Social Media- a New Marketing Tool: A Case Study on Bangladeshi Market


Prepared by:

Shakila Islam Evana

Lecturer (Marketing)

Tejgoan Mohila College

Abstract


Social Media, today, is among the ‘best opportunities available’ to a brand for connecting with prospective customers. Social media is the medium to socialize. These new media win the trust of customers by connecting with them at a deeper level. Social media marketing is the new mantra for several brands since early last year. Marketers are taking note of many different social media opportunities and beginning to implement new social initiatives at a higher rate than ever before. Social media marketing and the businesses that utilize it have become more sophisticated. One cannot afford to have no presence on the social channels if the competitor is making waves with its products and services. The explosion of social media phenomenon is as mind boggling as that and the pace at which it is growing is maddening. Global companies have recognized social media marketing as a potential marketing platform, utilized them with innovations to power their advertising campaign with social media marketing. This paper encompasses the area of social media’s potentiality as a marketing tool in the context of Bangladeshi Market. This paper generalized the view of customers and marketers on the basis of data collection from the market in order to judge significance, impact, usefulness and acceptance of social media. It is explored that Bangladeshi marketers are falling behind in using social media as a marketing tool compared to neighboring countries and to sustain in the competitive market it is imperative to use social media with traditional marketing tools.

Introduction

Online social networks facilitate connection between people to communicate with individuals who are in the network using the web as their interface (Barnes & Ganim, 2011). As the internet continues to evolve, new uses of digital communication tools have been explored. This new tool also contributes a lot in the business field. From a business point of view, social networking enables the connection with new clients and expanding business size as most allows customization of web pages and provides links to personal websites related with specific business (Carter, 2006). As social media usage has increased in recent times as a medium of communication, the use of social media seems to be an effective marketing tool (Baker, 2009). 


Social media is hot. Social media is now the trend and for business it represents a marketing opportunity that transcends the traditional middleman and concepts companies directly with customers. Social media is marketing using online communities, social networks, blog marketing and more. It’s the latest ‘buzz’ in marketing. Bangladesh is probably one of the proponents of social media marketing. These days, the organizational cause has replaced the social cause as companies seek to engage with their audience via the online platforms. 


The emergence of the internet has tremendously changed the customers’ lifestyle especially the young consumers in their shopping patterns. A number of studies had been conducted on the use of social media as a marketing tool (Engel, Kollat & Blackwell, 1978; Fisher 2009; Harridge & Quinton, 2012; O’Connor, Shewchuk & Carney, 1994). However, most of the studies are western perspectives. Research in this field in Bangladesh is still limited. Moreover, how Bangladeshi consumers and marketers view social media as a marketing tool has not been adequately identified. Thus, this study is aimed to investigate whether Bangladeshi marketers judge social media as a significant marketing tool, whether consumers can rely on information they find in social media and whether marketers take feedback from the market using social media. 


Objectives

Having a huge influence on our daily life social media is currently used by today's marketers as a front line tool. It gives us the opportunity to not only marketize the products but also take the feedback from the market and Bangladesh is not an exception. Our young generation is spending a lot of time on social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on. If it can be used in a prudent way social media can be a very prudent marketing tool for Bangladeshi Market. In this context, the objectives of the study stand as

  1. Whether marketers’ judge social media as it has a significant impact on consumer’s mind?

  2. Whether customers find social media useful?

  3. Whether marketers’ justify the acceptance of their products and services using social media?

Rationales

Every study or research is prepared to help specific groups. The research made on Social media- a new marketing tool: A case study on Bangladeshi Market will try to help the following groups-

  • Firstly, it gives the information of social media, its current status, and marketing potential to the stakeholders.

  • Secondly, marketers will get the data of customer activity information which will help them to design an effective marketing strategy. 

  • Lastly, it will be very helpful to those who are willing to prepare research on social media as a marketing tool.  

Literature review 

The meaning of the term ‘social media’ can be derived from two words which constitute it. Media generally refers to advertising and the communication of ideas or information through publications/channels. Social implies the interaction of individuals within a group or community. Taken together, social media simply refers to communication/publication platforms which are generated and sustained by the interpersonal interaction of individuals through the specific medium or tool. Wikipedia has a general definition of the term: Social Media is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into content publishers. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between authors, people, and peers.

Social media uses the “wisdom of crowds” to connect information in a collaborative manner. Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures, and video.

Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogues. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content."

There are two benefits of social media that are important to businesses, they include:

  • Cost reduction by decreasing staff time.

  • Increase in probability of revenue generation.

