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Social media in the business-to-business context: use and value

Canhoto, A. and Clark, M., (2016) Social media in the business-to-business context: use and value. Report. Henley Centre for Customer Management

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Social media are now an integral part of how people stay connected and communicate. Given that personal relationships and interactions play a key role in the business to business environment, it is pertinent to investigate how social media can be successfully deployed by such organisations. This report examines the successful use of social media by businesses that primarily sell to other businesses. This was done by reviewing academic and practitioner literature that discussed specific examples of adoption of social media platforms by business to business firms, and how such adoption had added value to the organisation in question. Our study identified examples of successful use of social media in small as well as multinational organisations, and in a variety of manufacturing and service contexts. The application most discussed in the literature reviewed was branding, followed by communications. There was also evidence of social media being used as part of the sales cycle, particularly in terms of lead generation. In addition, social media were deemed valuable in the areas of customer service and market intelligence. The study also explored how business to business organisations are using social media to achieve their objectives. It is clear that social media require a style of communication different from other, traditional platforms. There is an emphasis on approachability, authenticity and interaction, and an increased use of stories and content that show the human side of the organisation. There is also an emphasis on visual content, such as archival or behind the scenes photos and, increasingly, video. This new style of communication is best achieved when there is participation from different parts and members of the organisation, and where there is limited red tape. The findings from this study provide inspiration and guidance to business to business firms wishing to use social media as part of their marketing strategy. It should be noted, however, that the examples identified in our study, and mentioned in this report, consistently presented the perspective of the supplier organisation, and its perception of value and success. That is, the perspective of the business to business customer is largely absent from the literature, which is in sharp contrast with the business to consumer context, where there is a substantial research done on consumers’ attitudes, motivations and expectations, which can guide social media investment. The lack of insight into the business to business customer’s perspective means that business to business organisations may be missing on opportunities to expand the value derived from social media.

Item Type:Report (Report)
Divisions:Henley Business School > Marketing and Reputation
ID Code:82309
Publisher:Henley Centre for Customer Management


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