Effectiveness of Social Media as a Communication Channel in Building and Maintaining Brand Loyalty: A Case of KFC UK

1.0 Introduction:

The current study reflects a research proposal aiming to stress on the effectiveness of social media in the context of building and maintaining brand loyalty. Approaches have been made during the study to promote the research aim along with specific objectives that would help to analyse the concerned research problem. The accordingly, the study highlights relevant theories and literature concerning the research domain and the study ultimately ends up with promoting the research methods that would serve as guidelines for conducting the research study. The case of KFC, UK has been considered that is the chosen organisation for the research study is also. Judging the findings from the case of KFC, UK the study would evaluate whether social media channels are effective in developing and maintaining brand loyalty.

1.1 Background of the study:

Social media has turned out to be a preferred communication channel in the corporate sector in the modern era. A significant number of business organisations are relying heavily on the utilities of the social media channels to maintain an effective relationship with the target audiences. According to Rosai and Ambrosio (2008), social media channels offer prompt and cost effective communication process which suits the perception of the business organisations. On the other hand, Andreas and Michael (2010) acknowledged that there has been increasing number of social media users by time and therefore prioritising the social media channels as communication channels would be a viable option for business firms.

Considering the case of KFC in the UK, the organisation is amongst the popular brand in UK’s fast food sector. The reason behind the increasing popularity of the brand might be the social media promotion approach followed by the organisation in the recent years. As mentioned by Thun (2010), the social media promotion approach could significantly promote the brand values to a wider demography within a short span of time, resulting in enhanced brand popularity. KFC accounts over 16 million fans on Facebook. Adding to that, the brand has even developed dedicated store locator application keeping in mind the ease of accessibility. The application can be freely downloaded from the App Store by the iPhone users (Kfc.co.uk, 2014). The social media approaches adopted by the brand are well appreciated by the customers and the study would try evaluating whether the social media initiatives measured by the brand has contributed in customers’ brand loyalty.

1.2 Justification of the research study:

The widespread application of the social media channels in the global corporate sector establishes the fact that such communication tools can provide real-time solutions to enterprises when it comes to communicating with the customers. It is strongly believed that a brand following effective customer relationship management process eventually experiences improved brand loyalty among the customers. The current study would try highlighting the fact whether social media channels can be helpful in improving the brand loyalty scenario. It is found that KFC is experiencing a fair degree of customer satisfaction within the social media channels operated while better engagement of the customers has also been experienced among such social media networks. Hence, the study would like to shed light on the case of KFC and the respective social media promotion initiatives to evaluate whether social media channels are truly effective in maintaining and building brand loyalty.

1.3 Research aim:

The research aims to evaluate the effectiveness of social media communication channels in maintaining and developing brand loyalty. The case of KFC, UK would be analysed and based on the findings, the conclusion would be made whether social media channels help in maintaining and building brand loyalty.

1.4 Research Objectives:

  • To determine the role of social media channels in Building and maintaining brand loyalty.
  • To assess whether KFC is utilising the social media channels to maintain brand loyalty with the target audiences.
  • To propose strategies following which, KFC can experience enhanced brand loyalty.

1.5 Research questions:

  • What roles do social media play to build and maintain brand loyalty?
  • Has KFC been successful in maintaining and building brand loyalty using social media communication channel?
  • What possible social media strategies can be initiated so that KFC can experience better customer loyalty?

2.0 Literature review:

There have been numerous theories and literatures regarding social media applications and brand loyalty development. However, the theories including relationship building, customer engagement and brand awareness are found to be relevant enough and accordingly discussed in the following section.

2.1 Social media application and relationship building:

The social media channels promote the concept of two-way virtual communication process. In the words of Chung and Austria (2010), social media communication tool is the latest achievement in the era of web 2.0 enabling people to communicate with each other regardless of time and place. Business organisations are using the social media channels to maintain relationship with the customers. Due to the ease of accessibility and effortless use, customers feel comfortable to involve in the brand promotion process and accordingly, contributes to the brand relationship process. Urban (2005) argued that majority of the relationship management activities fail because of the one way communication process and therefore, social media applications can be helpful for the organisations to maintain effective relationship with the target audiences.

