Espacios. Vol. 37 (Nº 27) Año 2016. Pág. 17
Caroline Cronemberg CAIXETA 1; Antonio NASCIMENTO Junior 2; Alexandre Maduro ABREU 3
Recibido: 12/05/16 • Aprobado: 28/05/2016
2. Review of the literature
3. Methods and scientific procedures
4. Results and discussion
5. Conclusions and recommendations
The present work analyzes a medium that is increasingly present in the daily lives of people: social media. Besides the people, companies are increasingly taking advantage of this new trend of communication and this study aims to identify the impact of social media in strengthening brands. For this a questionnaire was applied to students of Management at the University of Brasilia, young people who were born in the Digital Age. The goal was to learn more about the buying behavior of this population in relation to the use of media. As a result of the research we had that Facebook is the largest social media impact on interaction with brands, social media influence at the time of purchase and are an important means for the brand to interact and communicate with their consumers, so the assumption was valid and it was possible to conclude that social media help to strengthen brands.
El presente trabajo analiza un medio que está cada vez más presente en la vida diaria de la gente: las redes sociales. Además de las personas, las empresas están aprovechando cada vez más de esta nueva tendencia de la comunicación y este estudio tiene como objetivo identificar el impacto de los medios sociales en el fortalecimiento de las marcas. Para ello se aplicó un cuestionario a los estudiantes de Gestión de la Universidad de Brasilia, los jóvenes que nacieron en la era digital. El objetivo era aprender más sobre el comportamiento de compra de esta población en relación con el uso de medios de comunicación. Como resultado de la investigación que teníamos que Facebook es el mayor impacto social media en la interacción con las marcas, influencia de los medios sociales en el momento de la compra y son un medio importante para la marca de interactuar y comunicarse con sus consumidores, por lo que la hipótesis es válida y era posible llegar a la conclusión de que la ayuda de medios sociales para fortalecer las marcas.
Nowadays, the social media are part of most people’ lives, especially youngsters. In spite of being something new, their utilization has been growing and having a big impact on people’s behaviors. This impact may happen through several ways and one of them is on consumers’ purchase process. The social media are strong and can influence on people’s purchase choices more and more. The communication made on the Internet between brand and consumer is increasingly more strategic in institutional communication. The organizations must be aware of these changes and act in order to take advantage of this great trend. A recent study of the consultancy company Deloitte (2010) shows that 52% of businessmen consider social media important to the business and 86% of them affirm that this importance will grow in the next years.
In the 60s, there was an advance in the semi-conductors; in the 80s, the advance was for personal computers; in the 90s, the Internet browsers sprang; and in the early 2000, there was the great outbreak of the social media. The Web 2.0 has changed the consumer’s behavior and the social media became even more relevant. If Facebook was a nation, it would be the third greatest population of the world, with more than 350 million users (The Economist, 2010), which gives us an indication of its power.
The social media are a current phenomenon, but its understanding is still vague, due to difficulties presented in the measurement of its results (ROCHA ET AL, 2011). They are not explored enough yet, but the companies which explore it reach amazing results.
The companies create and enhance their brands through different means, online and offline. The offline means are already used often, but the enhancement of the brand by online means is still a differential of modern companies. Kotler (2010) says that in order for an enterprise to succeed, it is necessary to understand that consumers have changed and, nowadays, appreciate co-creation and the development of the company’s personality each day more. In other words, the current consumer is much more present and demands a greater interaction and identification with the brands they use and the social media are being considered a great way to do that.
Social media and brand strengthening are subjects of highlight in this article. The article aims at analyzing the impact of Facebook on the strengthening of brands, considering its great presence in its users’ lives. In order to reach this objective, questionnaires have been applied to students of Business Management in the University of Brasilia, more specifically to members of the junior enterprise of the course, so it would be possible to analyze the behavior of the population regarding the use of social media. Another relevant aspect of this research is to identify whether Facebook influences or not when a user wants to purchase something and if it influences the knowledge a consumer has about the brands. The central question of this article was about the extent of social media’s influence in the perception of brands by consumers.
