Integrated Marketing Communications and Social media

The research focuses on two important areas, Integrated Marketing Communications and Social media. However, before reviewing them, it is vital to understand the concepts behind Media and Marketing Communication in general. This would lay a foundation for understanding both the areas covered in the research. Then the real issues: Integrated Marketing Communications and Social media will be covered.

2.1.1 Media

According to Harper (2001), the term media in communication can be defined as:

‘The storage and transmission channels or tools used to store and deliver information or data. It is often referred to as synonymous with mass media or news media, but may refer to a single medium used to communicate any data for any purpose.’

Thus, any information transmission channels or tools used for delivering marketing messages to the audience can be referred to as media. Media is synonymously used with mass media or mass communication, which Dijk (2006) depicts as a type of communication using media to distribute sound, text, and images among an audience. Mass media is an old terminology, but starting from a single medium that is print in 1500s it has grown to incorporate vast types of mediums. Caspi (1993, cited in Wilzig & Avagdor, 2004) provides a four stage model of media development:

1) Inauguration – where the new medium is given much public attention;

2) Institutionalization – where there is widespread public adoption and routinization of the new medium;

3) Defensiveness – where the power is threatened by a new medium; and

4) Adaptation – the fine line differentiating between old and new medium.

Since the inception of first mass media, each new media has gone through these stages and has developed its place in the media environment. With every new emerging media, the previous mediums had to co-exist with the new one at the end. In his research on mass media, Ahonen (2008) specifies a 7th mass media which is mobile. This idea was proposed in 2006.

Various media content like music, videogames, tv, news, social networking, internet services and above all advertising is migrating to mobile which is making it a dominant mass media.

While discussing the previous mass mediums, Ahonen regards the initial five mass mediums as unidirectional and states that it was only after internet arrived that it acted as inherent threat to all previous mass mediums. This was because internet had certain features that its predecessors did not have like interactivity, search capability, and social networking (discussed in detail later in report) and it could offer all that its predecessors offered. Therefore, cannibalization started occurring with internet. Similarly with the advent of mobile, this medium too can offer what its six predecessors could offer: one can read news, magazines, listen to radio and podcasts, watch TV, movies, play video games and above all consume all content available on internet. To a greater extent it supercedes the interactivity of the web with email and instant messaging (IM). Therefore, mobile would inherently threaten the internet.

The idea of mobile being the 7th mass media is supported by Moore (2007), where he states that the historic technology revolution is setting grounds for mobile as a mass media which supports greater reach. Unlike other mass mediums, which are losing their audiences and revenues, mobile like internet is interactive; enabling it to fully capitalize on social networking and digital communities. According to Moore, mobile is the only mass media that is carried by the owner at all times and therefore 100% accuracy is possible in measuring the audience.

Therefore the above researches claim that the mass media of 2000s is mobile and as with every new media that erupts, it has the power to cannibalize but not replace the previous ones.

2.1.2 Marketing Communication

Engel et. al., (1994 cited in Koekemoer & Bird, 2004) defines marketing communication as:

‘the collective activities, materials and media used by a marketer to inform or remind prospective customers about a particular product offering, and to attempt to persuade them to purchase or use it.’

Marketing communication is the use of the media to target customers and interact with them and the basic aim of this interaction is to deliver brand and marketing messages by the use of the most effective medium. There are various marketing communication tools available to a marketer. These include: selling, advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, public relations, sponsorship, exhibitions, packaging, point of sale and merchandising, word of mouth, e-marketing and corporate identity (Smith & Taylor, 2004). The marketers may use different blends of these communication mix elements depending on the strategy they want to use, but the most effective communication happens when all the tools are used appropriately and synergistically (Koekemoer & Bird, 2004). Moreover, it is important to note that marketing communication has over the years changed from being unidirectional to two-way, with the consumers being more demanding and conscious of choices (Koekomoer & Bird, 2004).

Therefore, it can be inferred that media is the channel and marketing communication is the use of these channels to direct marketing messages efficiently to target customers. The next sections would build on to these concepts and explain the two major areas of interest, Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) and Social Media.

