Background of the study
Formerly perceived as an activity that only large companies in developed economies engage in, the reality is, success of every organisation, whether large or small is dependent on building a relationship with their customers (Kotler, 2002). Small businesses have used promotion to raise customer's awareness and interest, announce new products, publicise an improvement and stay competitive (Garity, 2010).
The more people respond to promotion, the better it is for the business and the society in large. Promotion allows customers compare and contrast products and services to ensure they get the best (Kotler, 2002)Kayode (2007) defines promotion as the conscious effort that involves setting up mediums that a business can utilize in persuading customers to buy products or services, or even promote a concept. Promotion as a means to communicated existed in pre-historical times.
Egyptian papyrus, waxed boards and roadside rocks were used in the ancient times to present upcoming sales to the citizens (Feofanov, 2004). Technological advancements gave way to expansion of product promotion through mass media. In 20th century, the era of industrial and production though technology and innovation to develop sophisticated and organized means of communicating with potential customers.
With the help of radio, billboards, flyers, television, magazines, newspapers and brochures, small businesses were able to to create awareness of their products (Patino ; Pitta 2012) and communicate with their customers. Breirley (1995) explains further that small businesses also engage in promotion with an objective to influence behaviours, appeal to customers as well as motivate them to buy or not buy certain products.
In developing countries, broadcast and print media remain the most preferred means of promotion due to its nature of information richness whose format allows text, animation and audio (Murmaan, 2013). According to Marmori (2009) radio and television give businesses the possibility to reach a sufficient amount of targeted audience as well as a high frequency of words in the message distributed. They have the ability to reach even illiterate people.
Television and radio transmits locally, regionally as well as internationally giving the promotion a widest coverage. Although the most popular, radio and television are expensive media for promotion of products and services in comparison to short exposure time of their message. One's message has to be brief, and sometimes considered a nuisance when aired in the middle of a program.
With the creation of World Wide Web in the early 1990s, internet as mechanism of disseminating information between individuals, regardless of their geographical destination has had a landmark effect on how small businesses are promoting their products/ services (Leiner, Cerf, Clark, Kahn, 2017). Formerly regarded as a communication tool, internet in now a certifiably revolutionary technology that has enabled businesses a faster and better two-way communication between them and their customers.
In the first era, internet belonged to individuals, an aspect that has long changed as businesses have taken over and are using social media to create awareness of their products or services (Kaplain & Heinlein, 2010). The revolution in technology has changed how businesses are establishing and maintaining relationships with their customers (Breirley, 1995).
Through websites and social media and increase of mobile phone, both small businesses and customers have a quick access to information, low promotional cost, multimedia enriched and limitless space (Stojkovi?, 2012). Internet has offered a global platform to sell and buy products and services for small business formerly limited by lack of sufficient budgets.In Tanzania, many small businesses are integrating social media as part of the promotion plan.
Ayman's Investment is a one such business that engages social media via Instagram to promote its services and products which includes a hair and beauty and bridal clothes respectively.
Buettner (2016) describes social media as computer affiliated tools that enables users to share information in virtual networks, faster and effective. When adopted in business, Social Media offers a variety of benefits and opportunities for businesses to promote their businesses (Celine, 2012).
Therefore, businesses cannot afford to bypass Social Media. Mehmood ; Shabbir (2016) acknowledges that indeed social media has transformed not only social interaction but the way of business. Whether websites, social networks or blogs, people are sharing their experiences and information. Smith ;Treadaway (2010) observed that the rise of social media has more or less coincided with the decline of traditional media with its acceptance rate continuing to increase as compare to traditional media.
Social media allow users to create content by taking and sharing photos of their products as well as write captions to compliment the photos (Bui, 2014). Ben Long, a photographer and writer highlights the use of photos as a powerful tool to evoke a potent experience to viewers (Long, 2011).
Through social media, businesses can generate, authentic conversations between them and customers and they are sharing their thoughts and experiences at no cost at all, unlike word-of-mouth which is limited in reach and broadcast media that is expensive (Evans,2008). They include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat. Although less popular that Facebook, Instagram is rapidly becoming one of today's top choices among small businesses.
Launched in October 2010, Instagram had 800 million active subscribers in September, 2017. With 7 million internet users in Tanzania, small businesses are using Instagram as an online mobile photo, video-sharing and social networking service enabling them take pictures and videos, and share them other users who are potential and existing customers (Gross, 2010). Both small and large businesses are using Instagram is an ideal promotion tool (Keating, 2015).
Small Investments also referred as Small Businesses are also referred to as Small and Medium Enterprises or Micro, Medium Enterprises. In Tanzania, small investments are described as those with the ability to engage or employ up to 4 with a capital amounting up to Tshs.5.0 million (SME policy, 2002).
Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Commerce estimate that at least 95% of business in Tanzania are small businesses and contribute about 35% of the country's Gross Development Product (GDP) making small business a crucial subject of discussion.This study is determined to find out how and why small businesses are adopting social media as a promotion tool.