The Digital Marketing is a new theme and its utilization by the companies is presented as a great tendency in today’s world. In order to properly approach this theme, it is necessary to initially conceptualize and understand the evolution of Marketing as a study field. Kotler and Keller (2006) highlight that Marketing involves the identification and fulfillment of human and social needs in a lucrative way to the enterprises. The website of the American Marketing Association (2001) defines Marketing in a broader manner, even though it is really valid, in which all clients of the company are not only the ones who consume its products, but everyone who is affected by the company, including the society. For AMA, marketing is the activity, group of institutions and processes to create, communicate, deliver and exchange products that have value to its clients, a.k.a, consumers, partners and society in general.
Peter Drucker (2002) says that the Marketing field is essential to the establishment of objectives and acquirement of results and that it is through performance and contribution of Marketing that the client decides its purchase.
The society of information, also known as digital age, is characterized by the online interactivity (KOTLER; KELLER, 2006). According to the authors, the enterprises need a new business and marketing mentality to successfully act on the Digital Age.
The outbreak of the Internet was not a simple disruptive innovation, but it was practically the embodiment of a biblical concept of we all becoming one (ADOLPHO, 2011). This happens because the Internet brought with it the reduction of distance, approximation between people and, as a result, approximation between company and client.
The client is not satisfied only by going to the store and purchasing something. They research about the product on the Internet, consult old consumers, want to help in the creation of the content and the product, among other common behaviors of the new online consumer. The digital media has brought clients and companies closer, more present on its daily routine. Kotler and Keller (2006) say that clients, these days, appreciate the co-creation, communication and development of the brand’s personality and the organizations should be aware of this in order to succeed.
There are many changes and stratifications of the traditional Marketing, and this new type of marketing deserves attention of all the enterprises which wish to survive and prosper in a digital world.
The Internet has provided interaction and proximity between people, regardless of time and place. The social networks were an explosion in terms of popularity and their websites are figuring among the most visited in the world, and it is no longer only a manner of getting in touch (DIAS ET AL, 2012). Nonetheless, nowadays most enterprises still use Internet tools only with the objective of promoting their brand and products, making them a unilateral channel of communication and missing the opportunity of creating relationships, using clients to co-create their products or services (LEITE ET AL, 2012) and strengthening their brand with affective features. The enterprises are still learning that the social media are also a business tool.
Currently, the social media allow companies to get relevant and strategic information about their target public, in addition to being a free channel of communication with them.
Facebook is the most relevant tool of study inserted in the virtual environment. Its communication is fluid, visual and almost instantaneous, making communication easier than in other social networks (TELLES, 2011).
Still in accordance to Telles (2001), Facebook has resources that facilitate the dissemination of information, such as the possibility to “like” and “share”. Adolpho (2011) states that the organizations should not use Facebook only as a marketing tool, once it is a tool created for social purposes. However, it does not mean that this relationship cannot result in tangible earnings; nevertheless, the enterprises must promote themselves in a subtle manner. The Facebook ideology is not the brand, but it is the friendship. This tool frees up three forms of integration: profile, fan page and groups. The profiles are suitable for people and the fan pages for brands and companies. There are also several indicators on Facebook that gives information such as the degree of interactivity of the page with its fans and who the people liking your page are. Through Facebook it is also possible to perform several marketing actions (ADOPLHO, 2011).
In Brazil, there are 66,552,420 users on Facebook with a penetration of 33.09% of the total Brazilian population, being the second country with the biggest number of users in the world. And the number of Brazilian users keeps growing: it increased more than 11,118,000 in the last six months. (Source: http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/brazil)
The brand as an idea has been real for at least five thousand years. However, its highlight in the role of conquering a clientele came with the Industrial Revolution, period that demanded the search for new markets and increase of the competition (SOUZA, LEÃO, 2012). The American Marketing Association defines brand as being a term, sign or symbol – or a combination of them -, destined to identify the products of a supplier and differentiate it from other competitors. To Kotler and Keller (2006), a brand is a product or service that aggregates dimensions that, somehow, differentiates it from other products or services developed to meet the same need.
It is possible to observe similarity between the concepts regarding the differentiation. Both authors mentioned brand as an important element for the enterprise to be different before its competitors in the market. To Kotler and Keller (2006), the process of strategic management of the brand involves four main steps:
As we can see, brands need management and attention. The brands demand time to be constructed and enhanced, and also demand time and effort to be managed.