2.2 Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)

Social media is one of the many mediums that are used as IMC tools/components in designing any marketing mix. This section aims to describe the concept of IMC, its emergence and the changing trends in IMC composition (or the communication mix).

2.2.1. Defining IMC

As per Kerr & Patti (2002) & Kerr et. al., (2008), IMC has been one of the most controversial areas of marketing education during the past decade. While many definitions of IMC have been put forth, agreement on the discipline’s constructs remains unresolved. This is because IMC is a concept that still lacks rigorous theory according to IMC authors Cornelissen & Lock (Kerr, et. al., 2008).

One of the much agreed definitions of IMC and the one to be used/ assumed for this research would include that given by one of the first advocates of IMC concept, Don Schultz (2004, cited in Kerr, et. al., 2008):

“IMC is a strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute and evaluate coordinated, measurable, persuasive brand communication programmes over time with consumers, customers, prospects, and other targeted, relevant external and internal audiences”.

The key difference in this definition of IMC from that of simple Marketing Communication is highlighted by use of three words: i) strategic, ii) evaluate and iii) measurable. In essence, IMC enforces use of marketing communication mix in such a way that it is strategically designed to achieve certain objectives and is also measurable to enforce accountability over marketers. These elements are also stressed on by various IMC authors (Schultz, 1996; Duncan & Caywood, 1996, cited in Kerr et. al., 2008), who believe that although concept of IMC is not new, but the fact that previously marketing communication was not coordinated strategically and strategy is now deemed critical, gives this concept a new look.

Another definition of IMC given by a well known author on IMC literature, Kliatchko (2005, cited in Kerr, et. al., 2008) reflects the same concept. As per the author: ‘IMC is the concept and process of strategically managing audience-focused, channel-centered and results-driven brand communication programmes over time’. This definition is a bit more specific and along with strategy and accountability it emphasis specifically on communication being channel-centered and audience-focused. The common point, however, in almost every definition of IMC is the fact that it enforces accountability over marketers and hence more and more marketers feel the need of using mediums that offer better measures of performance. Also different modes of communication are now used strategically to compliment each other. Managing and coordinating the integration of company’s communication across different media and channels is an important aspect of IMC. IMC does involve a process/plan aimed at providing consistency and impact through integration of communication via different mediums (Larich & Lynagh, 2009).

Moreover, Kitchen and Schultz (1997, cited in Kitchen, 1999 p. 63) believe that integrated marketing communications has significant value for the organization, specifically in lowering costs and having greater control over the marketing communications program. This is supported by Duncan and Everett (1993, cited in Kitchen, 1999 p. 63) who extend the benefits to include gaining competitive advantage through IMC.

It can be generalized that the idea of IMC used in above theories/definitions revolve around a 360 degree marketing communication programs for any of the brand that is strategically designed to achieve desired objectives. Hence, it would be fair to say that IMC includes all kind of communication programs that targeted for the same objective, regardless of the medium used, be it TV, Print, Radio, Street Marketing, Social Marketing, Internet Marketing, PR, Green Marketing, or any other thing.

2.2.2. Emergence of IMC and transformation by Marketing Agencies

The world-renowned management guru Peter Drucker (1955, cited in Smith & Taylor, 2004) believed that any business has only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. Even though it was said more than half a century ago, but it still applies in today’s world; that all marketers should be mindful of the need to measure the effectiveness of all marketing activities. The world of marketing communication has moved from big budgets and little accountability to a more demanding marketing environment where every action has to be justified with proper quantification of benefits of the actions.

Earlier, the various tools of marketing communication were regarded as separate functions and were handled by experts in the relevant area. This resulted in overall marketing communications being uncoordinated and inconsistent (Koekomore & Bird, 2004). This was then solved with the move towards IMC in 1980s – which emphasized coordination of all tools of marketing communication (Belch & Belch, 2004).