Social media enables companies to:

  •  Share their expertise and knowledge.

  • Tap into the wisdom of their consumers.

  • Enables customers helping customers.

  • Engages prospects through customer evangelism.

Thus the benefits of social media include: brand reach and awareness, consumer interactions through transactions, referrals and reputation management.

Measuring social media’s marketing potential: The often-unanswerable prediction is whether online marketing campaigns will be effective in the short and long terms (Oracle, 2008). Online marketing is difficult to execute successfully and measure adequately (Ranaweera & Prabhu, 2003). The quest for reliable metrics means that some marketers will shy away from implementing online tactics that draw only short-term attention to tactics that actually allow for prospect identification and capture of behavioral data (Riegner, 2011). Based on Trusov, Bucklin and Pauwels (2009), much of what happens in social marketing is little more than experimental, or simply about “insights” rather than metrics. Many marketers feel the need to “tick” the social media box and demonstrate how cutting edge they are, while the primary drivers of their campaign remain embedded in traditional media (Guba & Lincoln, 1991). There is a need to affect a paradigm shift from a traditional “more is better” approach. While many social media marketers fixate on volume metrics (website traffic, hit rates, click-troughs, time spent on-line, postings etc.), successful social marketing often depends more on qualitative metrics for desirable signs of the tone, quality and customer benefit of the interaction (Cronin, Brady & Hult, 2000; Fisher, 2009). Such metrics not only measure whether people are engaged, but how they are engaging (Keller & Berry, 2006). However, such metrics often need to be customized for individual campaigns and need to be considered in the pre-launch phase, ideally incorporated in message testing (Robey, 2011).

Social media as a tool of communication: current trends and future possibilities: Social media offers a variety of avenues through which we can communicate with people. In fact, social media is known to have been used widely in the educational field also. Over the last 30 years the nature of communication has undergone a substantial change and it is still changing. Email has had a profound effect on the way people keep in touch. Communications are shorter and more frequent than when letters were the norm and response time has greatly diminished. Instant messaging has created another method of interaction, one where the length of messages is shorter and the style of the interaction is more conversational. Broadcast technologies like Twitter transform these short bursts of communication from one-on-one conversations to little news (or trivia) programs: which we can tune in whenever we want an update or have something to say.

Increasingly, a computer with an Internet connection is the locus of a range of interactions in a variety of media and a gateway to an array of social spaces for work and play. Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and virtual environments like Second Life and World of Warcraft have become online meeting spaces where users— members, residents, or players—can interact and express themselves. They offer a way to keep in touch with existing communities that users belong to offline, such as social and professional groups. They also make it possible for people who would not normally communicate more than a few times a year to keep in touch—colleagues met at conferences, for instance, or friends met through the online community itself. Sites like YouTube and Flickr represent another forum for online communication that is centered on sharing, preference, and popular culture. Visitors can browse movies (in the case of YouTube) or photos (in the case of Flickr), express personal preferences, add commentary, and upload their own creative work. YouTube is also a repository of popular culture in the form of newscasts, television shows, movies, or music videos that are of current interest. The kinds of interaction that occur on these sites center around shared interests and include not only verbal commentary, but commentary in the form of original or derivative works based on popular pieces.

One of the reasons people prefer such forms of media is because of the interactions they can have there, both social and professional. Whether it is as simple as checking back to see what other comments have been added to yours or as involved as attending a workshop or presentation in a virtual world, the nature of the attraction lies in the connections between people that these online spaces afford.

Methodology

Report approach: 

Consumer research is a part of marketing research where preferences are given to know target customers intentions, motivations, or buying behavior through direct observations, focus groups, face to face interviews, etc. Closer observation on customers gives marketers the real position of their products and services- mostly it is facilitated by consumer research.

To get information about the targeted customers, we need to define ontology. It is a position where the nature of an issue is depicted. According to Wikipedia,  “Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of beingbecomingexistence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.” In the current scenario, the idea is to identify the viability of social media as a Marketing tool in Bangladeshi market.

When a nature of the study is defined the problem can be classified into two- exploratory and experimental. Exploratory research is research conducted for a problem that has not been clearly defined and experimental research has three characteristics: manipulation, control and randomization. These two are attached to another two different approaches to consider: Quantitative and Qualitative. The abstract of the approaches considering their strengths and limitations has been explained in the following sections-

Quantitative approach: Quantitative research methods usually involve large randomized samples, more application of statistical, and few applications of cases demonstrating findings. 

The objective of quantitative research is to determine the relationship between one thing (an independent variable) and another (a dependent variable) in a population. 

