THE EVALUATION OF SOCIAL MEDIA EFFECTS ON MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS: THE UK CONSUMERS’ PERSPECTIVE

GIEDRIUS IVANAUSKAS

MA INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS AND MARKETING 2009

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Abstract

Purpose – The evaluation of Social Media as affective marketing communications tool and channel. The identification of consumer‟s profile of Social Media in the UK.

Design/methodology/approach – The quantitative research was conducted by arranging consumer survey among social media users. The deductive logic was used to verify the hypothesis.

Findings – The general UK consumer profiles were identified. The hypotheses were proven that social media can be a valuable tool and channel for marketing communications.

Research limitations/implications – The research was designed to test only the users of social media properties. Even though, it gathered the needed data to help marketers in their search for suitable tools when marketing in social media environment.

Originality/value – The conducted study added the knowledge to the indicated information gap in academic literature regarding the social media usage for marketing campaigns from the consumer perspective. It defined the main social media tools and tested the consumer perceptions about the possible practices.

Keywords – Social media, Web 2.0, Social Media Marketing, Marketing Communications, Consumer behavior.

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Content

Acknowledgments..........................................................................Error! Bookmark not defined. Declaration of Authorship..............................................................Error! Bookmark not defined. Abstract ........................................................................................................................................... 2 Content ............................................................................................................................................ 3 Figures and Tables .......................................................................................................................... 5 Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................................... 6 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Introduction and Motivation............................................................................................. 6 Aims & Objectives of the research ................................................................................. 7 Statement of Hypotheses .................................................................................................. 8 The outline of Thesis (following the introduction) ....................................................... 10

Capter 2 : Literature review .......................................................................................................... 11 2.1 2.2 Introduction to changing media and communications landscape................................... 11 Social media and Web 2.0 .............................................................................................. 15

2.2.1 Social media ................................................................................................................. 15 2.2.2 2.3 “Web 2.0” .............................................................................................................. 20

Consumer 2.0 - “Web 2.0 citizens” ................................................................................ 34

Chapter 3: Procedures and Methodology...................................................................................... 41 3.1 3.2 Description and justification of the methods.................................................................. 41 Research design .............................................................................................................. 42 Research procedure ................................................................................................. 42 Primary and secondary data .................................................................................... 43 The Questionnaire design ....................................................................................... 44 Target population and Sampling design ................................................................. 45

3.2.1 3.2.2 3.2.3 3.2.4

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3.2.5 3.2.5

Reliability and Validity ........................................................................................... 47 Fieldwork ................................................................................................................ 48

Chapter 4: Data analysis and results ............................................................................................. 49 4.1 The consumer profile of Web 2.0 Citizen in the UK ..................................................... 49 Where and How are they using Social Media Properties? ..................................... 51

4.1.2 4.2 2.3

The thechonographic profiles of the UK social media users ......................................... 53 The influence of Social Media on the UK consumers and “Traditional” media............ 60

Chapter 5: Findings & Conclusion ............................................................................................... 64 5.1 5.2 General findings ............................................................................................................. 64 Conclusion and Further Implications of the Study ........................................................ 66

References and Bibliography ........................................................................................................ 68 Appendixes ................................................................................................................................... 77

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Figures and Tables

Table 2.1. The Concepts of online interactivity. Table 2.2. Bloggers‟ motivations. Table 2.3. Online community needs Figure 2.1. Internet Users Growth in the World between 200 and 2008. Figure 2.2Changing distribution of the message. Figure 2.3. Micro Interactions Figure 2.4. Clustered overview of Web 2.0 applications Figure 2.5. Types of Bloggers Figure 2.6. Content posted on social network Figure 2.7. Extrinsic value. Figure 2.8 Most visited websites Figure 2.9. The closed loop of needs. Figure 2.10 Uncontroled marketing stimuli – Web 2.0. Figure 2.11 The new drivers of value. Figure 2.12. Participation model of a Web 2.0 service Figure 3.1. The activities list of the project Figure 4.1 The sex of the social media users in the UK Figure 4.2 The age groups of the social media users in the UK Figure 4.3 The social media users by income. Figure 4.4 Most popular Social media properties in the UK Figure 4.5 Where are you using social media properties? Figure 4.6 Time spent on SMP (a week) in the UK Figure 4.7 Time spent on SMP (a week) in the US Figure 4.8 Technographic profile of Web 2.0 Citizens in the UK Figure 4.10 The SMP used by “Creators”. Figure 4.11 The SMP used by “Joiners”. Figure 4.12 The content preferred by “Joiners”. Figure 4.13 The obstacles to interact on SMP (“Joiners”). Figure 4.14 The content preferred by “Spectators”. Figure 4.15 The reasons for engagements “Spectators” vs “Joiners”. Figure 4.16 The reasons for engagements “Spectators” vs “Joiners”. Figure 4.17 The reasons for engagements “Collectors” vs “Critics”. Figure 4.18 The reasons for engagements “Collectors” vs “Critics”. Figure 4.19 The SMP used by “Collectors”.

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Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1

Introduction and Motivation

Technological development has been seen as one of the main factors effecting company‟s processes and profitability in the last century. The birth of the Internet and its success in changing our society has been largely researched in various subjects and defined in various terms. But as year‟s passes by the Internet evolves and creates new rules for companies interacting and doing business with their costumers and partners. The new applications and services are being developed and offered in order to catch up with changing information society define new concepts of doing business. In the last few years the terms of Web 2.0 and Social Media has emerged as the definitions for second generation of web based services and communities that emphasize online collaboration, networking and user created content (Eikelman et al, 2008). According to Strategy Analytics report (2007), Social media users will exceed 1 billion by 2012. The enormous growth of Social networks (MySpace, Facebook, BeBo) Blogs, Wikis and consumers‟ participation in these platforms forces companies to reevaluate their business strategies. The recent investments by leading companies like Microsoft (240 millions in Facebook) and Google (900 millions in MySpace) in social networks gives a clear signal that company‟s presence in dialogue with consumer gains a new meaning in terms of communication strategy. Nevertheless, there is a clear shortage of academic literature which defines the Social media environment and Web 2.0 applications. Moreover, it is not clear what applications and how they should be used by the company in order to make these communications more valuable. Finally this subject is not enough researched in different environments. The most of the rare academic literature and professional insights are dedicated to US market and there are no findings presented how consumers perceive company‟s initiatives to influence their private space on the net in the UK. Therefore, this research project will summarize Social Media and Web 2.0 definitions; will evaluate the influence of different types of Web 2.0 applications on the consumer in terms of communication interactivity; and will analyze the general patterns of the consumer‟s perception about the differences between Social Media and Traditional Media in the UK market.

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The interest in the topic was influenced by 3 years‟ personal engagement with social media platforms. The participation in various virtual communities, conferences and seminars led to the huge motivation to test the existing knowledge and increase it.

1.2

Aims & Objectives of the research

According to Constantinides and Fountain (2008) in order to enable Social Media Properties (SMP) to integrate into corporate commercial strategy, these areas must be researched in greater depth: the effects of Web 2.0 applications on consumer behavior, differences between exiting Web 2.0 applications effectiveness and their relationship with traditional mediums. As this study concentrates particularly on the marketing communication strategies the two main aims are identified below, followed by the objectives of the research:

Aim 1 - To determine the Social Media environment and indentify the UK consumer profile:  To define the main changes brought by social media in marketing communications environment  To identify “Who” are the users of SMP in the UK?  To identify “What” SMP are they using?  To identify “Where” and “How” are they using SMP? Aim 2 - To evaluate the SMP effectiveness as marketing communication tool and channel:  To verify if the interactions through SMP could result in positive outcomes for the company.  To verify if different SMP have to be used for different communication purposes.  To verify if SMP could be a valuable channel in changing consumer‟s attitudes towards the company  To verify if communications through SMP triggers the positive word of mouth.  To verify the level of involvement needed by the company in order maintain positive relationship with consumer  To verify if different type of consumers use different type of mediums

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1.3

Statement of Hypotheses

In order to achieve the “Aim 2” several hypotheses must be tested: Hypothesis 1 - The interactions through Web 2.0 applications generate different outcomes for the company. H0 : There is significant relationship between Social Media Properties used and the actions taken after the interaction. H1 : There is no significant relationship between Social Media Properties used and the actions taken after the interaction

Hypothesis 2 - Different Web 2.0 applications can serve different marketing communication goals. H0 : There is a significant relationship between the Social Media Properties used and communications wanted by the consumer. H1 : There is no significant relationship between the Social Media Properties used and communications wanted by the consumer.

Hypothesis 3 - There is a significant relationship between the influence on the consumer‘s attitudes and the SMP used to engage with consumer. H0 : There is a significant relationship between the Social Media Properties and attitudes changed by the company and by the consumer. H1 : There is no significant relationship between the Social Media Properties and

attitudes changed by the company and by the consumer.

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Hypothesis 4 - The initiatives to communicate through SMP triggers the positive word of mouth. H0 : There is a significant relationship between the initiators of interaction with the creation of positive word of mouth about the company. H1 : There is no significant relationship between the initiators of interaction with the creation of positive word of mouth about the company. Hypothesis 5 – The consumer wants the company to start the conversation if he/she likes Social media platforms as a marketing medium H0 : There is a significant relationship between the initiators of interaction and media channel preferred by the consumer. H1 : There is no significant relationship between the initiators of interaction and media channel chosen by the consumer.

Hypothesis 6 - There is a significant relationship between technographics (―Creator‖, ―Joiner‖ and etc.) of the consumer and the channel which he/she consumes. H0 : There is a significant relationship between the technographics of the consumer and the preferred media channel chosen. H1 : There is a significant relationship between the technographics of the consumer and the preferred media channel chosen.

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1.4

The outline of Thesis (following the introduction)

Chapter 2 presents the literature review. It is divided into three main themes: 1) Changing media landscape; 2) Social Media and Web 2.0 tools 3) Web 2.0 citizens. Each of the themes

summarises the findings in the literature review and defines the background for the quantitative research.

