Journal of International Business Research and Marketing
Volume 8, Issue 1, April 2023, pages 7-14
Influence of Brand Activities through Social Media on Consumer Awareness
Doctor of business administration and invited lecturer at International Black Sea University
Abstract: Due to its unique characteristics, digital marketing has become increasingly popular worldwide. The process has been made easier by digitalization, and social media channels have substantially increased the potential to enhance brand awareness. This plays a critical role in a brand’s position in the minds of consumers and is one of the most crucial stages of the Hierarchy Effects Model. Effective brand awareness is the starting point, and without it, it is impossible to improve a brand’s reputation or increase sales volume. Brand awareness is divided into “top of mind,” “unaided,” and “aided” conditions. Social media platforms, especially Facebook, offer specific campaign goals that are a possible way to improve brand awareness among customers and enhance the brand’s position in their consciousness. These campaigns provide companies with a particular metric, which is the estimated ad recall lift rate. This metric enables companies to understand how many people read the advertisement and how many of them will remember what they have read. However, the metric is quite general and does not take into account the various stages of brand awareness. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate how much the advertisement improves brand awareness and leads to purchases. It is also crucial to understand the importance of the frequency of the same campaigns on Facebook. This article aims to investigate the level of influence of brand activities through Facebook on consumers’ awareness and to what extent the platform has contributed to the process. Structured questionnaires were distributed to 54 respondents in Georgia to analyze their behavior and evaluate whether frequent activities on Facebook improved the position of the brand in consumers’ awareness. According to the results, frequent advertisements and brand activities have a considerable influence on consumers’ awareness, and it can be said that such activities directly provide the possibility of “unaided” brand awareness. However, it is essential to pay close attention to post impressions. The same activities on the same day have the potential to bring substantial negative consequences. Brands are recommended to deliver the same ads to the same consumers a maximum of three times per day to avoid negative consequences and snubs from consumers.
Keywords: Social media marketing, Brand awareness, Consumer awareness, Improve brand awareness, Brand awareness on Facebook, Frequency of digital campaigns
Brand awareness has always been one of the most significant factors in marketing, playing a decisive role in the long-term relationship between a brand and its consumers. Digitalization in marketing has considerably contributed to the process of brand awareness, making it much easier to promote a brand through various digital channels. Social media marketing facilitates this process, allowing companies to reach thousands of prospective consumers and deliver appropriate messages to them. Awareness plays a huge role in consumer preferences, with consumer attitude towards a brand starting with awareness. Brand awareness constitutes the lowest, first step of the Hierarchy of Effects Model, indicating that the relationship between a brand and a consumer starts with consciousness. This is especially important for startups and companies that offer new products and need to improve their position in the market. Brand awareness plays a decisive role when a company focuses on penetration, diversification into new markets, or development in existing ones. There are different social media networks with which it is feasible to promote a brand, especially “Facebook”, one of the most popular channels with a huge online audience offering various options to turn unaware consumers into aware ones.
However, it is crucial to investigate and evaluate whether brand activities on social media genuinely influence consumers’ consciousness and contribute to brand awareness in practice. It is essential to understand to what extent the activities of a brand improve consumers’ awareness and whether it can be considered an instant impact or a lasting relationship between consumers and a brand. Additionally, it is crucial to understand the consequences that may result from frequent brand activities on the channel. Many companies conduct different campaigns every day and distribute various content to existing as well as prospective consumers through “Facebook”. Thus, it is vital to understand how consumers react to frequent updates from the same brand on the same day. The number of impressions and frequency rate of a particular advertisement may influence consumers positively or negatively.
