Sample Essay on Integrated Project 2 Cover Sheet

Executive Summary:

In the contemporary society the internet is the only platform through which peel access the media, receive customers and gather information related to business. This makes it a useful and powerful marketing tool from the global perspective. Globalization and liberal economies has also led to the realization that the internet is the only means through which organization can reach out to customers separated by geographical bounders. Companies engage the internet as a tool for direct marketing by accessing high traffic areas such as the social media

Toucan is an online advertising agency based in the United Arab Emirates. The company began offering its online marketing services in the Caribbean and this explains the establishment of its offices in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The company offers its services trough company websites and the social networking platforms. Through these services, Toucan aims at encouraging local business to use the power of interactive marketing in creating a global presence for their products and services

The realization that most of the internet users spend much time on sites such as Facebook, You Tube and Twitter provides an explanation why businesses should ensure constant flow of updated information concerning their products d services on these sites. Through these platforms companies will ensure an increase in consumer awareness. However, the type of information that is to be uploaded requires the skills of Toucan to give the necessary support and help companies grow in terms of their market share

 

Social media marketing has therefore become a powerful tool through which effective promotion and advertisement of products can be realized. The use of these sites as platforms for direct marketing helps businesses to ensure a combination of networking activities with management techniques. This is through the incorporation of online activities that have repeatedly shown successful results in the promotion of products and services.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  1. Introduction
  2. Orientation: Contemporary Analysis of Social Media Marketing
    • Social Media and Direct Marketing Defined
    • Social Media Marketing & Direct Marketing Development
    • The Case Study: Toucan’s Background
    • Research questions
  3. Research Methodology of Data Collection
    • First Stage: Interviews
    • Second Stage: Surveys
    • Participant Selection
    • Procedures for the interviews and the survey
    • Data analysis: Research findings of the interviews and the surveys
  4. Business Acumen
    • SWOT Analysis
    • Comparative Matrix: Client’s SSM vs. Toucan’s SSM
  5. Key Implications
  6. Conclusion
  7. References
  8. Appendices
    • Youtube Interviews: Links
    • Sample of Survey for Businesses
    • Consent Forms
  1. Introduction

The desire to ensure an expansion of market share, an improvement in profit margins and an increase in customer base has necessitated the need to usher a new paradigm in marketing products and services. In addition, the effects of inflation and financial crisis on the global platform have compelled companies to seek alternative means through which they can remain economically viable at minimal costs (Kristow 2011). The existence of the virtual platform of communication has led to the introduction of e-commerce and e-business which have made traditional platforms of trade relatively obsolete. This according to Armstrong and Kotler (2011) has led to the use of the internet as a platform of effective marketing and techniques of managing profitable customer relationships.

In the contemporary society the internet is the only platform through which peel access the media, receive customers and gather information related to business. This makes it a useful and powerful marketing tool from the global perspective. Globalization and liberal economies has also led to the realization that the internet is the only means through which organization can reach out to customers separated by geographical bounders. Companies engage the internet as a tool for direct marketing by accessing high traffic areas such as the social media (Kristow 2011).

The main objective of this paper is to assess the ways through which social networking sites can be used as platforms for direct marketing. This will be through an in-depth analysis of Toucan, an advertising company, and its prevalence in the Caribbean.

  1. Orientation: Contemporary Analysis of Social Media Marketing
    • Social Media, Social Media Marketing and Direct Marketing Defined

Social media is a mechanism through which people engage in virtual communication by autonomously reading and publishing material. It is often perceived as a shift from a broadcasted mechanism to a multi-model rooted conversation between different users on the global platform. The interactive nature of social media enables it to assume different forms such as discussion groups, pictures, podcast, and videos. Through the virtual connection, users are often able to share music, pictures, videos and information in the form of written words. Social media avenues include Wikipedia, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, YouTube and Google among other platforms. The difference between these sites is in the different areas of specialization.

 

Social media marketing involves the use of the existing social networking sites as avenues of promoting different products and services. This is based on the understanding that major sites such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube attract millions of registered users across the world. This makes them a potential market for different products and services hence the convenience of marketing through the social networking sites.

Direct marketing involves the ability of the company to contact the consumer without the use of middlemen. Through such an engagement it is always possible for an organization and the customer to acquire information form a fist hand perspective

  • Social Media Marketing & Direct Marketing Development

The prevalence of social media as a tool for marketing offers organizations a platform through which they can interact with the actual and potential and actual customers. This helps companies in ensuring an expansion of their market share by increasing on their market presence. With high rates of competition in the global market, companies are in the process of dividing alternative ways through which they can gain some competitive advantage.

The evolution of social media as a marketing tool has been characterized by the development of different social networking sites and their ability to accommodate multiple aspects of information. The marketing plans of companies has also been experiencing some changes hence the need for Social media management to maintain online and brand reputation. Social media management often achieves this objective by engaging in active conversations with customers on the sites, updating truthful information of different sites and responding to customer feedbacks.

