I hereby certify that this material, which I now submit for assessment on the programme of
study leading to the award of
M. Sc. in Strategic Management
is entirely my own work and has not been submitted for assessment for any academic purpose
other than in partial fulfilment for that stated above.
Signed ............................................................. Date .............................................
Word Count - 19569
I wish to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the following individuals, without
whose assistance, this study would not have been possible.
Firstly I would like to thank my supervisor Gerry Mortimer for his valuable support and
insight throughout the writing process and for making this dissertation joyful to write.
Secondly I would like to thank the interviewees who gave up their time to participate in the
A note of thanks goes to Mrs Sudeshni Fisher for her involvement in this study as she
provided input, advice and support.
Huge thanks to my classmates Roberto, Michael and Andrea for motivating me, sharing ideas
and the constant reminder of the proverb “failure is not an option”.
Thank you to both my parents for believing in me and encouraging me throughout this entire
study period, it cannot be appreciated enough.
Finally I would like to thank my classmate Michael De Korte for his continuous support,
patience, dedication and for being a constant source of inspiration.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION ..................................................................................................................................................... III
LIST OF FIGURES..................................................................................................................................................IX
LIST OF TABLES .................................................................................................................................................... X
1.1 Background to the Study.............................................................................................. 2
1.1.1 General Introduction to the Research .................................................................... 2
1.2 Research Problem, Limitations of the Study, Objectives and Report Structure............. 2
1.2.1 The Research Problem.......................................................................................... 2
1.2.2 Purpose of the Study............................................................................................. 3
1.2.3 Structure of the Dissertation.................................................................................. 3
Chapter LITERATURE REVIEW...................................................................................................................5
2.1 Introduction to the Literature Review .......................................................................... 6
2.1.1 Aim of this Literature Review............................................................................... 6
2.2 What is Social Media................................................................................................... 7
2.2.1 Definitions of Social Media .................................................................................. 7
2.2.2 Web 2.0................................................................................................................ 9
2.3 Rise of the Social Media............................................................................................ 11
2.4 Strategy..................................................................................................................... 15
2.4.1 Strategy Definition.............................................................................................. 15
2.4.2 The role of Strategy ............................................................................................ 15
2.5 Social Media Strategy................................................................................................ 16
2.6 What is Marketing Strategy....................................................................................... 19
2.7 Social Media and Marketing...................................................................................... 21
2.8 Value Creation .......................................................................................................... 22
2.9 This is What Social Media Can Do............................................................................ 23
2.9.1 Dell .................................................................................................................... 23
2.9.2 PepsiCo .............................................................................................................. 23
2.10 Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 24
Chapter RESEARCH METHODOLOGY....................................................................................................25
3.1 Introduction............................................................................................................... 26
3.2 The Research Path..................................................................................................... 27
3.3 The Research Question.............................................................................................. 29
3.4 Research Objectives .................................................................................................. 30
3.5 Research Philosophy ................................................................................................. 31
3.5.1. Epistemology..................................................................................................... 32
3.5.2 Positivism........................................................................................................... 32
3.5.3 Interpretivism ..................................................................................................... 33
3.5.4 Realism............................................................................................................... 33
3.5.5 Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 33
3.6 The Research Approach............................................................................................. 34
3.6.1 Deductive Research ............................................................................................ 34
3.6.2 Inductive Research.............................................................................................. 35
3.6.3 Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 36
3.7 Research Design........................................................................................................ 36
3.7.1 Secondary Research............................................................................................ 36
3.7.2Primary Research................................................................................................ 36
3.7.3 Ethnography ....................................................................................................... 37
3.7.4Netnography ....................................................................................................... 37
3.7.5 Qualitative Research........................................................................................... 37
3.7.6 Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 39
3.8 Data collection Method.............................................................................................. 39
3.8.1 Semi Structured Interview Process...................................................................... 40
3.8.2 The Sample......................................................................................................... 41
3.8.3 The Choice of the Companies ............................................................................. 41
3.8.4 Candidate Selection ............................................................................................ 41
3.8.5 Data Required..................................................................................................... 41
