RAISA* on the Public-Sector Express

by Elizabeth Falkowska

An exploratory study of the resources and capabilities needed for the Public Sector to successfully adopt and utilise RAISA*.

*(Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Service Automation)

Background

 Robotic surgeons, self-driving cars, neuro-technological brain enhancements, genetic editing, multimodality hybrid imaging detecting prostate cancer, real- time speech translation and digital cities encompass RAISA technologies and is the ‘evidence that dramatic change is all around us’ (Schwab 2016 p.8). These innovations are possible due to digital technologies that resulted from the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, which ‘is comprised of new technologies that are said to ‘fuse the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries’ (Marr 2016, p.1).

There are concerns surrounding this, such as the loss of jobs for humans. For example, Chatbots enable predictive customer service, removing the need for employees to manually execute certain tasks. However, recent study found that digital technologies including AI actually created, 80,000 new jobs across a population similar to the UK (McKinsey 2017).

Furthermore, Industry experts suggest that RAISA applications could contribute up to 75% of revenue for some sectors of the market. According to (Preston 2015) countless companies will not succeed and the more technologically astute companies will emerge. For the PS, RASIA adoption is becoming of great importance. In the most recent edition of the Industrial Strategy, the HMRC place AI & data at the forefront of their strategy to be the industry of the future. The strategy highlighted how the Government will invest £406m in digital, technical and maths education and introduce a national re-training scheme to re-skill people (HMRC 2018). IT has been instrumental in the development of RAISA. The resources and capabilities aligned to IT seem to somewhat mimic that of RAISA (Chen et al 2015 Suzuki et al 2017); however, as RAISA presents a set of assets that differ from IT, both the complimentary and distinctive resources and capabilities must be examined to allow for integration and alignment for RAISA to be fully utilised within the PS. Previous research has not examined this, leaving many questions and unexplored areas around how this adoption will work in practice. In order for the PS to be able to ‘seize’ the opportunities before them, mass adoption must occur (Schwab 2016) – but to ensure success, there are barriers that need to be understood.

Hence, this study explores the capabilities and resources needed for the Public Sector to successfully adopt and utilise RAISA technologies.

Method

This study is adopting a Grounded Theory research method – normally used by post-positivist studies that aim to develop a theory (Annells 1997).

The author has decided to use semi-structured interviews as this format can include both structured and unstructured questions allowing the author to ask purposeful questions (Saunder et al 2016). Semi-structured interviews enable flexibility in questioning and employ theoretical sampling –exploring in depth certain aspects and adjusting interview guide as the data collection progresses (Corbin and Strauss 1990).

Interviews were carried out via Skype due to convenience, affordability and ability to increase sample by removing the issue of distance, which face to face interviews could cause (Iacono et al. 2016).

This study adopted the cross-sectional approach due to time constraints. This approach is less time-consuming than longitudinal and will allow the author to discover variations (Bryan and Bell 2015) which is fits the research method, Grounded Theory, by allowing the author to catch all applicable information as it appears, and identifying patterns and variations. This is crucial to successfully exploring a phenomenon (Corbin and Strauss 1990). See profile of the interviewees/participants below.

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Findings: RAISA on the Public Sector Express

Hercule Poirot – the detective on the Orient Express. In this case, Poirot is the author. Poirot boards the Orient Express among strangers, but observes some peculiar events, which gives him the impression that these ‘strangers’ may know each other after all. He finds himself investigating the death of Ratchett (who kidnapped and killed Daisy Armstrong in exchange for money), who is murdered on the train. Evidence leads Poirot to the conclusion that all members on the train were involved with the death of Ratchett, and that all 12 passengers had links with the Daisy Armstrong case.

In place of a ‘murder’ we have RAISA stakeholders: Microsoft and PS employees. The ‘strangers’ knew which train they were getting and which seat they would be sat in but were not aware of the relationships between them.

RAISA is adopted with the same approach. It becomes apparent, that in both the film and in RAISA on the Orient Express the key theme is ‘relationship’. The capabilities and resources needed for the PS to utilise and leverage RAISA within the PS are both distinctive from and similar to those of IT. Each resource and capability may seem like the strangers on the train to outside individuals, but they are all related by the concept of ‘relationship’, which effects every element and ultimately achieves the outcome.

