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Social media acceptance in B2B marketing

A study exploring the reasons behind the difference in social media usage between B2B and B2C markets

Written by J. Eck, S. Johansson

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis

Subject

Business Administration>Marketing & Sales

Year

2020

Abstract

Thesis: In terms of marketing, social media is a fast-growing platform. However, business-to-consumer (B2C) companies use it more often than business-to-business (B2B) companies. Therefore, compared with B2C, there is much less research on B2B social media marketing. This research explores why social media marketing is less common in B2B than in B2C. This is done by conducting 11 one-on-one interviews with people who work in different B2B companies and have an influence on the marketing processes of their respective companies. To analyze and evaluate the results of this study, a technology acceptance model (TAM) was used. By identifying external variables that prevent B2B companies from using social media, the perceived usefulness and ease of use are analyzed to explore what influences the differences in social media marketing acceptance between B2B and B2C companies. The results of this study indicate that perceived ease of use is the main factor preventing B2B companies from using social media for marketing purposes. However, this is not the reason for the difference between B2B and B2C. Rather, this difference can be explained by more negative perceptions of the usefulness of social media marketing. This negative perception is caused by the characteristics of social media, the company’s industry, and the company’s products and customers. Alarwan et al. Al. (2017) identified a clear transition between organizations, from traditional media marketing to digital interactive marketing, which they attributed to the attractiveness and interactivity on social media platforms. Therefore, social media should be integrated as an important part of promotional marketing efforts (Alalwan et al., 2017). ​"In an era of multi-channel purchases and customers have no clear preference for the channel for each job, suppliers must provide information consistently across all channels to enable buyers to purchase." (Gartner, 2018, No. 16 Page). In fact, Alalwan et al. Al. (2017) In their literature review of 144 studies in the field of social media marketing, they observed that the positive impact of social media in creating customer perception and awareness is overwhelmingly supported. In addition, the literature review by Alalwan et al. Al. (2017) also shows that social media platforms play a vital role in creating brand recognition and identity. Another advantage of social media marketing is electronic word of mouth (e-WOM), which has proven to be more effective than traditional word of mouth (WOM) (Alalwan et al., 2017; Dixit & Prakash, 2018). Electronic word-of-mouth has become the main channel to influence buyer behavior (Dixit & Prakash, 2018), because social media makes it easier and more effective for customers to share their positive and negative experiences with more people (Alalwan et al., 2017 ). B2B marketing on social media Research shows that B2B companies primarily use social media to target professionals and create search engine optimization (SEO) (Iankova et al., 2019). However, there is a large gap between potential and actual use of social media platforms in a B2B environment (Iankova et al., 2019). Yankova et al. (2019) found that among different business models, B2B companies have the lowest perception of social media efficiency. Companies seem to prefer to use more traditional digital tools, such as e-mail and websites. B2B marketers encounter huge opportunities and obstacles when they are active on social media. Raqqa and Chong (2016) identified many advantages and barriers to the use of social media platforms in B2B marketing. One of the identified advantages is the company's ability to locate and manage customers. Marketers in B2B have successfully identified and attracted new customers through social media, and interacted with existing customers in a meaningful way (Lacka & Chong, 2016; Alalwan et al., 2017; López-López & Giusti, 2020 ). In addition, these participations have established closer relationships between customers and suppliers, leading to greater trust and loyalty (Dixit & Prakash, 2018), which is one of the key variables for B2B business success (Hutt & Speh, 2013). Yankova et al. However, (2019) found that B2B companies use social media to identify and interact with potential customers instead of establishing and managing relationships. They further speculate that social media is seen as important in building reputation and establishing customer connections, but other than that, they prefer offline channels. Social media also enables companies to obtain valuable feedback (López-López and Giusti, 2020) in order to better tailor products to customers and open up the possibility of co-creation (Gartner, 2018; Lacka & Chong, 2016) Year; Dixit & Prakash, 2018). Customers’ increased knowledge acquisition has a significant impact on innovation and product management. Companies can benefit from competitive advantages by increasing sales innovation and shortening time to market (Lacka & Chong, 2016; Eid, Abdelmoety, Agag, 2019)) . Social media platforms have also proven to be effective platforms for brand strategy in B2B marketing. The unique influence and interactivity of social media enable companies to create unique brand identity and increase brand awareness on a larger scale (Alalwan et al., 2017; Lacka & Chong, 2016). 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