It is believed that social media began prior to the evolution of the internet. The telephone was the first tool of social media that gave people the chance to socialize and gather information. However, at the turn of twentieth century, online communication became popular among various groups of society. People began to get into virtual communication with the use of cellular phones and computers. Social networking became popular because it was a venue to draw people towards one another. This was also very universal and its popularity was not limited to a certain age group.
Amazingly, social networking and social media “become part of mainstream culture and the business world” (“History”). It was observed that social media became very valuable not only in socializing and information gathering but also in business where there has been greater dependence on the use of internet in promoting and marketing of products and/or services. Social media has provided the modern world with easy access to information, socialization and entertainment in the fastest way possible through the advancement of technology.
Interestingly, the networks have become highly interactive and user-friendly that even a neophyte could easily learn to operate it in a short period of time. Social media has transformed into a powerful means of communication using numerous gadgets which have caught the interest of a larger number of people, the business practitioners take advantage of it to broaden the scope of their marketing. Truly, with the emergence of social media where people can communicate interactively with one another regardless of distance, business has been given a special place and opportunity to advertise or promote their business to a much bigger populace.
Most authors have recognized the definition of social media provided by Wikipedia as the initial source of information about it. Gradually, different definitions have been formulated to increase people’s awareness of its definition. Safko and Brake mentioned that social media “refers to activities, practices, and behaviors among communities of people who gather online to share information, knowledge, and opinions using conversational media” (2009: 6).
On the other hand, Evans has an expanded definition of social media. He stated that “Social media is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into content publishers. It is a “shift from a broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between authors, people, and peers…” (2008: 33). The author acknowledged various forms of communication utilized in social media such as “internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, picture and video” (2008: 33).
Later on, it expanded to include “blogs, picture-sharing, blogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, group creation and voice over IP. ” Social media has a vast potential as a channel through which promotional activities will be forwarded to its users. Social media’s unique features make it very usable and functional in marketing events. Evans stated that it is “fundamentally different from traditional media” (2008: 33) known as newspaper, television, books, and radio. Social media is interactive media.
This is one advantage of social media over traditional media. Other advantages include: (1) it has different social online channels, (2) it changes over time, and (3) it is participative. The power to influence the audience is what makes social media appealing to business practitioners. Social media is real. Existing right in front of the computer communicating genuinely in a personal way to the customer about a product is very advantageous for those who are using social media in marketing or in public relation campaign.
Given the real nature of social media, event marketing has come to its new shape. At the same time, event marketing has begun to utilize the services of social media in marketing and promotion. Though at some point, they cater to similar interests; that is, individual interaction and the participation of people with the company’s representatives. Pomer, on the issue of integrating event marketing and social media, described event marketing as a strategy “which focuses on face-to-face interaction by attending, sponsoring and speaking at trade shows, industry meet-ups, etc” (par. ). Bowdin, Allen and O’Toole described strategic event marketing as “the process by which an event organization aligns business and marketing objectives and the environments in which they occur, with marketing activities that fulfill the needs of event consumers” (2006:184). Event marketing has come to its new shape through social media influence No one could deny how social media, being a vehicle of information and communication, has transformed event marketing into a more meaningful and highly strategic promotional activity.
In Bulmer’s article on the impact of social media on business, he stated that the trend today is to “build a network or use social media to deepen customer intimacy” (par. 1). Social media has been used these days without acknowledging this fact as Bulmer put it. He emphasized that, the ability of social media to “change behavior … and … to impact a professional’s decision-making processes” is the real essence of success in using this in business. Practically, social media’s approach in dealing with the audience in a genuine and an interactive manner somehow influences the approaches of event management to its customers.
Event marketing management therefore becomes livelier, customer-oriented, interactive, personal, and dependent on audience feedback. There are several reasons for this. First, admittedly, as Shone and Parry pointed out that “human society is complex and interactive” (2004: 50). It means that regardless of culture, different societies celebrate in diverse ways, from the ancient period to the modern times, from a traditional way to a technological way; it makes no difference as long as events involve people and celebration or activities.
Shaping event management following the principles behind social media will help draw a lot of people to the message because there is interaction and exchange of communication. Secondly, various events such as festivities, wedding, etc. serve to “strengthen social bonds as well as to spread enjoyment around” (Shone & Parry, 2004: 51). People’s primary intention for celebrating events publicly is to satisfy their longing for socialization and enjoyment. Thus, involving the community in events in such a way that they express inner satisfaction for socialization and enjoyment can make events management very successful.
Shone and Parry stressed that without the “social contact that event often give, the feeling of isolation in society… can be great” (2004: 51). Hence, event management must be in the context of the community’s perception of event celebration which is socialization and enjoyment. Given this, certain changes have been observed in conducting event marketing. Borges noted how businesses nowadays acknowledge social media as an “effective mechanism for reaching a target market” (2009: 57).
