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A Review of Social Media and Implications for Sales Process

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Introduction

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James Andzulis, Nicholaos and Adam Rapp in their article, “A Review of Social Media and Implications for Sales Process, explains in detail the role technological advances have played in sales and marketing. It is clear that technology has played a key role in implementing sales disciplines throughout the years. The article reviews the role of social media in business, internet evolution, as well as the challenges of social media in business, especially sales and marketing (Smith, Wollan & Zhou, 2011).

Social media and sales

Today, a number of consumers have adopted social media in order to share their lives and stay connected with their friends and families through their phones, computers and tablets. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, MySpace LinkedIn and Google+. This is an excellent tool in marketing as social media provides a continuous flow of information to both potential and current consumers of a product. Large companies such as Ford have employed social media to promote the release of their new car, the Ford Focus. Despite this fact, organizations have been slow to adopt this type of technology for their businesses (Curtis, & Giamanco, 2010).

In earlier years when the internet was new, not very many companies were receptive to the idea of using it to revolutionize their business. It was only the early adopters who took a chance on using the internet for business and termed it as the new way of doing business as they saw the potential of its success. The internet was used to interact with customers, allowing orders and receiving payments later. In later years, it was not until the creation of MySpace and Facebook that united millions of people across the globe that business realized the full potential of using social media as a sales and marketing tool. Social media should be seen as a means of revolutionizing business through customer interaction, brand and firm management (Scott, 2010).

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Social media has gradually placed itself in sales and marketing in different systematic stages. The first phase of this process is for the firm to establish the presence of social media used in the community and then allow information to flow from the company to the consumer. This information should not be tied to any type of sales strategies. Now, it is very important that the firm begin to establish protocols for how social media can be used to facilitate business. The second phase involves active efforts by a firm to drive customers to their social media pages. At this point, there should be a two-way communication structure between the customer and the firm, which will not be tied to any sale strategies (Curtis, & Giamanco, 2010).

The third phase of integrating social media on sales and marketing, is viewing social media as an additional or primary channel in sales. At this point, the firm needs to transform their sales strategies and incorporate social media. The last phase of this process is to employ social media to facilitate learning processes for the company. At this point, value is co-created; real time pricing and services are established hence fully integrating social media with the firm’s sales strategies (Qualman, 2009).

A firm has to determine the appropriate goals associated with the implementation of social media before adopting it and need to understand the value proposition for their consumers. As mentioned before, social media is a two way street, as it involves collaboration and engagement. The benefits of using social media cannot be one directional i.e. only to the firm but must also be beneficial to the consumer as well. This can be achieved through extensive customer research ensuring that the firm understands the consumer’s tastes and needs (Halligan & Shah 2010).

Through social media, customers demand attention, proper service and complete satisfaction from the firm. If all these elements are available to the consumers, they become advocates for the firm, sharing their positive experiences with the firm. However, if not available to consumers, social media can be used to damage the firm’s reputation and brand.  This just proves that social media will make or break a brand depending with the reception of the customers to the brand itself. Therefore, organizations should commit their resources to foster collaboration and engagement in order to develop and maintain their brand.

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In order for social media to be successful in the firm, the management should ensure that the social media function incorporates all the members of each functional unit. This includes the consumers, public, competitors and the employees in the firm. This means that employees should be properly informed on the concepts of social media and made to understand that their positions in the firm are not at risk. Social media can be disadvantageous to firms with competition as their competitors are able to view their strategies proving to be a negative thing (Qualman, 2009).

Social media can affect the organizations strategies in relation to the products, relationships, the consumers and the price. It has the power to enhance relationships between the consumers and the firm bringing about success of the firms. Social media also affects the products and services strategies as customers are provided with a direct channel to deal with the organization. The consumer also receives more readily available information and gains knowledge on the products of an organization through videos, blogs and forums (Scott, 2010).

Conclusion

Exploration of social media by organizations has proved to be very helpful, as organizations become customer driven in t order to achieve the best results. The social media can make or break a brand. It is up to the firms to employ appropriate strategies to manage their work through the social media to ensure that they are building their brand (Smith, Wollan & Zhou, 2011).

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