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Social Media's Effect on Consumer Behavior of Young Adults

Essay by   •  September 26, 2011  •  Case Study  •  4,767 Words (20 Pages)  •  2,666 Views

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Introduction

As a civilization we are constantly changing and finding new ways to entertain us. First there was radio which brought us radio ads, then came TV, shortly followed by the invention of the commercial, now one of the main means of entertainment is the Internet. What could marketers possibly come up with to harness the power of the internet? What could the click happy consumers possibly be forced to listen to or pay attention to? Hence the invention of social media, intertwining itself with the newest forms entertainment until they seem as if they are one entity. We are going to explore the affect that social media has had on consumers and in particular the affect it has had on the youth that uses the social media tools so heavily. Social media has grown into a marketing must have, it is constantly evolving and learning to market in different ways is essential. After exploring the birth of social media we will show exactly how marketers are using social media to target, gain, and retain young consumers.

Evolution of Social Media

Social media started to evolve in the late 1970's with the first usernets and BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems). Usernets were first created in 1979 by Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis (The History & Evolution of Social Media). Groups such as Google and Yahoo are types of usernets because they do not have a centralized server or administrator. Unlike usernets BBSs are hosted on a primary computer and allow only one person to access the hosted computer at a time. At the time there were very few BBSs sites that were legitimate due to the fact that most were being used for illegal practices. These included hacking, adult material, virus codes, and other materials like the Anarchist's Cookbook (The History & Evolution of Social Media). BBSs dominated the social media main stream until online services came into the picture. "Online services like Prodigy and CompuServe became the first large scale corporate attempts to bring an interactive, "social" online experience to the masses" (Borders, 2009). Prodigy was one of the corporations to make the internet more affordable and even though CompuServe wasn't cheap it did incorporate a chat program into their service. These two programs were the start of making the internet available to all consumers.

In 1988, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was developed and used mainly for file and link sharing, and also to keep in touch (The History & Evolution of Social Media). With the World Wide Web being made available to the public on August 6th 1991 (Borders, 2009), ICQ led the way for avatars, emoticons, and abbreviations. Instant messaging was the main component for the early social networks like dating sites, forums, live journals, and role playing games such as World of Warcraft. Other major advances in social networking started to form in the early 2000s with beginning networks like Friendster. The idea of Friendster started other social networks like LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook (The History & Evolution of Social Media). Around this same time media sharing sites began to form. Sharing photos, Photobucket, videos, YouTube, and other media content began a popular activity. In recent years sites like Twitter and Tumblr developed and allowed consumers to document what they are doing and they also provide for speedy post of anything from documents to videos and photos. All of these social media sites continue to grow and evolve every day; however, there are growing concerns about the privacy of individuals participating in interactive sites. Consumers place more information about themselves online without the realization of the risks that it could cause. Stalkers and child predators are now able to access information like where the consumer lives and what they like to do in their spare time. With intensity that the internet is evolving it won't be long until consumers are better known in cyberspace than in real life.

Social Media's Market Strategy and How Businesses Can Implement It

Social media is challenging the way the traditional media organizations run their businesses. Due to the wide variety of formats of blogs, online videos, and social bookmarking, businesses have to adapt their marketplace to fit consumers demanding wants and needs. Many companies are utilizing channels like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to gain target consumer's interest in their products. Many companies are utilizing the social media marketing strategy to ensure that they cover every angle to get their message to their target market.

(Falkow, 2009)

Companies start the process by listening in on conversations; they tap into online conversations to see what consumers are saying about their company, whether it is positive or negative, what other companies they are talking about, who influences the blogs or communities, and what are the opportunities and threats. Once companies have gathered this information they begin to focus on in-depth conversations and see what percentages of discussions are about their company. The company is looking to see if consumers are using a generic description of what they like or don't like or if they are speaking about name brands. Once the information is collected companies will start to use the information and insight to set the goals they should pursue in social media. Some common business goals for the company to focus on would be their brand reputation, whether or not they need to improve it, increase brand awareness if need be, increase share of voice, thought leadership, trying tactics to increase sales by sending their product to bloggers and later inviting them to blog about it whether it be good bad or indifferent. This type of marketing leads to either positive or negative word of mouth but ultimately it enhanced the companies understand of the problem. Even if the outcome of the blogging is negative for the company it is seen as an opportunity because they are able to change the aspects of their marketing to better conform to their target markets needs. Finding the right blogger and communities is essential to guarantee that the company is allocating their resources for the best possible ROI (Falkow, 2009). Companies need to make sure that they are tracking all sources of information and collecting pertinent information that can make their company better.

Another key aspect is that to make certain that the companies name is getting out to their consumers they not only need to market themselves more heavily but they also need to identify influencers. Influencers of specific online communities and blog sites are one of the driving forces behind the acceptability of a

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