Chapter 3 outlines the research methodology, applied techniques and procedures undertaken. It also explains how the research was planned and implemented. The thorough description of research design is also presented in this chapter.

Chapter 4 outlines the main data gathered in the research and summarizes result. Accordingly to the research aims, the whole chapter is divided into three main sub-chapters that analyze data according to every aim.

Chapter 5 indicates the findings that were linked to the insights gained in Chapter 2, and final conclusions. It ties together what has been learned according to the set study aim and the main research question. The limitations and implications of the study are also presented in this chapter.

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Capter 2 : Literature review

2.1

Introduction to changing media and communications landscape

The last century was a gold age for the media development. The new technologies as Telephone, Radio and Television have changed people‟s lives forever. The new ways of communications have been successfully adopted and become a norm. The last decade of the century brought the new innovative technology – Internet. As predicted by Newman (1991) Internet:
Altered the meaning of geographic distance. Allowed the huge increase in the volume of communication. Provided the possibility of increasing the speed of communication. Provided opportunities for interactive communication. Allowed forms of communication that was previously separate to overlap and interconnect.

Grieco and Holmes (1999) (citied in Combe et al, 2003) identifies three powerful features of Internet:
1. Disintermediation or the removal of brokers by allowing direct communication across spatial and sociometric distance; 2. 3. Asynchronicyty of the removal of temporality as a barrier to communications; Oculacy or the ability to communicate messages through images.

According to Hermeking (2006) The global spread of modern technology, including information and communication technology (ICT), is commonly regarded both as an indicator of the postmodern era of globalization and as the very precondition for that era of intensive worldwide interactions of people and exchanges of goods, services, information, and capital. Hoffman (Hoffman et al., 1995) argues that the popularity of the WWW as a commercial medium (in contrast to other networks on the Internet) is due to its ability to facilitate global sharing of information and resources, and its potential to provide an efficient channel for advertising, marketing, and even direct distribution of certain goods and information services.

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In the recent years Internet witnessed amazing growth, according to Internet Consumption Report (Soumukil, 2008) the 21% (1,407,724,920) of the world population (6,676,120,288) are internet consumers. Most of them live in well developed regions as North America where internet penetration is as high as (73.1%), Australia (57.0%) and Europe (47.7%). Peters (1998) suggest that no other technological innovation has captured the imagination of users with the speed and impact of the Internet (Graph 1).

Figure 2.1. Internet Users Growth in the World between 200 and 2008. Source: Internet World Stats 2008 - http://www.internetworldstats.com/images/world2008growth.png

According to Linda Peters (1998), the “Web” presents a fundamentally different environment – both as a medium and as a market – from traditional communication channels perspective. It

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creates the Marketspace – a virtual realm where products and services exist as digital information and can be delivered through information-based channels (Rayport and Svikola, 1994). The companies and consumers quickly adopted the new concept of the new interactive world for their own benefits. These interactive channels allowed companies to reach new markets or have a grater influence in the existing one‟s (i.e. example media companies transferred their news papers in order reach new audiences) and the consumers had an opportunity to save time and money by communicating, looking for information or buying product and services online. The concept of interactivity has been extensively researched in advertising and marketing literature and was summarized by Johnson (Johnson et al, 2006) (Appendix 1.1). According to Liu & Shrum (2002) emergence of new media (Internet), brought new models of interactivity: user-to-user and user–to-message. Contemplating about user-to-user interactivity Ha
and James (1998) suggested that “the more communication in a computer-mediated environment resembles interpersonal communication, the more interactive the communication is‖. Steuer (1992)

defined users-to-message interaction as follows: ―the extent to which users can participate in modifying the form and content of a mediated environment in real time‖. Lee (2005) summarized the main components of online interactivity (Table 1).

Table 1.1. The Concepts of online interactivity. Source: Lee (2005)

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Commercial online services and the introduction of the Web have created the potential for a mass interactive dialogue between exchange parties (Peters, 1998). The world have witnessed the evolution of a universal interconnected network of audio, video, and electronic text communications that blurred the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication and between public and private communication (Neuman, 2003). The new market space changed the behavior of the people and the communication models. The shift is then from a “one (firm)-tomany (consumers)” model of communication to the “many-to-many” model where contribution to the medium and the message may come from both directions (Hoffman and Novak, 1996). Chaffey (Dave Chaffey et al., 2007) argues that such kind of communications allows mass customization and personalization and the messages send trough Internet can be targeted more effectively. Moreover, the Web is changing the traditional marketing communications concepts as the consumers can go all the way from awareness to interest to desire to action (AIDA Framework), all within the same medium and within the same session (Economist, 2008a). Peters (1998) suggests four main changes in communication model compare the new and old media:
1. Communication style - tend to have little or no time lag between the giving, receiving and responding aspects of communication between the parties. 2. Social presence - or perceived personalness, the feeling that communication exchanges are sociable, warm, personal, sensitive and active. 3. Control of contact - Early research into the willingness of consumers to utilize technology in shopping behavior concludes that the ability to control the pace and presentation of product information has the strongest influence on willingness to engage in computer-mediated marketing activity (Carson et al., 1996). 4. Content – The content can be customised either by users or by senders. Where users are able to control the content, or presentation, of the message it is said to be interactive.

Andrew L. Shapiro (1999) argues that the emergence of new, digital technologies signals ia a potentially radical shift of who is in control of information, experience and resources. One of the key features of the new electronic communication media is the ability of consumers to control both contact and content (Peters, 1998). Sohn and Lackenby (2002) suggest that individual‟s participation in social communication processes is the crucial factor for increasing the perceived interactivity of the Internet (citied in Stafford and Ronald, 2005). Moreover, according to

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Normann and Ramirez (1994) the consumers become co-producers, because the value is constantly created in interaction with many different players, including consumers, suppliers, employees and managers. As a result, marketers are losing control over the communication messages their trying to deliver to their consumers. According to Gatarski and Lundkvist (1998) when communication, in the meaning of sharing information, meets interactivity, it creates not simple massages but forms two-way conversations. These conversations can be applied in production as implementation of mutual ideas (consumer‟s and producers‟) in order to create new enjoyable products or services.

2.2

Social media and Web 2.0

2.2.1 Social media

The real power of people can be noticed in the new revolutionized media channel – social media. According to Mayfield (2008) social media is best understood as a group of new kinds of online media, which share most or all of the following characteristics:
Participation & Engagement: social media encourages contributions and feedback from everyone who is interested. It blurs the line between media and audience. Openness: most social media services are open to feedback and participation. They encourage voting, comments and the sharing of information. There are rarely any barriers to accessing and making use of content – password-protected content is frowned on. Conversation: whereas traditional media is about „broadcast‟ (content transmitted or distributed to an audience) social media is better seen as a two-way conversation. Community: social media allows communities to form quickly and communicate effectively. Communities share common interests, such as a love of photography, a political issue or a favourite TV show. Connectedness: Most kinds of social media thrive on their connectedness, making use of links to other sites, resources and people.

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Drury (2008) suggests that when analyzing social media marketers too often concentrates on the “media” factor, when “social” element is the key, because marketing within social media is about building a relationship and conversation with the audience, where the simple message delivery is changed by ongoing exchange of perceptions and ideas between company and the consumer. Haven (2008) suggests that social media key elements are not entirely new as features of sharing, connecting, opining, broadcasting and creating has been long in our lives, but there are several characteristics of new technologies and behaviors that set them apart from the past:
Reach — Historically, audiences for the common person have been limited: a tribe, family, friends, neighbors, or the local community. Today's technologies provide scale and enable anyone to reach a global audience. Accessibility — The means of production for most media used to lie in the hands of enterprises with unlimited resources (financial or human). Today's technologies for media creation are available to anyone at little or no cost. Usability — The means of production typically required specialized skills and training, both technically and creatively. Today's technologies simplify those processes, or in some cases reinvent them, so anyone can create and operate the means of production. Transparency — People, especially Americans, historically kept personal information to themselves and had a general distrust of authority (enterprises, government, etc.). Today, people are willing to share anything about themselves (interests, location, family situations, health condition, etc.) in a public venue, and today's technologies make that both possible and purposeful. Recency — When people did have the means of production and distribution in the past (albeit limited), the time lag between communications was typically long (days, weeks, or even months). It was a limitation of the technology or system in which it operated. Today's technologies enable instantaneous responses and dialog where only the participant determines the delay in response.

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The interactivity gains a new meaning when it is applied through Web 2.0 platforms and Social media channels as dialogue between consumer and company becomes much more active and interactive. As summarized in the media landscape analysis the past decade was all about two-way communication‟s and interaction‟s models. Most of the marketing academics (Kotler, 2003; Pettit and Brassington, 2005) recognized the importance of creating two-way marketing channels between consumer and company for brand building, CRM, sales (and etc). Social media, itself, does not change this idea, but redefines interactivity and takes it to another level. Armano (2008a) argues that social media goes beyond the interactive marketing which is facilitated by computer-human interaction, and introduces human-to-human interaction enabled by technology (Appendix 2.1). The main difference is that the companies instead of pushing the content (i.e. automated e-mail‟s) through online channels empower people to engage and interact with other people and produce new content about the company (blogging, commenting, social networking and etc.). Free production of content and voluntary distribution is the key elements of the social media. Meadows-Klue (2008) suggests that in social media marketing engagement replaces interruption; diversity and self-expression replace conformism and unity; the media of the masses replace mass media; granular insights and rich data replaces generalization and conversations in marketing replace control. Another major change from the marketing perspective is the shift from persuasion to influence. Past decades marketing practitioners were using the communication mix in order to “attack” consumers with pervasive messages to make them buy goods and services offered, but in the age where 25 percent of search results on Google for the world‟s 20 largest brands links to consumer-generated content (Nielsen Buzz Metrics, 2007), to do this is too late, not practical or impossible, as the messages are already floating out there. According to Mitchell (2008) this process is facilitated by the change of information flows from “top down” (B2C) to “bottom up” (C2B) what redefines marketing environment as marketers do not own the message anymore (Figure 2.2, Apendix 2.2). Armano (2008) suggests that people can be divided in different grouping according their “strength” as the massagers (Apedix 2.3)

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Figure 2.2 Changing distribution of the message. Source: Bowman and Willis (2003).

