In MySpace, and LinkedIn) and rely on them for

In conclusion, research has determined that retailers can increase awareness of their
brand by being creative when engaging customers on social media sites. “As more shoppers are
using social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn) and rely on them for
marketing shopping decisions, promotion through these media has become important” (Shankar
et al. 2011, 32). According to Curran et al. (2011), social media sites such as Facebook are better
than other advertising avenues because it stores information on all its users thus ensuring
marketing reaches a retailer’s specific target market. Social media sites are a great stage for
retailers to create an experience and retailers can use information stored on social media sites to
improve user experience with their brand.
Furthermore, Hill, Provost, and Volinsky’s (2006) research establishes that a firm can
benefit from social networks to predict the likelihood of purchase intention. This can be done by
taking into account a firm’s choice of network (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc.) and by
examining that network’s data. Assessing a network’s data substantially improves a company’s
marketing efforts because it provides the company with vital information on the network’s users,
which helps determine the best social media tactics for that particular site (Hill, Provost, and
Volinsky’s 2006). Based on this study, it can further be argued that knowing which social media
sites a company’s target market utilizes is another key factor in guaranteeing that online
marketing will be successful.
Sorescue et al. (2011), stress that a retailer must go beyond the advertising aspect of
social networking sites and find groundbreaking ways to use them as a way to conduct
conversations with consumers, instead of a one-way communication network. Sinclair and
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Vogus (2011) determined that large companies are regarding social media sites as strategic tools
and some businesses are even hiring employees to oversee their social media pages. “Consumers
are no longer passive receivers of marketing messages; instead, they are using Facebook,
MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter to voice their opinions-both positive and negative” (Sinclair
and Vogus 2011, 293). Consumers’ participation with a brand on social media reinforces the
need for retailers to be active participants in social networking sites and the virtual brand
communities they create.
Since social media sites can be exploited for the information it provides on consumer
behavior with regards to their purchasing intentions, research further suggests that businesses
should incorporate social networking sites into their business model or promotional mix. A
business model is a system of codependent structures, activities, and processes that serve as a
firm’s organizing logic and create value for customers, itself, and its partners (Sorescu et al.
2011). Mangold and Faulds (2009) recommend that social media should be regarded as an
integral part of an organization’s integrated marketing strategy and should not be taken lightly.
As Curran et al. (2011) points out, almost 1 in every 13 person in the world is an active
Facebook user, which points to the potential of finding a ready market for any product or service.
Social networking sites are being utilized to enhance a company’s brand appeal and
increase their target market because “new technologies allow for more personal, targeted
communications, as well as increased consumer participation in the creation of marketing and
brand related information” (Cappo 2033; Jaffe 2005 as cited in Muñiz and Jensen Schau 2007,
35). Mangold and Faulds (2009) stress that traditional communication examples, which relied on
the classic promotional mix to create integrated marketing communications, must give way to a
new paradigm that includes all forms of social media as potential tools in designing and
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implementing integrated marketing communication strategies. Retailers are paying attention
when it comes to social media because it provides a key component that businesses have
struggled to collect for years: feedback (Gonzalez 2010). Feedback from consumers has always
been important when it comes to product, brand, and business model development. Since, most
studies have examined social media marketing in terms of suggesting how to incorporate it
within a business plan, and how to gauge consumers’ responses, it is important that further
research address which strategies work. Although some studies have started to touch upon
influences and factors that affect consumers’ responses, previous research does not clearly state
if social media marketing is valuable to retailers’ in terms of return on investment.
Moreover, research based on a small retailer’s perspective is limited. How have smaller
firms utilized social media within their business model? How successful has social media been
with increasing their customer base, brand awareness, and sales? It has become clear that when
marketers from large corporations present a new product or brand, they consider both traditional
and nontraditional media in which to place advertising in order to make sure they reach their
target market (Cheong and Morrison 2008). Small retailers also need to start utilizing
nontraditional methods of marketing in creative and engaging ways to make certain that they
attract a larger number of consumers. Sorescu et al. (2011, 11) states “another way in which
retailers can engage customers is by selling not just products, but an entire experience that –
while centered on the products, adds an entirely new exciting layer to the retail setting.”
Additional research is warranted regarding which social media marketing tactics are
effective for small retailers. Further studies could look into both the positive and negative longterm
effects of social media marketing on a small firm. Small retailers have a smaller budget and
tighter constraints yet provide more personal retailing, therefore a study examining how these
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aspects factor into a small store’s social media tactics would be beneficial. Studies should also
suggest how small retail businesses could initiate and maintain social media marketing to
improve relationships with their customer base. To stay relevant retailers need to keep up with
the changes to ensure that they will be noticed by consumers, reinforcing the fact that more
research would be valuable to all parties involved: retailers, marketers, and scholars. “Anyone
who’s not engaged in some form of social media is making a mistake in today’s world given
the volume of people who have embraced and utilize social media” (Le Veque as cited in
Gonzalez 2010, 84). Social media opens up a whole new world for small retailers by providing
an endless array of potential interactions with consumers, which is the main reason why there is
a need for an increase in studies examining the impact of this new phenomenon on small
retailers.