2. Literature Review
The hierarchy of effects model is one of the popular models, which was offered by Lavidge and Steiner (1961). The authors drew a model, which consists of 3 major stages. The first stage is cognitive, the second stage is effective, and the third is co-native. These stages include different steps, from brand unawareness to brand loyalty. Brand awareness is the first step in the cognitive stage. This step indicates to unawareness level of the brand in consumers. Unawareness is followed by awareness, which can be increased in consumers through various ways. At this step, consumers collect information from various sources and increase their understanding of a brand or a product and service. Information can be collected online, as well as from traditional channels. The consumers may get information from word of mouth, or through searching different sources. This is one of the most important steps which increases knowledge of the brand in the long run direction. Liking is the first step of the affective stage, which points to action related to thinking. At this step, the consumer starts thinking about the product or service. It is an evaluative step, where the consumer makes some comparisons, and increases preferences to take a decision. Preference can be positive, as well as negative. This step is followed by a step related to the decision-making process. Consumer makes the purchase decision and the level of intention plays a decisive role. Regarding brand loyalty, it is a completely different step from brand awareness and it has an impact in the long-term direction. This particular step indicates the strength of involvement from the consumer to the brand. (Hutter et al., 2013)
However, consumers have dissimilar intentions and scope of time. They require different times to take decisions regarding purchases. Therefore, the time scale for these steps may not be the same for every consumer (Kotler and Bliemel, 2001)
Brand awareness is the strongest sense in consumers regarding brands. It is a memory concerned with the ability to identify a brand in different conditions. (Keller, 2008) As Keller (1993) reports, awareness plays a very intrinsic role in the decision-making process. The author emphasizes three core reasons for the importance of awareness. First of all, consumers start thinking about the brand while choosing the product. They are considering the strength of the brand. It is deemed that brand image is an important part in decisions making process, it increases the likelihood that consumers will consider the strong prestige of a brand. (Baker et al., 1986; Chakravarti et al., 2003)
Figure 1: Hierarchy of Effects Model (HODE)
Aaker and McLoughlin (2009) emphasize the importance of brand awareness, brand equity, loyalty, and brand associations. According to the authors, brand awareness is a source of competitive advantage. It provides a brand with a sense of knowledge, which is very important to incite customers and increase the volume of sales. The authors claim that for low-involvement products, such as soaps and chewing gums, brand awareness increases the desire in customers to take purchase decisions. Regarding the industry of soda drinks, the authors prove that brand awareness influences evaluation, even if the product has never been tried by the customer. Awareness in customers can be a strong signal of presence and commitment.
Figure 2: Creating, adopting, and implementing a strategy
Kapferer (2008) makes some differences between brand equity and brand awareness. Brand equity can be partly measured by awareness. Equity is concerned with facts, regarding how many people in the world are aware of the brand by the name, whereas brand awareness measures the number of customers in the world who are aware of the promises of the brand. Those customers know what kind of products or services are offered by the brand. As the author reports, the major purpose of advertisements is to increase brand activities and to make customers aware of the offered product or service. Brand activities should intend to encourage customers to try the offered product or service. There are 3 categories of brand awareness, “top of mind” “unaided” and” aided”.
“Top of mind” awareness is position, where the customer thinks about the particular brand first when discussing the product, or service. In other words, it is the condition, when the brand comes first to the customer’s mind. (Kelley and Jugenheimer, 2015)
“Unaided” awareness is the follower condition of the “top of mind” and measures the number of people, who can express knowledge of a brand without brand recall. Thus, an unaided condition in customers is suitable for those brands, which are already well-known and which struggle to reach the “Top of Mind” position in customers. Moving up to “Top of mind” indicates that the brand becomes the top choice in the customer’s mind. (Lijenwall, 2004) In comparison with “unaided”, “aided” brand awareness refers to the condition of the consumer, when the consumer recognizes the brand if promoted. (Kapferer, 2008)
By comparison, Davis (2017) adds one more condition and emphasizes the dominant position. Brand dominance is different from top-of-mind conditions. In the case of the dominant position, consumer recalls the only one brand when asked to recall. In terms of top-of-mind condition, consumer recalls several brands, and the first brand, which is recalled is considered top-of-mind.
Hodson (2021) makes difference between brand awareness brand associations and brand loyalty. According to the author, awareness is an ability of a consumer to recall a brand based on previous experience or exposure. In terms of brand associations, they are concerned with strong links with brands in memory, which can be caused by experience, exposure, or other supported networks. As regards loyalty, it is a condition, when a consumer is strongly attached to a brand and the likelihood of switching to a competitor is very low.