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RAISA on the PS Express: (Image used, Post 2017, Authors Own Creation made in Photoshop, 2018)

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Slacktivism to Activism conversion is possible and leading to success

by Elvira Bolat

Original content was published via LinkedIn:

Launched at the red carpet events the Time’s Up movement is gradually moving it audiences towards discussing further the issues of gender inequality, abuse of power and sexual harassment in workplaces and industries. It is not about awareness anymore but about taking actions, hearing stories of others and supporting victims.

From the  Time’s Up campaign example we see that social media campaigns are leading to more than just slacktivist behaviour. Society and audiences are listening and acting on information; they express empathy and they learn to be cautious. In the past two years my research colleague @FreyaSamuelson-Cramp and I have been looking into issues around outcomes achieved by social media marketing when it comes to promoting and engaging audiences and society with social causes, i.e. child abuse, poverty, immigration etc. Over the course of these two years we conducted empirical research into slacktivist behaviour and of course we have interpreted and followed through results achieved by famous social marketing campaigns such as IceBucketChallenge and KONY2012. In most of these cases we have seen amazing results in terms of awareness. Our study does show that slacktivists are engaging with the online social marketing campaign due to participatory and solidarity culture of social media. Psychological and emotional motives are strongly utilised by most social marketing campaigns, hence, they do achieve number of likes, shares and reshares – activity metrics of social media engagement. However, most of these campaigns, just like any social media content, are eventually lost in timelines of content, forgotten and dusted. What is different about Time’s Up? Below are some headings that I believe make Time’s Up a truly successful and different social media campaign.

STORY

Time’s Up movement created from the #MeToo campaign brings to light stories of sexual harassment in workplaces, entertainment industry and overall gender inequality issues where males are abusing own rights and power to undermine, disrespect and take advantage of women. The story of Men Power, and gender inequality (or should I say, Women Powerlessness) is documented in fairytales such as Cinderella (only prince can make cinderella a princess), Red Riding Hood (only the hunter could save the poor girl and her granny) is accompanying young children, leading up to embedded into upbringing differences in girls and boys. Today, however, stories are changing with Elsa relying on her sister to rule her land and Moana being the only person to save her people and in fact give back a demigod abilities to ‘powerful’ Mawi. And quite frankly these stories are not about battle of powers but the partnership of genders. #MeToo campaign, in light of these new stories, is not about females or males but about a suffer that abuse of power creates. This story united people, families, celebrities and their fans. Solidarity, community and emotions are three components that were critical stimuli to make #MeToo campaign a relatable story.

INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS

Time’s Up movement is a continuous campaign that is reactive and carefully planned at the same time. However, its success is hugely depends on utilising omni-channel communication with events marketing at the heart. Major entertainment events such as Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Grammys are platform to talk to all people across the world using celebrities are transmitters of the message. This time, however, victims themselves play a role in communicating their messages and having a community of supporters by their side. The show embeds solidarity and partnership – this makes a positive attitude and support unavoidable. Watch my favourite speech by Janelle Monáe during Grammys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjqFGS5CwFA 

Powerful, is not it? So, I can watch this speech over and over and share, reshare and comment because of social media channels like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc. TV channels, magazine covers, bloggers, any social media user have now shared their opinions and created own content to demonstrate solidarity and support. Bundle of channels and, hence, webs of conversations enable the Time’s Up to bring in financially and capabilities viable and critical partners (i.e. volunteer lawyers) together to help victims of sexual harassment and deliver a justice. Content and ubiquitous conversation enable victims to feel supported and speak out without feeling ashamed and hope to be supported.

It is not ends on communication and promotion only, we see changes in products and services – the whole marketing industry is reacting to #MeToo story with wearable gadgets being introduced to help victims in the incidents of attacks.