He even emphasized that “myopic attitude” that a business executive has on social media will eventually lead him to lose the business. Moreover, a business executive having event marketing founded on social media will ultimately be “transparent, forthcoming, honest, sincere, and also to contribute something of worth” (Borges, 2009: 63). Since the events for the purpose of marketing require a group of community participation, the activities involved have had considerable improvement in terms of acceptable approaches in dealing with the community.
The company’s marketing arm learns to be transparent, forthcoming, honest and sincere in everything they present before their audience. It is different from traditional marketing wherein its objective is purely making people buy or patronize a product using various ways to manipulate their decision-making. Hence, marketing an event for a product, presents live and active interaction and participation from the community online or offline. Event marketing management facilitates Social Media Marketing
The great global financial crisis has brought to the mind of marketing managers the idea of utilizing social media in their promotional activities. The Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, and many other social networking channels have been utilized for the purpose of marketing. The good news for marketing managers is that it is free. From the research findings presented by Bulmer in his article, he mentioned several impacts that social media has on business which helped transform event marketing to social media marketing.
With such, he recognized the following findings: (1) decision making in the business world today is more social; (2) many professionals are using social networking sites particularly Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter; (3) many decisions have been drawn from information gathered through active users of social media; (4) many professionals trust the information they gather from the sites; (5) social media users have significantly increased in three years; and (6) many professionals collaborate well outside preferably using social media sites than within the organizational intranet (Bulmer).
Hence, there is widespread recognition of the impact of social networking in business from the business world’s perspective. The growing business community participation in the online world proves the fact that “When you join a group online, you are joining a community” (Borges, 2009: 63). Social media started to become popular among groups of people for personal use primarily for communication purposes. Eventually, this became a good tool to interact, send greetings, and share information to friends. Most importantly, it had become a powerful instrument recognized to support the marketing arm of any business.
Through social media, the way people do the business has transformed into ‘social sales’ because people believe in the power of online communication in mobilizing sales teams by building good relationship with customers. Shih recognized that social network marketing talks about the “breakthrough new marketing techniques made possible by online social networks…” (2009: 6). Some of these that she mentioned are: hypertargeting, enhanced ability to capture passive interest and conduct rapid testing and iteration on campaigns, social community engagement, and automated word-of-mouth marketing (Shih, 2009: 6).
Furthermore, Tobin and Braziel emphasized that social media marketing plan is “based on engagement not traffic” (2008: 79) which means that this type of marketing focuses on “web events” or the interactions users have with features which could be in form of blogs, comments, post, video views, and many others. Importance of social media in marketing event Availing the use of social media for marketing purposes has a lot to offer to a business. Borges mentioned several benefits of social media aside from the fact that larger potential buyers who are receptive to new information and trend can be met through social network sites.
Some of the benefits named are: low cost, brand building, staffing advantages, loyalty, level playing field, building trust, convergence of PR and social media for viral marketing, positive SEO benefits, quantifiable metrics, and educational (2008: 131-140). In terms of costs, social media requires a low budget which is almost free, for a service that values relationships. Brands are being built through a good content using the internet platform. Thus, it is simpler and appealing to consumers.
Few, yet highly talented staff, who can work in an enjoyable work environment are needed when using social media because content is more important here. Using social media builds loyalty among internet users because of its being user-friendly. This is impossible to establish using advertisements and other promotional activities. Besides, all types of people can make use of it like anyone else regardless of economic or social status. Likewise, through a sincere voice in the content, the company can easily acquire trust from the people. In effect, social media as a PR tool can be an integral part of marketing activities.
Furthermore, links attached to marketing in social media creates a bridge connecting to the company’s website thus increasing the chance of the customer browsing of the webpage. Learning is considered as one of the benefits of social media. Not only do the internet users learn but companies also learn. Armed with this information, social media has evolved from purely socialization and enjoyment to something highly beneficial to businesses. For this reason, there is no doubt for business executives to resort to using social media in one of the tools in marketing an event.
Conclusion Social media has begun existing without clear importance rather than for socialization and personal or group enjoyment. However, with the increasing popularity of social networking when the internet was introduced to the public in 1990, this form of social interaction gained remarkable importance not only among the general public but also among business groups locally and internationally. Indeed, the ability of the social media to satisfy the users with its personalized features, has led to the discovery that it could be a potential instrument in shaping the mind of the audience.
Social media has unique characteristics. It can change perception, it is very appealing, and it is effective in marketing an event. However, any business executive who wants to use its service must understand how it serves the public. Its special features that draw people together from all walks of life are derived from an honest, transparent, forthcoming and sincere way of dealing with one another. This same way is expected among event marketers in order that marketing of events will be appropriate to users’ expectations.