2.2 Customer engagement through interactive activities:

Business organisations follow a range of interactive activities to engage customers during the social media promotion campaigns. Dickey and Lewis (2010) opined that the interactive contents and innovative activities within the social media pages lure the customers and accordingly give rise to better engagement. For instance, KFC encourages customers to share ideas on the official Facebook page while customers are also encouraged to download applications from the App Store in order to keep in touch with the latest updates (Kfclibrary.com, 2014). Geierhos (2011) found that the level of customer engagement is greater in social media than in any physical brand promotion process. By engaging in the social media activities such as sharing, commenting and liking, customers are engaged more in the brand promotion process and accordingly, develop increased brand awareness.

2.3 Improving brand awareness using social media:

At the time of engaging in the social media activities, majority of people have a tendency to share likable contents. The shared contents are promoted to a wider demography and thus the greater numbers of people are made aware of the brand values. Packer (2011) pointed that the word-of-mouth mechanism is ignited heavily on the social media platforms enabling organisations to experience improved brand awareness within a short span of time. However, Urban (2005) contradicted that while positive word-of-mouth can lead to positive brand image, negative promotion could tarnish the brand image along with reputation.

2.4 Conceptual framework:

Figure 1: Conceptual framework

(Source: Created by author)

3.0 Research methods:

3.1 Type of investigation:

The nature of investigation would be classified into primary and secondary research segment. Initially, the social media approaches of KFC would be determined from evaluating the official social media pages of the brand. Accordingly, an online survey questionnaire approach would be followed to gather the opinions of KFC’s customers in UK. By this way, quantitative data would be collected from the customers that would help gauging the customer loyalty scenario. Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2006) discussed that quantitative data analysis help representing the responses in numerical and graphical format and therefore is easy to understand.

3.2 Data collection method:

Secondary data would be collected from a range of secondary sources of information such as books, journals and various informative websites. The official social media pages of KFC would be evaluated in order to gauge the initiatives of the brand. On the other hand, an online survey questionnaire process would be initiated to gather the responses of the customers of KFC in the UK region. The email ids of the customers would be acquired from the social media pages and a questionnaire each would be sent to each of the customers via email. The filled up questionnaire would give rise to quantitative data.

3.3 Sampling method:

During conducting the survey questionnaire approach, a simple random probability sampling mechanism would be followed. According to Brannen (2009), probability sampling technique can be followed when there is a large population. Ellis and Levy (2009) added that probability sampling process provides equal opportunities to the respondents of being selected. The study would consider 60 customers of KFC that follow the brand in social media pages. Since the sample size is significantly larger, following probability sampling process would be a better option.

3.4 Accessibility issues:

Some data can be hard to access such as the internal organisational data regarding KFC. It would have been better if the success rate of KFC in terms of social media approach and brand loyalty over the past few years would have been present. Adding to that, there are bound to be some accessibility issues regarding quantitative data collection. Some of the respondents might neglect the questionnaires or partially fill up the questionnaire forms. Such issues can influence the outcome of the research.

3.5 Ethical issues:

Considering the opinion of Toloie-Eshlaghy et al. (2011), several ethical issues are needed to be prioritised during a research study in order to make the study acceptable. The researcher wishes to conduct the study with mutual consent of all the parties involved. The data collection process would be conducted by taking into consideration the consent of the respondents. None of the respondents would be forced to participate in the process. The questionnaire has been developed keeping in mind the human feelings and belief so that none of the respondents could be offended. Finally, the researcher ensures that the candidature details would be kept in privacy even after the completion of the research study.

3.6 Data analysis plan:

The relevant data, collected for the current research could be analysed on the basis of basic aspects of the study (Bernard, 2011). The key aim of analysis is to point out factors responsible for effectiveness of social media in building and maintaining brand loyalty of KFC. Potential campaigning program, various social media platforms and effective strategic choice could make the study more effective to reach its desired outcomes with valuable responses from the participants. The research would explore critical facts and suitable observations of KFC that consumers are allowed to banish through different social media channels in terms of grievances and innovations.

3.7 Research limitations:              

The entire research is primarily based on the primary data only including 60 customers of KFC. Thus, less sample size could lead to errors in final findings. On the other side, the survey is planned to conduct through internet where outcomes could be biased due to sufficient time constraints.

