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Title: The influence of social media marketing on Durban consumers' choice of brands
Authors: Ntobaki, Paballo Patience 
Issue Date: 2018
Social media has eternally changed the purchasing cycle of consumers. Instead of merely making a purchase, today shoppers have added two vital rudiments that come prior and post purchase in the buying the process. By use of blog posts, review, forums and tweets, today consumers conduct online research on brands that they have an interest of purchasing and opinions posted by other consumers have an immense power to influence their decisions (Agresta, Bough and Miletsky 2010:32). This creates a measuring tool that can be utilised to direct efforts towards real time. Taking note of what users are saying in social media and engaging in their discussions is a great way of influencing these discussions. Social media is mostly if not wholly characterised by ratings, comments, reviews, and other features that are found on website that indicates what users think of the content being discussed (Evans and Bratton 2012:38).
The aim of this study is to determine the influence of social media marketing on Durban consumers’ choice of brands, while the primary objective is to determine the degree to which social media marketing influences consumers’ decision making when selecting a brand. According to TNNG (2013) above 60% of traffic on the internet created by the African continent comes from South Africa.
A method of study adopted by this research to achieve the set objectives was quantitative in nature. Convenience and purposive sampling were two non-probability sampling techniques employed to recruit participants in this study. All Durban consumers above the age of 18 who are active social media users were the population targeted by this study. 88% response rate was achieved as only 400 questionnaires out of 450 were collected. The study used a structured self-administered questionnaire which consisted of 45 items to gather primary data. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were utilised in this study. Data was analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 24.0.
The outcomes of this research advocate that social media is a very powerful communication tool that can be used to influence consumers’ decisions when selecting a brand. All users emphasised that they are active on computer generated

platforms of which Facebook is the most used network among Durban consumers. Literature reviewed in this study indicates that social media plays a significant part in the way users learn, explore, and share brand information. Generally, reviews and product ratings produced by users are the most favoured information sources among consumers in social media (Nielsen 2011). Consumers point out that social media is very important to them as it creates brand awareness which they make use of when making a purchase decision. Consumers in this study indicated that the more aware they became of a brand via social media, the more they would want to buy the brand and vice versa. Conversations about certain brands on social media create awareness about those brands among consumers (Liu and Lopez 2016).
The study recommended that brands should incorporate promotional activities, contests and competitions on its social media brand page posts to increase traffic and excitement among consumers. Another recommendation was that marketers should identify a personality that will represent a brand well in social media, giving it a vital feel that will entice the target audience. The study also recommended further research on the influence of opinion leaders on consumers’ choice of brands, the influence of specific social media channels and the influence of social media on specific age groups to give broader insight of social media marketing to marketers and brand managers.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree: Master of Management Sciences: Marketing, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2018.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Management Sciences)

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