Brand Recognition

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Business Horizons (2009) 52, 357—365

www.elsevier.com/locate/bushor

Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix
W. Glynn Mangold a,*, David J. Faulds b
a b

College of Business & Public Affairs, Murray State University, Murray, KY 42071, U.S.A. College of Business Administration, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, U.S.A.

KEYWORDS
Integrated marketing communications; Social media; Consumer-generated media; Promotion mix

Abstract The emergence of Internet-based social media has made it possible for one person to communicate with hundreds or even thousands of other people about products and the companies that provide them. Thus, the impact of consumer-toconsumer communications has been greatly magnified in the marketplace. This article argues that social media is a hybrid element of the promotion mix because in a traditional sense it enables companies to talk to their customers, while in a nontraditional sense it enables customers to talk directly to one another. The content, timing, and frequency of the social media-based conversations occurring between consumers are outside managers’ direct control. This stands in contrast to the traditional integrated marketing communications paradigm whereby a high degree of control is present. Therefore, managers must learn to shape consumer discussions in a manner that is consistent with the organization’s mission and performance goals. Methods by which this can be accomplished are delineated herein. They include providing consumers with networking platforms, and using blogs, social media tools, and promotional tools to engage customers. # 2009 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.

1. Social media, the promotion mix, and integrated marketing communications Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is the guiding principle organizations follow to communicate with their target markets. Integrated marketing communications attempts to coordinate and control the various elements of the promotional * Corresponding author. E-mail addresses: glynn.mangold@murraystate.edu (W.G. Mangold), djfaul01@louisville.edu (D.J. Faulds).

mix–—advertising, personal selling, public relations, publicity, direct marketing, and sales promotion–—to produce a unified customer-focused message and, therefore, achieve various organizational objectives (Boone & Kurtz, 2007, p. 488). However, the tools and strategies for communicating with customers have changed significantly with the emergence of the phenomenon known as social media, also referred to as consumer-generated media. This form of media ‘‘describes a variety of new sources of online information that are created, initiated, circulated and used by consumers intent on educating each other about products, brands,

0007-6813/$ — see front matter # 2009 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.03.002

358 services, personalities, and issues’’ (Blackshaw & Nazzaro, 2004, p. 2). Social media encompasses a wide range of online, word-of-mouth forums including blogs, companysponsored discussion boards and chat rooms, consumer-to-consumer e-mail, consumer product or service ratings websites and forums, Internet discussion boards and forums, moblogs (sites containing digital audio, images, movies, or photographs), and social networking websites, to name a few. As illustrated by Table 1, social media outlets are numerous and varied. The 21st century is witnessing an explosion of Internet-based messages transmitted through these media. They have become a major factor in influencing various aspects of consumer behavior including awareness, information acquisition, opinions, attitudes, purchase behavior, and post-purchase communication and evaluation. Unfortunately, the popular business press and academic literature offers marketing managers very little guidance for incorporating social media into their IMC strategies.

W.G. Mangold, D.J....
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