Furthermore, brand awareness can be divided into “recognition brand awareness” and “recall brand awareness”. Recognition brand awareness is visual iconic learning in other words. It is concerned with situations when a customer sees an advertisement of the product in-store and immediately gets reminded that the product is needed, or required. As regards recall brand awareness, this category measures customers who remember the brand names, who recall the name from memory, to ask for the product and purchase it. (Rosenbaum-Elliott et al., 2015)
Brand awareness plays a very important role between companies and consumers. Furthermore, it has a substantial influence on the volume of sales, as a high level of brand awareness results in high purchase intentions. It adds additional value to the product and brand. Brand awareness precedes all the steps and constitutes the basement of a long-term relationship between the parties. It has a huge role in determining the consideration. Being at the top of customers’ minds is very essential as it increases the possibility to keep customers and competitiveness in the long-term direction. A high level of brand awareness guarantees more chances to restrict the establishment of new brands more easily. (Trott and Sople, 2016)
According to Evans, (2012), social media platforms are considerably new channels in marketing, which facilitate brand activities and promotions. Social media platforms are sources to share information about products, as well as services. It constitutes a direct example of electronic word of mouth. (Stillman, 2009). The platforms give customers the possibility to disseminate information regarding brand activities easily and effectively. (Mangold and Foulds, 2009) According to Jackson, (2011) in comparison with traditional marketing sources, social media channels provide companies with prolific chances to establish direct communication with consumers and build brand awareness. Social media platforms are examples of rapid electronic word of mouth as the platform consists of huge online communities, that share that information, knowledge, and ideas. (Safko and Brake, 2009) Moreover, this type of communication through social media channels between peers, provide companies with a cost-effective method to increase brand awareness among customers, increase the image of the brand, and brand loyalty as well. (Gunelius, 2011)
As Mckee, (2010) reports, it can be seen that social media platforms constitute a direct strategy for companies, to increase brand awareness among customers, and through active communication they keep customers more loyal in the long-term direction. In addition, the author makes a comparison with traditional marketing approaches. The author claims that social media promotional activities require special strategies, whereby companies will become able to improve their brand image and influence customers’ awareness. The marketing activities should be concentrated on customers’ desires. Laroche et al. (2012), emphasize the strength of positive electronic word of mouth and the authors prove that brand activities on social media channels increase brand awareness not only in the online audience but also positively influence offline communities, who are outside the networks as well.
Though, Erdoğmuş et al. (2016) agree with Mckee (2010) and state that the success of brand activities on social media channels depends on the approach and strategy the company uses. Social media marketing will have a substantial positive impact on brand awareness and loyalty if the appropriate message is used. The message should be effective and it should include incentive information such as; special offers, whereby it will be feasible to impact positively on customers’ perception and motivation to become a follower of the brand.
As Jackson (2011) claims that social media consists of various channels such as; blogs, vlogs, networking sites, forums, micro-blogging portals, and media-sharing networks, which create a huge online audience. An online audience is a source to disseminate information as effectively as possible. The author especially emphasizes the effectiveness of “Facebook” and “Twitter”, which are the source to increase the volume of sales through electronic word of mouth. (Zarella, 2010)
As proved by Coon, (2010) business environment has become rapidly volatile and changeable. Markets are more competitive than they have ever been and it has a direct influence on companies’ landscape, which requires fruitful social media marketing strategy. Social media constitutes a field, where the intervention of experts is important to analyze, plan and conduct effective marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness in customers, capture their hearts, and turn them more loyal to a brand. As some research proved, consumers usually use social media platforms to bring themselves up to date on companies’ activities and offers. Accordingly, they are the cheapest source to improve brand prestige and reputation in the market. Most companies actively exploit these channels for this particular purpose. Coca-cola is one of them, which conducts campaigns devoted to loyal programs. Based on various promotional activities, the company boosts loyal programs through social media channels to increase the level of engagement. (Leggat, 2010)
Additionally, Freidman, (2011) emphasizes the fact that customers always seek reliable and updated information on the Internet. Therefore, “Google” has integrated an algorithm into the search system, which gives customers the possibility to check the updated information first. The information is put in order by reliability and validity. Laroche et al. (2013) interlink activities on social media channels with the possibility to increase trust in customers. Brand promotion through the channels has a positive influence not only on brand awareness, as it is capable to increase trustworthiness, which will have a positive impact on the volume of sales. Naylor et al. (2012), draw attention to the importance of demographic segmentation. The authors deem that demographic factors have a tremendous influence on customers in relation to brand awareness and trustworthiness. Some customers rely on social media channels and identify brands, though some do not consider brand activities through social channels as important or influential.
As Brito, (2011) reports, companies should take into consideration the importance of the message they deliver to customers. Customers usually ignore and hide irrelevant messages and this kind of action has always had a negative impact on brands’ awareness and digital campaigns. Thus, relevant and updated content is utterly important to win reliability and to increase brand image successfully among online audiences. Electronic word of mouth goes viral on social media channels and one of the reasons for increased brand awareness is high engagement. Engagement brings customers, as it is a contagious process and increases motivation in the viewers. Kumar et al. (2016), claim that activities through social media channels can extend a strong relationship between a customer and a company. Effective activities promote the level of loyalty and brand awareness in customers.
Kim and Adler, (2011) state that the variety of social media channels increases complexity, and companies should utilize most of the prestigious ones, to increase the size of the audience and awareness of a brand. The strength, of social media channels, is provided by the support of mobile devices. Most customers use social media channels frequently through mobile devices and it increases chances to increase the level of engagement easily. Kumar et al. (2016), agrees with Kim and Adler, (2011) and claim that marketers should focus on various platform, to promote a brand with relevant content and acquire customers’ minds. Positive content and relevant promotional strategy have a significant influence on customers’ brand perception.
