar to other products in the market. Therefore, planning positions that differentiate a company’s products from competing brands gives marketers great advantage in target markets. ( Armstrong and Kotler, 2003, p. 62) 4. 4 Deploying social influence marketing strategies According to Armstrong and Kotler (2003, p. 63) again, marketing mix is the set of tactical marketing tools that company mixes to achieve the result it desires in the target market. It consists of everything marketers can do to develop their businesses and influence the demand of the product.
The key control variable in marketing mix are four P’s which are product, price, place and promotion respectively. 4. 4. 1 Product According to Kotler and Zaltman (1971), product is a combination of goods and services a company offers to the target market. In social influence marketing, marketers study the target audiences before developing suitable products. Product design is the most challenging as marketers need first to define the changes happening in market and then design social products which are “buyable” and instrumental to the social cause. 4. 4. 2 Promotion
Promotion is the communication persuasion strategy that conveys merits and familiarity of the products to the audiences via social media. It includes four major activities which are advertising, personal selling, publicity and sales promotion. As for publicity and sales promotion, these two call for eye catching news or events on the product to appear in mass media so as to stimulate interest or action among potential buyers. Moreover, sellers build communities around their brands via social media channels such as Facebook and twitter,and fix problems whenever they arise. (Kotler and Zaltman, 1971) . 4. 3 Price Price is the amount of money buyers pay to own the product. A marketing man’s pricing strategy is based on the assumption that members of target audience analyse both cost and benefit before deciding whether to invest money, time, or energy in a particular issue. Customers tend to compare major benefits with major costs and their motivation to purchase is directly linked to the magnitude of the excess benefit. Therefore, the marketer’s pricing strategy involves consideration on how the rewards on buying the product can be increased or reduced relative to costs. (ibid. ) 4. 4. 4 Place
Place is the arrangement of accessible outlets which translate motivation into actions and it also includes company activities that make the commodities available to customers. Social media platforms are place in social influence marketing. Therefore, planning strategies in this area are developing or selecting proper outlets, deciding on their average number, size and location by marketers. (ibid. ) 5. 0 How does it compare with more traditional marketing? According to Singh (2009, p. 16-21), more traditional marketing methods include direct mail, public relations, display advertising, and promotions.
Traditional marketing and social influence marketing share some similarities. Firstly, both of their objectives are sustaining existing consumers and creating new customers. Secondly, the mission of traditional marketing is to increase awareness of the company, its products and services to the mass market, so is social influence marketing. In spite of these similarities, these two marketing skills are quite different. According to Ho (2008), the more traditional marketing lays stress on the “Four Ps’ principle” which is made up of price, product, place and promotion. It also requires high budget and substantial time to get a desired result.
However, unlike more traditional marketing, social influence marketing is a cheap form of targeted marketing by employing social media and influencers to increase web presence and to promote products. 5. 1 Direct mail marketing Social influence marketing methods outperform direct mail due to its capability of expanding targeted consumer database. According to Singh (2009, p. 16), direct mail is a way of marketing that is employed by non-profit organizations or for-profit businesses to manage a large database of active consumers and to market to people in this database via catalogs, ads and other merchandising materials.
However, this traditional direct mail marketing method has a lot of disadvantages as its database of targeted recipients is big and non-targeted. This would not only result in larger quantities of wasted paper and higher cost than other forms of mass promotion, but also cause resentment and alienation from uninterested recipients. In contrast, the application of social influence marketing can counteract these downsides. According to Singh (2009) again, direct mail is most successful when mails are personalized and highly targeted.
In another word, the more data a marketer can capture on his customer’s interest through social influence marketing strategies, the more chances the marketer has to feed his direct mail database. As consumers doing and sharing more on line and opting into filling direct mail forms in exchange for needed information or acceptance into an on-line community, the database expands and direct mailing becomes more targeted through deploying social influence marketing. (ibid. ) 5. 2 Public relations Social influence marketing is an evolution of public relation.