One of the changes in the administration of Marketing proposed by Kotler and Keller (2006) is the change in the construction of brands through traditional propagandas for the construction of brands through integrated communication.
With this change, the Marketing professionals are giving up on relying on only one communication tool, such as the propaganda and sales force, and starting to mix several tools to deliver a consistent brand image to the clients in each one of the contact fronts. It is in this context that the social media are presented as a current tool able to play this part of communicating and building relationships.
To Kotler and Keller (2006), branding has been real for centuries as a way of distinguishing the products of a manufacturer from the others. And in order to put a brand on a product, it is necessary to teach consumers ‘who’ is the product, as well as ‘what’ it is and ‘why’ the consumer should be interested in it. Branding regards the creation of mental structures and helps the consumer to organize its knowledge about products and services, in a way that they are able to make a more informed decision. The brand is not only a symbol, a name, a logo and drawing; it constitutes only material signs, which will be empty until the brand builds its history, its principles and other factors that identify it with its consumers (SOUZA, LEÃO, 2012). This makes the enterprise to tell its history to its consumer aiming at creating an identification of the consumer with the brand.
From the studies presented in this article, we may realize that Facebook is currently a tool of high reach and it is being used by many consumers and enterprises. However, no one knows what will happen and if this tool will keep growing its number of users for good. It is possible that another kind of social media calls the attention of users and they migrate to it. Nonetheless, something is right: the interaction between brand and consumer through these social networks will not step back, considering the great success achieved by several enterprises and the presence of social media in the 21st century consumers’ lives. Consequently, virtual environment represents new management and strategic challenges for enterprises.
The main objective of the descriptive research of this paper is to describe the characteristics of business management students of the University of Brasilia’s behavior regarding social media e brands. The technique used in this research will be survey. It is recommended in this case, as we are investigating punctual questions in a large sample. Gil (1999) states that through surveys, a direct question is asked to the people – who, in this case, are Business Management students. The data collection will be performed through a questionnaire and after that, the results will be interpreted before statistical analysis, with the software SPSS. The sample was composed by students of Business Management of the University of Brasilia, members of the Junior Enterprise. According to the website of the University of Brasilia, the course has 1000 students in the daytime and nocturnal periods. AD&M has an average of 60 members every semester. For the sample, we will use 5% of this population (students of Business Management of UnB), that means 50 students. The questionnaire used was a printed structured one. The questionnaires printed will be filled out by the students during their work time in the junior enterprise.
The findings of the research will be presented through graphs that were generated from the results of each question asked in the questionnaire. The objective was to identify how young university students interact with the brands through social media, in order to validate the hypothesis that social media – especially Facebook – are a relevant means for the enhancement of brands. The data were tabulated and treated in the software SPSS and the graphs were made on Excel. Frequency analysis in every question of the questionnaire and some cross-checks between questions were performed.
The research was performed by single youngsters of both genders, students of several different periods of the University of Brasilia and members of the Junior Enterprise of the Business Management course. This public was chosen due to its familiarity with social media and enterprises.
From the answer to the question “How often do you access social media?” we could conclude that young university students are really assiduous consumers of social media, since 82% of the interviewees alleged to use them all the time.
It is possible to observe that, in reference to the second question of the questionnaire, almost 100% of the young students classify the media as something important or very important. Considering that, we may prove the extent to which social media are a part of their lives.
As Dias (2012) defends, the social media are very popular nowadays and are no longer only a manner of keeping in touch with people; they become important in several other aspects, as highlighted in the outcomes of question number 3 of the questionnaire “What is the importance of the social media in the following aspects to you?” and different aspects were mentioned to be judged as: not important, a little important, important or very important. All the items mentioned in the survey presented some degree of importance to the interviewees; however, to most of them, the social media have a greater importance regarding the interaction among friends, as none of the youngsters disagreed on the importance of this aspect. “Research and Current Events” was also an important item to the users, as we can see on graph 8, in which 44% of the young students classified as important and 44% as very important. Freedom of speech was a well valued item, in which 44% of the interviewees considered important and 38% very important. In the item “Interaction with enterprises”, 72% of the students classified it as important or very important, which show us that social media are being faced as an important means of communication to enterprises more and more, despite its main objective – interaction among friends.
