The role of social media marketing in the small business environment in Emkhondo.
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Social media marketing has grown rapidly in recent years, with many businesses adopting it as a communication/marketing strategy. However, literature reveals that small businesses’ adoption of social media marketing is very low compared to that of large organisations. Exploring the use and impact of social media marketing within small businesses is therefore a relevant and timely concern. This research sought to ascertain the extent to which small businesses in eMkhondo make use social media marketing, explore the benefits and contribution of social media marketing to these small businesses, and examine the challenges faced by these small businesses in implementing social media marketing. Although social media marketing is a well-researched topic, literature revealed that this research is mainly about large organisations. The use of social media marketing by small businesses is very low; accordingly, knowledge about their current implementation of social media marketing is largely lacking. This study therefore addressed the gap of limited existing research concerning the usage of social media marketing by small businesses in South Africa. The study followed an exploratory design which adopted a qualitative approach, in order to vividly unveil how and why small businesses utilise social media marketing. A sample of six purposively-selected small business owners/managers from eMkhondo participated in this study. In-depth semi-structured interviews were used to collect data about their usage and perceptions of social media marketing in their small businesses. Interviews were supplemented by analysis of the businesses’ social media sites to provide more insight into their social media marketing efforts. Content and thematic analysis were used to analyse the data. The main findings of the study depict that there is low level of social media marketing engagement and adoption among these small businesses, which participants attributed to lack of time and expertise in adopting social media marketing. Participants also acknowledged that social media marketing can be beneficial to their businesses, but that the challenges they face are detrimental to their success. Research revealed that Facebook is the most popular site for social media marketing amongst the participants. Platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and YouTube were regarded by participants as too sophisticated, as they need people with the knowhow to implement them.