4.0 Anticipated findings:

As proposed by Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2006), quantitative analysis would be represented using statistical tools to determine potential factors having highest frequency of impact on brand loyalty. The critical variables like, shared value, tradition, customer satisfaction, product and service offerings, competitive advantage of social media network, awareness of customers about virtual communication system and effective promotional strategy would have impact on brand loyalty. However, according to Toloie-Eshlaghy et al. (2011), communication mechanism via social media, customers’ involvement in decision making and potential promotional practices could be probable action to develop strong interactive platform through social media networks, in order to enhance customers’ engagement in organisational process. Therefore, these endogenous factors could be obtained in the research as responsible for affecting brand loyalty.

5.0 Proposed Dissertation Structure:

Appropriateness of current dissertation structure states how it follows the concerned guidelines, proposed by supervisors. In case of the current study, the research could illustrate the research objectives and the supportive questions followed by range of appropriate models. As literature is basic requirement of the research to gather theoretical understanding, a separate segment is needed to conduct. Based on the conventional procedure, the research methodology is proposed in a separate segment followed by findings analysis and conclusions. Potential recommendations would also be mentioned addressing obtained issues on given topic. Therefore, separate sections in this dissertation could help in conducting the entire research in a systematic manner to fulfil initial objectives.

6.0 Time Table:

Tasks Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb
Selection of topics and agreed on the proposal with supervisor          
Literature review and information collection          
Research methodology and framework designing          
Data collection          
Data analysis          
Findings          
Conclusions and recommendations and final proofreading          
Final submission and Celebration          

 


 

References:

Andreas, M. and Michael, H. (2010) “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media”, Business Horizons, 53(1), pp.59–68

Bernard, H. R. (2011) Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. 5th ed. Plymouth: Alta Mira Press.

Brannen, J. (2009) ‘Prologue, mixed methods for novice researchers: reflections and themes, International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 3(1), pp. 8–12.

Cameron, R. (2009) ‘A sequential mixed model research design: design, analytical and display issues’, International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 3(2), pp. 140-152,

Chung, C. and Austria, K. (2010) “Social Media Gratification and Attitude toward Social Media Marketing Messages: A Study of the Effect of Social Media Marketing Messages on Online Shopping Value”, Proceedings of the Northeast Business & Economics Association, 12(3), pp. 581-586

Dickey, I. J. and Lewis, W. F. (2010) “The Evolution (Revolution) of Social Media and Social Networking as a Necessary Topic in the Marketing Curriculum: A Case for Integrating Social Media into Marketing Classes”. Society for Marketing Advances Proceedings, 6(11), pp. 140-143

Ellis, T. and Levy, Y. (2009) ‘Towards a guide for novice researchers on research methodology: Review and proposed methods’, Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, 6, pp. 323-337.

Geierhos, M. (2011)”Customer interaction 2.0: Adopting social media as customer service channel” Journal of Advances in Information Technology, 2(4), pp. 222–233.

Johnson, B. and Onwuegbuzie, A. (2006) “Mixed methods research: A research paradigm whose time has come” Educational Researcher, 33(7), pp. 14-26

Kfc.co.uk, (2014). Welcome to KFC.co.uk | UK and Republic of Ireland | Homepage. [online] Available at: http://www.kfc.co.uk/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2014].

Kfclibrary.com, (2014). KFC Marketing Media Library. [online] Available at: http://www.kfclibrary.com/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2014].

Packer, R. (2011) “Social Media Marketing”, The Art of Conversational Sales, 12(3), pp. 32-43

Rosai, A. S. and Ambrosio, M. (2008) “International Conferences as Interactive Scientific Media Channels”, The History of the Social Representations Theory, 5(2), pp. 35-67

Thun, J. H. (2010) “Angles of Integration: An empirical analysis of the alignment of internet-based information technology and global supply chain integration”, Journal of Supply Chain Management, 46(2), pp.30-44

Toloie-Eshlaghy, A., Chitsaz, S., Karimian, L. and Charkhchi, R. (2011) A Classification of Qualitative Research Methods, Research Journal of International Studies, 20, pp. 106-152.

Urban, G. L. (2005) “Customer advocacy: a new era in marketing?”, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 24(1), pp.155-159

 

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