Traditional public relation is basically about managing the press and pushing the messages of the company to the press as much as possible. It is related to maintaining public image for companies or high-profile people and creating awareness and interest about the product. Public relation is in the field of traditional marketing, which is company-based and product-focused. The intention of public relation is about boosting the visibility of the company and its brand. However, public relations make company an active participant while customers become passive and inactive. Blackwell, 2010) When compared with public relation, the advantage of social influence manifests itself. Social influence marketing increases a company’s exposure and reach as it is concentrated on social influencers influencing each other instead of public relation professionals influencing mainstream people. (ibid. ) 5. 3 Display advertising Unlike social influence, according to Pakhare (2010), display advertising requires high budget. Internet advertising was developed into businesses by marketers to market their products on-line and to gain the maximum profit from it.
Pakhare (2010) states that display advertising is concerned with identifying web sites those targeted consumers frequent, and buying space available on those web sites, then the marketers would measure how much those displayed advertisements are clicked on or viewed. This Internet advertising marketing, on the other hand, is limited by its advertising budget and cost and it is faced with risk factors such as spam and blacklists. According to Singh (2009, p. 19), social influence marketing means to market to social influencers by placing ads on social platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook.
After comparing display advertising with social influence marketing, it can be concluded that social influence is better than displaying ads since it promises high volume for return at very low cost. 5. 4 Promotions Different from promotions, social influence generate more profits for a company. According to Proctor (2000), promotions are mainly about stimulants created to boost the purchase and sale of the services and products of businesses. Sales promotions normally take the form of sweepstakes, competition, rebates or coupons and they are specifically designed to link marketers to consumers. Kotler and Zaltman, 1971) Indeed, promotions are good for product sales but its relative advantage decreases after comparison with social influence marketing. If marketers deploy social influence marketing, the specific promotion will attract more attention than traditional promotions because targeted customers are motivated to draw in social influencers who would influence other potential consumers. As a result, sales and revenue of the business would increase further. (Singh, 2009, p. 20-21) 6. 0 What are the benefits of social influence marketing?
According to Shirky (2008), every web page can be seen as a latent community waiting for participation, mutual influence and mobilization from web surfers. The first benefit of social influence marketing is that it can mobilize people though social influencers on the web where people with shared interests tend to browse similar web pages and seek their peer’s opinions. Further increasing brand exposure of the company is another advantage of social influence marketing. For example, according to Singh (2009, p. 4-25), “causes” in facebook is an application that allows individuals to support a “cause” in a financial way whenever they feel inspired and then encourage their friends who belong to their “social graph” to do the same. In this case, social influencers play an important role by creating “viral effect” and “halo effect” to promote donations and to draw support respectively. The third benefit is sidestepping ad blindness since the power of recommendation from influencers has the potential of sending visitors to the web site of the company while at the same time traditional marketing methods like banner ads are losing their effectiveness.
Other benefits include low cost, compatibility with traditional public relations and expanding contact lists. In conclusion, after comparing social influence marketing with more traditional marketing, social influence marketing is better than traditional marketing methods in its reach, cost and effectiveness. (ibid. ) 7. 0 Conclusion In conclusion, how social influences work is at the root of social influence marketing. With digital world going social, social influence marketing is having a great impact on “brand affinity” and buying decisions of potential consumers.
According to Singh (2009), there are changes in web behaviours of customers who are motivated to share a piece of media if this act of sharing either encourages peers’ participation in social activities or enhances personal reputation. Marketers are integrating more deeply and directly with customers due to the proliferation of social technologies. Potential customers are more accurately targeted by sellers when marketers adopt social influence marketing strategies, which are aimed at a particular pool of social influencers.
To sum up, social influence marketing is a new form of marketing that promises higher profit with lower cost than traditional form of marketing, and a company will face little chance of success in competitive market if its markers do not deploy social influence marketing strategies. 8. 0 Recommendations In light of the conclusion, i recommend that marketers of every promising companies should tap into the potential of social influence marketing and engage more with customers by using existing social networks in order to boost sales and spread brand awarenesses.
In addition, more attention should be payed to the potential of influencers, especially the sharing behavior of peer influencers. Only when the right pool of influencers are targeted by the marketers , can the company succeed in drawing more new customers. Word total: 2965 Bibliography 1. Armstrong, G. & Kotler, P. (2003). Marketing-An introduction. (6th ed. ). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. 2. Blackwell, J. “Traditional Marketing-What is the future of traditional marketing? “. 2010. (1 June 2010). 3. Ho, J. “Traditional Marketing vs.
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