3.8.6 Structure of the interviews .................................................................................. 42
3.8.7 Limitations of Methodology................................................................................ 42
3.8.8 The role of the Researcher .................................................................................. 43
3.9Data Preparation and Analysis.................................................................................... 44
3.9.1 Categorization .................................................................................................... 45
3.9.2 Utilising Data ..................................................................................................... 45
3.9.3 Recognizing Relationships and Developing Categories....................................... 45
3.9.4 Developing and Testing Hypothesis.................................................................... 46
3.9.5 Reliability and Validity....................................................................................... 46
3.10 Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 47
Chapter ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS........................................................................................................48
4.1 Introduction............................................................................................................... 49
4.2 Participants................................................................................................................ 50
4.3 Coding....................................................................................................................... 50
4.3.1 Coding Categories .............................................................................................. 50
4.4 Interviewees background on social media channels.................................................... 51
4.4.1 Social Media Channels in a private capacity ....................................................... 51
4.4.2 Social Media Channels in a professional capacity ............................................... 52
4.5 Research Questions ................................................................................................... 53
4.5.1 Research Question One....................................................................................... 53
4.5.2 Research Question Two...................................................................................... 55
4.5.3 Research Question Three .................................................................................... 57
4.6 New findings............................................................................................................. 58
4.6.1 How to use Social Media .................................................................................... 59
4.6.2 Main reason for using social media within organizations .................................... 63
4.6.3 Brand Awareness................................................................................................ 65
4.6.4 Social Media Risks ............................................................................................. 67
Chapter CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS .....................................................................68
5.1 Summary of Dissertation ........................................................................................... 69
5.2 Review of the Research Objectives............................................................................ 70
5.2.1 Conclusion – Research Question One ................................................................. 70
5.2.2 Conclusion – Research Question Two................................................................. 70
5.2.3 Conclusion – Research Question Three............................................................... 71
5.3 General Conclusion ................................................................................................... 72
5.4 Research Limitations ................................................................................................. 72
5.5 Recommendations ..................................................................................................... 73
5.5.1 Recommendations for future researchers............................................................. 73
5.5.2 Recommendations for organizations ................................................................... 73
APPENDIX SAMPLE EMAIL SENT TO INTERVIEWEES IN JUNE 2013...............................76
APPENDIX SAMPLE EMAIL SENT TO THE INTERVIEWEES...................................................77
APPENDIX INTERVIEWEE GUIDE........................................................................................................78
APPENDIX INTERVIEWEES PROFILE...............................................................................................79
APPENDIX -THEME SHEET FOR INTERVIEWS................................................................................80
APPENDIX SAMPLE INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT ............................................................................82
APPENDIX CODING OF THE THEMES................................................................................................94
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 2.1: Steps in the consumer decision journey 09
Figure 2.2: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 10
Figure 2.3: Commonly used social media platforms by marketers 13
Figure 2.4: The most important social platform for marketers 14
Figure 3.1: ‘The Research Onion’ 28
Figure 4.1: When and Why to create content 60
Figure 4.2: Tweet activity from the #aima13and 62
Figure 4.3: Example of how KLM uses social media 63
Figure 4.4: Why are companies using social media 64
Figure 4.5: The Marketing Funnel 66
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1.1: Classification of Social Media 19
Table 4.1: Coding Categories 51
Table 4.2: Emerging Themes 59
An Exploration into the Impact of Social Media on Marketing Strategy
Student: Fernando Bez
The growing usage of social media indicates a new potential platform for marketers.
However, little academic research examines the impact social media is having on
organizational marketing strategies.
This exploratory study uses an interpretivist philosophy to gain a qualitative insight into the
marketing strategies currently employed by organizations as opposed to those used prior to
their journey into social media. This is achieved through a combination of secondary
academic research into the rising of social media and primary research in the form of
ethnography and semi-structured in depth interviews. These interviews were conducted on
key individuals of organizations who are currently active on social media.
The findings confirm that social media has had a significant impact on marketing strategies
for the companies interviewed allowing them to interact with customers, support marketing
initiatives and create brand awareness. These results offer insight into how social media
supports brand proposition, provides the brand a personality and drives traffic.
The findings suggest that professionals should consider which social media channels work
best for them and how to best utilize social media in their marketing plans. General themes
and categories from participants’ responses were evaluated and recommendations regarding
the use of social media are proposed by the researcher.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
1.1 Background to the Study
1.1.1 General Introduction to the Research
For billions of people, life without Twitter or Facebook is almost impossible to contemplate.
Increasingly the same is true for businesses (Winkler, 2013). The concept of social media is
top of the agenda for many executives nowadays. Decision makers, as well as consultants, try
to identify ways in which firms can make profitable use of applications such as Wikipedia,
YouTube, Facebook, Second Life, and Twitter (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, p. 59).
