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The Use of Social Media Networking

Essay by   •  September 15, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  1,971 Words (8 Pages)  •  855 Views

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Abstract

Social media has grown to be very significant to small businesses in the past few years. In this study, I will analyze how a small business currently uses social media, how the business can expand the use of social media and precautions small businesses should

consider when utilizing social media. The business owner interviewed for this research

study is a small restaurant owner. The conclusion of the research will include

recommendations for why a small business may consider the utilization of social media as a

strategy to gain or maintain competitive advantage.

Brief Company Background

Stonewall Fish, Wings & Things (SFWT) is a small take-out restaurant located in Atlanta, Georgia. The restaurant is owned and operated by Kariem Abdul. The restaurant has been operating for 10 months. The restaurant has 4 employees that are responsible for providing customer service and preparing orders.

I have established that Stonewall Fish, Wings & Things has a need to get its name out to more locals in the area. This need is brought about by the limited use of technology and marketing by SFWT. I propose that the company begin to use social networking outlets that are available as well as setting up a website. I will provide SFWT with the many advantages of social networking sites and the how establishing a website for customers to place orders will bring new customers.

Discussion of Business Problems

Although Stonewall Fish, Wings & Things has had a steady influx of customers since its opening, they are not reaching hundreds of customers in its immediate 5 mile radius. The owner, Kariem Abdul has not utilized the social media sites that would allow for more customers to visit the restaurant thus increasing sales.

Kariem Abdul would like to expand his business to include another restaurant in another area of the city. Without presenting the business to the public via these social media sites it will be difficult for him to expand. Abdul is currently relying solely on word of mouth which has brought some new customers but certainly not the amount he would like to have.

Background on Social Media

"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 was created from a person's want to connect and interact with others who may be related or share similar interests.

In 1997, SixDegrees introduced the first social networking website that allowed the user to create a profile and trace friendships through people. SixDegrees promoted itself as a tool to help people connect with and send messages to others. Users could connect with friends and family, then connecting with friends of friends and family members, which then enabled users to meet new friends through a network. Its popularity however, didn't last long.

The popularity of any given social media site and the abandonment of another seems to be connected to a site's ability to function with ease. Six Degrees gave way to Friendster, then MySpace. The earlier social media sites had slow server speeds, and once the initial novelty of connecting with friends and family wore off, there was little else to do on the sites. With sites like SixDegrees the users simply lost interest. MySpace and, later, Facebook offered more to the individual user as well as functions that businesses could utilize for little to no cost.

Originally, "The Facebook.com" started in 2004 at Harvard University, as a personal network between students. Soon thereafter it expanded to other universities and then in 2005, it became Facebook.com, garnering worldwide recognition. Facebook focuses on navigation capabilities and a uniform appearance. Users have access to free games, videos, links, and fan pages that continue to grow daily. The company's overview states, "Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook every day to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet." (Facebook 2013) Fan pages have become very popular on the Facebook site. Fan pages are made by a business, cause, or individual that users may connect to as a fan. The fan page is then displayed through an individual's profile to all of his connections, and that individual may suggest to his connections to also connect to the fan page. A fan page allows for an individual to post information about her business separately from her personal page. Many businesses have gained a number of new customers just from creating fan pages to get the information out to the public.

For users wanting to connect with others professionally, LinkedIn.com is a perfect social media website to do so. First launched in 2003, users may add business contacts, provide recommendations and create a strong business network. The LinkedIn mission states, "The mission of LinkedIn is to connect the world's professionals to enable them to be more productive and successful." (LinkedIn, 2013). LinkedIn provides value to the small business because it allows for an individual to share professional information with people he does business with, and make contacts with an associate's network through introductions.

MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are just a

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