As technology is changing the way society communicates today, social media is becoming a part of interaction among individuals, businesses, governments
and the society at large. This development has implications for communication experts including advertising practitioners who need to find effective and efficient means of reaching their target audiences. There is a high tendency for audiences using the social media network sites to master the art of social media advertising more than the advertising professionals themselves. When this happens advertising agencies may loose out their clientele as organization may tend to depend more on in-house personnel for their social media solutions. It is against this backdrop that this research is interested in finding out how advertising professionals are faring in this emerging technological environment.
Social media advertising is any kind of paid content on a social media network (https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-advertising/). This suggests that free posts on the social media platforms are not inclusive of social media advertising.
Advertising agencies that would build capacity in social media advertising are more likely to attract more clients than those stuck to traditional advertising. This development can lead to liquidation of even huge agencies which cannot adapt to the
wave of change in the communications industry.
This study examines how advertising agencies in Ghana adopt the social media in their advertising practice. It focuses on the perceptions and attitudes of advertising practitioners in Ghana and how they are adapting to the fast changing communication environment which is moving towards digital platforms. The growing popularity of the social media in Ghana and worldwide with advertisers increasing their budgets for social media advertising offers an opportunity for advertising agencies in Ghana to exploit.
Failure of local agencies to leverage on the opportunities created by the new communication facilities can lead to advertisers resorting to international agencies where expertise is required, a situation which can lead to capital flight with dire consequences for the local economy.
Advertising has utilized varied media channels over the years and the advent of the New Media comprising the internet and other digital platforms is introducing new dimensions into the advertising sphere. Advertising channels in mass media other than
the New Media are referred to as the traditional media notably radio, television and print which comes in the form of newspapers and magazines.
According to Bovee “Advertising is the non-personal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media.”(Bovee, 1992, p. 7)
The social media which is powered by the internet is a part of the wider digital media
computer-mediated tools that allow people, companies and other organizations to create, share, or exchange information, career interests, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks.
The fact that digital media usage is seen to be more prevalent in the youth than in older people suggests that in the near future the bulk of the advertising audience can more conveniently located online than in the traditional media (Brown 2012). The emerging communication technologies coupled with the changing practices which manifest in various fields, such as telemedicine in health, virtual classrooms in academia, podcasting and streaming in the mass media, and online surveys in research. These mediums all account for the rise in online population.
As a strategic choice of media channel is crucial to the success in communicating advertising message, changes in the media landscape globally in terms of the New Media with emphasis on the social media poses a challenge to advertising practitioners (Goodwin, 2014). Embracing the new phenomenon can have a lot of prospects for the advertising practitioners while wishing them away also has the potential of spelling their doom in the industry. The importance of the social media in communication today has
been evident in many business activities. Brown (2012) proposes that social media is very important in getting close to the customer, hearing what the customer says about your
brand, changing customer perceptions about the organization, improving customer relations and broadening your strategic network. According to Brown (2012) the magnitude at which social media is connecting businesses to people is unprecedented, more than they ever thought possible.
Social media advertising comes in the form of electronic banners, text links, pop-ups, videos, search engine optimizations and online networking portals. These services spread across different platforms and portals. Most notable for search engine optimization is google search.
Statistics from socialbakers.com and ebizmba.com portals, showing the use of social media globally reveal that 1 billion subscribers were on Facebook as at April 2016 and that 936 million out of this are active users of Facebook. From the same sources of socialbakers.com and ebizmba.com the global use of Twitter recorded 320 million as of August 2016, Linkedin with 255 million in April 2016, Pinterest hit 250 million and Google Plus with120 million also of April 2016. It has also shown that daily login for Twitter hit 100 million as around same April 2016 and that Instagram has been the fastest growing network around the same period.
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