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Impact of Social Media and Use of E-Commerce to Promote Business Transformation

TOPIC: IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE USE OF E-COMMERCE TO PROMOTE BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION

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  1. Introduction
  1. Potential of Social Media Usage and Business Transformation:

Social media has become ubiquitous just like email. It has a lot of potential for companies and businesses. The statistics below will show why this field has so much potential. Internet usage on web and mobile devices are increasing. Currently,6.6. billion users are already on mobile, 85% of the world’s population have access to internet, Mobile internet usage is believed to shoot up by 530 + million. (Ahmed, 2013). Social media usage is also increasing. In 2013, the increase was by 18% and right now the percentage of social media users in the world has been shown to be 25 % with the Asia-African regions being very active. The stats indicate that businesses should leverage upon this to promote their businesses and thus online marketing and Social Media Marketing is here to stay. Businesses should stay and focus on those who are using Mobile internet as they tend to stay more engaged. Currently businesses focus less on this area and all the growth is in the developing countries and emerging countries/ such as China, Latin America Asia Pacific. (Ahmed, 2013) (Goodman, 2014)

  1. Challenges in SM engagement by businesses:

Some issues facing businesses in leveraging Social media more effectively in their business engagement strategies include the following:

  1. Marketers and Business professionals are more open to liking brands on Social media as compared to the consumers. Only 58% of customers have liked brands on FB and even lesser on Twitter (12 %) as compared to marketers (61%)

( Pick, 2013)

  1. Most Social media users do not like companies interfering with their social media usage experiences and also do not like the fact that SM companies and platforms are using their personal information for business related purposes. And this is a sizeable percentage of users ( 75%) (Pick, 2013)
  2. The proportion of SM users who are actually influenced by likes or pluses on social media in their shopping choices are very less. Just around 12 % only.(Livingston, 2013)
  1. The efforts of SM usage by businesses are complicated by the need to adapt to various technological changes in the creation of software, technology and platforms which makes this possible. Not only that another challenge is to make balanced judgements from data obtained through analysis and connect it to the actual interests and likes of people.

Another challenge facing businesses is to lose their fear of technology. Usage of IT in the form of social media and e-business can be intimidating to some as it involves totally different concepts, different kinds of platforms and entirely e-based strategies (Livingston, 2013)

  1. Companies need to keep abreast of changes in media such as traditional social media such as FB and twitter, which rapidly make changes, and hence a comfort zone no longer exists. Change is regular and this can be stressful as companies go for frequent technological and knowledge upgrades. Companies have to take a dynamic approach towards SM usage for their business, focus less on tailoring to specific channels, rather create compelling content that is able to engage different stakeholders, no matter the kind of channel used and they need to be very much in pace with the times. (Livingston, 2013)
  2. Many studies show that there is a disconnect between companies usage of social media technology and their understanding of employee and customer relationships. Hence because of this companies are rethinking about how they are using social media and building their technological infrastructure in a way which better supports and reduces this disconnect. And hence social media implementation in businesses has become a serious area. (Solis, 2013). (Li and Solis, 2014) (Owyang, 2008)

Reports show that many businesses feel that their social strategy is poorly connected to their business outcomes and that there is poor engagement of the organization as a whole with implementation of business outcomes.  Research show that a significant percentage of businesses felt that there was a poor connection between their social media strategy and business and also there was no long term planning as far as SM and business organizational  goals were concerned.

  1. Aims – What will the project deliver? Are there intermediate or enabling deliverables

The project aims to find out better ways of increasing social media engagement by users with brands promoted by business. For this, User surveys and Questionnaires for conducting user surveys, collating responses, qualitative and quantitative analysis to understand current engagement and technological tools would be used. Based on that we will be trying out better ways for effective social media and e-commerce usage to reduce the gap between social media engagement and businesses. We will find out what technologies are at present best suited to delivering the best possible social media engagement and carry out a trial using that. And based on the results, propose some improvements and modifications in the software and platforms which can help. We will submit a dissertation and a presentation on this.

  1. Literature Review:

With Social media turning into a very important medium for customers’ and partners’ voices to be heard and directly influencing businesses, it has become vital for companies to integrate their social media usage with their customer service strategy. The kind of technology used for establishing and driving SMM strategies affects the business success and successful transformation. Initial technology used by businesses to drive customers online to the businesses/products they were promoting were Web based. These were static web pages with not much interactivity where people could only view the information put up by businesses. With the development of Web 2.0 technology things changed.  This technology involved software being built on the web rather than on the desktop. Now there were more avenues for both customers and businesses to express their views on what they expect to purchase or they expect to deliver. These technologies are based on user generated content and such content are believed to add value. Example of such tools include blogs, discussion forums, wikis, video sharing sites etc Now the customer power to influence brands in how they conduct operations was increasing. While earlier technological upgrades were more occasional and desktop driven, newer technologies such as web 2.0 based, Google’s tools, social media tools are updated regularly and continuously as now things on web are in state of flux and they are hence in “beta mode”. The importance of content to social media driven marketing strategy has become more and even Google’s search engine focusses on good quality content to update its rankings.

The current technologies used in web 2.0 include Ajax and JavaScript frameworks such as YUI Library, Dojo Toolkit, MooTools, jQuery, Ext JS and Prototype JavaScript Framework for the client side ( web server) this enables asynchronous communication to occur quickly and efficiently. Data provided from server side are written in XML or JSON. The web servers themselves are run on languages such as PERL, PYTHON etc. Another popular technology used is Adobe Flex which is behind the adobe flash technology used for interactive web design and content and has revolutionized digital media by allowing use of video and audio content. HTML 5 is another technology which has made the web surfing experience more user friendly.

