2012 Journal of Undergraduate Research at Minnesota State University, Mankato The Relationship between Social Media Use
and Consumer Brand Engagement
Joshua Stein – Minnesota State University, Mankato
The use of social media by businesses as a communication tool has grown rapidly in recent years. Despite this rapid adoption, little is known about the use of social media among consumers and its effect on brand behavior. This research study aims to fill this gap by investigating the relationship between social media use and consumer brand engagement. To conduct this research, an on-line survey was administered through Survey Monkey to 60 undergraduates ranging in age from 18-24 through a snowball method. Survey questions included: extent of social media use, willingness to engage with brands, views on online vs. offline retailers, and demographic questions. Results showed that 72.1% of respondents interacted with the social media platform, “Facebook,” on a daily basis. Furthermore, the primary reason for using social media was; “to keep in touch with friends”. Respondents indicated that they were more likely to engage with a brand using social media when they were extrinsically rewarded (coupon, gift card, etc.) by a company. Also, results showed that there was no significant difference in “tendency to engage with” an online vs. offline retailers. Results of this study will help businesses use social media more effectively and increase participation by consumers. Despite the wide use of social media among college students, future research should extend this demographic to older populations and include comparisons among the different generations. Future research could also include more specific real world examples, to give less active social media users a feel for the benefits and/or complications of using social media to engage with brands.Introduction
With the dawning of a new age of technology, brand identity has never been more humanized and raw. The power of social media has created a portal for direct brandcustomer interaction; some companies have thrived at this, while others have failed. New technologies have seemingly leveled the playing field in many areas of marketing. No longer can a company plaster billboards and TV ads, and expect to rule the marketplace. Now things are different, to rule a marketplace you can’t just present a good image, you have to embody it. This consists of several different aspects, mainly presenting a social identity to your brand that appeals to your current customer base. For instance, take “Pepsi,” a multi-billion dollar brand, with an almost perfected product (at least one that people don’t really want to change), has to adapt to the emergence of social networks in a way that doesn’t alter their current brand image, but helps it grow. In the book “Socialnomics” they reference how “Pepsi,” in 2009, passed up a traditional Super Bowl advertisement in favor of committing those millions of dollars into social media. The popular automaker, “Ford,” that same year adjusted their entire marketing budget so that “digital and social media” accounted for 25%. This general trend has trickled down to virtually all of the Fortune 500 businesses, and is further affecting the way every businesses interacts with their customers.
Facebook has been an industry changing catalyst on the information-sharing front. Currently it has over 800 million users (Facebook, 2011), with half of them logging in daily. The site has matured rapidly since its creation in 2004. Approximately 80% of users are outside of the U.S. and the site is available in more than 70 different languages. On average, more than 250 million photos are uploaded per day (2011). Facebook has more than 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events, and community pages), with the average user being connected to 80 community pages, groups and events (2011). The...
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