Social Media And The Small Business Media Essay
Social media has gained significant momentum as a business tool in the past five years. In the following study will analyze how selected small businesses currently use social media, how the businesses may expand the use of the social media medium and precautions small businesses should consider when utilizing social media. The business owners interviewed for the research study vary in their product and service offerings: personal training, music, systems consulting and a karaoke machine retailer. The conclusion of the research will include recommendations for how small businesses may consider the utilization of social media as a strategy to gain or maintain competitive advantage. Social Media and the Small Business
Purpose of the Report
Social media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter have widespread, worldwide popularity. According to Facebook's Press Room statistics, there are over 300 million Facebook active users worldwide, and more than six billion minutes are spent each day, by users, online (Facebook, 2009). The allure of social networking is tremendous, making it possible for people to connect globally, with ease and free of charge. Many small businesses utilize social media as a marketing tool because it costs nothing and it reaches a large audience. The purpose of this study is to reveal the strategic implications social media and networking provide for small businesses seeking competitive advantage. The research team will first analyze how social media advertising differs from traditional marketing and advertising. Interviews conducted with four small businesses, currently using social media sites, will identify how they currently use social media in terms of marketing. The conclusion of the report will include recommendations for how small businesses should utilize social media for competitive advantage. Background of the Topic
In order to conduct a study on social media and networking, the concept of social media and social networking must first be defined. S. Boyd, of Socialmedia.biz states, "Social Media are those forms of publishing that are based on a dynamic interaction, a conversation, between the author and active readers, in contrast with traditional broadcast media where the ‘audience’ is a passive ‘consumer’ of ‘content’” (Boyd, 2009). Through the social media platforms, such as Facebook.com, MySpace.com, LinkedIn.com, and Twitter.com, users create connections, or networks, as further explained by Laudon, "Social networking is the practice of expanding the number of one's business or social contacts by making connections through individuals. Social networking sites link people through their mutual business or personal connections, enabling then to mine the friends (and their friends' friends) for sales leads, job-hunting tips, or new friends. MySpace.com. Facebook.com, and Friendster.com are for people who are primarily interested in extending their friendships, while LinkedIn.com focuses on job networking" (Laudon, 2009, p. 417). Social networking stems from a person's desire to connect and interact with others who may be related or share similar interests. Private and public forums were the first form of social networking on the Internet (Borders, 2009). Created in the 1990’s, they quickly grew in popularity, spurring millions of community sites where people logged in and conducted discussions, typically around specific topics of a special interest website. Around the same time, real-time chat applications came into play, like ICQ and AOL instant messenger. The real-time chat option required users to log onto a website or download an application to talk to other people who were online at the same time. Blogging gained popularity as well, and these online diaries were put on sites like LiveJournal.com and Wordpress.com. In the late 1990s, SixDegrees introduced the first social networking website that allowed the user to create a...
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