Using Social Media to Bring Marketing to a New Level

September 21, 2022

Dr. Tee Mcxin, a senior lecturer from the Faculty of Business and Communications at INTI International University, recently conducted a research that looks at marketing strategies most social media users, especially youths, are attracted to.

The study, titled ‘Assessing Consumer Consumption Behaviour Through Social Media Marketing: A Survey Among Youths in Malaysia’, was conducted to address the trend where consumers are more inclined towards social media advertisements than any other form of advertising.

She said, “Over the past decade or even more, social media has altered the way we live. Digital technology has developed significantly in recent years to the point where most of us can no longer live without it. It has become an integral part of our lives. For example, we wake up in the morning with our smartphone alarms and check for community updates. Above all, we use it as a means of communication to connect with loved ones. As individuals began to spend more time on it, businesses adapted, and social media evolved into more than just a tool to share information and stay connected with people.”

Meanwhile, digital technologies and business owners saw this rapid advancement as an opportunity to change the norm of shopping.

“Malaysians, especially the younger generation, slowly started navigating towards e-commerce websites and platforms such as Shopee, Lazada and Zalora over physical stores to purchase items as simple as a pen,” she shared.

According to Dr. Tee’s research, in 2019, an estimated 1.92 billion people purchased goods and services online, and e-retail sales contributed to more than USD$3.5 trillion globally. When compared to the years prior to 2019, the growth in total e-commerce sales was obvious, showing a 42% increase.

With the shift in purchasing medium, marketers were quick to adapt to these changes by switching from traditional media like television, newspapers, radio, and magazine, to digital media utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; further pushing people’s gradual tendencies to spend time on Internet based platforms.

“For example, between 2000 and 2015, the revenue from print-based newspaper advertisements decreased by approximately 70%, demonstrating that people preferred to stay up to date by reading news online rather than purchasing an actual copy of printed newspaper. Not to mention, this media switch-up will also be fostered with the help of 5G technology that some leading Internet service providers in Malaysia have already started to or are planning to install since 2019,” Dr. Tee elaborated.

An e-Commerce Consumers Survey done by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission in 2018 revealed that 51.2% of Malaysians are e-commerce consumers.

Dr. Tee also shared that the survey showed the adoption of e-Commerce is higher among adults who are in their twenties and thirties. This also includes individuals who are drawing a relatively high average monthly income ranging from RM3,000 and above.

Dr. Tee Mcxin, a senior lecturer from the Faculty of Business and Communications at INTI International University, recently conducted a study on ‘Assessing Consumer Consumption Behaviour Through Social Media Marketing: A Survey among Youths in Malaysia’ which looked at consumer preference for social media advertisements than any other form of advertising.

She elaborated, “Malaysian youths opt for online purchasing for a variety of reasons, the most important of which are convenience, accessibility, pricing, selection, detailed product information, and ease of payment. In addition, the smartphone is the most popular device for shoppers to purchase goods and services online, especially among those below the age of 30. In contrast, those who are in their forties and above prefer to use laptops, notebooks, and desktops for e-Commerce transactions.”

The research also revealed that the fashion industry was one of the industries significantly influenced by the growth of social media.

“The use of social media has made it easier for people to get updates on the latest fashion trends that will influence the kind of clothing purchased by consumers. Moreover, key opinions leaders (KOLs) on social media platforms also act as agents when they adorn trendy outfits and attract others to purchase similar clothing,” said Dr. Tee.

As social media grew in popularity over the years, KOLs have gained fame among the public through their content on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Dr. Tee added, “Marketers from various organizations place a premium on influencers nowadays to advertise their brands as KOLs have a huge fan base. By collaborating with the right influencers, companies can reach their target customers. For example, apparel companies selling sporty clothes for teenagers need to work with influencers that are trusted by people who are in the target age group. Through their content, they explain how good the clothes are and lead their followers to purchase them.”

She reiterates that it is easier for prominent individuals who are also brand ambassadors for specific products to reach and attract thousands of their followers to view and watch the creative content they have created. This passive and subtle brand awareness and advertising leaves an impact that later influences the purchasing decisions of their followers.

The research carried out by Dr. Tee and her counterparts from other local higher educational institutions concluded that social media marketing is used as a platform to interact with customers to build brands, increase sales, and drive website traffic. As social media usage grows around the world, both via computer and mobile devices, the ability to drive sales from certain user populations will be seen as an avenue towards growing businesses.