For example, Muchardie et al. (2016) make some comparisons between customer engagement on social media channels and sponsored advertisements. As the authors claim, high engagement from customers has more impact on brand loyalty and awareness, than paid advertisements. Customers have dissimilar reasons for following brands on social media channels. According to one of the studies, brand loyalty and brand awareness are different. Though, high satisfaction and high brand awareness both have a positive influence on brand loyalty. (Whitehead and Nisar, 2016)
Wolny and Mueller (2013) draw a comparison between traditional marketing and social media platforms. As the authors report, brands can increase awareness and establish more effective communication with customers through online channels, than using traditional marketing approaches. However, content and message play an equal role in both types of marketing. Content has a considerable impact on consumer behavior. It can be forced to increase brand awareness through both traditional, as well as digital channels and attract more customers. Contentpsychologically can impact consumer behavior. (Charlesworth, 2015) Furthermore, Evans (2010) emphasizes the strength of brand activities and claims that activities can easily increase awareness of a brand among consumers.
To make more comparisons, radio took 38 years to attract more than 10 million listeners from the beginning. TV needed approximately 50 years to attract 50 million viewers, whereas the internet attracted more than 50 million users in just 4 years. As regards social media channels, “Facebook” which constitutes the most popular platform in the world, registered 100 million users in just 9 months. (Tuten et al., 2015) The statistics emphasize the strength of social media channels, in comparison with traditional ways of marketing. It does not mean that traditional channels are not usable. However, the statistics prove the likelihood that brand awareness can be more effective through “Facebook”. According to the study of Schivinski and Dabrowski (2015) brand created and user-generated communication on social media has a substantial influence on brand awareness. However, the authors claim that results depend on the industries. Additionally, Hudson (2015) points attention to cultural differences and claims that the results of studies cannot be generalized, as the influence of social media channels on brand relationships is different in every nation.
According to Bhattacharyya (2006), research is a “documented prose work”. Every research relies on primary as well as secondary data. Every subject or discipline needs appropriate methods to reach objectives. Lynch and Holden (2004) claim research methodology is different from research methods. The methodology consists of various research methods. Walliman (2017) defines methods as tools, whereby it is possible to collect appropriate data and conduct effective analysis. Research design is very important to every study. It starts with a problem and conceptual frame determination and continues with the appropriate sampling methods. Research can be qualitative or quantitative. (Oflazoglu, 2017) According to Brennen, (2013), the quantitative method brings more logical results. Information, collected through quantitative methods, is more scientific and reliable.
The study refers to the evaluation of social media channels as a way to promote brand image and increase brand awareness among consumers. The study requires quantitative analysis, to collect information from consumers and analyze their behavior, and to what degree brand activities on social media channels influence their awareness. Particularly, the study highlights the influence of brand activities through social media on consumer awareness in the long-term direction. The researcher considered the method of an online survey for primary data collection and to learn consumer behavior. As Mallinson et al., (2013) claim, a well-structured online survey can bring appropriate results and answers. In case of limited time, it is the most effective method and the most cost-saving as well.
H0: Brand activities on “Facebook”, do not influence consumers’ brand awareness
H1: It is anticipated, that brand activities on “Facebook” have a positive influence on consumers’ brand awareness and recognition.
H2: Frequent posts, of a brand on the same day, on “Facebook” do not annoy consumers.
H3: It is anticipated that frequent posts, of a brand on the same day, on “Facebook” have a negative influence on consumer behavior.
With reference to sampling, the researcher chose the convenience sampling method, which constitutes a sub-category of non-probability sampling. Structured questionnaires were distributed online to 54 respondents, who were fond of alcoholic drinks and who were active users of “Facebook”, as it is the most popular platform in Georgia.
4. Findings and Analysis
The respondents were asked 9 questions, regarding brand activities on “Facebook”, in order to ascertain their reactions and to evaluate the influence of these activities on their awareness. Questionnaires were distributed online to 54 respondents, where 53.7% were male (29), and 46.3% female (25) As regards age groups, the following age categories were considered: 18-24, 25-34, 35-39, and 40+. The majority of the respondents, 59.3% were from the age group 25-34. It was followed by the age group 35-39, where 10 respondents participated. 8 respondents were from 18 to 24 and just four were 40 and over. Every questionnaire was filled fully, as the answers to all the questions were required and without any answers, respondents would not have been able to submit the filled form.