Another aspect that starts to become important to the users is shopping. In this item, 44% of people considered it somehow important and 56% did not. As the acting of enterprises on the social media is a novelty, “Shopping” is still something that is not present in the reality of most interviewees and the interaction with brands in the media ends up being subtler and with a more informative character, as Conrado Adolpho (2011) stated earlier in this paper. Meeting new people was an aspect which divided the opinion of the youngsters. 56% of them did not consider it important, while 54% did (graph 12). This happens because the social media are seen nowadays as a way of keeping in touch with your friends rather than making new friends, as evidenced on the survey. “Leisure and Entertainment” presented a high level of importance to the youngsters in the social media. 13,88% considered this topic important. “Work and networking” was also seen as important, 50% considered them important and 38% very important.
In the fourth question, the frequency with which people use each one of the social media was questioned. From the frequency data of Facebook use, we may realize that 100% of the interviewees have a Facebook profile and 80% of them used it all the time, showing a great advantage before other media. The results agree with the affirmation of Telles (2011), who says Facebook is the most relevant tool of study inserted in the virtual environment.
Instagram demonstrated potential, as it is a new medium and 66% of the students had already had some contact with it. Because it is a recent medium, its results may be considered expressive, and it is a medium that should be monitored by brands, since it could be a high reach tool in the future.
Twitter presented low reach because only 6% use it often and 66% have never used it. It is not considered an expressive medium for the communication of brands, in general. Linkedin also presented low reach on this young population, as it is a social medium focused on the professional aspect, still not prioritized by youngsters in this moment of their course. 84% of them have never used it. Foursquare also figured as a medium not well-known by the youngsters: 84% of them have never used it and only 16% use it rarely or sometimes. Foursquare is a social medium that can present advantages, for instance, for restaurants and an older and more sophisticated target-public. It is not a medium with a great power of reach, though.
As it has been mentioned in the theoretical reference, the Internet has brought with it the reduction of distances, approximation of people, and consequently, the approximation between enterprise and client. To prove this interaction, before the fourth question “Are you use to interact (like pages, follow, comment, share…) with any brand/enterprise in the social media?”, most people alleged to have the habit of interacting, which enhances our hypothesis of these media being a great means to strengthen brands in the consumer’s mind. From the 26% who alleged not to interact, six of them alleged lack of interest, two did not find out brands of interest in social media, one alleged lack of time, two do not enjoy this kind of Marketing and the last two do not see benefits in interacting.
When responding to question number 5 “What is the reason why you interact with brands in social media?” most youngsters pointed out as a motive obtaining information, knowing about promotions and the sector. Therefore, we may infer that social media are good platforms of communication of brands to their consumers, and not so much of interaction, once only 12% alleged to talk and clear doubts with the brands.
As well as André Telles (2009) has stated, consumers nowadays are influencers and multipliers of digital platforms. When answering to the question “Have you already bought a product influenced by your communication in social media?”, 70% of the youngsters answered yes, admitting they are influenced by the media; answering to the question “Have you already bought or given up on a purchase influenced by recommendations or complaints made by users of social media?”, 86% also answered yes. Thus, some people end up being influenced by its medium on an unconscious level. Another important analysis is that when people responded to the question “Do you use to research about any brand on social media before buying something?” only 46% of the interviewees alleged to go to the media in order to research about a purchase; even though most people do not seek for it, they end up being influenced by comments made by users.
Other important questions were “What is the degree of influence of recommendations made by users in the media when you shop?” and “What is the degree of influence of complaints made by users in the media when you shop?”. Respectively, we may realize that complaints and recommendations made in the social media have a great power on the consumer’s decision of purchase. The complaints have even more influence than the recommendations. That shows us how important the presence of the brands in this environment is, so they can monitor and act on the possible complaints. Kotler and Keller (2006) used to say that the new online consumer researches about the product on the Internet and consults old consumers. The digital media has made consumers become closer to opinions about enterprises and as social media grow, consumers can influence other consumers with their opinions and experience more and more.
