ABSTRACT: The main aim of this study was to investigate the students’ perception of social media as marketing tools: An appraisal of Facebook. It was established that companies are promoting their products and services on social media especially Facebook while many students patronize the products/services. Respondents admitted that very often they clicked like, share, comment and view adverts on social media to the extent of navigating the sponsors’ webpage. The challenges facing social media users in patronizing goods and services online were attributed to fear of being duped, poor browsing data, and service to stay long on social media and blogs. A survey research method was adopted using a questionnaire for data gathering. Two hundred (200) respondents were drawn among the students using the non-probability sampling method (purposive sampling technique) to pick the respondents. However, out of 200 copies of the administered questionnaires one hundred and eighty-nine (189) copies were retried upon which the analysis was based. Frequency and percentage with tables was used in the data analyzed. It was recommended that companies and individuals should watch over some sites that may be using their name or related to dupe people online. All effort should be developed to ensure that fraud is minimized to the barest minimum, so that people especially, internet users can have a rest of mind to shop online and receive their products and services.
Keywords: SOCIAL MEDIA AS MARKETING TOOLS
1.1 Background to the Study
Nowadays social media becomes part of a person’s life. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn, and many more have millions of users and keep growing every day. It is estimated that over 500 million people are interacting with social media (Ostrow, 2010). The number of social media users growing has attracted marketers. Marketers have recognized that social media marketing is an important part of their marketing communication strategies.
Also, social media helps organizations to communicate with their customers in bi-directional or interactive in nature. These interactions help marketers determine customer needs and understand what their market might look like. Key business factors of social media allow consumers to estimate products, make recommendations to contacts or friends, and share any of the purchases through their social media.
The influence of social media on buying behaviour can be in any service or product. Quality, brand, advertising, or the price could affect consumer decision-making. The relationship between social media and consumer decision-making presents that social media affects advertising attitudes, brand attitudes, and purchasing intentions of consumers. It will not necessarily affect consumers’ decision-making but might possess a mediating effect (Taining, 2012). In social media advert, either a website link is shared and if clicked, it will redirect one to the main website to buy or show interest in any product or service, and transactions are done using access cards such as ATM, Paypal among others.
Social media can build brand attitudes that affect buying behaviour. A good image of a brand or product can lead the consumer to make decisions on their purchases. When consumers’ friends on social media share or recommend services or products on their social media, it affects brand attitude and influences their decision-making. Yet, advertising on social media, which is provided by commercial sources affects both consumer brand attitudes and purchasing intention (Yang, 2012). From that information, it helps marketers plan their marketing strategies. Many marketers use social media for marketing campaigns. It is an easy way to communicate with consumers; also it is inexpensive to advertise their brands or services.
Social media is not only for advertising, but it can also be a tool for brands or services to connect with their consumers. Another study shows that social media allows consumers and prospective consumers to communicate directly to a brand representative. Since most consumers are using social media as a tool to search and purchase items, brands or services use this advantage to advertise their products. The online consumer is a booming market worldwide, however, it is giving a globalized level of segmentation cross-culturally (Vinerean, Cetina & Tichindelean, 2013).
If they have some problems with products or services, consumers could reach the company via social media, which is an easy way to connect and contact them. Companies are challenged by how they chose to react to comments or responses on social media. Their reactions and responses can build strong brand images and get more consumers to purchase products or services. When a consumer wants to make a decision on a product, every single detail could be an influence on their decision-making.
Consumer motives for engaging in social media provide insights into consumers’ activities.
Consumers have three main gratifications or motives for using the Internet as a medium, namely, information, entertainment, and social aspects (Heinonen, 2011). The motivation is in two main groups: rational motives, such as knowledge-sharing and advocacy, and emotional motives, such as social connection and self-expression (Krishnamurthy & Dou, 2008). Consumers’ activities in social media have been found based on consumers’ conduct online.
Nowadays consumers are using the Internet as their tools to achieve their motivations. Their motivation could be connected to their old friends, business, or reviews to support their decision-making. Reviews on social media become second-hand resources to support consumers’ decision-making because they want value from their dollar. It is against this backdrop that the researcher examines the impact and perception of UNILAG students towards social media as marketing tools: An appraisal of Facebook.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Communication through social media has found an impact on consumer decision-making and marketing strategies. Consumer socialization theory predicts that communication among consumers affects their cognitive, affective, and behavioural attitudes (Ward, 1974). Also, the advertising on social media pages has built new consumers behaviour. Consumers tend to make purchases or conduct business on social media.
Recommendations by friends or connections on social media also could help consumers in decision-making. Those recommendations could help brand attitudes, purchasing attitudes, and advertising attitudes. The more good responses on the products or services, the more attractive for consumer purchasing. Most of the top brands and services notice it and started to focus on social media marketing.
However, lack of trust, absence of physical interaction, and fear of being deceived and duped have been attributed to some of the challenges facing advertising and marketing on the social media and internet in general across the globe especially in Africa and Nigeria in particular because it is relatively a new medium of communication. It is against this backdrop that the researcher examines the impact and perception of UNILAG students towards social media as marketing tools: An appraisal of Facebook.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
i. To examine whether UNILAG students on social media patronize products and services advertised via social media.
ii. To examine some of the factors that influence online shopping among UNILAG students.
1.4 Research Questions
i. Do UNILAG students patronize products and services advertised on social media and other online platforms?
ii. What factors influence online shopping among UNILAG students?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The research is significant because is beneficial to business firms, schools, government, individuals and researchers.
Company: Difference companies will find this research very interesting as it will keep them aware of the benefit of using social media when it comes to making products and services known to the world and how cheap it always be to use social media.
Researchers: People that will be carrying out research in relation to this will find the materials useful as it will provide them a clue to their own research.
Academic: It forms part of academic materials that students, lecturers, researchers, the company can turn to when looking for solutions to advertising on ICT, social media, GSM and other related aspects.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The research has been narrowed down to the social media (Facebook) users mostly University of Lagos students who post and share messages online. The institution is selected because of its proximity to the researcher as it will be difficult if not impossible to study all social media users across the tertiary institutions in Nigerian due to time available for this study, other considerable factors are geographical locations, age, sex and educational background of the respondents will be considered before administration of the questionnaire.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
Social Media: Social media is a form of electronic communication that facilitates interaction based on certain interests and characteristics.
Influence: It means the effect, contribution or impact of social media advert on the audience.
Audience Preference: This implies the view, choice and opinion towards products of similar function but of different maker
Product: It means the commodities or goods such as Nestle milk or Cadbury product like
ICT: It means Information and Communication Technology
Advertising: This is a paid form of the promotional message shared through media that are usually non-personal media for the purpose of persuading and influencing people to buy a product or service.