Social Media Usage in Omaha Business

Vincent Rissell, Delaney Henton, Allison Bartz & Lana Nguyen 

Advertising is used by businesses worldwide, it is seen in examples every day here in Omaha. One of the newest, most common ways businesses are promoting their business is through social media. On social media, people are sharing their experiences with a business through pictures, reviews, and posts. The business itself is able to connect with their customers easier and help their business grow. Everyone in the group has been inspired to try something or go somewhere because they have seen something on their social media about the business. During this project, we want to dig deeper to find out how exactly businesses here in Omaha, big and small, are using social media to promote and advertise. To find out what apps they are specifically using, what the apps offer for business profiles, and if social media is overall helping businesses or not. To find this information website pages, and articles were used to look into social media apps, and also look at small, local businesses as well as large national businesses. For secondary data, images are provided of different types of social media and how they work with businesses to promote and advertise. 

Methodology

Each week something different was done to reach the goal in our research project. First, the topic of “Social Media and Business” was discussed and the plan for the study was outlined. All the information was gathered as a group and individually, starting with each group member individually collecting scholarly journals about the topic. Then once citations from articles were done, each member wrote annotated bibliographies for each one. Following this, as a group we put together a table for the annotated bibliographies. This combined all the groups research and also showed the relationships between the articles and the topic of social media in business. Next to complete the table, it was decided to have each member pick one big business and one small business, local to Omaha. This lead to more research on the specific places chosen. The secondary data used included websites and social media pages of the businesses. The writing memo let each member look at others choices in secondary data and comment on each one. There was next the individual coding table, and the group coding table. The individual one included information found on their own. Then, for the group table, everyone came together and all the information found was put on one table. Finally, the draft of findings really put all the above research together. Themes were individually discussed in relation to each business, and then sub-themes were also made. 

Findings

Social Media

Social Media accounts and platforms are an integral part of a business nowadays. Whether the business is all online or mostly in person, online advertising is so important, especially with youth. Young kids- millenials spend so much of their time on their phones and social media, that it would be crazy not to advertise on there. Some businesses get their start on platforms such as Instagram, and go from there. Others have already built a following elsewhere, but use it to reach more kinds of audiences. It is easy to see the difference between small and large, well-known businesses. Small, local businesses use social media more regularly and make it a point to aesthetically design their pages, this way they attract more followers. This is mostly seen on Instagram because on that platform pictures are the main point, so a good picture equals more likes, comments, followers, and shares. For larger businesses, their social media accounts tend to be more bland and superficial. They use old pictures, as well as older models in their pictures, if people are shown. Website graphic design goes the same way. New, smaller businesses try harder to have an attractive look going and big businesses are usually more straight to the point. 

Instagram

Every single business in our group coding table uses Instagram. This platform has grown dramatically in the past few years. It is how most businesses get most of their following and how they advertise effectively. Instagram is the most used social media by youth, so if aimed at teens, tweens, and new adults, it is especially perfect to use. It is all about the picture you use. Captions can be important but like the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Instagram is how some make a living, through ads they post on their stories or on their page. So businesses will use influencers or locals to somehow model or showcase their product(s). Most giveaways and contests are on Instagram now, which is another way people use other customers to promote their business. 

Followers 

Even though Berkshire Hathaway is a much bigger company than Runza, Runza has a significantly larger following. This is because Runza advertises for all ages and obviously their product is more affordable. They have a family friendly page, and also their company is targeted at any lover of fast food. Their content on Instagram is attention grabbing and exciting because they have opportunities for you to get involved. Berkshire just includes basic details of their services with no special advertisements, because their main audience is not on Instagram. Runza is a place you can go many times a year, while Berkshire you use once or twice in a lifetime. This adds to the following on these accounts. For new, smaller businesses, it is important to gain that Instagram following. This is the best place to become “known” and how to attract customers, based off your feed. For example, The Banh Mi Shop has an Instagram feed that can be described as “aesthetic.” This is great for this small local shop, especially if the main goal here is to attract younger audiences. 

Location 

All of the businesses studied where Omaha based but some were on a smaller scale while others had, overtime, grown becoming nation or worldwide. Many of the small businesses do not have very many locations around Omaha compared to the big businesses, which has numerous locations around Omaha. Many businesses try to find locations that reel in the most consumers, especially small businesses. This is how they can start popularizing their own business and hopefully expand their business throughout other popular locations. For example, in Omaha, Lakeside, Aksarben, and downtown Omaha are the places that normally have the most consumers. 