Overall, it is because of one single story and consistent and coherent multichannel transmission of the story, Time’s up, through crowdfunding vis-a-vis likes and shares, is building an army of supporters and people who truly can make difference to victims’ lives and build in policies and regulations, and change attitudes.

AUDIENCE JOURNEY MAPPING

Time’s up through awareness and move to interest and education is now slowly taking its audiences to stage of action and meaningdul engagement. This campaign is not about one reaction but Time’s Up aims to achieve a gradual combination of emotional and behavioural changes. With the global events at heart, the campaign is bringing in to spotlight the Story. However, behind the scene it enables others to conduct further research and form own opinion vis-a-vis social media conversations and follow-up media coverage. Now, gradually we see key stakeholders being involved in making visible and actionable changes that are to affect all of us via policies and cultural value shifts. This is what drastically differentiates Time’s Up from other social marketing campaigns. Here we see gradual journey, that all of us within the audience, conduct: from Awareness stage to Interest, Desire and now Action. Integrated marketing communications and careful mapping of audiences’ behavioural journey enables that conversion of slacktivists into activists.

SOCIAL MEDIA LISTENING

Social media listening is important part of a marketing research. It is mostly used in pre-campaign phases to shape story and make it relevant, current (or timely), choose channels and personas. However, in my article about Universities marketing I did write that social media listening needs to be everyday job of today’s T-shaped marketers: social media listening is not just about research but it is part of content development and social media storytelling – sensing when to release next chapter of your story, who to be the hero of your chapter. Time’s Up is doing this quite well and quite frankly it is not channel or event related. For instance after Golden Globes, Grammys and BAFTA events could easily shift attention to different phase of audience journey (as per above). However, Time’s Up did listen and learnt that audience was not ready yet and education (interest, desire) phase was to be prolonged.

PERSONA ENGAGEMENT, NOT DEVELOPMENT, APPROACH!

Although the campaign is aimed at everyone, there is a key persona for the Time’s Up – a victim (past, present and future) of sexual harassment. This persona is not narrowly described by her/his social media networks and other touchpoints, demographic and lifestyle profiling; this persona is defined by his/her journey in relation to the Story (as per above). This is quite different to other nonprofit or for profit marketing campaigns. Time’s Up is becoming a gradual part of its personas’ journeys, hence the campaign is underpinned by engagement approach. For instance, we see now gradual changes in attitudes that make victims of sexual harassment to be open about their stories. Next, Time’s Up is aiming to build a strong and leading to actual results support ecosystem that will enable victims to ‘break the silence’ and come forward. Future personas or these to be educated, and hence not to ever be victims, are part of the journey through education and learning and reassurance that this topic is no longer a taboo subject.

We are still to observe and learn about the Time’s Up campaign. However, one thing is clear about this social marketing campaign, it places key characters at the heart of its story, listens to conversations and evaluates readiness of audiences to proceed to the next phases of customer journey. It clearly uses a nonconformist – slacktivist – activist conversion as a foundation for its phased but continuous communication.

 

Universities need to adapt commercial brands-led marketing practices of social media listening and user-generated storytelling

by Elvira Bolat

UK universities still need to come to terms with the fact that the whole sector is experiencing great changes triggered by marketisation of higher education (HE) sector. However, given the changes are impacting the sector with such a speedy pace, commercial brand and marketing communication practices need to be adopted immediately – to remain competitive. In times of Teaching Excellence Framework when each UK university is graded for its commitment to teaching quality and student service, we now admitted that students are consumers. However, we still may argue that consumption of higher education is still a different process where prosumption, co-creation of experiences and students’ active role within the consumption process are significant elements of the educational journey. This is not the point we have tried to make in our recently published paper at the Journal of Marketing Management. Instead, we are calling higher education institutions (HEIs) to adopt “market-driven business practices” and attempt “to listen to and leverage student-generated social media content” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017). “However, the power of content creators needs to be left or shifted to students, whereas the role of HE marketers, educators and other stakeholders is in listening and engaging via students as brand personas, students who truly believe in a specific HEI brand but also are able to generate authentic stories and conversations with current and prospective students” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017).

