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This essay is an analysis of the effects of social media advertising on small businesses in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon. Social media, a new dimension of marketing promotion mix, has made it possible for users to express their views about the companies, as well as their advertising. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of social media advertising on small businesses in Buea. This objective was carried out through a purposive sampling technique, through semi structured interviews with 15 proprietors of small scale businesses, where they were asked about their usage of social media advertising for their business, its positive effects and challenges. The result identifies a common increase in customers due to advertising on social media. It equally revealed that, social media advertising has served as a tool in building brand and customer trust and relationships. This study provides some indications for using and developing social media platform to make it an ideal method of advertising. In order to achieve the aforementioned, the government should facilitate the creation of a house numbering system which will enable home or door to door delivery of goods purchased online. Equally, curriculum in higher institutions especially in the social departments or degree programs should be designed that will teach students how to effectively manage a social media page and market online.



1.1 Background to the Study.

Advertising has come a long way since the age of mad men, (MARSHABLE: Emily Sielgel, Oct 03. 2014) digital marketing which was a relatively new practice in the early 2000s, has become increasingly smart and sophisticated in this millennium. Social media are websites and applications that allow users to create and share content, or participate in social networking. Advertising is a marketing strategy where an identified sponsor pays for time and space in the media, to sell his product, good or service. A small business is an independently owned and operated company that is limited in staff and revenue depending on the industry. With a definition in place, it is possible to define social media marketing as “using social media channels to promote your company and its products” (Barefoot and Szabo, 2010). Different forms of advertising such as native and mobile are redefining the digital landscape and the way brands engage customers. An explosion of new devices has caused fragmentation. Data has become an increasingly hot commodity informing the tactics brands use to reach customers. Marketers and their agencies are fighting to keep up with the trends, and a new crop of start-ups and platforms have sprung up to meet demands. Social media platforms in particular have become key players in the marketing mix.

According to Solomo Fy, (2017) Facebook founded in 2004 published its first ad with images in May 2005. In August 2011, Facebook introduced advertising API. Same year in November, Facebook introduced subsidized tales, 2012, March, Facebook introduced cellular ads. While many social media purists tout the power and reach the organic social media marketing, it is still a network that is difficult to be discovered in without promotion. Social media advertisements offer the opportunity to build awareness, target based on geographical, demographical, behavioral data, as well as many of the ads can be placed adjacent to relevant topics. Many of the platforms also offer re-marketing opportunities for visitors who abandoned sites or shopping cart and returned to social media. {Douglas Karr, A Brief History Of Social Media Advertising, (07/2016)}.

The main theory on which this research is going to be centred is the theory of Agenda setting of mass communication. Most of the information that people get come from the media and these information either has as an ability to better or worse individuals thought as such, the theory of agenda setting seek to focus the audience attention to what is believed to be the most important information for the day. A better explication of this theory and how it relates to this study will be explained below. But firstly let’s understand the concept of advertising, social media and their relationship with small Businesses especially in Buea.

1.2 A brief overview of Advertising

Hussainy (2008) posits that, an organization cannot dream of becoming a known brand until it invests in promotional campaigns for which consumer markets have been controlling through advertisements in the dynamic world of today. He added that consumers to a larger extent cannot fully gain knowledge of a company talk less of their product if the brand is not advertised in any form. Social media is one of the platform through which one can get his or her product and company showcased to members of the general public through advertising (Hussain and Nizammai, 2011).

Mitchell (1986) argued that the advertisements of two products having some attributes can have a different impression. The combination of the extra picture, color and the text in an advertisement makes an ad different among others. The visuals are associated with emotions and these emotions come from social needs generated by social media. To help companies who advertise through this medium, it is important to know which segment of the audience is more attentive to this medium. Prendergast and Yuen (2005) in a study titled “Perceptions of handbills as a promotional medium” found out that Youths are more active on social media as compared to the old. Thus any ads campaign carried out on social media easily catches the attention of the youths compared to handbills.

Researchers have defined advertising in many different ways, so there is a need to develop one definition that is understood by all the people at all location. It was in this light that Richard and Curran (2002) gathered experts to develop one definition. They defined advertising as a paid, meditated form of communication from an identifiable source, designed to persuade the receiver to take some action now or in the future. Anusree and Lynch (1995) defined advertising as the strategy through which information about the product and service is delivered to the consumers. It also recognizes unspoken needs and wants in existing and potential customers. According to the Advertising Association of the UK, Advertising is any communication, usually paid-for, specifically intended to inform and/or influence one or more people.

1.3 Objective of advertiser

Advertising objectives are essential because it helps the marketeer/advertiser to know in advance what they want to achieve and can plan accordingly. As it is the first step in decision making it guides the other steps in planning the advertising program. It guides and controls each area at every stage of the advertising campaign. Since advertising incurs heavy cost to the company, It must bear fruits or give positive results.

According to David Ogilvy (2012), previously advertisement was done without paying much attention to management tasks or for attaining the objectives by proper controls and decision making. As of now the advertisers want tangible results and evaluate the results compared to the costs incurred by them.

To, Abideen and Saleem (2011), the main objective of the advertiser is to reach towards their existing and potential customers so as to make available information about the products and the services, attitude and buying behavior of customers.Adeolu et al., (2005) explains that customer buying behavior is a tool to analyze the complication in market process.

1.4 The role of communication in advertising

Communication plays an important role in the advertising of a product or service. Marketers use different modes and different ways of promotion and advertising to communicate with customers and consumers of the product and to efficiently and effectively in all the relevant information about product or services to the target audience in order to satisfy customers needs and wants. To Hackley (2010), advertising promotes not only branded products and services but also political, religious and health issues. The efficiency and effectiveness of the advertising business is especially important for organizations. Targeting in marketing using any media should follow a methodology that is governed by rules, having balanced the quality of the message and media in reaching the goals of ads essential for successful ad (Hossein Abadi Sade et al 2012). Running an advertisement program necessitate expenditure. In the present, advertising is one third of the function of the capital. So, one cannot consider investment and distribution without advertising. In order to catch the attention of social media users, an approximate message plan must be planned. To attract attention to a message plan it is required that Elements of a Message are specified for media professionals in order of importance (Sutherland, Max 1993).

Various scholars and researchers have come up with theories in an attempt to explain how advertising messages are received, processed and acted on by their target audience. These theories also explain the possible effects that these messages have on their target audience as far as the intent of the advertiser is concern. One of those studies looked at the Information Processing Model (IPM) which is discussed extensively by Belch and Belch (2001) and Shimp (2000). The IPM discusses how consumers process and respond to advertising information. With the IPM, the ultimate objective of the advertiser is to encourage the target audience to choose his brand or product rather than competing ones, (Shimp, 2000).

Hackley (2010) also asserts that in order to raise awareness, an advertiser must use all possible ways to get direct response from consumers. Consumers engage or react differently with different media platforms (radio, television, newspaper, magazines, internet and billboards). Media platforms are often considered to have particular engagement with the consumers with respect to the brand personality.

Newell and Merrier (2007); Kondo and Nakahara (2007) come forth to explain that we are in an information age, and as such, consumers now seasily get the message about the products and services that they can get through multiple sources. To meet those needs and wants, advertisers select different adverting tools through which they can attract their customers.

1.5 Problem Statement:

So far, advertising has proven to be an ideal way to sell a brand’s image. Today, it is used by almost every company on the globe. Small businesses in Buea use social media advertising to promote sales and build brand awareness. With the presences of constant shutdowns, due to the present crisis in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon, alongside too many similar small scale businesses, small scale businesses, find it difficult to carry out their activities and make sales smoothly. The presence of social media and its advertising function it provides enables businesses to carry out their activities online. This research will first of all explore the mitigating factors that hinder small businesses from standing out, amongst other businesses and building brand awareness. This topic is proposed after a keen observation on some issues and challenges faced by small scale businesses. It is therefore in this light that the researcher seeks to exploit this area and discover why small businesses choose social media advertising under the topic “effects of social media (Facebook, whatsapp and instagram) advertising on small businesses. Case study: Buea.

1.6 Objectives of the Study

  1. To evaluate the effectiveness of social media advertising on brand awareness about products or services of small scale business in Buea.
  2. To determine whether social media advertising has increased the sales of products for small businesses in Buea.
  3. To find out if social media advertising has improved the relationship between small businesses and their customers.


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