The User Generated Content (UGC) can become influential message of the consumer to the consumer (C2C) about the company and therefore should be carefully monitored. In fact, the content is the new message in social media channels. According to Eikelmann (Eikelmann et al, 2008) the best marketers can do in this environment is to try to engage with the consumers through social media in order influence these messages. Drury (2008) suggests that instead of sending simple messages, marketers should provide the content which would be relevant for consumers and would generate conversations among them. Therefore, influence will become a standard measurement in Marketing 2.0 (Dowdell, 2008). As blogger and social media strategist Douma (2008) put it: “The age of persuasion is over. Welcome to the age of influence.” Marketers are forced to look for alternative communication strategies to market in the social media environment, because advertising clutter, growing advertising literacy and changing consumer behaviour drives down the return on investment (Biegel, 2008; Constantinides and Fountain, 2008). These strategies have to consider the increasing fragmentation in the markets

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what may shift the rules of targeting into behavioral marketing favor. (Meadows-Klue, 2008). David Armano suggests that micro interactions and ―Permission marketing / Unconventional marketing‖ (Godin, 1999) should be the right strategy to approach the consumer in the new media world (Figure 2.3).

Figure 2.3. Micro Interactions Source: David Armano (2008b)

Micro strategies are more valuable in fragmented media environment, as they generate more precise consumer insight and as a result are better targeted. According to Godin (2008) unconventional marketing principals are effective because it considers the needs and wants of the people and listens to them. Therefore it aims to build a more in-depth and lasting customer relationship based on loyalty and trust (Masterson, 2007). Viral and Word of Mouth marketing principals are the essentials in social media. This medium provides a platform for Web 2.0 applications and tools, which works as enablers in order to increase reach and speed of the messages. According to Lockhorn (2007) word of mouth campaigns can take off very quietly through niche communities and can be powerfully persuasive, or conversely result in an astonishing backlash. It should be closely monitored by marketers as various researches (RazorFish, 2008; Internet Consumption Report, 2008) shows

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that people make purchasing decisions according what they here form other people about the products or services.

2.2.2

“Web 2.0”

Social media and Web 2.0 are two terms which are often used interchangeably in the marketing literature, even though they are not entirely the same. From the marketing perspective, the Web 2.0 should be perceived as the new tools for the marketing communication mix and facilitator and enabler of social media. The Web 2.0 term was introduced by Tim O‟Reilly in 2004, it has originated from talks about social software and the communities surrounding these applications. According Tim O‟Reilly (Tim O‟Reilly, 2007) “the companies that survived the dotcom boom had something in common;” these companies realized that the “Web” is much more useful for delivering service than being used just as a platform for “packaged” products (i.e. software). Constantinides and Fountain (2008) defined Web 2.0 as follows:
―Web 2.0 is a collection of open-source, interactive and user-controlled online applications expanding the experiences, knowledge and market power of the users as participants in business and social processes. Web 2.0 applications support the creation of informal users ‘ networks facilitating the flow of ideas and knowledge by allowing the efficient generation, dissemination, sharing and editing / refining of informational content .”

Hoegg (Hoegg et al, 2005) suggests that Web 2.0 is “the philosophy of mutually maximizing collective intelligence and added value for each participant by formalized and dynamic information sharing and creation‖.

Both definitions share similar concepts of maximizing the collective intelligence, self-regulating community, network effect, transparency of the information creation and sharing process, but the key element in these terms is the user. From technological perspective, there are not many changes in the Web 2.0 compared to Web 1.0 applications; the real value is created by people not only using this social software but participating in the creation process of it (by creating and editing the new content or even in some cases modifying the application itself). According to

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Constantinides and Fountain (2008), the key innovative elements typifying this new family of web applications can be summarized as three main principles:

1. 2.

Focus on simple, service-based open-source solutions in the form of online applications. Continuous and incremental application development requiring the participation and interaction of users in new ways: not only ‗consuming‘ but also contributing, reviewing and editing content.

3.

New service-based business models and new opportunities for reaching small individual customers with low-volume products.

As Web 2.0 applications are still in the development stage, the grouping of them varies according to the purpose and field of the research. Hoegg (Hoegg et al, 2005) groups web 2.0 applications according the services they provide (Figure 2.4).

Figure 2.4. Clustered overview of Web 2.0 applications Source: Hoegg (Hoegg et al, 2005)

Constantinides and Fountain (2008) classifies them into 5 broad types according their nature:
1. “Blogs: Short for Web logs: online journals, the most known and fastest-growing category of Web 2.0 applications. Blogs are often combined with Podcasts, that is, digital audio or video that can be streamed or downloaded to portable devices. Examples: http://gizmodo.com, http://www.boingboing.net, http://www. huffingtonpost.com

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2.

Social networks: applications allowing users to build personal websites accessible to other users for exchange of personal content and communication. Examples: http://www.myspace.com,

http://www.facebook.com, www.hyves.nl, http://www.ning.com/ 3. (Content) Communities: Websites organising and sharing particular types of content. Examples are applications of Video sharing: http://video.google.com, www.youtube.com, http://etsylove.ning.com, Photos sharing: http://www.flickr.com, Social Bookmarking: www.digg.com, http://del.icio.us and Publicly Edited Encyclopedias (Wikis): www. wikipedia.org, http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Main_Page 4. Forums/bulleting boards: sites for exchanging ideas and information usually around special interests Examples: www.epinions.com, www.personaldemocracy.com, http://www.python.org. 5. Content aggregators: applications allowing users to fully customise the web content they wish to access. These sites make use of a technique known as Real Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary (RSS). Examples http://uk.my.yahoo.com/, http://www. google.com/ig, http://www.netvibes.com/.”

Tim O‟Reilly (2005) argues that “Web 2.0 doesn't have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core which could be visualized as a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites that demonstrate some or all of those principles, at a varying distance from that core” (Appendix 2.4). Therefore it is difficult to classify the Web 2.0 into the precise groupings, because the applications are interrelated and most of the time a few Web 2.0 features works on one platform. The mixture of Web 2.0 applications working under one site are known as “Mash-ups”. According to Mayfield (2008) ―this combination of two or more pieces of content (or software, or websites) is one of the phenomena in social media that make it at once so exciting, fast-moving and sometimes bewildering‖. But even more important feature of Web 2.0 applications is the adaptability in the different platforms. Social applications are becoming more and more popular on mobile devices (Phones, iPods (via podcasts)). In fact, according to BBC News (2008) one of the reasons the Internet usage on the mobile devices is increasing Web 2.0 applications. According to Drury (2008) social media applications has an ability to bring “Head” (Professional) and “Tail” (UGC) content together in all the formats (audio, video , text). As more and more professionally edited websites incorporates social media content some companies (i.e. Joost) are trying to apply Web 2.0 principals (live participation) for even bigger media platforms as TV. These applications are being tested in the Internet TV and in the near future have a good chance to redefine TV experience completely. All theses changes open new opportunities for integrated marketing campaigns, where marketers are enabled to reach larger audiences of consumers at all their touch points with mediated world at one-stop shop.

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Hoegg (Hoegg et al, 2005) suggests that various kinds of web 2.0 services offer different participation possibilities for users. Therefore, it is important to analyze each Web 2.0 application type in depth.

Blogs and blogging
Web Logs (commonly knows as Blogs), according to Tredinnick (2006), are arguably the “oldest” Web 2.0 applications and have been in the web space since mid 1990‟s. Constantinides and Fountain (2008) states that it is the most know and fastest-growing category of Web 2.0 applications. According to McCann report (2008), 184 million people World Wide have started a blog and 346 million read blogs, which means that 77% of active Internet users read blogs. Furthermore, 17.8 m have read a blog and around 4.3 m have created their own blog in the UK (McCann, 2008). The most recent Technorati research (2008) confirms this phenomenon as they tracked blogs in 81 languages from 66 countries around the world, it suggest that blogging have made a major influence on media ecosystem as bloggers are collectively creating almost one million posts every day and have representation in all top-10 web site lists across all key categories. In general a “Blog” is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video where entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order and has permalinks (Daily Blog Tips, 2008), but Pomerantz and Stutzman (2006) argues that for every blog author and consumer, the precise understanding of a blog‟s use is different, therefore it is difficult to define its true meaning. Dearstyne (2005) summarized the definitions and blogging opportunities provided by major companies:
―Microsoft defines blogs as frequently updated personal web journals that can dramatically help both small and large companies communicate their product messages. They increase people's ability to share ideas and information exponentiallv, and on a worldwide scale. Accenture says blogs are an interactive website that allows the owner to publish ideas and information. Users can read and evaluate material and add new content, creating a conversation that spans lime zones and continents.

