Academic journal article American Academic & Scholarly Research Journal

The Impact of Information Technology and Social Networks in the Integrated Marketing Communication Process for Products and Services

Academic journal article American Academic & Scholarly Research Journal

The Impact of Information Technology and Social Networks in the Integrated Marketing Communication Process for Products and Services

Article excerpt

Abstract. As the internet-based social media spread rapidly in the past few years and the number of users of facebook, twitter and youtube have grown and as this has made it possible for one person to communicate with hundreds or even thousands of other people about products and the companies that provide them, which greatly magnified the impact of consumer to consumer communication; marketers sensed the opportunity and try their best to grasp it. The traditional IMC for any company has to be altered to fit in the new world of rapid changing technology and social media. Marketers can look at this as an opportunity to increase market share or as a threat that may destroy their products or services. This paper argues that the traditional IMC has to be altered to fit in the new marketing techniques depending on the consumers as an important element of the integrated marketing communication paradigm.

Keywords: social media, consumer communication, marketers, integrated marketing communication.

1 INTRODUCTION

With a computer and internet connection one can easily communicate to the world. This has been made much easier and quicker by the social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and even Google. Marketing is no longer between the brand and the consumer; it is now between the brand, the consumer, and hundreds or thousands of the consumers' friends and followers, all with a few keystrokes and a click of the mouse.

Seeing the successes of these online applications, enterprises and small businesses have joined the bandwagon, by building relationships with their customers online and marketing their brands to a new demographic. Since Facebook and Twitter allow for free participation, social media marketing has emerged as the quickest and easiest way for companies to market their product or service. The Internet has become the second most important distribution channel (after high street retailing) and a major source of customer information and empowerment (Urban 2003, 2005; Constantinides/Fountain 2008). The web, and particularly what is known as Social Media or Web 2.0, have given consumers much more control, information and power over the market process, leaving retailers with a number of important dilemmas and challenges.

What most people would agree though is that fundamental element of Web 2.0 is what is widely known as Customer-Generated Content (CGC); besides extracting value, users also add value to Web 2.0 applications and processes by generating, reviewing, editing and disseminating content. Direct customer involvement and CGC result in powerful network effects and users' communities (O'Reilly 2005). Web 2.0 or Social Media, the terms are often used interchangeably. The term Web 2.0 was officially coined in 2005 by Tim O'Reilly (O'Reilly 2005) who described it as a new form of collaborative Web, a "platform harnessing collective intelligence".

According to the World Bank data bank, Egypt has a very reasonable ratio of internet penetration (estimated at 27% in 2010). In a report produced by Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Egypt (Ministry of Communications and Information Technology 2012), the number of users is growing in a faster pace in the last two years (2011-2012). The monthly growth rate is estimated at 1.27% (Ministry of Communications and Information Technology 2012).

Older generations started to believe in the importance of using technology in their daily communication. They also started to believe social media more than other media sources like public TV and radio. Internet penetration is estimated at 38% in June 2012 (Ministry of Communications and Information Technology 2012).

The number of Facebook users in Egypt is estimated at 14% of the population and 67% of the online population in Egypt. Egypt is ranked number 21 (in Facebook penetration) based on these percentages (Egypt Facebook statistics. 2012). Table-1 displays the age distribution of Facebook users in Egypt (Egypt Facebook statistics. …

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