The paper itself is based around a social media artefact, ‘This Is Where I Study’ (TIWIS) Facebook page, created by students in the form of dialogues and content.

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Oxford as Student Destination: TIWIS team’s field trip to Oxford, May 2015. Photographer: Mahmut Bolat

Extract from the paper adds:

“TIWIS is essentially a ‘social journalism’ artefact that caters for international students seeking to study in UK universities. TIWIS utilised the social media and marketing expertise of BU journalism and marketing staff and students to produce reportage that prospective foreign students can draw from… BU students worked with teams from other UK HEIs for content production. The BU journalism team was drawn from MA Multimedia Journalism students, with the marketing team drawn from MSc Marketing Management students. The ultimate intention of the TIWIS project was to create student-related and relevant content with the intention of stimulating continuous students’ conversations which would first benefit and improve experiences of international students studying in the UK and second enable the generation of student-generated data that can be analysed and underpin the UK HEIs’ marketing initiatives as well as other business decisions.” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017).

We have adapted three-stage analysis of netnographic data related to engagement with TIWIS page and content and found that:

“students’ engagement with social media platforms such as Facebook is dynamic in nature. It comprises behavioural expressions (manifestations and actions such as likes and shares as well opinion comments) and individuals’ experiences (subjective in nature stories and comments of personal experiences and views). Hence, netnographic analysis allows capturing actual behaviours via longitudinal ‘big data’ sets and support HEIs in proactive branding. Analysis of social media data demonstrates the value of encouraging and making accessible authentic conversations in order to create student-centred content.” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017).

Read full paper at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0267257X.2017.1328458?scroll=top&needAccess=true

Full reference: Bolat, E. and O’Sullivan, H., 2017. Radicalising the marketing of higher education: learning from student-generated social media data. Journal of Marketing Management, pp.1-22.

Women in the Digital

by Dr Parisa Gilani

In 2015 the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) published an extensive report on the state of the UK Digital and Creative Sectors. The Digital sector was defined as consisting of primarily telecommunications, computer programming and related consulting activities, information service activities and the repair of computers and other goods (UKCES, 2015). The study found that despite the growth of the sector (which was seen to be growing at a faster rate than the UK economy as a whole), only 27% of those employed in the UK’s digital industries were women, compared to 33% in 2002. This is less that the UK average of 47% for female employees

At a global level, Google is a good example of this trend in practice. Data from last year demonstrates that 31% of Google’s employees are women. This figure is considerably less at 19% when we solely look at their tech employees, although this is a slight increase from 18% in 2014 (Google, 2015).

Despite a clear picture of these trends both in the UK and further afield, there is much debate about why the representation of women in the digital sector is so low. Tara Mussell, two time Venus Award Winner and founder and Chief Operating Officer of Ratio, a successful software company based in Dorset, said in a recent Venus Magazine interview ‘I think the female voice is definitely lacking from the digital space. It seems the further you get away from London, the less women there are in senior positions in the digital space’ (Venus, 2016).

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Women in the Digital Sector, photographer: Mahmut Bolat, model: Elvira Bolat

A UKCES 2012 study indicated that women are less likely to enter the digital sector as well as progress in it. Furthermore it suggested that there are still few female students studying related subjects at A-Level and degree level. UKCES cites a 2014 report by e-skills UK, which found that females accounted for only 12% of applicants to computer science and IT related education courses in 2013.

Whilst this perhaps creates a rather a negative picture of the state of the digital sector, and women’s role in it, there are a number of steps being taken with the UK to try and increase female representation. For example the Tech Partnership is a network of employers who work together to create skills for the UK’s digital economy. One of their particular focusses is on inspiring girls aged 9-14 to develop their technological skills and become interested in digital careers, through their TechFuture Girls School Clubs. A similar approach is being adopted in the US though the non-profit organisation led ‘Girls Who Code’ initiative (The Tech Partnership, 2016).

There are also important initiatives aimed to encourage and support the development and progression of women more widely in technology. For example the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU)’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 and aims to ‘encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research’ (Athena Swan, 2016). Bournemouth University have recently been awarded a Bronze Award from Athena Swan, recognising its focus on trying to tackle gender inequality in higher education.