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Technorati. a blog search engine and measurement firm, calls blogs a personal journal on the web and says the power of weblogs is that they allow millions of people to easily publish their ideas and millions more to comment on them. The firm further describes blogs as a fluid, dynamic medium, more akin to a "conversation" than to a library. Harvard Law School weighs in with a definition of blogs as a hierarchy of text, images, media objects, and data, arranged chronologically, that can be viewed in an HTML browser. The center of the hierarchy is a sequence of weblog posts each with a title, link, and description. The school's Internet policy slates that a weblog gives one a publication where ideas can stand without interference.‖

According to Antony Mayfield (2008), the most important features of the blogs are Linking, Trackbacks, Comments and Subscription (RSS) which allow companies to engage with their stakeholders and facilitates conversations between them. Theses are the main qualities of the blogs that differentiate them from personal websites. There are hundreds of different type of blogs, but bloggers, in general, are divided in three broad segments – personal, professional and corporate (Techonrati, 2008).
Figure 2.5. Types of Bloggers Source: Technorati (2008)

According to Technorati report (2008), as Blogosphere grows in size and influence the lines between what is a blog and what is a mainstream media site become less clear as larger blogs are taking the characteristics of mainstream sites and mainstream sites are incorporating styles and formats from the Blogosphere (95% of the top 100 US newspapers have reporter blogs), but it is clear that amazing growth of blogs and blogging open new opportunities for marketers. Huang (Huang al., 2007) suggests that one of the biggest opportunities provided for marketers by blogs, that there is no longer a scarcity of media, but an even more fractural media space. Hardly reachable segments of the market become easy to reach and target with the help of social media and blogging. They open doors to untapped markets which could be quite profitable for the companies if approached correctly. The responsiveness of the medium (blogs) is another key benefit for the marketers. Blogging provides great opportunities for the companies to converse

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and influence their stakeholders (internally and externally). According to Awareness report (2008), 53 % of surveyed companies in US are planning to use this tool in order to improve their internal communication, knowledge sharing and collaboration within the organization. Companies can use blogs to promote increased communications between peers and to allow a forum to emerge in which „„employees can talk back to their bosses‟‟, because individuals trust more in blogs written by the executives and employees as opposed to an official corporate blog or website (Vara, 2006). According to Wyld (2008) blogs can enable their executives to be viewed as „„real‟‟ people and leaders. Although, companies have to be careful and introduce guidelines or code of practice to manage conversations derived from blogs as “silly talks” between/by employees can damage the corporate brand. Joshua L. Cox (Cox, et al., 2008) offers to follow 9 rules for internal corporate blogging:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Have a consistent and authentic first-person voice. Allow comments but monitor them. Be honest and transparent. Add value. Identify information sources. Welcome feedback and issue corrections. Respect your audience. Protect confidential and/or proprietary information. Use appropriate disclaimers and publish a ‗‗terms of use‘‘ policy.

Even more exiting opportunities for marketing professionals derive from external communications via blogs, as blogs can help the organization to develop and maintain stronger relationships and brand loyalty with its customers, generate consumer insights. Li and Bernoff (2008) go even further; they suggest that blogging can increase ROI on the Advertising, PR, Customer Support and Research value. According to Maltoni (2008) blogs provide a real opportunity for marketers to speak with their customers and not to “shout” at them as it is often the case in mainstream media. It is clearly important to join on-line conversation with the customers, as these conversations are developed with or without company interference anyway, as four in five bloggers post brand or product reviews, with 37% posting them frequently (Technorati Blogosphere report, 2008). The companies have to learn the lesson of Dell and

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approach their brand advocates in the best possible manner. Cox (Cox et al., 2008) suggest three basic rules for companies dealing with bloggers outside the company:
1. Be aware. Corporate managers should find and monitor influential blogs related to their companies and industries. 2. 3. Engage. Establish relationships with independent bloggers when possible. Respond quickly and appropriately.

The internet guru Seth Godin (2004) remarked that good blogs work when they are based on: candor, urgency, timeliness, pithiness, controversy and utility. Armano (2008) groups these features to 4 C‟s of blogging (Appendix 2.5). Furthermore, Huang (Huang al., 2007) identified the main techniques how to manage brand communications according to various blogging motivations.

Table 2.2. Bloggers‟ motivations. Source: Huang (Huang al., 2007)

At the moment amongst the marketers there is ongoing discussion about importance of another form of blogging – micro blogging. Twitter, Plurk and other companies provide the technology

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based on short massages, limited to 140 symbols or less. The key difference and importance of this medium for marketers is – speed. The biggest names of the blogosphere (Godin, 2008; Armano, 2008,) suggested that micro-blogging is a new phenomenon and should be carefully monitored in order to be used as a successful marketing tool. The article by Mossberg (2008) in Wall Street Journal suggests that Twitter can be a great resource for fast information. Surprisingly, The US President Elect Barack Obama has tried these means of communication for his election campaign where he is “followed” by 141 823 people. The Razorfish report (2008) suggested that with time-shifting, information overload permanent connectivity and the proliferation of communication channels, consumers are moving towards shorter microinteractions provided by Twitter and similar applications. Therefore immediacy, simplicity, voyeurism and constant communication should be considered in the marketing era

Social networks
The amazing recent growth of social networking sites is one of the main phenomenon‟s driving social web. According to McCann report (2008) there are estimated 272 m users world-wide, from whom over 10 millions are using social networks in the UK. As there is no single definition for this phenomenon Stroud (2007) summarized the available definitions from various organizations researching this field:

McKinsey - Social networking refers to systems that allow members of a specific site to learn about other members‘ skills, talents, knowledge or preferences.

Pew/Internet - A social networking site is an online location where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users.

Wikipedia - A social network service focuses on the building and verification of online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. It provides various ways for users to interact - chat, messaging, email, video, file sharing, blogging and discussion groups.

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According to McCann (2008) social networks have evolved into platforms which organize users‟ internet experience where users are posting variety of content (text, photos and video) and it is aiming to become the one stop shop for all internet needs (Figure 2.6).

Figure 2.6. Content posted on social network Source: McCann (2008)

It becomes quite feasible as some of the platforms opens up to the third parties developers in order to keep the users on the one site.

The social networks like www.myspace.com, www.facebook.com, www.bebo.com, has generated an interest amongst marketers as they provide an opportunity to reach millions of active users, who passionately share their personal information and are willing to converse on the net. Moreover, the features of social networks present an opportunity to create brand communities and interact with them online. Marketers are discovering that community can get a company‟s message across faster and more authentically than traditional media ever could (Razorfish, 2008). According to Awareness report (2008) 46 % of the surveyed companies have already used social networking as a successful tool to build and promote brands, improve collaboration and communication, and increase consumer engagement. Stroud (2007)

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summarized the main ways in which companies can exploit social networking in order to achieve their goals:

Work with and use the functionality of the large generic sites (Facebook, MySpace and etc.) Create company or brand-specific sites. Provide content to generic sites. Imbed social networking functionality with the company‘ s existing online presence. Advertise on the generic sites.

Even though, Stroud (2007) suggests that the final alternative is to do nothing which may be the most appropriate strategy, but should only be used following a careful evaluation of the alternatives.

There are general tools offered by social networks to make every encounter more interactive. According to Razorfish report (2008) the best and most successful sites from Flickr to Facebook to Nike all provide the similar tools within the sites to support their members‟ abilities to connect with one another and engage with each other directly by providing a continuum of ways to interact:
Low-level: rating, poking, tagging, commenting, subscribing Mid-level: writing statuses, twittering, playing games, adding widgets, uploading photos High-level: making videos, writing blog posts and reviews Expert-level: moderating groups and message boards, creating applications, running feeder businesses on the social network‘s ―economy‖

Even though, social networking is mostly considered among B2C companies, it could be a valuable tool to create strong bonds with other stakeholders as business partners and employees. But those skeptical about social networking‘s value to business argue that ―networking‖ can easily turn into ―not-working‖ and damage the relationships between the parts (MessageLabs, 2007). Moreover, the companies have to be careful since social networks can also be a source of damaging publicity (Economist, 2008b), but it is another reason for the organization to have the presence in social networks as it gives a chance to influence such activities.

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Content Communities

Websites organizing and sharing particular types of content are called content communities. These communities most of the time has all social networking features, but are developed to share a particular type of content (Constantinides and Fountain, 2008):

Video sharing: www.youtube.com ; Photos sharing: http://www.flickr.com; Social Bookmarking (Tags): http://del.icio.us; Publicly Edited Encyclopedias (Wikis): www.wikipedia.org.

According to McCann (2008) these sites are one of the most visited sites on the Internet attracting millions of user all around the world (estimated 394m world wide). From 15m active users within the UK, 8.7m shared the photo and 5,7m uploaded the video. The content communities as other Web 2.0 applications and services are highly depending on the size of the supporting community and is a classic example of network effect. According to

Pew/Internet report (2008) one of the factors that plays a big role in the growth of video site usage is that there are more videos on sites like YouTube now than there were a year ago. According to Hoegg (Hoegg et al, 2005) the intrinsic value of Web 2.0 communities itself is very limited, but the content or the value generated through the supporting community can be internalized and represents the value of the community itself as the quality of the content improves and the service gains more relevance when more users participate, what attracts even more users (Figure 2.7).

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Figure 2.7. Extrinsic value. Source: Hoegg (Hoegg et al, 2005)

Even though, the content communities attract large volumes of users, marketers have been struggling to find the needed tools to monetize these networks. Viral marketing concepts has been successfully adopted on this type of Web 2.0 applications, but the examples of success like “Lonelygirl15” or Barack Obama (Yes We Can video) are rare exceptions rather than a general practice. According to Razorfish (2008) advertising can be a road to riches for some content communities, but in general it is not a very powerful tool and community builders are going to have to find other ways to get a return out of their social investment.

Content aggregators and Widgets
According to Constantinides and Fountain (2008) content aggregators are the applications allowing users to fully customize the web content they wish to access and are based on Real Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary (RSS) technologies (http://uk.my.yahoo.com/, http://www.google.com/ig, http://www.netvibes.com/). McCann report (2008) suggests that RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a key technology in social media as it connects users to content and moves content into a variety of platforms. Consumers prefer using multiple destinations, and then aggregating media and services, via simple tools like RSS, into a highly personalized view of their digital world (Razorfish, 2008). The applications or websites based on these technologies had a major effect on social web development. It may seem like a trivial piece of functionality

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now, but it was effectively the device that turned weblogs from an ease-of-publishing phenomenon into a conversational mess of overlapping communities (O‟Reilly, 2007).

Widgets and applications had a huge influence on social web growth too. According to Razorfish report (2008) widgets provide the purest glimpse into the new, improved networked future where people will select, personalize, share and consume Web services wherever and whenever they choose. McCann (2008) suggests that widgets and applications should be used to create a genuine consumer benefit and drive engagement.

With 4,7m users in the UK (McCann, 2008) content aggregators and widgets still lack the needed awareness about their functionality and possible opportunities provided by them. Even though, marketers have to monitor carefully the user‟s activity in these applications in order to generate knowledge of how to use them in the best possible manor for marketing purposes.