Before the emergence of IMC concept, marketing communications were a lot concentrated on very few mediums of communication but then it was evolution of media management structures in agencies that brought forward the segregation of media agency experience into a) Traditional Media b) New Media.

Traditional media includes mediums like television, radio, magazine, newspaper, and other options that agencies had expertise on prior the media revolution in 1980s and 1990s. On the other hand, new media comprised of other mediums like interactive, buzz “street” marketing, direct response, electronic, and other areas that were adopted by agencies during 1980s and 1990s to make the communication a lot more competitive (Sasser, et. al., 2007). Many companies are now realizing that effectively communicating with customers and other stakeholders involves more than traditional marketing communication tools. Marketers as well as advertising agencies are using the IMC approach and have adopted a complete marketing communication solution, which includes use of both traditional and new media. This is because with the emergence of more technological formats, the audience is being less responsive to traditional methods and the traditional formats too have become fragmented and have started targeting specific audience (Belch & Belch, 2004).

Lately one of the greatest influences of this change on media has been that of Information technology. This idea is supported by Kitchen (1999) who believes that it is only with more reliance on electronic technology that concepts like interaction and integration in marketing communication has become more main stream. This transformation over the years has been described by classification of marketplaces in three categories by Schultz (1998), who is a well known author on the area of IMC. According to him these categories are: a) Historical Marketplace, b) Current Marketplace; c) 21st Century Marketplace.

In Historical Marketplace marketing organization mostly had information technology, in sense of having IT departments within the organizations. In the Current Marketplace (also the second marketplace), the Channel actually became a dominant force. This was because information technology, in the form of point-of-sale systems, scanners, retail data gathering resources and the like, had given the Channel more and greater information about the consumer and the marketplace than it was available to the Marketer. The third marketplace (the 21st Century Marketplace), are those of some organizations today, but mostly it is the marketplace of the future. It is, however, the 21st Century Marketplace that is expected to bring about the greatest changes. The first two marketplaces were focused on outbound communication systems, such is, not the case with 21st Century marketplace. The communication here would be interactive. These communications would not be controlled by marketer or communication agency but by the customer. Schultz (1996, cited in Kitchen, 1999 p. 63) warned that communication technology and wider technological evolution would continue to drive integrated marketing communication and the old models of communication like homogeneity must be rethought.

It’s worth noticing that almost all of the new media introduced after 1980’s has been digital, e.g. Internet, Mobile, Podcasts etc. This is one good reason why New Media is often used interchangeably with Digital Media in theories. New Media is associated with characteristics like interactivity and electronic (Manovich, 2002 cited in Wardrip-Fruin & Montfont, 2002) which actually imply digital technology.

To sum up, it can be argued that change in media management structures and move towards 360 degree integrated communication is a result of more strategic and measurable approach by companies – which is nothing but the adoption of IMC. Also the advent of new media has increased the challenge for marketers, giving them more options with limited budgets and yet enforcing accountability. But have these additional options made an impact or have changed the trends in overall composition of marketing communication? The next section attempts to explore the same.

2.2.3 IMC composition – Changing trends

Media has undergone an extensive phase of development in the last ten years. Marketers were previously focusing on promoting their product/service through traditional mediums like TV, Radio, Newspapers, however, now the future of marketers appears to be digital as technology has become an important part of daily lives (Pall & McGrath, 2009).

Concepts like convergence have come in to bring more versatility in the communication mediums being used. As per Jenkins (2006) who is a renowned author on the topic of media convergence, the term convergence is defined as:

‘Convergence represents a paradigm shift – a move from medium-specific content toward content that flows across multiple media channels, toward the increased interdependence of communications systems, toward multiple ways of accessing media content, and toward ever more complex relations between top-down corporate media and bottom-up participatory culture.’

The concept certainly talks about making the communication mix “interdependent” bringing in more integration and moving towards having “multiple ways of accessing media”, i.e. bringing in more versatility in the marketing mix by using a mix of traditional and new media. Moreover, it refers to the behavior of media audience as being migratory, i.e. shifting to the media that can provide them their desired experience. In such an environment, consumers are actively involved in seeking new information and make connections among dispersed media content.