Social media marketing has therefore become a powerful tool through which effective promotion and advertisement of products can be realized. The use of these sites as platforms for direct marketing helps businesses to ensure a combination of networking activities with management techniques. This is through the incorporation of online activities that have repeatedly shown successful results in the promotion of products and services.

  • The Case Study: Toucan’s Background

Toucan is an online advertising agency based in the United Arab Emirates. The company began offering its online marketing services in the Caribbean and this explains the establishment of its offices in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The company offers its services trough company websites and the social networking platforms. Through these services, Toucan aims at encouraging local business to use the power of interactive marketing in creating a global presence for their products and services (www.toucan.ae)

The realization that most of the internet users spend much time on sites such as Facebook, You Tube and Twitter provides an explanation why businesses should ensure constant flow of updated information concerning their products d services on these sites. Through these platforms companies will ensure an increase in consumer awareness. However, the type of information that is to be uploaded requires the skills of Toucan to give the necessary support and help companies grow in terms of their market share.

Despite its success in social media market, Toucan has been experiencing challenges in the continuous use of services by its customers. There are customers who hold the belief that social media has the ability to maintain itself hence the need to neglect marketing strategies for social networking sites. In addition, the thought that social media marketing is a field that requires little expertise and experience has led companies into major losses largely because they overlook the essence of a planned schedule for  the implementation of marketing strategies of social media.

  • Research questions
  1. What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of using social media for direct marketing?
  2. What are the advantages of using social media as a direct approach to marketing over traditional methods?
  3. What are the strategies available for Toucan to enhance its ability to render social media marketing services?
  1. Research Methodology of Data Collection
    • First Stage: Interviews

Prior to the commencement of this project interviews were conducted and recorded with the consent of the interviewees. These interviews were majorly conducted on Toucan Clients in the Caribbean. The videos were recorded and uploaded on You Tube after consent from Toucan. The questions asked in these interviews were aimed at getting information on the role that Toucan and Social media have played in improving the revenues and global presence of the local companies.

  • Second Stage: Surveys

The study was characterized by questionnaire surveys as part of collecting primary data that is crucial for the study. In addition, these surveys were conducted with consent from the participants. The participants in the survey process were both users and non-registered of social media sites. The non- users were as part of a control experiment that was to provide the contrast concerning the ability of users and non-users of social media platforms to acquire information about different goods and services in the Caribbean. The process of collecting data through questionnaires was characterized by different elements, which included the social networking sites and additional sites within the social network platforms individuals’ access. Those not registered in social networking sites were asked questions related to the reasons for neglecting the social sites and the possibility that they will embrace and register in these sites if they provide information on the products and services that they desire.

The development of the questionnaire was based on the findings in previous studies. Social networking sites have often been used to serve the purpose of bridging the interaction gap between different individuals. However, with the questionnaire, the study was aimed at introducing and sensitizing the target population on the possibility of using social networking sites for functions other than communication. Through the questionnaires, the participants were expected to reveal their understanding of different social networking sites and the possibility of using these sites to acquire information about different products and services. The questionnaire also focused on the sectors that the registered members of different social media platforms preferred to be included in the sites. This was aimed at finding out the most preferred business sectors and the least preferred. Through such a discovery, it would be easier for Toucan to develop strategies that will ensure that different needs of the target population are satisfied when marketing though the social media. In its conclusion, the questionnaire questioned participants on the areas that were lacking but should part of the social networking platforms. Through this question, Toucan could able to develop programs targeting their introduction of different marketing tools in the social media that could increase the possibility that the participants will access information aimed at marketing different products and services.

The process of collecting secondary data was founded on existing information concerning the essence of using social networking platforms for direct marketing. The elaborate literature review initiatives were focused on existing publications, journals, academic paper and books on the perceptions of different individuals on using social network as a marketing tool. Through literature review, it was also possible to understand factors affecting social media marketing and the greatest approaches that can be employed to realize success social media advertising.

Literature review also helped in assessing alternative means of direct marketing and comparing the successes of these options with those of social networking sites. Through this comparative analysis, it was possible to identify the strength and weaknesses of engaging social networking sites for direct marketing. The studies also provided possible solution sin addressing the weaknesses associated with the marketing platform. Other than the provision of an understanding on the information available literature review also played a role in revealing the loopholes on the information concerning the possibility of using social networking sites for direct marketing. Literature review therefore influenced the development of the questionnaire considering the essence of addressing the loopholes to this study.

  • Participant Selection

Marketing is largely considered as a social science research. This makes it relatively complicated for a research imitative to measure an entire population hence the need to identify a portion of the target population. The success of this process and the entire date is dependent on the ability of the research study to identify the most appropriate technique that can be used in sampling the right portion of the population. The study developed a sampling frame of two categories of participants (Babbie 2011, p. 229). The first category included registered members of different social media platforms and the second group comprised non- operators of social networks. The process of sampling these participants was based on among other variables their occupation, gender, levels of income, age and race. These variables were considerd as essential determinants in the amount of time individuals spends on social networking sites, the information they upload and access. These variables are also determinants of the type of products that these participants prefer (Babbie 2011, p. 229).