There are clearly efforts being made in the UK to address the lack of women working in the Digital Sector. However there is a still a long way to go. With the UK digital and creative sector expected to grow substantially by 2022 (UKCES, 2015), it is vital that as much as possible is done to ensure that progress continues to made!

Moreover, expansion of women-led start-ups being successful and competitive is due to digital technologies enabling access to resources and capabilities that were not available to business women before. Image below is taken by Wandering brand team showcasing the founder and owner, Giorgia Gabriele, using mobile tech to capture brand installation for marketing and connecting with consumers purposes.

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Women in Business with Digital Help, photographer: Wandering brand team, model: Giorgia Gabriele

References and Further Reading

Equality Challenge Unit (ECU). 2016. Athena Swan Charter [online]. London: ECU. Available from http://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charters/athena-swan/ [Accessed 30 October 2016]

Gibbs, S. 2014. Women in technology: no progress on inequality for 10 years, The Guardian [online], 14 May 2014. Available from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/14/women-technology-inequality-10-years-female [Accessed 30 October 2016]

Girls Who Code, 2016, About Us [online]. Girls Who Code. Available from https://girlswhocode.com/about-us/ [Accessed 30 October 2016]

Google, 2015. Focussing on Diversity [online]. Mountain View: Google. Available from https://blog.google/topics/diversity/focusing-on-diversity30/ [Accessed 30 October 2016]

The Tech Partnership, 2016. About the Tech Partnership [online]. London: The Tech Partnership. Available from https://www.thetechpartnership.com/about/ [Accessed 30 October 2016]

UKCES (UK Commission for Employment and Skills), 2015. UK Commission’s 2015 Sector Skills Insights: skills and performance challenges in the digital and creative sector. UKCES Evidence Report no. 92 [online]. Wath-upon-Dearne: UKCES. Available from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/433755/Skills_challenges_in_the_digital_and_creative_sector.pdf [Accessed 30 October 2016]

UKCES (UK Commission for Employment and Skills), 2012. UK Commission’s Information and Communication Technologies: Sector Skills Assessment 2012. UKCES Briefing Paper [online]. Wath-upon-Dearne: UKCES. Available from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/306419/briefing-paper-ssa12-information-communication-technologies.pdf [Accessed 30 October 2016]

Women in STEM, 2016. Tackling the gender imbalance in the UK tech sector [online]. Mediaplanet. Available from http://www.womeninstem.co.uk/women-in-tech/tackling-the-gender-imbalance-in-the-uk-tech-sector [Accessed 30 October 2016].

Mobile Technology and its Use in Business

by Dr Elvira Bolat

*Note this post contains extracts from published research. Links to full texts are provided below.

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Mobile Technology in Business, photographer: Mahmut Bolat, models: Rusteen Ordoubadian & Wasile Akhtar

 

No existing research maps and discusses holistically values deriving from mobile technology use capturing both strategic and operational opportunities which are best to emerge in the B2B context. This empirical paper addresses this gap. Adapted grounded theory approach is applied to collect and analyse in-depth interviews with 28 B2B practitioners from advertising and marketing firms. Whether mobile technology is a simple mean to advanced communication with no physical boundaries of time and location or a business tool to boost creative thinking, this study concludes that mobile technology represents a novel and unique category of technology because of its core distinctive feature, ‘being mobile’.

B2B practitioners argue that the true nature of mobile technology lies in seeing it as a source of value that derives from using mobile technology. B2B practitioners view mobile technology not only as a purely technical tool (functional value) enabling effective communication (social value) but as a strategic tool driving balanced and flexible ways in managing business (emotional value) and enabling creative thinking (creative value). See table 1 for full details on all values.