One more time we prove the power of Facebook when it comes to interaction between users and brands. When answering to the question “In which social media mentioned do you have more contact with brands?” 92% alleged to have contact with brands through Facebook. When they answered the question “Have you ever increased your knowledge about any brand through social media?”, 68% of the interviewees alleged to have increased their knowledge, which contributes to the hypothesis that social media strengthen brands. The brands mentioned by the students in the open question below were very diverse in size and sector. The most mentioned were Apple, Nike and Adidas. The recommendations keep being what most influences when purchasing something, because as it was explained in the theoretical reference, they generate more confidence in the consumer than traditional propaganda. It has been proved by graph 29, regarding the question “Among the media below, chose the two which influences you the most to buy a product/service”, where we can notice a decrease on traditional propaganda like newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and billboards. That shows us that traditional media are less efficient in comparison to the social media, for this young public. And one of the changes in the administration of Marketing proposed by Kotler and Keller (2006) is the change of construction of brands through traditional propaganda to the construction of brands through integrated communications.
In spite of alleging to have a great contact with brands in the social media when it comes to the question “Do you pay attention to the propaganda exhibited in the social media?” 56% of the youngsters answered they only pay attention sometimes. This shows us that this enhancement of brands is subtle; in other words, brands build a relationship with several actions in the media and not only through direct propaganda, considering that only propaganda does not have a high reach. Adolpho (2011) says that the organizations should not use Facebook only for propaganda purposes, because it is a tool created for social purposes. And Leite (2012) complements it by saying that these days most enterprises still use the Internet tools with the objective of only promoting their brands and products, making them a unilateral channel of communication, and missing the opportunity of creating relationships.
By analyzing graphs 31 and 32, referent to the questions “Dou you like enterprises’ pages on Facebook?” and “On a scale from 0 to 10, how much of the publications posted by the page brings you closer to the brand?”, respectively, we may prove one more time the high reach of Facebook to the brands, once 84% affirmed to like enterprises’ pages (Graph 31). Regarding the question about the degree of influence, it also shows us how much these publications on enterprises’ pages bring the consumer closer to the brand. About 84% of the youngsters graded above 5 on the influence of the publications of Facebook on their proximity with the brands (Graph 32).
“Has Facebook already influenced you to buy anything?” - almost half the people affirmed to be influenced by Facebook when they shop. This influence has happened in several different products and the most mentioned were: sports products, food, electronics, clothes and accessories.
As we can see in graphs 34 to 38 regarding the question “What is the degree of importance of the aspects “Values”, “Tradition/Reputation”, “Personality”, “Low price” and “Presence in media” when choosing a brand”, aspects such as values and reputation are the most valued. This means there are certain aspects that overlap the presence in the media; in other words, before the brand wants to enhance in the social media, it needs to have certain attributes which are more related to the essence of the brand, such as tradition and personality, for instance. In the option “Others”, honesty and quality were mentioned.
Kotler (2006) has highlighted that a strong brand provides some advantages of marketing, such as better perception of the performance of the product, greater fidelity, less vulnerability to marketing actions from the competitors, less vulnerability to marketing crisis, greater windows, less sensitiveness of the consumer regarding increase in prices, more sensitiveness of the consumer regarding reduction in prices, more cooperation and commercial support, more efficiency of the marketing communications, possible opportunities of licensing and additional opportunities of brand extension. The attribute “Values” presented high level of importance, with 66% of people classifying it as important or very important. The attribute “Tradition/Reputation” was considered more important than “Values”, presenting 48% of the interviewees considering it important and 46% very important (Graph 35). Martins (1997) says that reputation is something difficult, expensive and it takes a long time to be achieved, exactly because of its importance in a company. It is common to the company not to give the proper attention to it and ends up losing it, reinforcing the importance of its management and management of other attributes of a brand. The attribute “Personality” was also well evaluated, where 52% of people considered it important and 30% very important.
“Low price” was a valued attribute, as exposed on Graph 37, 48% consider it important and 38% very important. An interesting fact that we can observe is that tradition and reputation of the brand was better evaluated than low price, which means that consumers are willing to pay extra money for well-regarded brands. According to Souza and Nemer (1993), the simple variable “low price” is not the most important in the process of purchase, once brands can symbolize status and rise confidence and security in the consumers’ mind.