This study employed random sampling considering that it allows for the probability that every member of the population can be selected as part of the sample population. The study targets to sample 26 members of the target population in the Caribbean and two businesses. This is considerd to be illustrative of the whole population. The use of random sample guarantees that for every large sample there is an unbiased an equal chance for every member of the identified population to be selected (Remenyi 2012, p. 100).

Participant selection process involved the application of random sampling techniques because it was easier to use. Through this method, it was easier to assemble the sample considering that irrespective of the technique applied it gives every member in the target populace an equal opportunity of being nominated. In addition, through simple random sampling method, it is possible to draw a clear conclusion from the data derived an analyzed from the study (Remenyi 2012, p. 101). The main objective of undertaking any research initiative is to the possibility of developing solutions that can be generalized on an entire population. An essential step that will ensure the possibility of generalization is the methodology used in participant section process. This is an indication that the representative nature of samples acquired from random sampling reduces the possibility of errors in the study

The most tedious step in the selection process of participants using random sampling method was that it was time consuming. This was based on the fact that the success of the process was dependent on the development of a full list every individual in the target population (Ulijn et al 2010, p. 124). However, to make the process more effective and efficient in terms of time consumed, the study used computer assisted random selection methodology. Through computer technology, it was easier to develop the list of members of the population and engage in a mathematical procedure that ensured equal opportunities for the target population (Remenyi 2012, p. 102).

  • Procedures for the interviews and the survey

Permission from the relevant administrative and managerial authorities was sought with the aim of guaranteeing that the examiner has the appropriate authority and permission to seek information intended by the study. In addition, it was also a procedure that was aimed at ensuring that the study was operating within the legal requirements of the target area.

The surveys and interviews were conducted on the target population. The sampled participants for the study were introduced to these processes with the disclosure all information concerning the study. This was with the view of ensuring high levels of integrity and honesty throughout the study. The process of disclosing all information was intended to ensure that the participants were sensitized on the expectations of the study.

The process of disclosing information to the participants was also aimed at getting their consent to participate in the surveys and interviews. Through the provision of this information, participants were also made aware of their right to participate or quit the survey based on personal desires. This was aimed at revealing to the participants that the entire process was voluntary and it was only those participants who were interested in the study that could participate. The voluntary nature of the entire process was to provide participants with the information that there were no payments of compulsions for individual to form part of the sampled population.

Matters of confidentiality of information provided by the participants also formed part of the necessary procedures that must be undertaken prior to the beginning of the survey and interview process. This was aimed at ensuring that the participants developed sufficient confidence with the study especially on matters related to the information they provide.

The interview process was divided into two phases. The face-to face question answer forum between individual participants and the researcher. This was aimed at ensuring that the participants provided information that was considerd unique on the subject matter. The face to face interview process was also a platform through which members form different ages, occupation and races provided information on their thoughts of social media as a forum for direct marketing without fear of intimidation. Face to face interview process provided the interviewer with firsthand information on matter related to social media and the possibility of using the platform as a marketing tool.

The second phase of the interview procedure involved using focus group discussions. Through this platform, the interview was able to lead discussions on the thoughts of the population on matters related to social media for direct marketing. The process is essential for the collection of qualitative data considering that it captures the feelings of the target population and it would be easier to derive a general conclusion.

The ease of developing this conclusion is based on the fact that focus group discussions comprised of individual defined by varieties of variables, which include differences in age, occupation, level of education, level of income and race. The divergence or convergence of the views represented through such form inspires thoughts among participants and the interviewer. Focus group discussions were also used to act as forums upon which different participants had the opportunity of engaging in an interactive session, identifying the opportunities and challenges of using social networking sites as direct marketing platforms, and the best possible solution to the challenges.

The survey process was largely based on face to face interaction between there researcher and individual participants. The use of structured questions provided the participants with a structured way of thought hence minimized the possibility of collecting erroneous data. In addition, through the use of questionnaires, as survey tools, it was possible for the participants to be engaged in a process where they could share their views on the structured questions without fear of intimidation. The success of the survey process was also derived from the fact that it promoted anonymity hence providing participants with a platform of maintaining high levels of sincerity.

When concluding the interview and surrey processes, the researcher has the responsibility of appreciating participants for their participating in the process. This was aimed at boosting the self-esteem of the sampled participants as it helped in the development of the notion that the feedback they had provided to the study was meaningful at that time. In addition, it was also essential in the development of ideas that would define the future of social media for direct marketing.

The data collected from the interview and survey processes was then harmonized to be taken through a procedure that would lead to the growth of important information. This information could only be developed through a process of analysis of the available data considering that through such a process it would be easier to identify common themes and attributes. These themes and attributes were to be used in answering the original question. The procedure of conducting interviews and surveys is considered essential throughout the study since the percentage of error will define the validity or invalidity of the entire study.

  • Data analysis: Research findings of the interviews and the survey
Research findings analysis

The interviews were conducted on 26 people and two business enterprises. These interviews were meant to assess the level of involvement of the participants in social networking sites. Through the interview process it was also expected that the businesses and individuals would provide the necessary insight on the essence of social networks to promote direct marketing initiatives.