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“This study concludes that mobile technology represents a novel and unique category of technology. Whether it is a simple means toward advanced communication with no physical boundaries of time and location, or a business tool which can be employed to boost creative thinking, this study concludes that mobile technology is different to fixed network and stationary desktop IT because of its core distinctive feature, ‘being mobile’. The existing literature (Balasubramanian et al. 2002; Jarvenpaa et al. 2003; De Reuver et al. 2008; Jarvenpaa and Loebbecke 2009; Tribbia, 2006) and this study are united, in that researching mobile technology through reflection on its technical features limits any understanding of its true nature. Therefore, the true nature of mobile technology lies in seeing it as a source of value that derives from using it in the first place.”

Access full text, Bolat, E., 2016. Business practitioners’ Perspectives on Value of Mobile Technology. Journal of Customer Behaviour, 15 (1), pp. 31-48 below:

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Moreover, our last publication in the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing shows that mobile technology is used to access and engage with social media ‘on the go’.

We found that marketing and advertising firms use mobile social media (MSM) for branding, sensing market, managing relationships and developing content. MSM is treated by businesses as a strategic firm-specific capability that drives firms’ competitiveness where imitation of such capability by competitors is limited because MSM skills are specific to individuals within organisations and MSM routines are manifested as a result of firm-specific MSM skills’ interactions.

Access full article, Elvira Bolat Kaouther Kooli Len Tiu Wright , “Businesses and mobile social media capability”, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, (2016) Vol. 31 Iss: 8, pp.971 – 981, below:

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Social Media & Contemporary Yoga SMEs

by Joy Kao

The increasing adoption of social media attracts many businesses to exercise their employment of it to make profitable use. However, it seems a pure market trend and the benefit of lower cost appears to drive the adoption further. Many medium and small businesses still remain undecided about social media due to the lack of understanding about what it is and how to utilise it effectively. This report explores 8 SMEs’ attitude and motivations towards social media for marketing by adopting grounded theory approach. While the use is popular among businesses, there is a wave of criticism about the inability to offer authenticity of the well-known large brands. There seems a positive impact to smaller businesses and in order to investigate how authenticity transmits, SMEs are targeted in this research. In particular, authenticity is considered important for any yoga community according to traditional yoga teachings. Therefore, this research offers a systematic way of understanding and conceptualising social media marketing and its role in contemporary yoga SMEs context. The research aimed to develop the theory through descriptions, to theorising by condensing raw data into concepts.

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Social Media and Contemporary Yoga SMEs, photographer: Joy Kao, model: Joy Kao

Joy is practicing yoga and is now actively using social media to promote her own contemporary yoga business.

Follow Joy:

Background

Social media in terms of its definition and typology is introduced briefly so is to improve background knowledge on the subject, then the current state of thought of contemporary yoga SMEs is reviewed. This study is going to examine the marketing domain on social media and contemporary yoga. The popularisation of yoga in the West is observed and supported by the deployment of marketing through social media. Additionally, this research on social media in the contextual setting of contemporary yoga SMEs hopes to gain a new insight into the scholarly work in social media marketing.

Social media, unlike other traditional internet based technological advancement, not only penetrates people’s everyday life, but offers the opportunity for transforming how firms conduct businesses nowadays. Social media is known to contribute substantially to the operations and success of businesses (Bennett 2012). At the same time, it presents a challenge for businesses, as the firms which successfully utilise social media are exceptional (Kietzman et al. 2011). Lack of understanding about what social media is and how to engage with it is identified as the initiation of the challenges (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010; Kietzman et al. 2011). Hence, there is a need to gain greater understanding if lack of knowledge hinders social media deployment for business purpose. On the other hand, social media offers the possibility for businesses of all sizes to engage in a timely and directly manner with their audiences, which is relevant to not only larger businesses, but also to smaller enterprises (Kaplan and Haelnlein 2010). Since most of the services on social media are free of cost implement, it appears more attractive for SMEs, primarily due to their characteristic of having restricted resources (Barnes et al. 2012; Levy and Powell 2003). Therefore, this report will further investigate how the cost benefit of social media unfolds in the practical usage of SMEs.

