Teaching Entrepreneurship Students about Social Media and New Ventures: A Primer

By Crane, Frederick G.; Meyer, Marc H. | Journal of the Academy of Business Education, Winter 2017 | Go to article overview

Teaching Entrepreneurship Students about Social Media and New Ventures: A Primer


Crane, Frederick G., Meyer, Marc H., Journal of the Academy of Business Education


INTRODUCTION

Many companies are embracing the social media era and are increasingly focusing time, effort, and money on social media. Importantly, many companies are integrating social media into their overall marketing strategies. This is a clear change compared to just a few short years ago when the marketing community held a "don't go there" mentality with regard to social media. Today, social media is becoming a mainstay with most marketers surveyed stating they will spend more on social media in the coming year [Ipsos-Reid, 2012]. However, this social media application trend appears to be lagging with startups and entrepreneurial businesses-businesses who could very much benefit by using social media. At this point, research indicates that less than 4 in 10 startup businesses use social media to market their business. This means missed marketing opportunities for new ventures [Ipsos-Reid, 2013]. Given consumers thirst for social media, new ventures are going to have to embrace social media if they wish to grow.

The best practices involving social media identified by marketers in the recent study suggests companies must be mindful of consumer privacy and to offer an easy opt-out process. It also means ensuring that communications are targeted and relevant to the audience. Best practices also include the need to be more engaging, interactive, and entertaining; to ensure that the platforms are user-friendly; to offer clear messaging; and to ensure the marketing strategy is consistent and integrated. All of the these best practices fall under the mantra of knowing who to target, knowing what to say, establishing metrics to measure success, and executing in an ethical fashion. It seems, therefore, that the best practices in social media marketing are not much different from those best practices involving traditional marketing [Ipsos-Reid, 2012]! Still, new ventures do need to really understand social media and their application to their business strategy. This paper will argue that new ventures have to embrace and effectively use social media in order to experience growth. In fact, it is a fundamental imperative that they do so.

What Are Social Media?

Defining social media is challenging, but it's necessary to help new ventures select the right ones for use. Social media represent a unique blending of technology and social interaction to create personal value for users. This paper defines social media as online media where users submit comments, photos, and videos-often accompanied by a feedback process to identify "popular" topics [Evans, 2009]. So social media involve a genuine online conversation among people about a subject of mutual interest, one built on their personal thoughts and experiences. Business firms also refer to social media as "consumer-generated media." A single social media site like Facebook or YouTube is referred to as a social network.

Most people would probably say that Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are well-known social networks. But new ventures trying to reach potential customers need a system to classify the more than 400 specialized and diverse social networks to select the best among them. Kaplan and Haenlein [2010] have proposed a classification system based on two factors:

1. Media richness. This involves the degree of acoustic, visual, and personal contact between two communication partners-face-to-face communications, say, being higher in media richness than telephone or e-mail communications. The higher the media richness and quality of presentation, the greater the social influence that communication partners have on each other's behavior.

2. Self-disclosure. In any type of social interaction, individuals want to make a positive impression to achieve a favorable image with others. This favorable image is affected by the degree of self-disclosure about a person's thoughts, feelings, likes, and dislikes-where greater selfdisclosure is likely to increase one's influence on those reached. …

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