Figure 3: Gender and Age
According to the results of the survey, brand activities on “Facebook” has a considerable influence on consumers’ awareness. 37% of the respondents strongly agreed and 38.9% agreed to the fact that when they saw frequent activities on “Facebook” of a new brand, they could easily recognize this particular brand in the future. The fact emphasizes the strong influence of brand activities on the awareness of consumers. Out of 54, just 13 participants denied it.
Figure 4: I more easily recognize a new brand of alcohol if I see information about this particular brand on “Facebook” frequently.
Furthermore, the majority of the respondents, around 70.4% claimed that when they saw advertisements and activities of the new brand on “Facebook” it helped them to recall the brand while they were in a store and were looking for the product. Frequent brand posts provided them with a better memory of the brand. When there was a discussion about alcoholic drinks, 74% of the participants easily and more intensely recalled the brand, which was more active on social media.
Figure 5: If I see information about a new brand of alcohol frequently on “Facebook”, the particular brand usually comes to my mind first when I am in a store
As a consequence, it can be seen that social media marketing has a huge potential to improve unaided brand awareness among consumers very effectively. The campaigns do not have an instant impact on consumers. They can influence them in the long term as frequent posts, advertisements and various activities on social media increase awareness among consumers and make it easy for them to remember the brand. It is overly important to new entrants and startups, as they need most to increase brand awareness instantly. These results prove that H0 can be considered rejected and H1 confirmed, which means that brand activities on “Facebook” can have a positive influence on consumers’ brand awareness, and activities on “Facebook” can have a substantial impact on consumers’ recognition. A brand can be very easily embedded in their minds. Round about 80% of the respondents among the other brands in stores can more easily recognize the particular brand, which holds more active marketing campaigns on “Facebook”.
However, overly frequent actions of the brand on social media channel is capable to have a negative influence on consumers, instead of a positive. As it has been reported only 27.8% of the respondents did not get irritated by the same posts and advertisements when they saw them several times on the same day. When the same brand is in sight on the same day on “Facebook”, it irritates them and increases consumers’ desire to ignore the activities. 52 persons out of 54 ignore such posts.
The final question of the survey was regarding the frequency of activities. Respondents were asked about how many times they wished to see the same brand posts on the same day. 48% of the respondents wished to see them just for 1 time. 33.3% of the respondents would like to see posts a maximum of twice a day and 16.7% 3 times. The rest of the respondents wished to see the same ads on the same day more than 3 times.
Figure 6: Irritation and Ignore
Though, according to these answers, H3 can be considered confirmed, which means that frequent posts, of a brand on the same day, on “Facebook” can have a negative influence on consumer behavior. As can be seen, activities on the same day are harmful and are not beneficial. Marketers should take into consideration the results of this article and not waste time and budget on something, which will bring negative consequences instead of positive results. In addition to this, it is important to consider the significant role of content ranking in this process.
According to the results frequent brand activities, on social media channels, have a huge potential to influence consumers and improve their awareness of the brand. Brand awareness is divided into 3 categories, which are; “Top of mind” “Unaided” and “aided”. The aim of this particular article was to evaluate to what extent marketing campaigns and brand activities on “Facebook” were a source of awareness. Frequent activities increase the position of the particular brand in consumers’ minds. It makes the brand more easily recognizable and might increase the volume of sales as well, as most of the consumers could recall the brand, which could play a decisive role in their purchasing decisions when they were in the store. The results do not prove that frequent brand activities on social media channels are a source of the “top of mind” conditions. However, as can be seen, they have a huge impact on consumers’ awareness and improve the position of a brand among consumers. Based on this article, it is obvious that social media marketing provides brands with the possibility to reach an “unaided” state among consumers.
Though, as a medal has two sides, frequent brand activities on social media channels may bring negative consequences despite the positive results. As it is claimed by most of the respondents, companies should control the frequency of digital marketing campaigns. Brands should not deliver the same advertisements too frequently on the same day.
Based on the results, it is recommended to deliver the same content to consumers on the channel maximum of one to three times per day. Otherwise, there is a high likelihood that consumers will become irritated and the content will be ignored. Besides, marketers need to understand how algorithms on social media channels evaluate the content and what ranking means. Frequent negative reactions to the content of the company from the users of social media channels may decrease the relevancy score of the campaign. When users get annoyed with advertisements, they may click the hide button, which will have a considerable negative impact on the performance of the particular advertisement. In case of a low relevancy score, the cost of the campaign will start increasing, and reach, as well as impressions will be relatively low. In this case, creativity is something that will play a decisive role. Creative brand activities will be the solution not to irritate consumers and to increase the frequency of the campaigns on the same day.
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