SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING: THE NEXT GENERATION OF BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT
The social media era was started around ten years ago. It began with LinkedIn, which was launched in 2003, followed by both MySpace and Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006. In less than a decade, its population has grown rapidly, and it has reached billions of people worldwide. Facebook has more than 500 million users worldwide; Twitter has approximately 175 million users; LinkedIn has more than 90 million users; and MySpace has 57 million users (Curtis, 2011). A study shows that 40% of Fortune 500 companies have accounts on social media sites, but have not integrated it into their company's websites (i.e. Facebook/Twitter icons are hard to locate on their webpage). The reluctance to promote these sites is mainly due to concerns such as legal and content control issues (Ochman, 2011). This reluctance is supported by the fact that many examples show little to no relation between brand/company's activities in social media sites and its business performance. For example, a failed pop star Peter Andre has approximately 450,000 followers on his Twitter (Ritson, 20October, ). The popularity of social media sites has also spread to companies and firms as part of their strategies. A study by public relation firm Burson-Marsteller shows that 86% of October, 0 largest companies on the Fortune 500 list use at least one of the social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or blogs, and 28% of them use all four platforms2. The study also shows that 65% of these companies use Twitter, which makes it as the most popular social media site among business firms (Burson-Marsteller, 20October, ). According to Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 64% of marketers spend five hours or more per week on social media and 39% of them spend ten hours or more weekly (Stelzner, 2009). These findings show that more and more companies are becoming actively involved in social media, which also shows the emerging of social media sites as the new marketing/promotion platform that is also known as social media marketing.