Forums, bulleting boards and reviews
The sites for exchanging ideas and information usually around special interests are another growing phenomenon on the internet (Constantinides and Fountain, 2008). Comparison, review, ranking and other opinion spreading sites are infused by Web 2.0 technologies and are experiencing the re-birth. The editorial reviews of Web 1.0 era are changed by user generated reviews in Web 2.0. According to Razorfish, 2008 the large majority of consumers (61%) rely on user reviews for product information and research, with a much smaller group (15%) preferring editorial reviews. The sites like www.ebay.com , www.amazon.com would have never reached such highs if not the successful development of consumer review/feedback strategies and technologies. The Web 2.0 brought a greater transparency to these sites generating a bigger interest for content contributors (recognition need) and the trust amongst the consumers.

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This type of social media sites have a huge influence on consumer‟s purchasing behavior as most of them are developed for exactly this purpose – to help making the right purchasing decision. According to Internet consumption report (Soumokil, 2008) such type of content is really welcomed by customers as 64 % of internet users desires “user ratings/reviews” and 59 % is looking for “product or price comparison tools” on the net (Figure 2.8 ). From the marketers perspective such sites provide a direct opportunity to influence the consumer‟s purchasing choice. Carefully developed social strategy could affect the talks about their brands and services. Finding and influencing the opinion leaders on such networks could be a key objective in communication strategy.
Figure 2.8 Most visited websites Source: Soumokil (2008).

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2.3

Consumer 2.0 - ―Web 2.0 citizens‖

―As powerful as it is technology is just enabler and it‘s the technology in the hands of almost always connected people that make it so powerful‖ (Blume, 1996; citied in Li and Bernoff, 2008)

A decade ago Raaij (1998) identified that social and technological developments will create new options and possibilities for consumers and will bring some real changes for marketing managers. For the past 18 years the active discussions have taken place in marketing literature analyzing the relationship of postmodern marketing, semantic web, interactivity, tribes and changing consumer behavior (Raaij, 1998; Flart et al, 1995; Cova 1997; Constantinedes, 2004; Simmons, 2008), but only today the discussed thoughts embrace their real meaning. The mass acceptance of the Web as social medium is the biggest recent change in internet behavior which allows the postmodern marketing concepts to flourish (Razorfish, 2008). These changes in postmodern marketing era are mostly driven by the new consumers. Digital natives, Millennials, Generation Y it just a few names often met in marketing literature, describing the new generation of tech-savvy, success driven, self-confident, independent but community-minded people

(Deloitte, 2005). According to Tapscott (2008,) that it is the first global generation ever which is smarter, quicker and more tolerant of diversity than their predecessors. Millennials never experienced life without computers and are just a click away from the world any minute. The reverse accumulation of knowledge is typical for them - the younger they are, the more they know (Deloitte, 2005). Tapscott (2008) identifies eight norms that define Net Geners:
They value freedom and choice in everything they do. They love to customise and personalise. They scrutinise everything. They demand integrity and openness, including when deciding what to buy and where to work. They want entertainment and play in their work and education, as well as their social life. They love to collaborate. They expect everything to happen fast. They expect constant innovation.

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Moreover, Deloitte (2005) suggest that Generation Y is impatient, needs the flexibility and space to explore, wants to produce something worthwhile and seeks to make a difference in order to be rewarded with a respect. This generation fits well the description of postmodern consumer which lacks the commitment to grand projects and seeks different experiences, and is willing to see oneself as a (marketable) object in the different situations s/he encounters in order to make each a supremely exciting and enjoyable experience (Flrat et al., 1995) Even though, they are not the only ones affecting the marketing environment. So called “digital immigrants” (Palfrey and Gasser, 2008) or fast adapters of the technology arguably might have even bigger influence on the on going changes in marketing as they are aware about the changing situation and they have a power, knowledge and resources to influence this phenomenon. As both of these consumer groups are very important for marketers they could be grouped under one term of - Web 2.0 Citizens.

Web 2.0 Citizens worries marketers as their consumption patterns and the perception of the value are evolving and the old marketing models are not working on them. Wipperman (Trendbureo, 2008) argues that the Maslow‘s pyramid of needs is changed with the closed loop (a feedback loop) where in the process that is never completed self-actualization remains the individual‘s basic motivation and is increasingly coming to the means of self-optimization (Figure 2.9).

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Figure 2.9. The closed loop of needs. Source: Trendbureo (2008)

The changing needs affects buying behavior what makes it difficult for marketers to target the consumer, especially when the new consumer takes the initiative for transactions, at the place and time they want, what has considerable consequences for the distribution of goods and services (Raaij, 1998). Easily satisfied psychological and safety needs moves the postmodern consumer onto the search for social and self-actualizing experiences. The consumption becomes a way for individuals to creatively appropriate and construct self-images that allow them to become more desirable or likeable in various social contexts (Dawes and Brown, 2000; Goulding, 2003). Constantinides and Fountain (2008) argues that in social web era consumer preferences and decisions are based on new inputs provided by parties beyond the control of online marketers: peer reviews, referrals, blogs, tagging, social networks, online forums and other forms of user-generated content uncontrollable by the marketers. These content creating people are keen in building online communities, in order to satisfy their social, self-esteem and self-actualization needs. According to Kim (2000) (cited in Bowman and Willis, 2003) the hierarchy of needs differ between offline and online communities (Figure 2.10)

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Table 2.3: Online community needs Source: Bowman and Willis (2003)

In the post-modernity period which encourages a move away from individualism towards a search for more social bonds, these communities tend to reorganize themselves into neo-tribes, networks of people gathering homogeneously together for social interaction, often around consumption and brands (Simmons, 2008). From the marketers perspective it is very important to consider tribal relationships as it may be a powerful tool in building loyalty and trust among the consumers. Even though neo-tribes and brand communities are two different concepts they share very similar features and often are very related to each other. According to Cova and Cova (2002) the main differences are that the brand communities are explicitly commercial whereas tribes are not, furthermore, brand communities are concerned about relationship between brand and consumer, whereas tribes – relationship between consumers. Muniz and O‟Guinn (2001)

(citied in Ouwersloot and Odekerken-Schroeder, 2008) describes a brand community as a
specialized, non-geographically bound community that is based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand. Mairinger (2008) suggests that:

The brand community is not just formed around a brand; it creates the brand. The brand community is not just formed around a product; it is part of the product.

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Therefore, the creation and development of brand communities is one of the most important tasks of the marketer as it can guarantee the company success in the long term. According to Mairinger (2008) brand communities can add real experiences and emotion to the brand, reach the long tail, address both individualism and collectivity needs and replace the celebrity endorsers with community brand advocates. Considering that 49 % of people made a purchase based on friends recommendations on social media property (Razorfish, 2008), social media can be viewed as an important channel and tool to interact, manage and enable these brand communities. Communication process Changing consumers requires different communication approach from marketers. According to Tapscott (2008) Web 2.0 citizens do not accept the one-way communication approach because they have been immersed in two-way communication from childhood or their growing frustration with traditional communication approaches has reached the maximum limit. This media literacy evolved into digital media literacy and let the audience to manage and select their own exposure to marketing messages (Meadows-Klue, 2008). Therefore, a power shift can be observed from the sender (advertiser) to the receiver (consumer) where communication obtains a service-oriented (experience creating) rather than a persuasive role (Raaij, 1998). Flrat (Flrat et al., 1995) argues that in emerging postmodernity the consumer may be finding the potential to become a participant in the customization of his/her world by immersing her/himself as an object into the world of objects, instead of trying to maintain a position that is privileged to and detached from the objects. Therefore, marketing has to include the consumer not as a target for products but as producer of experience. Creating and sharing positive experiences becomes more important than just sending simple messages to the consumer. Constantinides and Fountain (2008) argues that changing communications has to consider the new factors influencing the decision making process of the consumer (online uncontrollable marketing factors) (Figure 2.10).

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Figure 2.10 Uncontroled marketing stimuli – Web 2.0. Source: Constantinides and Fountain (2008)

Changing customer‟s perception of value affects the communication process as it is difficult to create suitable value proposition and target the consumer. Lawer and Knox (2006) identifies the

Figure 2.11. The new drivers of value. Source: Lawer and Knox (2006)

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new drivers of value (Figure 2.11) which has to be considered when planning communication strategy. Moreover, as the lines between consumers and producers disappear the value is gained trough completely different experiences where consumer becomes a producer – prosumer. Creativity and co-creation engages consumer, especially when it happens in neo-tribes or brand communities where the consumer can share the experience with others. As a result, the service or product itself can be modified in order to enable the consumer to take a part in co-creation process and guarantee a positive word of mouth for the company. Lawer (2006) proposes eight styles of company-consumer value co-creation (Appendix 7). From the social media perspective, the people could be divided in 6 social technographic profiles according to their participation level (Li and Bernoff, 2008):

"Creators" - Publish a blog/website; upload created videos/music; write articles or stories and post them; "Critics" - Post ratings/reviews; comment on blogs and forums; contribute to articles or wikis; "Collectors" - Use RSS feeds, add tags to web pages or photos; "Joiners" - Maintain a profile/ an account on social media site (Social network, Content community); "Spectators" - Read blogs or customer reviews, watch video or listen to audio (podcasts); ―Inactives‖ – None of these activities.

It is important to understand how social technologies are being adopted by the company‟s costumers as according to consumer‟s profile the social strategy could be adopted (Li and Bernoff, 2008). Especially, marketers should be concerned about “Creators” as they are most likely to be the trend setters / brand evangelists (opinion leaders). Hoegg (Hoegg et al., 2006) summarized the participation model of a Web 2.0 (Figure 12).

Figure 2.12. Participation model of a Web 2.0 service Source Hoegg (Hoegg et al., 2006)

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Chapter 3: Procedures and Methodology

3.1

Description and justification of the methods

There are two general types of the research approaches: scientific and ethnographic. According to Maylor and Blackmon (2005) the scientific (or objective) approach is more concerned with understanding the general patterns of people‟s, organisations‟ and social systems‟ behaviour as an opposite to ethnographic (subjective) approach which is analyzing practises more than theories in greater depth and more at individual level. Moreover, the scientific studies are based on deductive logic and focused on testing theories and then arriving to the new knowledge rather than creating the knowledge in the process of the research (inductive).

