Academic journal article Journal of Business and Behavior Sciences

How Is Social Media Being Used by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises?

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Behavior Sciences

How Is Social Media Being Used by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises?

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Academic literature shows limited research in the area of social media and Internet use in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the travel and tourism industry although SMEs have a significant impact on the economy.

SMEs represent 99.7% of all employers and employ 49.1% of the private-labor force in the USA. They are crucial to the fiscal condition and they numbered 27.8 million in 2010. (SBA, 2013a) They also significantly impact Arkansas' economy. They represent 96.8 percent of all employers and employ 50.0% of the private-sector labor force. They are also crucial to the fiscal condition of the State of Arkansas and number 241,455 in 2010. (SBA, 2013b)

Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate how SMEs in central Arkansas perceive and use social media in their day-to-day operations. Because social media encompasses many platforms, this study includes the Internet in the discussion of social media.

Some of the most powerful tools used to influence customers and tourists in making decisions about what to purchase, when to travel, where to go, and other aspects of tourism currently come from social media. Social media, which has played an ever increasingly vital role in many aspects of our personal lives in the past few years, is now playing an ever increasingly crucial role in the travel and tourism industry. Customers and tourists are relying more and more on social media to make decisions about purchases and travel locally, nationally, and internationally. Because customers and tourists rely heavily on social media to make purchase and travel decisions, many businesses are finding it is a necessity to use various forms of social media to make information available. (Travel and Tour World, 2013)

This study explores the question: How is social media being used to sustain small and medium-sized enterprises? The paper is organized as follows: section one is the introduction, section two is the review of academic literature, section three is the methodology, section four is the research results, and section five is the conclusion. The references are in section six.

REVIEW OF ACADEMIC LITERATURE

In reviewing the academic literature about social media and how it is used to sustain SMEs, one needs to define related terms in order to form a foundation for discussion. Definitions of both traditional marketing and marketing through social media must be clarified.

Marketing is the management function that identifies human needs and wants, offers products and services to satisfy those demands, and causes transactions that deliver products and services to users in exchange for something of value to the provider. (Broom and Sha, 2013 p.5)

While there are many textbook definitions of traditional marketing, marketing with social media is relatively new and moving through the growth stage of its life cycle. As such, its definition and platforms are evolving.

Now regarded as a medium of marketing, social media allows businesses to customize messages and make them interactive by involving the user in the construction of the message. SMEs are moving away from traditional marketing to new forms of marketing, i.e. viral marketing via social media.

The literature offers a variety of definitions for social media. For example, Blackshaw and Nazzaro (2004) define social media as customer generated media, which includes new sources of online information that is created, initiated, circulated and used by customers who educate each other about a wide range of issues. For its part, the American Council for Technology (2011) defines social media as the collaborative use of technology to integrate social interaction and to create new content. This interaction gives more control to the consumer. Oracle (2012) and Milano, Baggio, and Piattelli (2011) note that the boundaries of authority and control are becoming less clear. These definitions emphasize the facts that social media integrate social interaction in order to create content. …

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