During the research process I have discovered several useful master thesises on social media, both in relation to B2B and branding, as well as general exploratory studies on social media.
The Role of Social Media in Customer Communication in B2B Markets
By Henna Sarkkinen, Master Thesis, September 2009, University of Oulo
By interviewing companies and experts the study sheds light on opportunities and challenges social media induces for communication towards both potential and existing customers in B2B markets.
The opportunities and challenges the social media creates vary in different stages of the relationship development. At the pre-relationship stage the objective is to create awareness of the company and its products. Social media enables reaching wider audience and the potential customers more effective. At the negotiation stage it is important to start to develop the relationship. Communication and targeting markets are more effective in social media. At the development stage parties aim to create mutual value. Social media increases the engagement to communication and enable more informal and continuous communication.
The study can be downloaded from Deccmac.fi, which is Finland’s leading academic research project on sales and marketing communications.
Discovering Social Media – an Exploratory Study
By Magnus Finset Sørdal, Master Thesis, 2009, ESADE Business School
Sørdal proposes the paradox of people spending more and more time on social media, whilst at the same time brand owners often dedicates few resources to these channels. He reasons it is possible that lack of knowledge of the social media sphere, both in the academic literature and in the business press, provides little guidance for how brands can utilize social media.
The study is exploratory, whereby conducting both case studies and interviews, and it seeks out how and why brands use social media, which in turn provides answer to how brand owners can engage in social media in order to strengthen the brand.
The research suggests that brand owners have a high interest for social media, but that the knowledge and willingness to spend money is low. They often use already established platforms like Facebook or YouTube, and the objectives are usually to create awareness or boost sales. The social media initiatives often lack integration with other strategies and measuring practices are commonly underdeveloped.
A set of seven guidelines for how brands can engage in social media is also proposed;
(1) Value base: Be honest, transparent, authentic and humble.
(2) Perspective: Have a long term perspective. Take your time and build relevant
(3) Process: Listen, observe and find your role.
(4) Focus: Give and share. Build trust and relationships with relevant content.
(5) Communication: Be professional and personal, but not private.
(6) Doings: Involve and activate your target.
(7) Technology: Ensure low friction technological solutions and consider several access
Download the study: Discovering Social Media – an Exploratory Study
(NB! You need to be logged in to LinkedIn in order to download the study.)
The TRAM Framework in a Social Media Context – Measuring Attitudes Towards Consumer-Company Interaction
By Anders Husa and Magnus Kvale, 2009, BI Norwegian School of Management
Husa and Kvale looked at user behaviour, more specifically to “predict users’ propensities to interact with companies in social media”. They’ve conducted a quantitative study based on the Technology Readiness and Acceptance Model (Lin, Shih and Sher, 2007), and the results correlated with their hypothesis that “general readiness to use social technology is positively correlated with perceptions of ease of use and usefulness of consumer-company interaction in social media, and subsequently attitude towards interaction”.
From a managerial perspective the results imply that companies should have a clear social media strategy, and undertake a thorough assessment of the customer base regarding their social technology readiness.
The authors have also posted a norwegian summary on Husa’s blog.
The Power of social media when creating business networks – The Future Valley in Borlänge
By Anneli Fors, 2008, University of Gävle
Anneli Fors has conducted a qualitative study by interviewing a lot of different people in different companies in the business network “Ahead – Media & Communications”. The study gives a proposal on how the business network should proceed in utilising the opportunities within social media. The study was conducted in the early parts of 2008 when social media was still building momentum.