The purpose of this study is to understand and compare how business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies evaluate the return on investment (ROI) on their social media marketing (SMM) programmes and how the investment is handled in these type of marketing programmes.
A mixed-methods approach involving multiple cases and a survey was used. Data were collected from personal interviews with eight professionals responsible for SMM management, from four B2B and four B2C companies, complemented with responses to a web-based survey by the other 28 companies’ marketing managers.
The results show that there are some differences between B2B and B2C companies regarding SMM evaluation and investment but in general marketing managers for both types of firms use simple metrics to evaluate their SMM programmes. The main measures used relate to awareness, engagement and reach and most of the metrics identified are interaction-related.
Given the complex and sensitive nature of the subject, more research is needed focussed on providing additional evidence from a larger sample of B2B and B2C organizations to allow the extension of the finding to the population as the non-probabilistic nature and size of the current sample impose that the findings should be interpreted carefully. Future research should focus on understanding what the firm’s characteristics predict the importance and level of effort placed in SMM and the barriers to ROI measurement in SMM programmes, especially in B2B firms.
The current findings confirm that the topic of SMM ROI evaluation is not a priority for B2C or B2B companies. There is a need for an update of their online marketing strategy, namely, on budget definition and allocation. Furthermore, companies should increase the autonomy of SM managers, as they are dependent from marketing managers and hire specialized professionals devoted to SMM in both B2C and B2B companies.
The findings of this study contribute to improve the understanding of the evaluation of SMM and to extend the literature on the subject. It also provides a relevant advance into the assessment and understanding on the measures used to evaluate the effectiveness of SMM programmes by offering a comparison on how B2B and B2C use metrics and allocate resources to the SMM management.
The authors would like to thank to NECE – Research Unit in Business Sciences funded by the Multiannual Funding Programme of R&D Centres of FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, under the project UID/GES/04630/2019 and to CEGE – Research Centre in Management and Economics, funded by the Multiannual Funding Programme of R&D Centres of FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, under the project UIDB/00731/2020.
Silva, S.C., Duarte, P.A.O. and Almeida, S.R. (2020), "How companies evaluate the ROI of social media marketing programmes: insights from B2B and B2C", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 12, pp. 2097-2110. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-06-2019-0291
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