Nebraska

All of the businesses studied were located in Nebraska, but mainly in the Omaha Area. Small business, Four Sisters Boutique, has only one location in Omaha, however since their business is more focused online, it can be used Nationwide. Jones Bros Cupcakes has only 3 locations in the Omaha area. One at Aksarben, one at Lakeside, and one at Westroads Mall. The Banh Mi Shop currently has only two locations in Nebraska. One in the Omaha area at Aksarben and the other in Bellevue, Nebraska. Runza has about 85 different locations in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Iowa. Although Runza has locations in other parts of the United States, it was first originated in Nebraska. Going into big businesses, Mutual of Omaha has 31 locations throughout the Midwest, and is now offering online services Nationwide. Omaha Steaks has only one location in the Omaha area since their business is more focused online. Union Pacific has headquarters that are based in Omaha with over 32,000 miles of train tracks and Distribution Centers Nationwide. And the last studied big business was Berkshire Hathways. Berkshire Hathaways is based in Omaha with 80 different distribution facilities with 110,000 different locations Nationwide. 

Products
The small and large businesses in Omaha analyzed all offer different products or services, like real estate, insurance, loans, transportation, product distribution, clothing, accessories, jewelry, drinks, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts. For the smaller, local businesses that offer more specific products or services, their social media accounts really focused on what they offer and business information. Most of the small business accounts were colorful, intriguing and provided pictures. The bigger businesses typically offer a broader more general product or service, and their social media mainly focuses on what they offer, business information, customer reviews. In contrast to the smaller, most of the bigger business accounts were simple, clean, not colorful, and information based.

How Products or Services Are Advertised

 It was interesting to see the differences in how different businesses that offer different products and services are advertising. For example food places like Runza, Banh Mi, Omaha Steaks, and Jones Bros Cupcakes, on these social media pages you will commonly find a lot of appetizing pictures and descriptions of the food that the business provides. This usually makes the consumers hungry and decide to eat at that place. Four Sisters Boutique offers women’s clothing, accessories, and jewelry, so their social media accounts provide fun, happy looking models wearing their products. Lastly businesses like Berkshire Hathaway real estate, Union Pacific product distribution, and Mutual of Omaha insurance, which are all bigger businesses. On these social media pages there was lots of information about the business itself and quick access to communicating with representatives, and agents in order to work with them. 

Audience

Different businesses, small or large have different audiences that they attract depending on their services, products or offerings to an audience. In Omaha we learned that the majority of the business we looked over have a pretty similar audience in each of them with people sharing some common interests in one or more things over the business. This could be depending upon what the business offers to the community. Smaller business audience usually have more in common with each other since the smaller business depending on what it offers may only cater to a smaller audience due to its size or people’s knowledge of it. Then bigger businesses have a wider audience due to people’s knowledge of it and the services or products that they cater. 

Audience Size

Smaller businesses like the Banh Mi shop has a smaller audience to people who know of them from instagram or people who like their Vietnamese food. This also includes people who have seen their business but don’t like or have tried vietnamese food. Which causes a smaller audience for them since they only cater a small amount of products to a specific group of people who like Vietnamese styled food or boba. Bigger businesses like Omaha steaks appeals to a bigger audience since the company is an international that  can be sent worldwide and has a huge phone center that reaches across nationwide. Including their huge variety of products and prices this helps appeal to a large audience opposed to Banh Mi. 

Age

 Different age groups are attracted by different things offered by business such as teenagers-college students would be appealed to businesses promoting student discounts. Age groups would be attracted to a certain thing they all have in common with each other that the business may offer for them. Such as Elderly people enjoying a discount for being a senior or retired. These different age group promotional offers help a business grow a target market amongst a certain age group. Especially with promoting on their social media primarily promotes teens-young adults since they’re mainly on social media. Runza & Banh Mi have student discounts which gives them a bigger audience of teens-young adults as well as affordability. While Berkshire Hathaway, Mutual of Omaha, & Omaha Steaks has a bigger older audience due to more expensive products that teens through young adults can’t always afford. The affordability of the products or services also changes the variety of the audience’s age group. 

Analysis

Over the years it is clear that social media is a great resource for businesses to promote their products or services. In the bibliography titled “Facebook advertising’s influence on intention-to-purchase and purchase amongst Millennials” researchers studied the influence of behavioural attitudes towards one of the most popular social media sites, Facebook, and determined whether various usage and demographic variables have an impact on intention to purchase and purchase perceptions. It was found that Millennials and younger generations in general are more technologically advanced than other generations. These generations are spending the most time on social media which is why it is important to make their social media sites fun and interactive for these younger generations (Duffett). Our findings show support this study. When looking at business that most likely have a younger demographic like Runza, Four Sisters Boutique, Banh Mi, and Jones Bros we see high levels of interaction on social media. Their social media accounts offer a lot of visuals, colors and easy to understand information. Other businesses like Mutual of Omaha, Omaha Steaks, Union Pacific, and Berkshire Hathaway promote to the older generations who aren’t as active on social media. Therefore social media is likely not these businesses main source of advertising.

