PUBLIC RELATIONS 5
Social Media as a Marketing Tool
Technology has been changing rapidly and the advent of social mediaplatforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and MySpace havedominated the tech space. Millions of people especially the younggeneration have created accounts with these social media platforms.To any business person, such a huge congregation of people in oneplatform creates a marketing opportunity. Big brands across the worldhave found an intersection between social media and commerce. The PBSdocumentary, “Generation Like” by Rushkoff explores how bigcompanies exploit the need for fame and self satisfaction by theyouths to market their products and services. Young people spendnumerous hours in front of their screens liking, retweeting orsharing their favorite songs, movies, chocolates bars, artists orcars. Whereas the teens seek to be empowered through having onlinerecognition and following, they unknowingly market the brands ofparticular companies.
One primary example in the documentary is the recognition of CeiliLynch, a teenager, as the number one fan of the movie franchise, TheHunger Games. Lynch said that she has been constantly retweetingabout The Hunger Movies saying how much she likes them. As a result,her followers, who are mainly her age mates, get to watch the moviesand probably like them. The fact that the company put her in theirwebsite as the number one fan excited numerous young people (Lavelle,2014). She instantly got more followers and this was to the advantageof the company. Young people identify with particular products,services or celebrities. Lynch hardly knew the role she was playingthrough her retweets and likes on social media. She primarily helpedto market the movies to all her followers and peers. It is essentialto note that what brands look for is publicity and young people onsocial media help to create this essential publicity. The biggesttragedy is that the young people are doing all this for free.
Corporations use social media to build trust among the followersthrough having them to share for certain favors. For example,companies may advertise through their social media accounts thatwhoever shares their updates has a chance of meeting a celebrity suchas Beyonce. Furthermore, they might promise to have the photo of thefollower on their website. The more the people who follow, retweet orshare the company’s brand, the more it manages to create brandtrust among the fans. While it may appear as exciting and empoweringto the teenagers, it is clear that they are aiding in the marketingof major brands across the world.
The Concept of Opinion Leaders
Opinion leaders are people within a community who havespecialized knowledge about a product or service and their voice caninfluence the purchasing decisions of the people. Many marketers knowthe value of opinion leaders and use them to influence the decisionsof the people regarding their products or services. In recent years,celebrities have become critical opinion leaders with regards tomarketing. Many companies across the world are using the celebritiesto endorse their products and services in order to influence theopinions of buyers.
Coca Cola is one of the largest multi-national beverages company. Inits “Share a Coke and a Song campaign”, it used the photo ofcelebrity Selena Gomez sipping a Coke sod with a black and whitestraw. Selena is one of the most famous celebrities in the US and herendorsement of the soda would definitely influence numerousconsumers. The photo received over 4 million likes and this is thehighest number any single photo has ever received (Moye, 2016). Withher over 89 million followers, it is clear that Gomez is an opinionleader who can indeed influence the decision of many people. AlthoughCoca Cola products are well-known across the world and have numerousconsumers, it is clear that the endorsement by such a celebrityclears any doubts that some critics might be having regarding thequality of the product.
Opinion leaders are considered to be extremely effective due to theinstance influence they have on the marketing campaigns of products.Opinion leaders can help a company penetrate a market that they havebeen unable to pursue. In some communities, the opinion leaders speakfor the community and their opinion is obeyed by the entirecommunity. As such, when they endorse a politician, product orservice, it is likely to receive appreciation from the community.Moreover, when celebrities are used as opinion leaders, they usetheir charisma to influence the decisions of their followers. Manypeople imitate and emulate the behaviors of their favoritecelebrities such as artists. Therefore, when the celebrity is using aproduct or a service, the followers are likely to emulate.
While concluding, it is evident that companies are going to greatextents to market their products especially in this era of stiffcompetition. Companies employ various strategies such social mediamarketing and the use of opinion leaders to win customers. The younggeneration, which spend considerable time on the internet end upmarketing brands without knowing. This is through liking, sharing,favoring or retweeting their favorite brands.
Moye, J. (2016). Selena Gomez ‘Share a Coke and a Song’ Photois Instagram’s Most-Liked Image Ever. Web:http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/this-selena-gomez-share-a- coke-and-a-song-photo-is-instagrams-mo
Lavelle, M. (2014). What Did “Generation Like” Think of“Generation Like”? Web: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/what-did-generation-like-think-of-generation- like/