Further, quantitative methods are often used within natural science, and the aim is usually explanatory to explain causal relationships, to facilitate generalization, and also to predict the future.

Qualitative approach: Qualitative research methods focus on providing a complete picture of the situation with the aim of increasing the understanding of social processes and interrelations.  It is defined as a research to explore and understand the opinions and strive for in-depth understanding of different kinds of findings in library research.


“Qualitative research designs are those that are associated with interpretative
approaches, from the informants' point of view, rather than ethically measuring discrete, observable behavior. Qualitative methodologies are strong in those areas that have been
identified as potential weaknesses within the quantitative approach.” (Jones, 2003) 


Based on the above description, nature of the problem and relevance with the market, the present research work is done on the basis of quantitative data. The key condition regarding the quantitative data is that the problem is analyzed by different researchers in different ways. Our present problem is extensively analyzed by the researchers of developed countries though this type of research problem is yet to be analyzed in our country. It can be said that the problem will be dissected in Bangladesh as social media is flourishing its arena. 

Data Collection

This study is conducted with intention to know about the perception on social media as marketing tools in Bangladeshi Market. It is undertaken to gain background information about the general nature of research problems. Survey method using structured questionnaires has been used in this research as a tool to collect the possible usable data in order to know about the customers’ perception toward their usage of social media and the relation with the social media as marketing tools. Without incurring higher cost and more time, primarily data for this study, will be collected by approaching the customers and marketers in different parts of Dhaka City who will be convinced to participate in this study.


When the research problem has been defined and the type of research has been selected, it is time to decide which technique for collection of data should be applied. 


In qualitative research, there are different instruments for data collection such as interviews, recorded observations like focus groups, texts and documents, multi-media or public domain sources, policy manuals and photographs. 


In this research, secondary data has been used and all qualitative research about social media and relevant subjects marketing potential and social media’s impact on life will be collected   from   public   documents   which   can   be   categorized   as   follows: 


  • Reliable books, articles and scientific findings. 

  • Documentation: documentary information including related books, articles, scientific written reports, formal studies, progress reports, proposals. 

  • Archival Records: including survey data previously collected, organizational records, annual reports and personal records. 

  • Internet websites and available online libraries that include information about social media

When choosing the sources, the most difficult task is determining their quality and reliability. The nature of current research provides us to emphasize on “Reliable Sources” for this kind of data collection. In Bangladesh research work on social media is yet to be available, therefore, we should select our sources for data collection very carefully based on library research. 

The primary data for this study has mainly been collected using structured questionnaires designed for marketers and customers. The questions are set to achieve the objectives for the research problems. In order to collect data, both marketers and customers have been approached. Ten (10) customers and Ten (10) marketers were convinced to participate in the process of data collection. Customers include teachers, bankers, students, housewives, etc all classes of people so that data collected can be trustworthy. Marketers include Bankers, Traders, Manufactures, etc with view to reaching a generalized conclusion.

Data Analysis 

“Analysis as a research technique for making replicable and valid references from data to their contexts. The researcher searches for structures and patterned regularities in the text and makes inferences on the basis of these regularities.” (Krippendorf, 1980)

To obtain the research objectives, it is imperative that data collected from the market will be analyzed carefully so that a concrete conclusion can be drawn. Using the research technique, data has been collected and to identify the portion of people using social media, usefulness of information, role of social media and feedback generation the data collected are analyzed using MS Excel and shown as percentage of total population. As a percentage presentation is quick and easy to understand and in a short time it will give us the idea regarding the feasibility of social media as a marketing tool in Bangladesh. 

Analysis

Customers are part and parcel of any given market. At the present time, most of the markets are customer dominant. To identify social media’s usefulness and acceptance in Bangladeshi market we have gone through the below analysis.

People Using Social Media

To identify social media’s marketing tool potential it is obligatory to know how much people are connected with social media. Customers are asked whether they have a connection with social media or not. From the data, it is observed that 90% of total population is connected with social media like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc and other 10% are not using any social media. The number of people using social media is increasing at a rapid pace in our country during recent times.

Impact of social media on purchasing behavior

To judge the position of social media in the Bangladeshi market and its impact on the purchasing behavior on the customer, we have asked them whether social media has an impact on your purchasing behavior. It is observed that 10% of people are uncertain about the impact of social media as we have 10% population unrelated to social media and an additional 30% population who are using social media is uncertain, so the total percentage of uncertainty about social media is 40%. Another 60% of people believe that social media has a positive impact on their purchasing behavior.