This research can be considered as a theory-led scientific study, since the main objective of this research is to verify a set of theories that describe “what” is changing in the marketing communications environment and analyze consumer‟s behavior according to these hypotheses. It could be viewed as knowledge verifying study and an extension of similar researches done in the USA market. Even though it is considered to be scientific research there are some appearances of ethnographic inductive logic. Maylor and Blackmon (2005) suggests that some times when there is scarcity of data it may be an acceptable to use two research approaches in one study. Sometimes it may not be possible to develop any hypothesis at all, if it is being investigated for the first time as there are no previous data is available (Bhojanna, 2007). Therefore in this study, because the research subject is relatively new, the literature review was dedicated not to generate hypothesis, but to build-up the theory itself and to prove that in changing media landscape there are new marketing communication tools and channels requiring greater consideration and that chosen hypothesis are valid. Furthermore, the findings in the literature review were adopted in data analysis.

The main reason why the scientific paradigm for this study has been chosen is its cooperation with quantitative methods of the research. The quantitative research strategies are used to count

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and measure the data in order to answer the questions “what”, “where”, “how”, “how many: and “how much” as an opposition to qualitative research questions “why” and “how”. There is a debate going on whether qualitative or quantitative research is better, but according to Maylor and Blackmon (2005) both qualitative and quantitative research have their advantages and disadvantages and are used for different purposes.

The success of the quantitative study is based on the validity of the data and statistical significance of the results that could be generalized. Therefore, appropriate data had to be collected and processed. According to Maylor and Blackmon (2005) a suitable way to verify the research hypotheses and capture opinions, behaviors, attitudes and facts is doing a survey. In a result, according to sample size and time frame the self-administrated online questionnaire method was chosen for conducting the survey. In the short time frame it is considered to be one of the best tool‟s to gather large amounts of valid data.

3.2

Research design
3.2.1 Research procedure

In order to guarantee successful implementation of the research project the Gantt‟s Chart was drawn to identify the main tasks and the time frame (days) assigned for them (Graph 1).

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Figure 3.1. The activities list of the project Studying and Personal Experience Desk study (Secondary data analysis) Prime literature review In-depth literature review Writing Designing the Questionnaire Pilot Survey Survey Analyzing the data and presenting the findings June July August September October November December January

Figure 3.1. Research procedure in Grants chart.

3.2.2 Primary and secondary data

Malhotra and Birks (2003), states that an appropriate data collection method contributes to the successfulness of research project. There are two types of data: primary data collected in the process of the study by the researcher; and secondary data – which have been already collected and analyzed by others (Ghauri et al, 1991). Both sources of data should be used to achieve efficiency and effective research objective. The secondary data provides an ability to save time and money, therefore it has to be analyzes first before the collection of the new material. The

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primary data have to be collected as well, as the secondary data may not always provide the needed answer to all research quesions (Ghauri, 1991). In order to answer the research questions the primary and secondary data were used in this study. First of all, to discuss the reasoning behind the hypothesis literature review was performed which analyzed secondary data. The data was collected from various academics‟ and practitioners‟ sources. Because of the scarcity of data in the academic literature some of the most valuable information was gained through the community of marketing bloggers and research reports by individual companies. The academic articles and research papers, books, published case studies, academic and industrial magazines or solitary articles where used to generate a broader view on the subject. In order to answer the main research question and to test the hypothesis proposed in the introduction the primary data was collected through the web survey (self-administrated questionnaire were used). It enabled researcher to apply statistical analysis methods for the study.

3.2.3 The Questionnaire design

According Easterby-Smith (1991) within the short time frame and limited resources a selfadministrated questionnaire is the most appropriate method to collect data for research. Maylor and Blackmon (2005) suggest that in order to gather appropriate data with a questionnaire, the design and planning are the vital parts. In order to produce a reliable questionnaire and minimize biases in the research, the designer has to consider three areas main issues: the wording of the questions, the appropriate categorization of variables and the general appearance of the questionnaire (Sekaran, 2003; Appnedix 3.1). Therefore the wording of the questionnaire was constructed considering the similar consumer surveys in the US market (Cone, 2008, Technorati, 2008, Razorfish, 2008, Forecaster, 2008). The simple commonly used expressions and terms were used in order not to confuse respondents. The general appearance of the questionnaire was selected from pre-designed themes for thesis type surveys suggested by the web portal providing the surveying services (Surveygizmo.com)

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In this research, the Questionnaire consisted of 4 sections. The questions in the first section (Q 13) were designed to gather general socio-demographic data about the respondents. The second section (4-8) of the questionnaire was determined to define the general consumers profile in the UK. The third section of the of the questionnaire (Q 9-16) was designed to test the Consumer Web 2.0 applications - Company relationship. The fourth section of the questionnaire was aimed at comparison of social media and traditional media (Q 17-19). In order to gather necessary data different types of questions were chosen. The closed-ended question was mostly used in this research in order to gather defined answers. Even though, in some questions the combination of closed-ended and open-ended question were used in order to leave a possibility for respondents to identify additional concerns. Moreover, Likert scale questions were used to test some commonly known statements about the social media and gather the data about consumers attitudes and behaviors.

3.2.4 Target population and Sampling design

According to Maylor and Blackmon (2005) the choice of the sample and correct sampling methods are one of the key factors in gathering valid and measurable data for the research. Malholtra (2003) suggests the five steps for sampling design:
define the target population, determine the sampling frame, select the sampling frame, determine the sample size execute the sampling process.

The target population was chosen considering the objectives of this research. As a result, only the people who have ever used Social Media properties were considered as possible respondents. Moreover, due to limited data about the total number of social media users in the UK, and short time frame and the budget, only the Londoners were considered for the research. The biggest social networking website Facebook.com which represents almost all Web 2.0 features in one

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site was chosen to do the research. It created the sample frame as Facebook does not represent all social media users in the UK, even though, according to the Hitwise (2008) Facebook.com is the second most visited website in the UK and as there are no better alternatives it can be taken as a yardstick of social media users for this research. According to Facebook.com, there are around 8 millions UK users registered to the Facebook.com, from which 3 240 961 are identified as Londoners (almost a half of all population of London!). This sample frame was used to define the sample size needed to collect appropriate and valid data for the research. According to Maylor and Blackmon (2005) if there is an accurate sampling frame and the probability sampling methods are employed there is a better chance to reduce the sampling error. Therefore, probability simple random sampling method was applied in this study. Since each research is distinctive, sample size can be subject to each study unique population, data collection tool and objectives (Malhotra and Birks, 2003). In order to represent the target population (Web 2.0 Citizens) sample size of 100 respondents was chosen.

3.2.4 The Pilot Study

In order to conduct reliable and valid research the Pilot study has to be performed before the actual research. According to Malhotra and Birks (2003) the completion of the pilot study will lead to the identification of problems that are likely to arise with the questionnaire. Moreover, Veal (1997) suggests that the purpose of pilot survey is to check the following problems:
1. Questionnaire wording 2. Questionnaire sequencing 3. Questionnaire layout 4. Familiarity with respondents 5. Test fieldwork 6. Train and test fieldworks 7. Estimate response rate 8. Estimate interview e.g. Time 9. Test analysis procedure

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Therefore, the Pilot study was preformed a month before the starting date of the real survey. As Chisnall (1997) suggests, the arbitrary size of a pilot survey is often taken at about 10 percent of the main survey. As the chosen sample size was 100 people, to the pilot study was sent to 10 random respondents on the London Network on Facebook.com and left for one week in order to get needed response. Four respondents have completed the survey in two weeks time, and just three of them filled it correctly, it suggested the possible response rate of 40 % (a bit lower than expected). Nevertheless, two of the respondents have replied the message sent with the survey link and commented on the survey. According to theses comments questionnaire was reduced to 19 questions (from 25) and the wording was adjusted to some of the questions as some of the terms used was unfamiliar for the respondents.

3.2.5 Reliability and Validity

As the questionnaire is a highly structured data collection tools, limiting the powers of the researcher, the design of questionnaire should include three characteristics (Bhojanna, 2007):
1. Validity: validity is the most critical criterion and indicates the degree to which an instrument measures what it is supposed to measure. Validity can also be thought of as utility. 2. Reliability: reliability means, measuring instrument should provide consistent results, even if it is measured repeatedly. 3. Practicality: measuring instrument must be economical and easy to use by the researcher. That means, researcher must be able to measure what he intends to measure.

ANOVA analysis was used as the main tools to test hypothesis. According to Maylor and Blackmon (2005) this type of analysis guarantees the reliability and practicality. 5 % of reliability coefficient was used to test the data for single and two factor analyses. The P and F values were used as the main determinants of the significance of the data.

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3.2.5 Fieldwork

As mentioned earlier, the survey was conducted on social networking site Facebook.com. After completion of the pilot study it was decided to run the survey for 3 weeks period, due to considered possibility that some of the respondents might not be checking their accounts or messages very often. According to the suggested response rate (40%) by the pilot survey, 400 messages with the survey link were sent to random members of London Network with the intent to receive 101 filled surveys. The random selection was facilitated by Facebook as there is a feature allowing to see and contact randomly sorted members of your network (Settings>Account settings > Netwroks>London). 101 responses have been received, from which 48 males and 53 females.

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Chapter 4: Data analysis and results

4.1

The consumer profile of Web 2.0 Citizen in the UK

In order to achieve the “Aim 1” and create a general consumer profile of SMP in the UK, the answers to the questionnaire were analyzed. The first question was designed in order to find out the dominating sex on the UK social media properties. As it seen in the Figure 4.1 the sex distribution among users is very similar, but female users outweigh the males in the UK.

Figure 4.1 The sex of the social media users in the UK

As shown in the Figure 4.2 the respondents from 25 - 34 age group where most keen in participating in the survey followed by 15 -24 year olds. It is possible to make an assumption that theses two groups are the main users of SMP, even though it can not be stated for certain as the

Giedrius Figure 4.2 The ageSocial of the social media – http://www.smcitizens.com/ Ivanauskas © groups Media Citizens users in the UK

results might be affected by the survey distribution method. According to the survey results the majority people using social media properties are on the middle income or less, as most of them falls into the £10 000 – 25 000 group or under (Figure 4.3). Even though 20 % percents of respondents, have claimed about receiving £25 000 – 45 000 a year, what means that there are a few different segments in the market.

Figure 4.3 The social media users by income.

4.1.1

What Social Media Properties are they using?

The most popular type of social media property amongst UK users is “Content communities” (30%). Not so far behind goes “Social Networking” (26%) and “Blogs” (22%). According to the survey results “Micro Blogs” still have not found its users, with just 6 % of all respondents using it. Surprisingly, “Opinion networks” are not very popular among UK users (5%) as on another

Figure 4.4 Most popular Social media properties in the UK

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hand “Content aggregators” are finding their way to success (11%).

The research results complement the McCann (2008) findings. Even though, McCann report (2008) stated that blogs and blogging are the main sites used by almost all Internet users within the UK, according to this research it might not be necessarily true. But as the subject of the research and determinations differ, the outcomes of the research might be different as well.

4.1.2 Where and How are they using Social Media Properties?
It possible to make an assumption that social media has spread into the main daily routines as 97% of all respondents are using it “At home” and 44 % using it “At work”. 15% of all respondents are using these applications or sites “On the go”, what means that social media gains popularity on different platforms. Another interesting fact is that according to survey results 38% of people using SMP “On the go” use social networks on these platforms (mobile phones, iPods), what partly confirms previous statement made in the literature review (Web 2.0 applications has an influence on the development of other platforms).

Figure 4.5 Where are you using social media properties?

The research results suggests that people using SMP in the UK are spending slightly more time compare to US users, as 33 % are spending 1–3 hours a week and 32 % are spending 4-6 hours a week (compare to 34.87 % and 20.76 % in the US). Even more surprising is that almost 10% of

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respondents are spending more than 20 hours and only 5% are spending less than an hour a week on social media properties.

Figure 4.6 Time spent on SMP (a week) in the UK

Figure 4.7 Time spent on SMP (a week) in the US Source: Razorfish (2008)

Most of Web 2.0 citizens consider themselves as “Joiners” (42%), from what the assumption can be made that social media is still quite new trend for most of the people in the UK market. Nevertheless, surprisingly almost 17% from all respondents state that they have crated the content on SMP what means that there are quite a few very active users in the UK.

Figure 4.8 Technographic profile of Web 2.0 Citizens in the UK

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Comparing to the similar research (Li and Bernoff, 2008) in the US (Appendix 4.1) even though the research approach was different the similarities can be found in the usage patterns, as “Joiners” and “Spectators” are leaders in the technographic ladder in both countries.

According to the research results in general consumers prefers UGC (27%) rather than company provided content (15%), but most of them see no difference (31%) between them or wants a mixture of both (27%) (Appendix 4.2). Friends‟ recommendations (42%) have the biggest influence on the decision to interact with the company (Appendix 4.3). Furthermore, 76% of all respondents indentify the relevance of the content and frequency (46%) as the main reasons to stay engaged with the company (Appendix 4.4). Moreover, the 73% of the respondents‟ states that personal satisfaction (52%) and personal development are the important reasons to stay engaged in the conversation (Appendix 4.5). According to survey, the interactions in social media with the company generate new interactions and recommendations (Appendix 4.6). The results suggest, that the shortage of time and privacy concerns is the biggest obstacles to interact with the company (Appendix 4.7). Nevertheless, all these features still differ among various consumer groups.

4.2 Creators

The thechonographic profiles of the UK social media users

As was mentioned in the literature review the “Creators” group should be in the biggest interest of marketers as they are most likely to spread the word of mouth (wom). According to the research results 72% of “Creators” prefers to interact with user generated, but 22% prefers a mixed content (Compny and UGC). Also, marketers have to take in to the account that 50% of the “Creators” are likely to make a first step towards interaction with the company, as another 40% will wait for the company‟s initiative. Moreover, 58% percent from all “Creators” would recommend the company to their peers, what partly confirms the earlier statement about the wom.

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Figure 4.9 Mostly likely actions after the interaction with the company on SMP by “Creators”. The “Creators” are most likely to use blogs (33%) as they way of interaction with social media. 17% of creators are using micro blogs and content aggregators. Surprisingly, just 11% of this group has stated that they use social networks as their main SMP and none of the respondents have mentioned opinion networks.

Figure 4.10 The SMP used by “Creators”.

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Joiners
The biggest group of the Web 2.0 Citizens on the net is “Joiners”. It should be in a particular interest of marketing professionals as they could be a target for the mass messages on the social web. Not surprisingly 37% of “Joiners” are spending their time on content community sites and 35% are social networks as their main SMP.

Figure 4.11 The SMP used by “Joiners”.

Figure 4.12 The content preferred by “Joiners”.

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“Joiners” are mostly interested in mixed content (34%) and 33% state that there is no difference who provides the content. As a result, the assumption can be made that “Joiners” are vulnerable to company‟s communications on the SMP as this group is busy consuming without particular interest about the kin of the content. Moreover, 34% prefer company‟s initiative to make a first step in conversation and just 22 % are willing to look for the interactions themselves, while the influence from peers are the most important power pushing to interaction (44%). On the other hand privacy (21%), poor content (17%) and time (26%) are the main obstacles stopping the “Joiners” from interacting on SMP. Marketers should be concerned how to overcome these problems, especially by improving the quality of the content.

Figure 4.13 The obstacles to interact on SMP (“Joiners”).

Spectators
Similarly to “Joiners”, the “Spectators” are most likely to be found on content communities (29%) and social networking (33%) sites. 17% of “Spectators” enjoys interacting with blogosphere and quite surprisingly 17% are active users of opinion networks, from what the assumption can be drawn that “Spectators” are keen into the research process. (i.e. researching the product reviews).

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Figure 4.14 The content preferred by “Spectators”.

As can be seen from the Figure 4.14 there is even smaller difference in terms of content distributor for the “Spectators” (42% states – No difference). Nevertheless, the UGC and a mixture of the distributors are quite favorable by them. Moreover, recommendations have a major impact on them, as 67% state that they would try to interact with the company if their friends would recommend doing so (21% Myself, 12% Company). In order to keep the “Spectators” engaged the company has to consider the factors mentioned in the Figure 4.15, as can be seen the “Spectators” are more likely to consider all factors equally rather than “Joiners”.

Figure 4.15 The reasons for engagements “Spectators” vs “Joiners”.

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Critics
Even though the “Critics” amount for a small percentage of all Web 2.0 Citizens, they are quite important for marketers because “Critics” are most interested in mixed (40%) and company content (30%). Moreover, 60 % of this group states that they are willing to see the company initiating the interactions with them.

Figure 4.16 The reasons for engagements “Spectators” vs “Joiners”.

Interestingly, the favorite SMP amongst “Critics” are blogs (40%) and content aggregators (30%), followed by micro blogs (20%). Critics are heavy users (40% states, that using SMP 20 hours or more) and assumptions can be made that “Critics” are likely to interact more than other groups from technographic ladder, except “Creators”.

Figure 4.17 The reasons for engagements “Collectors” vs “Critics”.

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In order to catch the attention and stay engaged with the “Critics” company has to consider the factors show in the Figure above (4.17), wich are quite similar for another technographich group of “Collectors”.

Collectors
Similarly to “Critics”, the “Collectors” likes to interact with company provided content (29%) or see no difference (71%) with which type of content to interact with (no other responses!). As found in the literature review, that the content is the new message, therefore, in order to successfully interact/communicate with “Collectors” marketers has to consider the reasons why are they using SMP (Figure 4.18) and provide suitable content accordingly.

Figure 4.18 The reasons for engagements “Collectors” vs “Critics”.

The “Collectors” are using content communities (29%) and content aggregators (29%) as their bridge to social media world. Therefore, marketers considering opportunity to approach the “Collectors” should actively participate on these platforms.

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Figure 4.19 The SMP used by “Collectors”.

2.3

The influence of Social Media on the UK consumers and

―Traditional‖ media

In order to answer the “Aim 2” of the research and to evaluate the influence of Web 2.0 applications 6 hypothesis were tested. The “Hypothesis 1” was intended to demonstrate that the interactions through Web 2.0 applications generate positive outcomes for the company. The usage of Social Media Porperties (Q5) was compared with the consumer actions after the interaction with the company (Q15).
H0 : There is significant relationship between Social Media Properties used and the actions taken after the interaction. H1 : There is no significant relationship between Social Media Properties used and the actions taken after the interaction

The single factor ANOVA analysis results showed (Appendix 4.8) that there is a significant relationship between the answers (even though quite small as p value is close to 0,05). As a result the second (H1) hypothesis was deducted and the assumption was made that there is a relationship between different SMP used and the positive outcomes after interaction, but it is quite small. Even though, as F>F crit (7.807202 > 2.71089), there is a very strong relationship

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between the number of answers selected, in example respondents using content communities are most likely to interact more with the company and people using micro blogs are most likely to recommend it to their friends (Appendix 4.8.1). In order to demonstrate that different Web 2.0 applications serve different marketing communication goals, “Hypotesis 2” was tested:
H0 : There is a significant relationship between the Social Media Properties (Q5) communications wanted by the consumer (Q13). H1 : There is no significant relationship between the Social Media Properties used and communications wanted by the consumer. used and

The two factor ANOVA analysis results showed that there is a very strong relationship between the data, as p value is much smaller than 0.05 (Appendix 4.9). Therefore, the hypothesis (H1) was deducted and the assumptions was made that different SMP should be considered for different communication goals, more precisely - content communities, blogs and social

networks should be considered for Advertising and PR purpose. Surprisingly, content communities could be considered for “selling” as well (Appendix 4.9.1). In order to verify if there is a relationship between the influence on the consumer attitudes and Web 2.0 applications, the “Hypotesis 3” was tested:
H0 : There is a significant relationship between the Social Media Properties and attitudes changed by the company and by the consumer. H1 : There is no significant relationship between the Social Media Properties and attitudes changed by the company and by the consumer.