Facebook today has one billion user accounts and Twitter has 250 million users, tweeting
more than 340 million tweets per day. Social media and the way we use web 2.0
communication technologies have transformed our way of constructing, accessing and
disseminating knowledge (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
In this report a contribution will be made in understanding the impact of social media on
marketing strategy and the influences that are shaping marketing strategy. Consumers are
having conversations about brands and its products and brands are often not aware of them.
With social media, a negative incident or experience of a consumer with a brand can be
shared with millions of people by the press of a button via the internet as Dell found out in
2009 (Jarvis, 2009).
The main research question of the thesis is: What is the impact of social media on Marketing
Strategy? This will be achieved by examining the strategic use of social media within
companies located in Ireland and its consequences on marketing strategies.
1.2 Research Problem, Limitations of the Study, Objectives and Report Structure
1.2.1 The Research Problem
Sekaran (2003, p. 69) states that research problem is a precise statement of the question that
is to be investigated. The research problem is defined by Blumberg et al. (2008, p. 85) as the
management question – a restatement of the manager’s dilemma(s) in question. Since social
media represents a challenge for marketers, the author decided that social media would be the
area of interest for this study. The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of social
media on marketing strategy and the research question has been selected as “What is the
impact of social media on marketing strategy?”
1.2.2 Purpose of the Study
The focus of this dissertation is to answer the research question by exploring how marketing
strategy is affected by social media. The author feels that he should make clear what the
study is not about. The study is not about the characteristics and benefits of specific social
media tools. The aim is not to explore how organisations use social media, or explore the use
of each type of social media, but to study the impact of social media on marketing strategies
employed by organizations and their influences. Additionally this study is a B2C (Business to
Consumer) orientated; therefore no attention is given to B2B (Business to Business)
1.2.3 Structure of the Dissertation
This report examines how social media have affected marketing strategies employed by
organizations before they embarked on using social media and what is the current strategy with
regards to social media and contains the following chapters:
Chapter 2 undertakes a review of the existing literature on social media. The literature review
begins with various academic and practitioners definitions of social media and the rise of
social media is discussed. It is followed by the literature review on strategy, social media
strategy and marketing strategy. Furthermore, the chapter will provide an understanding of
value creation and analyzes two case studies of the following companies: Dell and PepsiCo.
Chapter 3 of the report describes the research methodology that is employed for the research.
The research question and sub objectives are also outlined. The various research methods are
identified and a selection is made of the most suitable strategy to collect the data. The data
collection method of semi-structured interview is outlined along with the practicalities of the
data collection and analysis. Finally the researcher outlines the limitations of the methodology.
Chapter 4 presents the analysis and findings of the research. The researcher reviews the data
primary research and examines this in relation to the primary research question and sub-
Chapter 5 contains the conclusion and recommendations following on from the findings of
the primary research. It outlines other themes which have emerged from this study, the
limitations of the particular research and some areas for possible research.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
2.1 Introduction to the Literature Review
2.1.1 Aim of this Literature Review
(Webster & Watson, 2002) note that a methodological review of past literature is a crucial
endeavor for any academic research (as cited in Levy & Ellis 2006, p. 185). The need to
uncover what is already known in the body of knowledge prior to initiating any research
study should not be underestimated (Hart, 1998). However, it is important to remember that
not everything reported in the literature is of equal rigor (Ngai & Wat, 2002).
Reviewing the literature critically will provide the foundation on which the research is built.
Two major reasons exist for reviewing the literature. The first, the preliminary search that
helps to generate and refine research ideas. The second is part of your research project proper
(Saunders et al. 2007). Conducting a literature review is a means of demonstrating an
author`s knowledge about a particular field of study, including vocabulary, theories, key
variables and phenomena.
The aim of this literature review is to locate and critique relevant theory related to the
research problem, “What is the impact of Social Media on Marketing Strategy” and identify
concepts and themes (Ghauri & Grounhaug, 2005).
Hart (1998, p. 01) defines the literature review as “the use of ideas in the literature to justify
the particular approach to the topic, the selection of methods, and demonstration that this
research contributes something new”. Webster and Watson (2002) define an effective
literature review as one that “creates a firm foundation for advancing knowledge (as cited in
Levy & Ellis 2006, p. 185).
(Davison et al., 2005) explain that use of the peer-review process is essential as it ensures
that researchers can “use published work with confidence, and use the works of others as
stepping stones and corner stones for advancing new concepts and insights” (as cited in Levy
& Ellis 2006, p. 185).
The objective of this particular chapter is to conduct a review of the existing literature on
social media and its impact on marketing strategies. The chapter begins by explaining what
social media is and the rise of social media will be discussed. This is followed by an
explanation of what strategy is and the literature on social media strategy and marketing
strategy is then discussed. The last section of the chapter reviews the literature on successful
stories of companies using social media.