Finding that visuals on social media had a huge connection with how successful a business was relates to the bibliography titled “Endorsement and Visual Complexity in Food Advertising on Instagram”. The study investigates the differences in consumer pleasure, arousal and purchase intention when consumers encounter food advertising on Instagram using different endorsers and visual complexity levels. The study was conducted involving 180 undergraduate students from several universities, and they had to be active on social media for a least a year. The study found that food advertising using high levels of visual complexity cues generates more pleasure and arousal than less complex advertising. However, less complex food ads using food experts create greater pleasure than those endorsed by celebrities. Consumer pleasure and arousal were significant mediators of the impact of endorser type and visual complexity on consumer purchase intentions. So basically as celebrities and higher levels of visual complexity result in more favorable responses to Instagram ads (Kusumasondjaja). Food markets need to consider increasing their visuals when using celebrities in advertising by adding more objects, more colors, objects, textures and incorporating asymmetric elements in the advertisement. This information can be generalized beyond food. We can assume that this is the same when it comes to all other products and services, the more visually appealing a website or social media cite is, the more interested and excited the consumers become.  

In this project it was studied how small and big businesses use social media to their advantage. In the article “How a cost effective social media plan can make a difference for small businesses,” small businesses only have a 50% chance of surviving for more than five years on social media (Bandyopadhyay, S). With a small business coming about, you need to use all types of social media. The reason for this is because of the lack of communication efforts in a business. Ways to ensure one’s survival can include setting up smart goals and business plans. 

From chapter 8.2 in “Product Advertising,” small businesses use advertisements online which allows for consumers to bypass traditional advertising venue, which is television and newspaper ads  Today there is a much better chance for someone to see a business from scrolling through social media, rather than from a commercial on television. New media is taking over obsolete ways of advertisement and entertainment. The list of new media grows everyday and from chapter eight, New Media, the news put on social media is not always accurate. Any anonymous person could get online and fake a sale going on for a company. This would lead consumers to see it, believe it, and then be disappointed or even angry with the company, even though they did nothing wrong. Being careful with your news sources in the modern age is extremely important. 

From the chapter reading eight, it went over technological advancements leading to globalization world wide in products. With this online trade amongst many products through the interwebs it also causes people from anywhere to buy something else from a different part of the world. Causing audiences for companies to be truly endless if they publish a solid social media basis. As long as the business has a good social media then their audience will grow globally by attracting people with the same or similar interests but just internationally. 

From the chapter reading eighteen, it went over different economic terms from either the increase or decrease of the economy. These economic booms can increase the audience of a business since people have more money to fund their lifestyle. However a depression can cause a business’ audience to narrow down due to people no longer being able to afford to shop or support that business.  Also different businesses appeal go different wealth classes unless it’s business such as walmart that caters to all. Factors of money effect audience of a business because depending upon the cost of the products or services can vastly change the audience. 

From the article “Business Location and Success”, a location selection is one of the most important business decisions that have to be made carefully. Past research has shown that business location have had relationships with business’ success. It is very important for a business to choose a location that attracts the most consumers. The five most important location factors towards having a successful, growing business would be proximity to consumers, the availability of high quality ISP, security, availability of utilities, and availability of business venues. With these important location factors, one’s business can grow successfully and attract many consumers. 

From the article, “The Correlation between Business Location and Consumers Patronage: Implications for Business Policy Decisions”, the study was motivated to debate that the location of a business has good consequences to a profitability, growth and survival, and decisions. It is expected that that businesses search for locations that will increase revenues and reduce costs because high revenue and low costs will result in high profits for the business. Locations, especially for retailers, must be accessible to a potential target group of consumers. Being located at a far distance will lead to a negative effect on the business reducing the frequency of consumers visiting. This is why choosing one’s business location is very important. A successful business must be set near a crowded group of consumers. Not away from them. 

Conclusion

To conclude, this study shows us what Omaha’s big and small businesses presence on social media looks like. Smaller businesses have more pressure to create a welcoming and interesting social media account to grow their business. They use engaging, colorful visuals, giveaways, and creative captions to gain a following. Bigger businesses located in Omaha, have been around longer and already have the following desired. Their businesses will grow even without using social media. Not all businesses have to have a huge account with thousands of followers, but in modern times for new, growing businesses, it is deemed necessary. Technology is on the rise and as younger generations grow up and become the main consumers for most businesses, social media will be a great opportunity for businesses to interact and advertise what they offer. Future research can be focused specifically on how fast a small business can be grown in Omaha, just by using social media. 

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