It is evident that social media has changed the way businesses are operated today in regard to marketing and communication (Armelini & Villanuev, 2011). Small and medium enterprises can benefit from the impact of social media in business today. Notably, social media is supposedly the largest platform that small and medium enterprises can explore. Lashious Beauty Salon is an up-coming medium-sized business that offers beauty salon services across the UK. The business faces challenges in communicating with its customers and building effective customer value online (Dahl, 2018). The purpose of this paper is to explore the role, and eventual impact social media has on small and media business. It aims at investigating the benefits of social media to small and medium enterprises with a case study of Lashious Beauty Salon.
Lashious Beauty employs social media platforms in promoting its services. The company focuses on advertising only nails services in social media and has no social media engagement practice. Further, the salon uses emails and phone calls in reserving appointments and engaging with customers. The salon has a policy of dealing with customer inquiries within 24 hours. Despite their presence in social media and having an appropriate working communication infrastructure, the salon is struggling to attract new customers and retain existing ones. The Salon has an ineffective marketing strategy with a high number of customers not turning up for appointments or even bothering to cancel their appointments. This has led to lost hours and income.
The main objective of the study is to explore the role and eventual economic impact of social media have on small and medium business in growing their customer value and promoting growth. Consequently, the paper will investigate the use and benefits of social media and other communication networks at Lashious Beauty and its impact on building customer value and promoting growth.
The paper seeks to identify the role and impact of social media in the growth and performance of small and medium enterprises. The article will review the benefits of social media and critically analyze them to identify gaps.
Social media has changed the way businesses are conducted today. Over the last two decades, social media has been adopted by billions of people and has led to a social, cultural and economic phenomenon (Chui, 2012). Millions of people rely on social people for their social connections and other activities. With the changes in social media, has led to businesses, especially small and medium enterprises to change their behaviors and take advantage of the benefits of social media. The increased use of social media platforms has led to SMEs to develop strategies for growth (Coles, 2015). Social media has allowed businesses to create policies aimed at reducing operational costs, manage product prices, innovate new ways of brand awareness and increase customer engagement.
With the establishment of social media platforms, they have managed to become popular with consumers in relation to previous technologies (Frost & Strauss, 2016). The rapid growth of social media platforms and a large number of users represents potential opportunities for businesses to grow and even increase their market share. Evidence indicates that social media has managed to capture more subscribers than traditional means. Enterprises are now going digital to take advantage of the vast number of users. Today, Facebook has more than 1 billion users while other platforms such as Twitter are not far behind. Over time, social media has been an integral part of the communication strategies of businesses (Mandelli & A. Mari, 2012). Social media offers an opportunity for small and medium enterprises to reach a diverse and broad base of consumers easily and increasing the chances of better sales activities, reduced costs associated with marketing and advertising while expanding its presence online.
Empirical research has indicated that the use of social media is the most important strategy for increasing sales. The primary objective of a business is to maximize profits by optimizing sales and reducing operational costs (Coles, 2015). The distinct quality of social media is the ability to improve sales of companies by attracting new customers and retaining the existing one. Businesses have embraced social media avenues to reenergize marketing strategies. Increased social media marketing and presence boost the public relations of a company and entice potential customers while at the same time boosting customer loyalty (Smith, Thorpe, & Jackson, 2008). Increased customer engagement through promotions and customized messaging in social media platforms has helped reach for potential customers while retaining potential customers
Social media provides an essential avenue of communication between businesses and customers. Small and medium enterprises have employed social media platforms to build direct communications with customers thus amplifying their brands and public relations (Wilson, 2010). Social media has personalized mass communication, which has allowed business to develop personalized and customized information to consumers. This has changed the marketing concepts of the modern era, as more SME’s try to reach out to more customers through personalized communication.
The use of social media is mostly a strategy employed to create a sustainable and attractive image for business in the eyes of both current and future customers (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). So social media is used as a public relation exercise. Regardless of the purpose, businesses have been able to communicate directly to consumers in a way they previously could not. However, the use of social media can be at a disadvantage if not correctly used. In 2009, Toyota suffered negative media attention when consumers used social media platforms to write bad reviews of the company vehicles leading to recall of more than 3.8 million vehicles (Mandelli & A. Mari, 2012). This led to a decrease in the total sales of Toyota by 8.7 % while the reputation of the company was severely damaged. At the same time, Toyota managed to immediately use the opportunity to create online newsroom teams who managed to listen and respond to complaints of the customers. Through this they managed to respond and resolve the concerns and issues that had been raised.