2.2 What is Social Media
2.2.1 Definitions of Social Media
What is social media? Kaplan and Haenlein (2010, p. 60) define social media as “a group of
internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of
WEB 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content”. Solis (2007)
describe that social media are online tools that people use to share content, insights, opinions,
profiles, experiences, perspectives and media itself. Social media facilitates conversations
and online interaction between groups of people.
Social media is, therefore, forms of electronic communication through which users create
online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. The
terms Social Media and Web 2.0 are often used as interchangeable (Constantinides &
Fountain, 2008) furthermore there seem to be confusion among managers and academic
researchers alike as to what exactly should be included under this term (Kaplan & Haenlein,
2010, p. 60). Further, it is also a tool for dialogue and conversation “that allows the creation
and exchange of user generated content” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, p. 61).
Social media can take many different forms, including social networks, internet forums,
weblogs, social blogs, micro blogging, wikis, podcasts, pictures, video, rating and social
bookmarking (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, Weber, 2009)
There are a number of other words that suggest a similar meaning for what is understood by
social media. These synonyms include the social web (Weber, 2009; Weinberg, 2009), ‘the
groundshell’ (Li & Bernoff, 2008), ‘consumer generated media’ (Constantinides & Fountain,
Kaplan and Haenlein (2010, p. 60) note:
The era of Social Media as we understand it today probably started about 20 years
ago earlier, when Bruce and Susan Abelson founded ‘Open Diary’, an early social
networking site that brought together online diary writers into one community.
Weber (2009, p. 04) states that the social media web is “the online place where people with a
common interest can gather to share thoughts, comments, and opinions”. The groundswell is
described by Li and Bernoff (2008, p. 09) as “a social trend in which people use technologies
to get the things they need from each other, instead of from companies”.
Companies everywhere have been rolling out the red carpet in communities like Facebook,
LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube to build a fan base and monitor consumer emotions. Social
media such as blogging, video and photo sharing, forums, virtual worlds, opinion markets,
and collaboration environments present an opportunity to communicate with constituents
regarding their place in it.
Divol, Edelman and Sarrazin, (2012) have identified social media`s four primary functions as
depicted in figure. 2.1 - to monitor, respond, amplify, and lead consumer behavior - and
linked them to the journey consumers undertake when making purchasing decisions.
Figure 2.1: Steps in the consumer decision journey
Source: Divol, Edelman, and Sarrazin, (2012) Demystifying Social Media, McKinsey
Quarterly, Marketing and Sales Practice. [Online]
Social media is offering numerous opportunities to influence consumers, consequently many
chief marketing officers say that they wanted to increase their social media budget which was
an average of 7.4 percent in 2012 of their overall marketing budget. The main obstacle to
increase that share is the perception that the return on investment (ROI) from such initiatives
is uncertain (Hanna et al. 2011).
Chiu et al. (2012) analyse that China has the world’s most active environment for social
media. More than 300 million people use it, from blogs to social-networking sites to micro
blogs and other online communities. Divol et al. (2012) argue that without a clear sense of the
value social media creates, it is perhaps not surprising that so many CEOs and other senior
executives do not feel comfortable when their companies go beyond mere “experiments” with
2.2.2 Web 2.0
Web 2.0 is a collection of open-source, interactive and user-controlled online applications
expanding the experiences, knowledge and market power of the users as participants in
business and social processes (Constantinides & Fountain, 2008, p. 232).
Web 2.0 is the term given to describe a second generation of the World Wide Web that is
focused on the ability for people to collaborate and share information online. Other improved
functionality of Web 2.0 includes open communication with an emphasis on Web-based
communities of users, and more open sharing of information. Web 2.0 has been used over
time more as a marketing term than a computer-science-based term. Blogs, wikis, and Web
services are all seen as components of Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 focuses on all forms of networking, how applications are being shared, how the
users integrate, link and communicate on the web creating online activities. The more data
and service are shared on the web the better the platform gets (O’Reilly, 2005).
Figure 2.2: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0
Source: O’Reilly (2005)
As depicted in figure 2.2 O’Reilly (2005) defines Web 2.0 as a collection of open-source,
interactive and user-controlled online applications expanding the experiences, knowledge and
market power of the users as participants in business and social processes.