Consumers are increasingly contributing in user-generated marketing content; in turn, many businesses start to exercise their marketing programs to reach the consumers. Unlike traditional media which often prohibits businesses due to cost, social media enables businesses to perform marketing communications with lower budgets (Hanna et al. 2011). The distinct feature of social media for marketing communication enables the impact of consumer-toconsumer conversations to magnify in the marketplace (Mangold and Faulds 2009). In that sense, social media is suggested to be a hybrid role in firm’s Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) strategy, because in the traditional sense, the marketing communication mix enables firms to communicate with the audience (Mangold and Faulds 2009). Even though businesses recognise the needs to be active on social media, there is still a lack of appreciation in terms of how to utilise this distinct feature of social media for marketing communication effectively. This study will further explore how social media is adopted and what the experiences are as a marketing communication tool in real practise.

Contemporary yoga is a globalised phenomenon; the yoga diaspora began over a hundred years ago, and over the past few years its popularity has grown in new manifestations (Singleton and Byrne 2008). Yoga is listed as one of the top ten fastest growing industries in America, the number of Americans who said they have practised yoga in a survey was more than 10 million in 2006 (Moran 2006; Mattews 2012). The growth continues each year; the wellness industry as a whole, including yoga studio business is worth an estimated $3.4 trillion (£2.24 trillion) in 2015, with $446 billion of that coming from organisations dedicated to ‘mind, body and fitness’ (Lawry 2015).

The growth of contemporary yoga seems to have direct relation to the popularity of social media. As Huffington Post (2014) reported, there are more than 400,000 #yogi tags on Instagram. The story, “a yoga girl to business woman” tells of how Rachel Brathen, a yoga teacher and author, utilised social media to become an Instagram star. She explained how social media became her living and why there is need for more ‘authenticity’ in business (The Guardian 2015). There seems a market trend where more and more contemporary yoga entrepreneurs are looking to social marketing programs in an effort to reach their audience.

However, at the same time there is a rise of opposed reaction to ‘social media yoga’, which is a phenomenon that contemporary yoga practitioners upload a large amount of extreme yoga posture photos on social media. The reaction is to object to this trend which not only turns the yoga community into competitive mode, but also projects the false idea of contemporary yoga being about only postures, rather than lifestyle. Therefore, this research hopes to gain an insight on how contemporary yoga businesses can stay true to their beliefs while also utilising social media for marketing to achieve the businesses’ desired outcomes.

Methodology

In this research 8 international contemporary yoga SMEs (as seen in figure below) were interviewed in order to understand the motivation, and the experience of social media adoption in a global mind-set of contemporary yoga in business context.

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Results

Figures below illustrates theoretical model that emerged from the interview data.

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The contextual map of social media deployment process and its role in contemporary yoga SMEs

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The majority of contemporary yoga SMEs are found to have poor knowledge in terms of what social media is and how to use it effectively. To convey their business message is their main objective for most of the businesses. Half of the firms believe social media is a platform for customer service by reinforcing the audience’s knowledge in yoga, as well as providing add value services, such as well being consultation. ‘Pull’ marketing strategy is commonly adopted amongst most of the interviewees which indicates a ‘soft’ approach towards the businesses marketing communication strategy. Social media is integrated into the yoga businesses’ IMC strategy for which advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing are the most frequently utilised promotion mix. In terms of adopting social media for inbound marketing, community building was found the most effective method. Creating talking points by posting outrageous and interesting topics can successfully stimulate conversation, whereas establishing community is perceived useful to extend the crowds’ attention. Requesting feedback not only helps shape the sense of community, but also helps to encourage conversation.

Authenticity was mentioned across all interviewees, the obligation to deliver an authentic message was influenced by traditional yoga teaching. It views that the practise of yoga should be integrated into every aspect of life, that is the so-called ‘yogic lifestyle’. To insist on delivering authentic brand messages underpins positive engagement performance. In order to generate suitable content while at the same time maintaining authenticity, requires creativity which is identified as a main challenge in most of the cases. A relationship between having sufficient knowledge and utilising social media marketing effectively is identified. Creativity enhances social media capability which is recognised. However, it is only evident in one case, firm 6. Perhaps access to more businesses with a professional knowledge and sufficient practical experiences regarding social media marketing will help to develop the understanding in the future.

Access and read full text below: