You are on page 1of 16

Social Media Usage in Brand Marketing

A research study conducted at UNC-Chapel Hill

JOMC 279 | Section 002 Professor Hester April 6, 2012 Group 3

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

Executive Summary
Nearly 88% of college students are active Facebook users and 25% are active Twitter users. The growing social media craze has taken over the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus as students are becoming more and more active on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They are using Facebook and Twitter not only for social networking, but also to receive news updates and information from companies. Our team was interested in learning more about students’ behavior on social media sites. Specifically, we wanted to learn how and why students interact with brands on Facebook and Twitter. Our study, which conducted during the Spring 2012 semester as part of the Advertising and Public Relations Research course at UNCChapel Hill, allowed us to determine Chapel Hill students’ social media habits.

The Group

From left to right: Gabi Browne, Paige Warmus, Sabrina Husain, Rahel Gebremeskel, and Charlotte Steddum

Contact
Rahel Gebremeskel UNC 2013 | School of Journalism and Mass Communication RahelG91@live.unc.edu | 252.414.2493

1

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

Purpose of the Study
Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly popular with students at UNC-Chapel Hill in order to maintain personal relationships as well as receive constant news updates. Research by Mashable Business indicates that the top reasons why Facebook and Twitter users follow or like brands are the following: service, support or product news; interesting or entertaining content; special offers and deals. The purpose of this study is to determine if students at UNC-Chapel Hill follow or like brands on Twitter or Facebook, and if they do, which brands are the most popular and for what reasons. For the purpose of our study, we utilized the American Marketing Association definition of a brand as a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those other sellers.

Research Methods
The first step in our study was to conduct a review of all relevant published literature. The goal of the literature review was to gain insight into the reasons why people, specifically college-aged students, use social media sites, and how those students interact with brands. Our research suggested that social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have the potential for brand involvement, discussion and marketing. Companies that use social media marketing hope to influence social communication by fostering new relationships with their consumers. Following an extensive analysis of our research, our team developed a survey that was distributed to college-students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, asking questions that would gauge (A) usage of social media sites (B) brand interactions via social media and (C) incentives for brand interaction. 117 surveys were collected by a convenience sample; surveys were sent out via UNC email listservs. See appendix for complete survey data.

2

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

Literature Review
Twitter has evolved from a social networking site to a constantly-updating source of information. In addition to friends, users of Twitter follow the accounts of companies like Nike or Old Spice. For our project we hope to ask students at UNC via survey to rank their top five company accounts to follow on Twitter and explain their motives for following. The Mashable Business infograph shows that the top reasons why Facebook and Twitter users follow or “like” brands are the following: service, support or product news; interesting or entertaining content; and special offers and deals. These brands give incentives to users to follow or “like” their pages in order to receive free giveaways and prizes or get promotional codes. In fact, a study by Chadwin Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that people are 67percent more likely to purchase products from brands they follow on twitter and 51percent more likely to do so if they “like” a brand on Facebook. Following or “liking” a brand on Facebook or Twitter can ultimately lead to people considering the brand when in the market for the product, buying the product or service from the brand or recommending the brand to others. 97.09 percent of respondents in the Mashable Business infograph study reported that an online experience influenced whether or on he or she bought a product or service from a brand. Launched on July 13, 2006, Twitter is a microblogging service that allows users to update a network of followers from a variety of devices. Twitter has grown considerably since its launch in 2006; today “13 percent of online adults use Twitter and half of Twitter users access the service on a cell phone.” (Pew Research, 2011). As a microblogging service, Twitter has potential for brand involvement and discussion. Currently, 19 percent of tweets contain a mention of a brand. And of the tweets that mention a brand, nearly 20 percent contain some expression of brand sentiments. Of these, more than 50 percent were positive and 33 percent were critical of a company or product (Chowdury, Jansen, Sobel, & Zhang, 2009). Twitter has huge potential for positive (and negative) word of mouth, which is a major component in customer buying decisions. Companies that use twitter can hope to influence social communication by “fostering new

3

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

relationships in the commercial sector, specifically, in gauging marketplace reactions (i.e., sentiment), external communication (i.e., information providing), and gathering marketplace information (i.e., information seeking). Twitter can be useful for companies to monitor discussion about their brand identity, because 80 percent of tweets mentioning a brand express no sentiment. This suggests that people are “seeking information, asking questions, and answering questions about brands.” (Chowdury, Jansen, Sobel, & Zhang, 2009). Twitter allows companies to monitor their consumer’s perceptions of a brand more closely than they could before. Twitter has emerged as the “latest evolution of the alwaysaccessible technology of the past few years.” (Washington Post, 2007). Twitter is easy for users because it requires 20 seconds for a quick thought, rather than 20 minutes for a blog post. Twitter may appear to critics as “a disorganized collection of random thoughts,” but it has forever changed the way we use social media. Companies that successfully integrate twitter into their marketing and branding strategy can more successfully monitor brand community discussions and push information to consumers. Ordinary people use Twitter for a variety of reasons. Zhao and Rosson categorized these motivations for using the micro-blogging world into ten distinct categories through their exploratory research (Zhao & Rosson, 2009). The semistructured interview based research 11 participants (7 men and 4 women). Questions were based off two primary sets of questions including people’s current microblogging usage and their experiences microblogging with co-workers and subsequent effects on their collaborative work. The interview questions dealt with both information sender and receiver perspectives and also asked more generally about people’s perceptions of microblogs in comparison to other social media (Zhao & Rosson, 2009). Findings from the study revealed reasons for using Twitter boiled down into ten entities: frequent brief updates about personal life activities, real-time information, people-based RSS feed, brevity of information, mobility and pervasive access, broadcast nature, person perception, common ground, connectedness, and work-relevant information sharing and expertise seeking. In sum, ordinary people like Twitter for its

4

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

ease and brevity of use in staying connected with friends and news updates (Zhao & Rosson, 2009). Possible implications from the research include the notion that microblogging may help colleagues know each other better as persons, in addition to professional relationships. The reasoning behind this is that staying aware of small details about others’ personal lives, interests, and current moods is grounds for creating opportunities to exchange acknowledgements and social support, generating common ground and a general sense of connectedness. One study that will be useful in evaluating Twitter usage among college students is “Teens and Social Media” from Pew Internet and the American Life Project. The study, which examines how teens and young adults communicate, was performed using focus groups and surveys. Several of the study’s results are relevant to our project. In particular, the study shows that Twitter is more popular with adults who are 18-24 than teens ages 12-17. This is the college-aged group that are targeting in our project. The study also shows that 70 percent of Generation Y (adults ages 18-31) use social media sites and 18 percent use Twitter (Lenhard, 2009). This supports our idea that college students are active on Twitter and interested in interacting with brands. Another study that is relevant to our project is “Why we twitter: understanding microblogging and communities.” The 2009 study examined the topographical and geographical properties of the social network in Twitter. The study found that people primarily use microblogging systems like Twitter to talk about their daily activities and to seek or share information (Java, 2007). According to the study, users with similar intentions connect with each other. There are seven major user intentions on Twitter: daily chatter, communication, sharing information/ URLs, reporting news, following information sources, connecting with friends, and seeking information. This study is useful in determining how and why people use Twitter. “Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope” also examines the driving factors in Twitter usage found that people will be more interested in interacting with brands if brands reciprocate their attention. It is expected that by 2013, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter will

5

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

reach 164.2 million of U.S. Internet Users (Williamson, 2011). With such immense growth in social networking services, it is crucial that we begin to understand how SNS’ such as Twitter and Facebook are changing people’s online conversation, interpersonal relationships and communicative outcomes. Tracking this behavior can help determine how effective consumer-brand interactions in SNS are and, ultimately, what the effects on online and offline consumer behavior are (Bagozzi and Dholakia 2006; Brown, Broderick, and Lee 2007; McWilliam 2000; Taylor, Lewin, and Strutton 2011). Nearly 88 percent of college students are active Facebook users and 25 percent are active Twitter users. So why exactly do students use social media networking sites? According to a research study conducted by Kim and Lee, college students use Twitter for six main reasons: entertainment, passing time, social interaction, information seeking, information providing and professional advancement (2010). Both Facebook and Twitter also provide a huge platform that allows college students—the consumers—to connect with brands or businesses. More than half of college students follow or “like” a brand on Facebook and 16 percent follow brands on Twitter. One in two students follows a brand’s social networking page to monitor and take advantage of special offers. It is expected that by 2013, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter will reach 164.2 million of U.S. Internet Users (Williamson, 2011). With such immense growth in social networking services, it is crucial that we begin to understand how social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are changing people’s online conversation, interpersonal relationships and communicative outcomes. Tracking this behavior can help determine how effective consumer-brand interactions in SNS are and, ultimately, what the effects on online and offline consumer behavior are (Bagozzi and Dholakia 2006; Brown, Broderick, and Lee 2007; McWilliam 2000; Taylor, Lewin, and Strutton 2011). As a microblogging service, Twitter has enormous potential for brand involvement and discussion. Currently, 19 percent of tweets contain a mention of a brand. And of the tweets that mention a brand, nearly 20 percent contain some expression of brand sentiments. Of these, more than 50 percent were positive and 33 percent were critical of a company or product

6

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

(Chowdury, Jansen, Sobel, & Zhang, 2009). Twitter has great potential for positive (and negative) word of mouth, which is a major component in customer buying decisions. Companies that use Twitter can hope to influence social communication by “fostering new relationships in the commercial sector, specifically, in gauging marketplace reactions (i.e., sentiment), external communication (i.e., information providing), and gathering marketplace information (i.e., information seeking). (Chowdury, Jansen, Sobel, & Zhang, 2009). Twitter can be useful for companies to monitor discussion about their brand identity, because 80 percent of tweets mentioning a brand express no sentiment. This suggests that people are “seeking information, asking questions, and answering questions about brands.” (Chowdury, Jansen, Sobel, & Zhang, 2009). Twitter allows companies to monitor their consumer’s perceptions of a brand more closely than they could before. Our research study will take a closer look at the professional accounts that college students at UNC-Chapel Hill follow. We are interested in learning why students follow certain brands, and what the incentives are for following these brands. Although Twitter and Facebook are relatively young, plenty of research has been conducted about all aspects of these social media sites. We've explored the research related to our study and compiled studies of demographic information, the common uses of Twitter and Facebook, and using Twitter and Facebook as professional tools for business.

7

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

General Research Questions and Overall Rationale of the Research Project
The goal of the research was to determine if students at UNCChapel Hill follow or like brands on Twitter or Facebook, and if they do, which brands are the most popular and for what reasons. The literature prompted the following research questions regarding the attitudes, awareness and behaviors of these students. RQ1: Do students at UNC-Chapel Hill use Facebook and/or Twitter? RQ2: What brands are most followed or liked on Twitter and Facebook by students at UNC-Chapel Hill? The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those other sellers. RQ3: What are the incentives for students to follow or like brands on Twitter and Facebook?

Results
Based on the secondary research conducted, our research team decided to conduct a 14-question survey to collect data regarding UNC-CH students’ social media usage. The survey examined why college students follow brands on Twitter or “like” brands on Facebook. The survey was conducted over a two week period in March 2012. The survey was created using Qualtrics and administered online. We surveyed 117 UNC-Chapel Hill students ranging in age from 18-23. The sampling frame included students from all grade levels. Students were selected to participate in the survey by convenience sampling--the survey was e-mailed across class, Greek, athletic, and extracurricular listservs. Our respondents were 76 percent female, 24 percent male. This, perhaps, is a reflection of the gender distribution at UNCChapel Hill--59 percent of the freshman class from 2010 was female. To gain an understanding of our target’s Facebook and Twitter activity level, we included a general assessment of social media usage in our survey. The respondents

8

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

overwhelmingly use both Twitter and Facebook (79 percent of total respondents), though 35 percent answered that they only used Facebook. Our research showed that UNC-Chapel Hill students are more often logged on to Facebook than Twitter. Eighty-eight percent of respondents use Facebook daily, while only 47 percent of respondents use Twitter daily. Q5: How often do you use Facebook?

Q6: How often do you use Twitter?

When asked about brand involvement on Facebook and Twitter, 57 percent of participants said they ‘like’ brands on Facebook, while 44 percent said they follow brands on Twitter. Of participants that do like or follow brands on Facebook and Twitter, most respondents liked or followed 15 brands.

9

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

Q8: How many brands to you like on Facebook?

Q9: How many brands do you follow on Twitter?

We found that UNC-Chapel Hill students are most interested in following music (30 percent), news (29 percent), sports (18 percent) and television brands (14 percent). They were most interested in following these brands for the news and information, entertainment purposes, and for coupons and specials. The top three brands students like or follow on Facebook and Twitter are ESPN, CNN and various Carolinarelated brands. Many respondents also listed a retail store, though there was variety in the specific store listed.

10

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

Conclusion
Based on our literature review, our research team concluded that Facebook and Twitter and becoming increasingly popular social media tools and that people are using these sites not only to connect with friends, but also to receive constant updates from brands. The literature suggested that the top reasons why Facebook and Twitter users follow or like brands are the following: service, support or product news; interesting or entertaining content; special offers and deals. Our primary research led us to believe that the majority of students at UNC-Chapel Hill do use the social media sites of Facebook and Twitter. In addition, our research indicates that Facebook is more popular among UNC-Chapel Hill students. There are a larger number of students that “like” brands on Facebook than follow brands on Twitter. Sports and news brands were most popular among the students in our sample, and the primary reasons students follow these brands are for news and information, entertainment purposes, and for coupons and specials. ESPN, CNN and various Carolina-related brands were the top three brands that UNC-Chapel Hill students follow; however, there was not an overwhelming favorite. Only a few votes separated these three brands from the other favorite brands named by survey participants. Our research had several limitations. More research should be conducted to determine whether our results are representative of the entire student population at UNCChapel Hill and representative of college students as a whole. Our team did not have the sampling frame of our target population necessary to conduct a stratified random sample. Instead, we did a convenience sample and used quota sampling from within this sample. We cannot prove causality. In addition, women were more heavily represented in our sample than men. 76percent of survey participants were women, while only 24percent were men. These figures are not representative of the actual female-to-male ratio at UNCChapel Hill.

11

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Contents
Summary Group Contact Info. Purpose Methods Literature Review Research Questions Results Conclusion Recommendations References Appendix 11 12 13 14 3 8 2 1

Recommendations
UNC-Chapel Hill is a representative group of the millennial generation, which uses social media such as Twitter and Facebook on daily basis and for a variety of reasons. Companies that want to promote their brand in a way effective enough to reach such a fast-paced, digital population should be aware of the habits of this millennial generation, especially in regard to social media. Brands should keep up with the fast-paced generation by updating their websites (e.g., tweets) as often as new information is available. The number one reason students like/follow a brand is for news and information. Forty percent of students use Twitter on a daily basis and thirteen percent use it 2-3 times a week. With new streams of information coming in continuously, it is important for a brand to keep up with the pace and not get lost in all of the other streams of information. Moreover, news and music were the top brands students were interested in liking/following. Music and news companies should especially have an engaging presence on social media sites. These recommendations are attainable and easy to implement. Based off of our research, these proposals should help brands more effectively use their resources to reach target audiences for brand awareness and promotion.

12

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

References
Bryant, Shannon. "U.S. College Students Wield $417B in Spending Power: Marketing Forecast from Ad-ology." <http://www.marketingforecast.com/archives/16062>. Chowdury, A., Sobel, K., Jansen, B., Zhang, M. 2009. Twitter Power: Tweets as electronic word of mouth. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60 (11), 2169-2188. Diaz, Sam. (2007, June 9). Life, in Little Chirps. The Washington Post. Retrieved from <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/ 08/AR2007060802614.html>. Gulasy, Lisa. "Why You Should Follow Your Favorite Brands on Twitter: Saving on a Shoestring Budget." <http://savingonashoestringbudget.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/ follow-brands-on-twitter/>. Huberman, B., Romero, D. and Wu, F. 2008. Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope. Social Computing Lab, HP Laboratories. <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1313405>. Java, A., Song, X., Finin, T. and Tseng, B. 2007. Why we Twitter: understanding microblogging and communities. University of Maryland, NEC Laboratories America. <http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1348556>. Keane, Meghan. "Study: People Who Follow Brands in Social Media Are Much More Likely to Shop with Them in the Real World” Econsultancy: Become a Smarter Digital Marketer. <http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/5609-study-twitter-and-facebookboost-sales>. Lenhard, Amanda. 2009. Teens and Social Media: An Overview. Pew Internet & American Life Project. <http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=11549689133190204506 &hl=en&as_sdt=0,34>. Lin, Jhih-Syuan, and Peña, Jorge, 2011. "Are You Following Me? A Content Analysis of TV Networks' Brand Communication on Twitter. Journal of Interactive Advertising. <http://jiad.org/article150>. Rosson, Mary Beth & Zhao, Dejin, 2009. How and why people use twitter: the role that microblogging plays in informational communication at work. ACM Digital Library. Smith, Aaron. Twitter Update 2011. 2011. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from <http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2007/twitter-users-cell-phone-2011demographics>

13

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Appendix
Q1: What is your age? (free response) Q2: What is your gender? Male Female Q3: Do you attend UNC-Chapel Hill? Yes No Q4: What types of social media do you use? Facebook Twitter Both Facebook and Twitter Q5: How often do you use Facebook? Never Less than once a month Once a month 2-3 times a month Once a week 2-3 times a week Daily Q6: How often do you use Twitter? Never Less than once a month Once a month 2-3 times a month Once a week 2-3 times a week Daily

24% 76% St.Dev. = 0.43 100% 0% 31% 3% 70% 0% 1% 0% 0% 3% 8% 89% St.Dev. = 0.61

27% 3% 1% 4% 5% 13% 48% St.Dev. = 2.58 Q7: Do you “like” brands on Facebook? (AMA definition of a brand provided) Yes 57% No 43% St.Dev. = 0.50 Q8: If so, how many brands to you “like” on Facebook? 1-5 38% 5-10 16% 10-15 7% 15 or more 4% I don’t like brands on Facebook 35% St.Dev. = 1.76

14

JOMC 279.002 | Group 3

Q9: Do you follow brands on Twitter? Yes No

44% 56% St.Dev. = 0.50 Q10: If so, how many brands do you follow on Twitter? 1-5 23% 5-10 9% 10-15 9% 15 or more 7% I don’t follow brands on Twitter 51% St.Dev. = 1.70 Q11: What types of brands are you most interested in following/liking? Music 30% Sports 18% Television 14% Technology 3% News 30% Government 6% St.Dev. = 1.78 Q12: Why do you like/follow brands? News & Information 75% Coupons & Specials 46% Job/Internship Opportunities & Postings 30% Entertainment 58% Brand Loyalty 24% Interaction 11% Q13: What is your favorite brand to follow/like? (Free response) Q14: Why do you follow/like that brand? News and Information 50% Coupons & Specials 17% Job/Internship Opportunities and Postings 1% Entertainment 18% Interaction 1% Brand Loyalty 9% Other 3% (free response) St.Dev. = 1.87

15