Usefulness of information available at social media

To marketize, a product in a channel it is important to know whether the channel is accepted or the information available by the channel is taken at a justified manner. For judging the acceptability of customers, we have asked them whether they believe the information gets in social media. From the study, it is found that 80% of the total population believes the information in social media and the rest 20% do not believe. In that way, we can say social media has the potentiality to accept as a marketing channel in Bangladesh as customers have found the information useful.

The study is structured in two phases, one is for customers- how they are taking social media and its marketing potential and other is for marketers- how they are trying to use social media as a marketing channel. To have an outer view from marketers’ different marketers were convinced to participate in this study ranging from big organizations like Bank, Manufacturers, Online Marketers to Small Traders.

Use of Social Media

The marketers are asked about whether they use social media as a marketing tool or not to have an idea about the percentage of marketers who think social media as a marketing channel. Bangladeshi marketers are not well aware of social media and its implication in the society. Form the study, it is exposed that about 40% of marketers (Alight International, VFS Thread Dyeing Ltd, Kaltimex Energy, and Golden Agency) do not have any social media connections and other 60% (Mercantile Bank Ltd, Bdjobs.com, Radio Foorti, Bikroy.com, Square Pharma and Hatil Furniture) have connection but at trivial stage. Most of the marketers do not have any relation with social media and are having operations at a small scale.

Role of social media at business

What is the significance of social media in your business? Does it have or haven’t? Our studied marketers are those who have relationships with social media and believe in the notion that social media has an impact on their customers. Though social media as a marketing tool is widely accepted in many countries, the position is not commendable in our country. As 40% (Alight International, VFS Thread Dyeing Ltd, Kaltimex Energy, and Golden Agency) of marketers do not have connection with social media so they are negative about the social media’s role. Other 60% (Mercantile Bank Ltd, Bdjobs.com, Radio Foorti, Bikroy.com, Square Pharma and Hatil Furniture) agrees with the opinion that social media can affect the viability of any business as such they are using social media as a marketing tool. 

Feedback about products and services using social media

Traditional marketing concept differs with modern marketing concept in the area of feedback. Modern marketers believe in two way communication whereas traditional marketers do not believe in two way communication. By taking feedback from the markets, marketers get the idea about acceptance of their products and services, what needs to be changed, etc. In the widely used cases of social media, it is used as a feedback generating tool. Marketers usually have close supervision on customers and try to evaluate the customers and how they are sharing about the product and services.

Those who do not have connection with social media are uncertain about the feedback using social media (40%) and with them additional 20% marketers (Mercantile Bank, and Hatil Furniture) do not take feedback from the market using social media. 40% of the marketers (Bikroy.com, Radio Foorti, Bdjobs.com and Square Pharma) take feedback from the market about their performances and they are comprehensively using social media as a marketing tool.

Conclusion and Recommendations

There is no escaping social media these days, either for individuals or for businesses. Today, it is impossible to separate social media from the online world.

Whether you are an individual, a startup, small business or a large corporation, an online presence and an ongoing conversation with your constituents is a baseline requirement – and will take time and expertise. Companies are diverting resources and rethinking their traditional outreach strategies. And as the social media wave dissipates into the vast ocean of connected experiences, the term itself will become an entry in dictionaries and encyclopedias and we will embark on a new era of knowledge, accessibility and experiences unbound by distance, time or physical walls. It is high time that every business adopts social media and takes it seriously!

Based on the results of the findings, we can conclude that 90% of Bangladeshi people somehow connected with social media sites mostly with Facebook. 60% of the customers believe the fact that social media influences their purchasing behavior by generating related information from products and services but a considerable matter is another 40% here marketers need to be more conscious to use these people with proper manners. 

On the other hand, 60% of the marketers in Bangladesh are connected with social media but others are not. This percentage (40%) is not negligible considering the customer using social media. Marketers seem to be falling behind with comparison to other countries of South Asia. But those 60% who are using social media as a marketing tool have not designed a perfect mechanism for social media marketing tools. Those marketers using social media think (60%) that activities of social media have an impact on the business and only 30% of marketers analyze customer’s feedback or response at social media. But measuring the effectiveness of social media and integration with other marketing tools has yet to be perfectly accomplished by the marketers. 

Based on the results, customer’s huge presence at social media activities, this study believes that marketers should take proper action plans to use social media as a marketing tool and try to create an edge over competitors. As customers have faith in social media activities, more integrated marketing plan and evaluation of the plan can help the marketers to achieve desired position in the Bangladeshi market. Thus, it can be concluded that social media are useful tools for marketers for promoting their products and services in the current context of Bangladeshi market.






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