In today's era, the social medium offers the largest and the biggest platform for a plethora of businesses to reach out to several people with just one click. Over ten to fifteen years the social media has changed the perspective of the world and impacted the world to a great extent. In my observation, way of businesses and the way of working in public relations has also evolved over a period of time due to advancements in technology and booming of social media. Social media-driven by modern technology has the power to influence a large group of people and has helped many businesses to draw the attention of the massive population towards their brand. I feel that it has hugely contributed to making the big wide world, ‘a small place’. It has interconnected audiences from all the corners of the world. It has formed groups of the like-minded people and changed the of communication in professional and public relations.
In the organization realm, a strong PR practice is necessary to engage successfully with the stakeholders. Thus, to increase the interaction with the stakeholder, social media has provided an stupendous amount to opportunities for making the methodology of forming opinions and making decisions of the consumers. Therefore, I feel that the PR firms can utilize to opportunities to promote their brands on the social platforms instead of using the orthodox model of direct marketing of the product. This essay entails my personal opinion and thoughts or reflection on the learnings I received from the research project in which I discussed the significance of understanding the impact of social media in India to create brand awareness and thereby improvising public relations. I have reflected on the topic using GIBBS reflective cycle and DIEP model of reflective writing, which includes 4 main aspect of reflective writing which as – description of events; interpretation; evaluation and planning.
Before initiating the research, I jotted down the names of a few noteworthy brands which appeared on my social media. I use twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and it took me by surprise to see how many brands I was following on these social media websites, which otherwise do not advertise on television (Sekarwinahyu et al., 2018). I also observed that the competition of these brands was cut-throat due to upsurge of many small scales or home-based entrepreneurs actively engaging on social media platforms. During the literature review I read through many journal articles and found out that, in the year 2002, Friendster, was the firs social media platform was popularized in the entire Asia. It was founded by Mr Jonathan Abrams, who was the first programmer who hailed from the United States of America, however, it did not work for a longer period of time due to unknown reasons. After this, in the year 2004, Facebook was introduced by Mark Zuckerberg who further was able to influence the whole world with this platform and evolved itself over some time and became the number one website for forming social connections and interacting with people.
It encouraged marketing as well as promotion by introducing new features such as fan page for specific brands, advertisement columns, formation of communities or groups of brands. Then Twitter was launched after two years by Jack Dorsey, and was followed by yet another social website namely, the Instagram. Both Instagram and Twitter users grew gradually. Besides, the previous study by Alalwan et el. (2017) show that “the role played by marketing communications of any organization in the world of social media influence the awareness among social media users in relation to the brands of the company.” Social media can be seen being used widely in almost every organization as a facility to display their offerings to social media users (Yapa 2017). I also observed how a few companies brutally failed in marketing their services and products through social media. When I looked in deeper on these brands, it was noted that their public relationship practice due to ineffective branding and inability to manage to attract lot of customers to like their page or links (Husebø O'Regan, and Nestel, 2015).
While surfing and studying the appearance of multiple brands on these sites, I was convinced how the visual stimulation caused by social media, works in increasing the brand awareness. Many brands in India have been popularized through these platforms and have been successful in becoming household names by using social media as a means to reach out their target audiences. Instead of using old and traditional ways of reminding people of the existence of their brands, they have utilized various tools and techniques which social media offers to expand their horizon. For instance, on social media, the higher number of clicks determines the visibility of the page or the brand. It also provides information such as ‘number of followers’, customer reviews and customer feedback rating, all of which constitutes a two-way communication between the customers and brands, unlike in the traditional ways of marketing which exercised one-way communication. I observed that by encouraging two-way method of communication, the social media provided an opportunity for their brand to be more transparent and to build a relationship with their customers. During my research I greatly felt the need of highlighting the importance of social media for establishing and enhancing practices of public relations, and to move hand in hand with the new technologies and tools which are leading the way to the future.