Presence in the media is not a strong aspect when classifying brands, in accordance to the youngsters. Graph 38 shows us that 60% of the students do not consider this attribute as important. This reveals to us that the brand must work on its essence and then go the media, because presence in the media by itself does not turn a brand valuable to its consumer.
According to Graph 39, almost 100% of the interviewees agree with the affirmation that the enterprises must be present in the social media, what shows us that they are in line with the tendencies and consider this presence important to the current market. However, regarding the affirmation about its behavior, presented in graph 40, the same importance was not identified in the same answers, since 40% of people seem to agree, 26% having no opinion about the subject and 34% disagree. We may conclude that the subject ‘social media to enterprises’ is present in their daily routine, possibly in subjects of the Business Management course, but when the issue is their own consuming habits, they are not so sure or have never reflected upon the subject.
As we can infer from Graph 41, the majority of people who interact with brands in the social medium, do it through Facebook, which shows us that this medium is still the strongest one referring to brands.
We can observe on graph 42 that most youngsters who affirmed having their knowledge increased about brands through media, also like enterprises’ pages on Facebook; from that information, we can infer that this increase of knowledge happens by publications made by the pages.
The scenario that was established in the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century is characterized by great social and economic transformations. These changes were caused by technological transformation and the accelerated process of globalization. Within this context, the communication media become very relevant, and speed and easy access are demands from the consumer. Therefore, the social media get their space and start having a direct influence in social and commercial interactions.
Although it is something recent, the use of social media is a tendency that keeps growing and affecting people’s behaviors, in relationships, purchases and enhancement of brands. The communication done on the Internet between brand and consumer is growing and the organization must be aware of these changes to act in order to take advantage of this great trend.
This paper aimed at analyzing the impact of social media, especially Facebook, on brands. The main analysis was about the use of this tool in the enhancement of the brand, having as a presupposition the growing participation of youngsters in the digital age.
A survey was carried out with business management students of the University of Brasilia and members of the junior enterprise of the course, AD&M, with the objective of collecting their perceptions about social media and identifying their purchase behavior.
The outcome of the research reveals the great use of social media by the youngsters. In the scale of frequency, it was possible to observe that 98% of them use social media very often and identify them as important. With this research, we could also observe the youngsters’ preference for Facebook, where 100% of them have a profile. Facebook is even stronger before the other social media when it comes to interaction with brands.
The interaction with brands is still incipient among the interviewees; nonetheless, the enterprises should disclose their brands in social media more and more, because the growing use of this tool may be a competitive differential for the organizations, once the consumers demonstrate to use social media to increase their knowledge about brands. The interaction with consumers must happen in an effective way, since it influences them when they shop.
The research also confirmed the hypothesis that Facebook is a great means for the enhancement of brands and boosting of sales, mainly when it comes to a young public.
It is known that Facebook is a very strong social medium; nevertheless, the focus of this paper is to identify the importance of social media in the enhancement of brands and it was identified that Facebook is the medium which better assumes this role currently. However, the digital world changes frequently, that is why the brands should not focus all of their efforts only in one medium; they should pay attention to the market trends and cannot be short-sighted (LEVITT, 1960) regarding this issue, because Orkut was once the most popular in Brazil, today it is Facebook and we do not know which one will be in the future.
The research presented limitations, but they do not invalidate it as an input to the proposed conclusions, since the conclusions were born from a deep study and were proved by the application of the questionnaires. The limitation of the research regards the collected sample, which was not representative, because we decided to select only Business Management students who are members of the junior enterprise, due to the contact they have with companies of the market, a way of guaranteeing the understanding of the questionnaire by all. The questionnaires were answered in person, to avoid setbacks and guarantee the reliability of the data.
The outcome achieved met the specific objectives of the work and contributed for the studies about Digital Marketing and its fronts.
Considering the dynamics of the media market, it is essential the constant performance of the new researches for the identification of new important media for the enhancement of brands, in addition to new researches to discover other functions of these media.
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2. Prof. Dr. Universidade de Brasilia. EMail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Prof. Dr. Universidade de Brasilia