The purpose of this paper is to provide a unique overview of business-to-business (B2B) companies engagement with and strategic approach to use of social media in brand building. This research complements the much more extensive knowledge base regarding social media use in business-to-consumer (B2C) contexts.
Since social media marketing is a relatively new activity for B2B companies an interpretivist stance that is inductive in nature is adopted. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with marketing professionals involved in managing social media programmes in France, Ireland, the UK and the USA.
The study found that the level of enagement with social media marketing varied, as summarised in the B2B Social Media Engagement Taxonomy. Enhancing brand image, extending brand awareness and facilitating customer engagement were the most common social media objectives. There was no evidence to suggest that companies saw social media as heralding a paradigm shift in brand management and control of the kind discussed and experienced in B2C social media contexts. The B2B social media strategy framework is proposed; this identifies the following six components of a social media strategy: monitoring and listening, empowering and enagaging employees, creating compelling content, stimulating electronic word of mouth, evaluating and selecting channels, and enhacning brand presence through integrating social media.
The research contributes to the knowledge base associated with social media marketing by offering insights into and a framework summarising B2B social media strategy.
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