The research activity helped me to understand the tactics of marketing and promotion of the modern world by using the platform of social media for immediate disbursement of the information to a large number of people. It gave me new insights about SEO (search engine optimization), digital media and use of content development. “Social media will not function if there is no user filling its content. The attributes of social media are based on the fact that information is expressed not on a particular individual but to the entire community of several people. The message which is conveyed is faster as compared to the other media as the communication with various users makes it lively. The forms of social media can social networking, microblogging, forums, wiki and social bookmarking.” I also learned how brand awareness works through the social media Brand awareness has been divided further four phases: brand unaware, brand recall, brand recognition and top of mind (Tritama and Tarigan, 2016).
Brand recognition is considered to be the lowest level in the category of brand awareness or is also called as levels of aided recalls. Another one is the brand recall or unaided brand recall due to the fact that the customers do not require to be assisted in remembering the brand. The term ‘aid’ in the aided brand recognition can be referred to as a poster, advertisements, video, social media or banners (Tritama and Tarigan 2016). The next stage is unaided brand recognition which has been introduced for the first time and is also called as the top of mind and is considered to be the utmost brand awareness that remains on the pinnacle of various supplementary brands existing in the minds of the consumers. By understanding how the brand can be created and expanded, me feel how powerful social media is. It can make or break a brand’s image in the eyes of the public or the customers.
I started believing in the fact that social media is a ‘game-changer’ as the customer nowadays has become a ‘partner’ driving the business ahead which signifies that it involves greater levels of engagement. Further, the Ngai et al. (2015) argued that for allowing this process, the marketers of modern generation are required to incorporate both new ‘inbound marketing’ which enables the interaction between the organization and customer through social media and old ‘outbound marketing’ which includes direct mail, advertising, telemarketing and so on. In this case, effectiveness can be considered as one of the major advantages due to the reason that any message conveyed through one channel tends to have less credibility as compared to the message conveyed through multiple channels (Motion et al. 2015).
In general practice, these types of integration can be considered as credible but pragmatically one of the components, either advertising or marketing accomplishes the highest budget share and the remaining just support this one sideways. On the other hand, media, as well as advanced technology, are being used all through the boundaries of communications mix majorly for every promotion tool because social media makes companies capable of reaching their target audiences further than the means of traditional media (Clow 2016). The reason behind this is that mass communication has been replaced by social media with networked relationships. Kim (2016) stated that significant steadiness of social networking by using traditional integrated marketing communication as novel prototype results from the phenomenon that says that social media is considered to be professed by consumers as more trustworthy as compared to the messages of corporate that are transferred through the traditional mix.
Yeshin (2012), argues that social media is referred as a hybrid component of promotional mix combining the traditional integrated marketing communication attributes on the one hand and an extensive form of word-of-mouth not managed by marketers with respect to frequency and content. From this research, I can interpret how the strategies for development of brands can be implemented on social media and that (Husebø O'Regan, and Nestel, 2015) social media is a unique and credible or authentic tool for branding and establishing communication for building network in order to increase the brand awareness and enhancing public relation practices.
During the progress of my research work, I categorized the pros and cons of the impact of social media on the brand awareness and public relations. The usefulness of the research project is justified by the outcome of data analysis, which revealed that there was a definite and positive relationship between the social media and public relations in creating brand awareness in India. The research highlighted there was a direct relationship between the two. In my opinion, there has been a revolutionary change in the people in the way how they communicate on social media. The traditions medium marketing viatele commercial advertisements, radio and print ads have become completely obsolete in modern times (Singh and Sinha 2017). The pros also include cost effective means to promote the brand. Through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or any other social website one can lower the cost of marketing to a significant level. I understood from the research of Ali Kinston Mwila who mentioned in his article named ‘Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society’, October 2015, that the sites of social networking are meant of uniting people on the massive platform for the purpose of aching specific objectives which is extremely significant to get the positive change within the society.
However, on the downside, I realize that many of the businesses are incapable of capable of connecting with the targeted customers who are non tech savvy and especially those who are of the older age groups. There are still many those who do not have an account on social media, especially in a country like India, where many people do not believe in online purchases and like to see the things physically and decide before making a purchase. There are also many people who do not have education to use social media, such as people in stay in rural and remote areas of India. In India nearly 65 percent of population is of the younger generation and those are the target audience for brands who promote on social media (Wang Ghalih and Porter 2017).