Convergence has played its parts in shifting the trends. In the 1990’s the digital media revolution paradigm suggested that new media would push aside traditional media and that internet would displace television, and by convergence it was meant that old media would be absorbed fully in emerging new media. However, the convergence paradigm proposes that old and new media would interact in ever more complex ways. New media has paved way for convergence as it has broken barriers that were separating different mediums. Since the beginning, each old medium is forced to co-exist with the emerging media. The concept of convergence indicates that the old media is not being displaced, rather their functions and status are being changed with new media options (Jenkins, 2006).

Media convergence is more than simply a technological shift altering the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets and audiences. The cell phone being a telecommunication device; also allows its users to play games, download information from the internet and receive and send photographs or text messages. These functions can be performed through other media appliances too. For instance; one can listen to The Dixie Chicks through a DVD player, car radio, walkman, computer MP3 files, a web radio station or a music cable channel (Jenkins, 2004).

Convergence has brought dramatic changes in the media ownership and has increased media concentration. One such example is when News Corp, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch made its first internet purchase and bought MySpace in 2005 (BBC News, 2005). This was because it had realized that significant amount of advertising dollars were being moved from traditional to internet. Yahoo bought social networking sites Flickr, and to enable content sharing with friends and family (PWC, 2006). Similarly, Walt Disney has become a multimedia giant since last two decades and has acquired various different media companies. It now has several film studios, printing companies, magazines, radio stations, television networks, publishing companies, and cable TV networks. This is one of the classic examples of convergence by a media company (Folkerts & Stephen, 2006).

Focus of marketers towards concepts like convergence and IMC have already made an impact on consumption of traditional media. More worrisome for traditional operators, however, it is the fact that an entirely new media sector has emerged over the past decade with countless new players who are both unregulated and well-funded (Therier & Eskelsen, 2008). Hence, some media agencies have witnessed a trend whereby new media is becoming regular part of communication mix.

According to Nielsen Wire (2009), one of the top media trends for 2010 would be that companies would have to make optimization of media convergence their top priority. Therefore, it is vital that media companies become a part of this new paradigm shift where converging old mediums with new would be required for greater returns on their investment.

2.2.4. Factors that influence IMC composition

There is certainly a change in the trend of IMC composition. This section tries to explore what are some of the possible factors that may influence the composition of IMC. Study by Sonia Livingstone and Moira Bovill (1999), answers the potential reasons for evolution of digital media over the years and these factors certainly impact the composition of marketing mix too. These include:

Parental fear for outdoor activities: The parents and children often explicitly link restrictions on the child’s access to the world outside to increase media use within the home. A lot of parents don’t want their children to go out much and then this time is spent watching TV or surfing over the internet.

Income & lifestyle: The usage of media is directly linked to the income level of household and their lifestyle. Working women are likely to have children who will be media-rich users. Children in reconstituted families are particularly likely to have screen entertainment media (TVlinked games machines, gameboys, PCs and television sets) that are not to be found elsewhere in the house. Children from one-parent families are more likely to have less expensive items such as books, walkmans and radios.

The rise of bedroom culture: This trend evolved in the early 1980’s from the European countries, significantly booming the ‘media-rich’ users, where children were given access to their private TVs, computers and other media.

Absence of leisure activities – boredom: People that do not have a lot of social activities, engage themselves with media. Also loners are more likely than all other groups to turn to television, videos and interactive media when they are in need of excitement.

Appeal of enhanced experience: The technology is becoming more interactive with each passing year. Interactivity incorporates several dimensions which characterize the changing modes of involvement with media: the exchange of roles involved in a two-way interaction; the degree of user control and management of content and timing of the interaction; thus enhancing the experience.

The factors described above focus on youth by and large and this is due to the fact that technology adoption has proven to start from youngsters, because they tend to be accustomed to the new trends and are the early adopters.

2.3 Social Media

Place your order
(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our Guarantees

Money-back Guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism Guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision Policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy Policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation Guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more