For the purpose of meeting the objectives of the paper, a qualitative approach was used to collect data. The use of qualitative approach is the appropriate method when the research aim is to understand a certain phenomenon (Aula, 2010). A comprehensive critical review of the literature review was undertaken towards identifying gaps on the impact of social media on small and medium enterprises.
The study used Lashious Beauty Salon as a case study firm in investigating the research questions. An analysis of the company performance and use of social media was initial done. Then, questionnaires were provided to the public and potential users of the company products and services. The use of questionnaires helped to collect data from a large pool of people, the ability to get un-biased responses and simplicity of the process. However, the limits of using a questionnaire such as low response rates and language barriers were noted. During the exercise, 20 customers of the company managed to answer their questionnaires about the products and services of Lashious Beauty.
The following is a presentation of summarized findings and discussion from the research methodology subject to presentation constraints.
Response from the first questionnaire question on the quality of service of the service of Lashious Beauty, 50% of the respondents deemed it to be of high quality, 25% deemed it high quality, 10% deemed it neither high or low quality, 15% low quality and lastly none thought it to be of low quality. The general conclusion is that customers of Lashious Beauty view its service to be of high quality. Therefore, the challenges facing the salon of difficult finding new customers and retaining customers does not stem from the quality of service offered. The quality of service offered is nonetheless to the general liking of the customers. However, there is need to improve the service order to encourage the 10% in neither high or low and 15% low quality respondents.
In response to question 2, the respondents list on phone call, walk in to make appointment and walk in with appointment as means making appointments at the salon. The salon relies heavily on phone calls at 40% for appoints while other appointments are either coincidences or an action of phone call. This is a poor communication and marketing strategy employed by the company. The company has not employed any social media platforms or applications for making appointments which has led to low level of appointments or people missing appointments. A new innovation scheduling and organizational tool and structure is required to manage appointments.
In response to question 3, a large percentage of respondents (85%) agreed to highly recommend the Lashious Beauty while 15% would not recommend. The high recommendation rate indicates that the salon has potential for growth. If the customers are integrated online with social media, the recommendation rate of 8.5 would promote the company services. I high rate of recommendation with proper marketing rate will increase the customer share of the salon and promote its services further.
Question 4 deals with the integration of social media services with the salon services. When asked on the ease of making appointments vial online services, respondents rated Lashious with 5% excellent rate and most notably 50% fair. The system of the salon is further slow and making appointments is slow. This indicates that the presence of Lashious online is low and much is needed to exploit the rich presence of online customers. Online presence gives a beauty company an edge in converting leads to customers and appointments.
In responding on where they heard about Lashious Beauty, 55% of the respondents heard it from website research, 30% were recommended by family and friends, 5% from walk in and another 5% answered others. It is encouraging that most of the customers of the Lashious have online presence and activity. Which means that, Lashious can take advantage and increase its online presence in order to engage its customers through promotions, offers, events and other activities in order to retain current customers and attract potential customers.
The role and impact of social media in small and medium enterprises is undeniable. It is evident that social media can impact the performance and growth of businesses. Social media links businesses with vast pool of active consumers. With proper marketing and social media strategy, businesses can turn their online presence its sales and potential growth. Lashious Beauty has very little presence online and lacks a social media marketing strategy. Hence, even with high quality and highly recommended services the salon is struggling to attract new customers and retain existing ones. A simple online system, working scheduling tools and increased online presence will help the company to engage its current customers and attract new ones. With most of its customers online, an increased online presence and social media strategy will help engage its customers through promotions, offers, events and other activities in order to retain current customers and attract potential customers.However, the salon should use social media properly to avoid its disadvantages. With a few respondents not satisfied with its services, it would often receive bad reviews online. How it manages with bad reviews would determine its successful use of social media for growth.
Lashious Beauty should develop an online and social media strategy that will help the salon to deploy a simple and effective online system and social media presence to engage with customers. Other recommendations are as follows;
Future research should concentrate on dealing with the disadvantages of social media on small and business enterprises. The popularity of ratings can sometimes affect the growth of businesses.
While collecting data I had difficulties convincing respondents to accept the questionnaire and answer them. I had distributed 50 questionnaires but I received only 20. However, I learned valuable experience in data collection, analysis and presentation.
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