The Role of Social Media in Customer Communication

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FACULTY OF ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

Henna Sarkkinen

THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION IN BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS MARKETS

Master’s Thesis Department of Marketing September 2009

UNIVERSITY OF OULU ABSTRACT OF THE MASTER'S THESIS Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Unit

Department of Marketing
Author Supervisor (s)

Sarkkinen Henna
Title

Salo J. Professor

The role of social media in customer communication in business-to-business markets Subject Type of the degree Time of publication Number of pages

Marketing
Abstract

Master´s thesis

September 2009

95+2

The objective of this study is to create an understanding what is the role of social media in customer communication in business-to-business markets. This is explored by defining the characteristics of social media that differentiates it from traditional marketing communication channels. Opportunities and challenges the social media induces for communication are explored as well. Utilization of social media in communication with current customers and with potential customers is also of interest in this study. The context of this study is Finland. The study is conducted by using qualitative research methods. The purpose of this study is to build a holistic picture of the role of social media in customer communication. The theoretical part of this study explores the changes that digital marketing and especially social media creates for traditional marketing communication. Identifying the characteristics of social media enables to understand opportunities and challenges it creates for communication. Relationship development viewpoint is taken because especially in b-to-b markets the communication occurs in customer relationships. The empirical data is collected with semi-structured interviews among Finnish companies operating in industrial markets and experts on social media. By connecting the theoretical and empirical parts of this study the results of the study develop. Characteristics of social media, participation, user-generated content, interaction, transparency and viral marketing, increase the engagement of the company and its customers to the communication and further to the relationship. 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. Companies operating in b-to-b markets should evaluate whether social media creates added value to their customer communication. Keywords

Marketing communication, relationship development, web 2.0 tools, digital marketing Additional information

OULUN YLIOPISTO Taloustieteiden tiedekunta
Laitos

TIIVISTELMÄ OPINNÄYTETYÖSTÄ

Markkinointi
Tekijä Työn valvoja

Sarkkinen Henna
Työn nimi

Salo J. professori

The role of social media in customer communication in business-to-business markets Oppiaine Työn laji

Markkinointi
Tiivistelmä

Pro gradu -tutkielma Syyskuu 2009

Aika

Sivumäärä

95+2

Tutkimuksen tavoitteena on selvittää yhteisöllisen median roolia asiakasviestinnässä yritysmarkkinoilla. Tutkimuksen tavoite pyritään saavuttamaan selvittämällä yhteisöllisen median piirteet, jotka erottavat sen perinteisistä markkinointiviestintäkanavista. Lisäksi tutkitaan sosiaalisen media mahdollisuuksia ja haasteita viestintämediana. Yhteisöllisen media hyödyntäminen nykyisissä asiakassuhteissa sekä uusasiakashankinnassa on myös tutkimuksen kohteena. Tutkimuksen kontekstina...
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