By Sana Asim.
As we all are aware of the fact that “Innovation sells”, this seems to be really true in the context of internet and social media. We have observed a lot of innovation and advancement in internet and the means of advertising which had directly influenced our lives in terms of shopping, entertainment, banking, investing and new modes of communication. One of the recent and most influential innovations in current years in web based applications is the rise of social network and advertising on this social media. Social networking sites have become an important part of today’s consumer’s lives and they are actively participating in social networking sites to gain and exchange information with others. Consumers are rapidly adopting social networking sites as there can be seen a tremendous growth in the number of social network users all across the world.
Consumers are spending their majority of time on these social networks and they are always up to date with the latest information and innovations all around. During past few years, there has been a rapid growth in social networking advertising. With the rapid increase in innovation and technology and rise of new channels of information exchange, there can be seen an immense change in the business landscape as more and more people are active on social networking sites and depending on internet for information acquisition (i.e. mobile phones, computers, internet, tabs etc). The growing use of Internet and the high dependency of current customers on Internet and social media for the purpose of gathering market and product information have made it the leading advertisement platform, where large numbers of people are interconnected online.
Social network advertising was first introduced in 1994 and later social media advertising emerged as an important aspect for the leading companies to advertise their products and services online, to create brand image, to spread positive word-of-mouth among online customers, to gain favorable market returns and to have an insight about consumer’s perception and attitude towards social network advertising. Social networking advertising is a new trend in Pakistan with increasing number of social network users. Internet users in Pakistan have increased up to 29 million in this age of technological development. Consumers seek information from social network ads to make the right and quality purchase decision which will increase their satisfaction and loyalty with the brand.
In current technology oriented and dynamic business environment, every firm is striving to build and maintain long-term relationship with their valued customers and their primary focus is on strengthening and maintaining relationship building. “Relationship marketing” is considered by every firm due to its growing importance in the current age for developing good relationship with current and potential customers and better serves them. Companies are taking this strategy into account to gain knowledge about consumer behavior and understand the basic primary motives of human psychology so that firms should be able to adopt innovative ways to satisfy customer needs and make them more loyal with the brand.
Due to this growing importance, businesses are willing to invest in programs that focus on building relationship with the customers. In this context, social networks and social media are gaining the limelight as they are the most influential sources of advertising and attract a large number of consumer’s attention in a very short period of time and in a very inexpensive manner. Many large businesses have started promoting their products on social networks due to its increasing usage in the current age. Advertisers are trying to grab the maximum attention of customers from all around the world by selling their products through the e-shops. Even small home based businesses have started selling their products on the social networks.
This new trend of online selling and advertising is gaining importance in Pakistan with the passage of time due to change in customer attitudes and way of living because of the technological development and innovation. Now-a-days more importance is given to surfing the internet and buying and selling online on the social networks. Consumers tend to discuss, share, compare, rate, like, dislike, rank the products or services on the social networks when they are exposed to different ads posted on these interactive sites. Social network advertising is a new trend providing mutual benefits to both the parties involved i.e. company and online users. Organization need to align their advertising strategies with the changing needs of social media users and unpredictable business environment and they need to maintain their development pace with the technological development. E-marketers must considers all the factors that leads to favorable customer attitude and need to analyze the relationship of social network advertising and consumer purchase decision prior to directing their advertising efforts towards the target audience.
As the social media and internet are emerging in current era, the online environment and social media platforms has become interactive with consumers actively participating in two-way communication, posting review, liking or following pages and websites, spreading electronic word-of-mouth, uploading videos and other content etc. Companies can promote their product on social networks through different strategies including brand pages, banner ads, videos, photos, contests, discount offers, blogs, classified ads, sponsored stories etc. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the most popular and fastest growing social networking sites among the current generation and gaining popularity at an accelerating pace among consumers as well as marketers.
Sana Asim is currently doing MBA in marketing from Bahria University Islamabad.