SMP (Q5) and the respondents who selected the “strongly agree” and “agree” answers in changing attitudes question (Q17) were correlated and according to ANOVA analysis results, there is a very strong relationship (p= 0,000000012< 0.05) between the changed attitudes and Web 2.0 applications (Appendix 4.10). As a result, the hypothesis (H1) was deducted and the assumption was made that with any social media property used respondents ―agree‖ or ―strongly agree‖ that such kinds of communications are likely to change their attitudes towards company irrespectively from who distributes the message (company or users). As F > F crit, it has to be considered that the results were very affected by the most popular social media as they mostly “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with these propositions.

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In order to verify if SMP are an appropriate channels to create and spread word of mouth “Hypotesis 4” was tested.
H0 : There is a significant relationship between the initiators of interaction with the creation of positive word of mouth about the company. H1 : There is no significant relationship between the initiators of interaction with the creation of positive word of mouth about the company.

The two groups (users and friends) of initiators of conversation through Web 2.0 applications (Q10) were correlated with respondents who “agree” or “strongly agree” that messages received through SMP triggers the positive word of mouth (Q17). Not surprisingly, there is a very strong relationship (p=0,00000000019<0,05) between correlated data (Appendix 4.11). As a result, the hypothesis (H1) was deducted and the assumption was made that respondents who approach company on SMP by them selves or especially by friends‘ recommendations are very likely to spread word of mouth about the company. The “Hypothesis 5” was designed to verify if there is a difference for the consumer who makes a first step in terms of media channel.
H0 : There is a significant relationship between the initiators of interaction and media channel preferred by the consumer. H1 : There is no significant relationship between the initiators of interaction and media channel chosen by the consumer.

According to ANOVA analysis results (Appendix 4.12), there is no significant relationship (p=0.066753>0,05) between the initiator of conversation and media channel preferred by the consumer. As a result, the (H0) was deducted and assumption was made that there is no difference for the consumer who makes a first step and it does not affect his choice of the mediums he wants to interact in. In order to test “Hypothesis 6” and to find out if there is a relationship between technographics (“Creator”, “Joiner” and etc.) of the consumer and the channel which he/she consumes, the data from Q7 (technographics) and Q18 (media channel preferred) was correlated:

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H0 : There is a significant relationship between the technographics of the consumer and the preferred media channel chosen. H1 : There is a significant relationship between the technographics of the consumer and the preferred media channel chosen.

A strong relationship (p=0,00000038<0,05) was found between correlated data (Appendix 4.13). As a result, the hypothesis (H1) was deducted and the assumption was made that there is a strong relationship between the type of the consumer (i.e ―Creator‖) and media channel chosen. Surprisingly, the “Spectators” has a various distribution amongst the channels and chooses Radio as one of the favorite channels for marketing to them (Appendix 4.13.1).

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Chapter 5: Findings & Conclusion

5.1

General findings

Finding 1: The changing marketing communications environment and consumer profile in the UK In the literature review the social media environment was analyzed and the main changes were indentified. It was noticed that the interactivity is much more personal in social media and is based on human to human interaction. Moreover, it was indentified that social media is changing the communication processes as the power shifts from company to the consumer and the meaning of the message itself is changing (content becomes the message). The various Web 2.0 properties were grouped and defined. The research found that social media environment comprises the features of medium and tool and is suitable for marketing to postmodern consumer. The research had identified the general consumer profile within the UK market. According to technographic typology, 5 groups of Web 2.0 Citizens were analysed and the main differences between them were identified. It was noticed that, that social media in the UK penetrates into all aspects of daily life, but the consumption patterns slightly differs from the consumers in other countries (US) and it differs amongst the 5 technographic consumer groups as well. Moreover, it was identified that in general consumers prefers UGC rather than company provided content, but most of them see no difference between them or wants a mixture of both. The relevance of the content is the single most important factor among all the consumers in the UK. According to the research results, the personal satisfaction or self-actualizing needs are driving the consumption and that the biggest influencers of Web 2.0 citizens are their friends, who are most likely to affect their behaviours and “push” to the interactions. It was found that most of the consumers are afraid of losing time and privacy when participating in conversations within social media environment, but these communications push towards closer relationship with the company and are likely to outgrow into the monetary relationships. The main features, according technographic typology, of the UK consumers are summarized in the Table 4.1.

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Spectators
Most SMP used Content Communities; Social Networks No difference

Joiners
Content Communities; Social Networks Mixture of both

Collectors
Content Communities; Content aggregators No difference

Critics
Bogs; Content aggregators Mixture both of

Creators
Blogs; Content Communities; UGC

Type of content preferred (Company or UGC) The features of the content preferred First step is influenced by The main obstacles to use

Relevance popularity

and

Relevance popularity

and

Relevance popularity

and

Relevance and Newness

Relevance and popularity

Recommendations Time, Privacy

Recommendations Time, Privacy

Recommendations Time, Privacy

Company initiative Time, Privacy

User initiative Time, Privacy

Table 4.1. The techchnographic profile of the UK consumer

Finding 2: The influence of SMP on the consumers and comparison with traditional media In order to evaluate the influence of Social media as a medium for marketing communication campaigns 6 Hypothesis were tested. According to the results, the main findings can be summarized. The gathered data suggests that there is a relationship between SMP used and the positive outcomes after interaction. Therefore, it could be concluded that interactions through SMP could result in positive outcomes for the company. The interaction through Social networks, Content communities and Blogs are most likely to cause grater relationships with the company and build trust. Moreover, the result suggest that different SMP have to be used in order to achieve different marketing communication goals, with a common trend that Content communities, Blogs and Social Networks can be considered for Advertising and PR purpose (other trends can be checked in the Appendix 4.9.1). Surpassingly, according to gather data, irrespectively from the message distributor consumers agree that the messages delivered through social media are likely to change their attitudes towards company or its products. As a result, it can be concluded that SMP could be a valuable channel in changing consumer‟s attitudes towards the company. Moreover, it is important for them to approach the company by themselves or recommendations in order to spread positive word of mouth about the company. In any case, the assumption can be made that communications through SMP triggers the positive

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word of mouth. In terms of media channels, marketers have to consider that Web 2.0 citizens differ amongst themselves. In order to integrate social media in to the whole marketing communication campaign successfully they have to consider what other media channels are liked most by what type of group of consumers. Due to this, it can be stated that different types of consumers use different type of mediums (Appendix 4.13.1). Finally, according to the results from the consumers perspective there is no difference who initiates the interaction. Therefore, it can be concluded that the company can start the conversation with the consumer on SMP without fear to annoy him/her.

5.2

Conclusion and Further Implications of the Study

The evolving media landscape and changing consumer behavior presents new challenges for marketing practitioners. The growth of social media properties forces marketers to consider new tools in approaching the postmodern consumers. As summarized in the findings, these tools vary depending from the consumers‟ group, media channel and SMP itself. It is clear that this media/marketing channel is here to stay, but as it is still developing and changing therefore the constant monitoring of SMP tools is required by marketing professionals and academics. This research achieved its main goals and showed that the consumers welcome company‟s initiatives to communicate through Social media and that the Web 2.0 applications can be used successfully as the new tools in marketing communication mix. Even though, as this research just tested the theory that that social media is effective marketing tool and channel, the further, possibly qualitative, research is needed in order to understand the effectiveness of every tool on the consumer‟s behavior.

The main limitation of the research is considered to be the research setting. As the research was undertaken in only one of the social media properties‟ (Facebook.com) it might have affected the results. Mostly, it might have affected who answered the survey as the researcher send links from his personal profile on the social network. Furthermore, the research was undertaken only among

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the users of SMP therefore non-users opinions were not heard. Finally, it was noticed the sequences of the answers in the questions might have been randomized in order to make the data more credible and escape the subjectivity.

The implication of this research should mostly concern marketing professionals as the data gathered provides interesting insights about the Social media environment in the UK. Nevertheless, it gives an opportunity for other academic researchers to adapt or verify the presented theories in different marketing backgrounds.

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Further reading

Giedrius Ivanauskas © Social Media Citizens – http://www.smcitizens.com/

Biegel, B. (2008) ―The Megatrends: What to expect in direct and interactive marketing in 2010‖, Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, VOL.9 NO.2 PP 122–133. Burnett, J and Hutton, R., B. (2007), ―New consumers need new brands‖, Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 16/5, pp 342–347. Bruce, H. (1999) ―Perceptions of the Internet: what people think when they search the Internet for information‖, Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp 187–199. Cova, B., Pace, D.J. and Park, D.J. (2007), ―Global brand communities across borders:the Warhammer case‖, International Marketing Review, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 313-29. Fang, E., Palmatier, R., W. and Evans, K., R. (2007), ―Influence of customer participation on creating and sharing of new product value‖, Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 36, pp 322336. Ferguson, R. (2008), ―Word of mouth and viral marketing: taking the temperature of the hottest trends in marketing‖, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25/3, pp 179–182. Goodfellow, T. (2007), ―The blog as a high-impact institutional communication tool‖, The Electronic Library, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 395-400. Bughin, J. (2008) ―The rise of enterprise 2.0‖, Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, Vol. 9, pp 251 – 259. Pace, S. (2008), ―YouTube: an opportunity for consumer narrative analysis?‖, An International Journal, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 213-226 Lee, T. (2005), ―The impact of perceptions of interactivity on customer trust and transaction intentions in mobile commerce‖, Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, Vol. 6, No.3, pp 165-180. Mason, R., B. (2008), ―Word of mouth as a promotional tool for turbulent markets‖, Journal of Marketing Communications, Vol. 14:3, pp 207 – 224. Ko, H. (2008), ―Exploring individual communication power in the blogosphere‖, Internet Research, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 541-561. Mitchell, A. and Henderson, I. (2005) ―The Next big thing?‖, Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, Vol. 7, pp 8 – 17. Schmidt, J. (2007), ―Blogging Practices: An Analytical Framework‖, Journal of ComputerMediated Communication, Vol.12, pp 1409–1427.

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Wright, D., K. and Hinson, M., D. (2008), ―How Blogs and Social Media are Changing Public Relations and the Way it is Practiced‖, Public Relations Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2.

Appendixes

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