SMM Challenges and Strategies
The results of the studies reviewed in this investigation indicated there are significant benefits to adopting and implementing SMM and many researchers concluded that doing so is essential to compete successfully (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014). Some identified internal and external challenges to overcome before SMM can be successfully implemented while others provided their insights into strategies for implementing, managing, and measuring outcomes.
SMM Implementation Challeges and Influential Factors
In a study involving 777 marketing executives, Leeflang, Verhoef, Dahlström, and Freundt (2014) found that capturing and analyzing customer insights along with managing brand health on social networks are the toughest challenges yet presented the lowest opportunity for resolving. The need to fill the talent gap, correct organizational deficiencies, and figure out what metrics are pertinent all presented sizeable challenges with moderate opportunity to resolve.
Results of a technology acceptance study done by Dahnil, Marzuki, Langgat, Fabeil, (2014) showed that internal users perceptions of the usefulness and ease of use of social media platforms along with the lack of appreciation of the benefits of using them topped the list as the strongest influencers of intention to do so. Organizational inefficiencies along with the lack of resources and availability of training were the second strongest influencers. Concerns over costs and inability to determine return on investments were third, lack of management commitment fourth, and followed fifth by external factors perceived to be outside of the realm of control.
SMM Strategies and Approaches
Berger (2013) described his six STEPP principles explaining why things catch on. They are: 1) Social currency – people talking about a company or product results in a positive perceived impression by others or people share things that make them look good; 2) Triggers – subtle reminders that link a company or product to cues in the environment or if it is on the top of their mind it is on the tip of their tongue; 3) Emotion – the company or product must evoke the right emotions or when they care, they share; 4) Public – use of the product is observable by others or if it is built to show it is built to grow; 5) Practical value – the product must save time, money, improve health or it should be news consumers can use; 6) Stories – embed products in stories that others want to share because information travels under the guise of idle chatter. Berger explained that the principles are not mutually exclusively and that not all six are needed to successfully market a product. Further, which are the most important depends on the nature of the product.
Mihart-Kailani (2012) described integrated marketing communication (IMC) as a holistic approach that uses marketing mix elements (e.g. product, price, distribution, marketing communications) to create and strengthen relationships with consumers. The primary goal of IMC is to implicitly influence consumer behavior by affecting perception, learning, attitude, and motivation. The author proposed a framework consisting of a response hierarchy of effects and explained that before a company can determine a target marketing strategy, it must know where the target consumer is in the hierarchy. For example, before consumers can learn about a product they must be aware that it exists. Only once they learn about it can they express interest or disinterest in it. While the model has not been empirically tested, the author argued that theoretically marketers who are able to strategically target communications based on the stage the consumer is in would be able to influence opinions and ultimately purchasing behavior.