While these technologies come under rich internet experience and web oriented architecture, the third class which is vitally affecting the business transformation is the SOCIAL WEB technology which includes social networking, blogging, podcasting etc. (Is social  media transforming your business, 2012)

Currently, trends in technology related to the usage of social media in businesses is focussed on developments in the content creation arena i.e. content aggregation, curation and filtering space. These are the areas which are considered to be vital to companies ‘leveraging of social media in their business plans.  Another aim is to build a marketing technology stack. Businesses leveraging SM should also focus on utilising the CMS platform fully which is right now under utilised. (Rayson, 2014)

  1. Technology and Resources:

This project would require the following resources and technology to be used.

  1. Questionnaire for understanding customer and business awareness and needs of some representative companies and customers randomly surveyed, done pre and post project
  2. Some current web2.0 and social media networking tools as well as e-commerce tools for the main project as well as innovative and upcoming technologies for comparison purposes. In addition, knowledge of some programming languages and understanding of how social media/e-business software are configured into websites.
  3. Statistics software for analyses of the results.
  4. Microsoft Office tools for data recording, compilation and documentation purposes.
  5. Literature related to the topic collected via libraries, online searches, online databases, websites, brochures, presentations by experts and business organizations.
  1. Method and Work plan

The project involves studying the connection between social media/e-commerce usage to business productivity and achievement of goals by trying to do some preliminary studies as to how to reduce the disconnect between social media usage by companies and their business goals. For this, an initial literature review would be conducted to understand the past and current developments in implementation of social media technologies in business transformation.

Two pronged approach would be followed. One is trying to tailor and improve existing marketing strategies which would ensure integration of social media better with companies’ goals yet keeping in mind customers’ preferences. For this, we would be conducting a survey of randomly selected companies and their intended target audience to understand awareness of social media usage and e-commerce utilities on business websites, difficulties as well as audience concerns with how companies use SM to promote their image. (Bradbury, 2013)(Gafoor and Martin, 2012)

The other is work with a selected company, understand the technologies they are using with respect to social media and e-commerce and the limitations they are facing. Then carry out a study with a new and improved version of the technology support they are using and analyse how much it improves the Social Media-

  1. The phases of the project:
  2. Project Individual project definition and research proposal

The initial phase of the project would involve definition of the project, its scope and boundaries, literature review, determining the aims and objectives as well as the predicted outcomes and take ways. It would also involve determining the kind of resources needed and the kind of collaborations needed in order to carry out the project successfully as well as visualizing any alternatives to be considered in case of hiccups. This phase is expected to be completed by 11 April 2014

  1. Report Preparation- The actual work related to the project would be carried out including the literature review, liasing with organizations and selecting a target audience, creating questionnaires for surveys and analysis, comparative study of different technologies as well as carrying out a collaboration with a company to try out the effect on business engagement using a new or improvised version of technology. This phase would extend from 12 April to 07 July 2014.
  1. Viva/Presentations- The viva as part of formative assessment and the presentation of all the project work done so far will be carried out on 7th July 2014.
  1. Dissertation –The formal documentation of the entire research project is the dissertation and it will be divided into various parts, and worked on over the length of the project. The dissertation and final presentation would be submitted by 30 September 2014. This would indicate the formal completion of the project.
  1. Demonstration/Presentation† Between 22 September 2014 and 06 October

 

  1. Safety and Ethics

 

All permissions would be taken before the start of the project as well as ensuring that the data collected would not be released for public usage without the specific permission of the participants. Collaborations with companies would follow standard confidentiality requirements and rules and strict care would be taken to ensure that there is no unethical use of information obtained via this research. All the participants would be kept informed of the complete aspects of the project.

References:

 

Ahmed, I. 2013. [online] Available at: http://socialmediatoday.com/irfan-ahmad/1993606/global-overview-internet-mobile-and-social-media-engagement-and-usage-infographic [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Bradbury, D. 2013. Effective social media analytics. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jun/10/effective-social-media-analytics [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Gafoor, M. and Martin, T. 2012. Six ways social media technologies can accelerate large-scale change. [online] Available at: http://www.accenture.com/us-en/outlook/Pages/outlook-online-2012-social-media-technologies-accelerate-large-scale-change.aspx [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Goodman, N. 2014. 3 Ways Personal Bias is Killing your Marketing Campaign | Thought Reach. [online] Available at: http://thoughtreach.com/marketers-personal-bias/ [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Li, C. and Solis, B. 2014. [Report] The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Med…. [online] Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/Altimeter/the-evolution-of-social-business-six-stages-of-social-media-transformation [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Livingston, G. 2013. 7 challenges that marketers face. [online] Available at: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/7_challenges_that_marketers_face_14523.aspx [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Owyang, J. 2008. The Many Challenges of the Social Media Industry  | Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Digital Business. [online] Available at: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/08/07/the-many-challenges-of-the-social-media-industry/ [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Pick, T. 2013. Social Media and Digital Marketing Statistics  | Social Media Today. [online] Available at: http://socialmediatoday.com/tompick/1647801/101-vital-social-media-and-digital-marketing-statistics-rest-2013 [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Rayson, S. 2014. Marketing Technology: Robert Rose Interview | Social Media Today. [online] Available at: http://socialmediatoday.com/SMToolbox/robert-rose-interview-marketing-technology-and-5-key-challenges-marketers [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Solis, B. 2013. The Gap Between Social Media and Business Impact: 6 stages of social business transformation – Brian Solis. [online] Available at: http://www.briansolis.com/2013/03/the-gap-between-social-media-and-business-impact-introducing-the-6-stages-of-social-business-transformation/ [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

www.oracle.com. 2012. Is social media transforming your business?. [online] Available at: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/social-trans-bus-wp-1560502.pdf [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

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