I find myself in agreement with the work of the researcher, Singh and Sinha (2017), who opined that the social media can be regarded as a platform for internet-based communication. The platform of social media allows its users to get involved in conversations, debates, have webinars, gain knowledge about their favourite products and brands, ask queries and get answers from theonline representative of the brands; establish web content and share information. Social media is being utilized all across the world for building relationships and sharing information. Personally, I feel, social media is a platform that allows its users to interact with family and friends and on a professional level, it can also be used as an opportunity to get into a conversation with professionals from the business world, to expand their business, form new collaborations and business partnerships.
Avenues have been opened by social media for the marketers that were either not available before or was extremely complicated. According to the researchers Dwivedi et al. (2015) social media is considered to be an influential tool which remains at the fingertips of every marketer as they can easily share every piece of content across the world within a second. I have come to conclude that social media is one of the most significant facet for every business in the contemporary world to grow and develop successfully because it helps in showcasing the brand of the company in a more effective way, increases brand visibility and also establishes the image of the brand by managing a firms presence on social media. By regularly revising details related to the company as well as its social happenings, potential clients or customers are sublimely on the sentry for the brand of the company.
The research has helped me to plan activities which will help me building good public relations for any organization in which I will work in the future. It has helped me to understand how brand awareness can be created and maintained by engagement of the clients on the online web page. The several ways of improving the engagements of the customers is through propagating news via social media, such as new launches, proving query forums and customer reviews.
I plan to follow in the footsteps of Allagui and Breslow (2016) who stated routinepresence on social media can help to gain huge exposure and access to a large audience because of its wide-reaching users. Additionally, I will build on it advantages of delivering instant information within the digital marketplace thereby providing the ability to the businesses for advertising their offerings and moving beyond the distance, which is to say that there is no geographical limitation. I have concluded thatby forming close communication with the customers on the platform of social media, I will be able tomake the organization a reliable source of sharing information making it a great asset in the process of creating awareness along with the brand credibility. From the research work of Saxton and Wang (2014) I can further say that social media can be considered to be one of the biggest sources of customer service which can transform the negative experience of the customers into a positive result for the business.
I have taken away many learning from the exercise of reflective writing. It helped me in making connection of the theory related to creating brand awareness and public relation strategies to form the concepts of its practical application. By describing the research, the occurrence of the events, helped me to go through my ideas step by step and to make sure that I had a clear goal or research statement before the beginning of the project. By reflecting on my feelings, I could evaluate the emotional energy and drive which I felt as I made new discoveries along the way about how so many brands cropped up on social media and become popular through those platforms. On Evaluating the pros and cons I derived knowledge of decision making while promoting a brand on social media. Analysis of the project helped me to weigh both pros and cons of the effect of social media in India pertaining in aspect of an organization’s Public Relations. The reflective essay helped me to reach a valid conclusion and motivated me to make a well-informed action plan for utilizing the opportunity offered by social media to enhance the public relationships of my organization’s brand.
I believe that the literature review is quite limited from an Indian marketing perspective. It is vital that more researchers are conducted on the topic as it is based on the new age formula. Social media is also vital for the companies to keep up with the other organizations for fighting competition and provide to the demanding needs of the customers. Moreover, to stand out from the cut-throat competition, the businesses must pay attention and be trained from their customers for mapping their needs aligned with what else is going to happen in the domain of social media. The research revealed that social media has a substantial effect in terms of generating product awareness, product buying interests, the rapidness of new product awareness and the new product intense recall. The findings of the research suggest social media has a significant impact on product awareness, and that social media leads to brand awareness by enabling engagements and promoting content which consumers find interesting. Moreover, it also facilitates social sharing. This is mainly due to the ability of social media can approach millions of individuals quickly. This rapidness in delivering marketing content allows one to quickly generate market awareness with by utilizing the platform of social media.
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