Social media is a powerful tool that allows us to go where our existing and potential
customers are already engaged in conversation and connect with people we might not
otherwise reach. However, the challenge facing many companies is that although they
recognize the need to be active in social media, they do not truly understand how to do it
effectively, what performance indicators they should be measuring, and how they should
measure them. (Hanna et al. 2011, p.1).
Harris and Rae (2010, p. 04) note that the internet has become known as ‘‘Web 2.0’’. In
many ways it represents a return to its roots; the Internet started life as a peer-to-peer
communication tool to exchange data among a number of users, allowing members of the
scientific community to collaborate and share information easily.
Today community sites such as TripAdvisor encourage users to review services that they
have experienced for the benefit of other users who are considering their own possible
purchases. Many people in the UK now buy a product or service directly because of
comments posted on a community by other consumers. This trend is fundamentally changing
the relationship between businesses and their customers, particularly as the information
(which may of course be positive or negative) is displayed in a very public – indeed global –
forum (Harris & Rae, 2010, p. 04)
184.108.40.206 Web 2.0 Competencies
O’Reilly (2005) summarizes what he believes to be the core competencies of Web 2.0
Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use
Trusting users as co-developers
Harnessing collective intelligence
Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
Software above the level of a single device
Lightweight user interfaces, development models, and business models
2.3 Rise of the Social Media
Divol et al. (2012) observe that social media is a relatively new topic, as a consequence the
vast majority of executives have no idea how to harness social media`s power. Businesses
are getting involved in social media in an attempt to increase sales, create brand awareness
and or attempt to reach new customers.
Divol et al. (2012) highlight that executives certainly know what social media is. After all, if
Facebook users constituted a country, it would be the world’s third largest, behind China and
India. Executives can even claim to know what makes social media so potent: its ability to
amplify word-of-mouth effects. Companies diligently establish Twitter feeds and branded
Facebook pages, but few have a deep understanding of exactly how social media interacts
with consumers to expand product and brand recognition, drive sales and profitability, and
Harris and Rae (2010) argue that online communities will play a key role in the future of
marketing because they replace customer annoyance with engagement, and control of the
content with collaboration. Harris and Rae also claim that prosperous businesses of the future
will be those who embrace the social media and who see change as an opportunity.
As social media usage has become an increasingly influential factor in our everyday life
companies also see it as an attractive area to take advantage of. It is no secret that consumers
increasingly go on line to discuss products and brands, seek advice and offer guidance. Yet it
is often difficult to see where and how to influence these conversations, which take place
across an ever-growing variety of platforms, among diverse and dispersed communities, and
may occur either with lightning speed or over the course of months. (Divol et al. 2012)
Social media is growing due to the advantages they offer consumers such as transparency,
referrals, and ease of communication, and the empowerment they bring (Urban, 2004). This
has left marketers scratching their heads as to how to react (Mangold & Faulds, 2009).
The growing popularity of websites such as YouTube and Facebook demonstrates how the
Internet is changing; users are no longer simply downloading static data, but are increasingly
uploading and sharing content among themselves, leading to a proliferation of social
networks and other user-generated content sites. Li and Bernoff (2008) refer to this
fundamental transfer of power from institutions to individuals and communities as ‘‘the
groundswell’’ and it forms the title of their thoughtful and thoroughly researched book on the
topic. The authors’ predictions of significant change in marketing practice are supported by a
number of respected authors such as Weber (2009).
The use of social media and other electronic communication is growing quickly with
increasing numbers of social media platforms and applications, including blogs, social
networking sites, video sites, and forums.
Marketers are increasing their social media budgets. Marketers planned to allocate an average
of 7.4% of their overall marketing budgets to social media in 2012 and expect this amount to
increase to 19.5% by 2017, according to Business Poll carried out by the Duke University’
Fuqua School of Business poll of CMOs taken in February. This is a sign that social media
continues to mature. As it does so, it is time for marketers to start using social media as a key
Figure 2.3: Commonly used social media platforms by marketers
Source: Stelzner (2013, p. 23) Social Media Marketing Industry Report. How marketers are
using social media to grow their businesses
As illustrated in figure. 2.3, Stelzner (2013, p. 23) reveals that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,
blogging and YouTube were the top five platforms used by marketers, with Facebook leading
the pack. The top six have remained virtually the same since 2012.
Shih and Shalett (2013) divulge that there are conversations taking place about companies or
brands 24 hours a day, seven days a week in social media. Are you a part of these
conversations? Or are you hoping that if you don't hear them, they don't exist? Social media
offers a variety of opportunities for brands to understand and participate in those
conversations. While participating in social media is not without risk, not participating might
prove to be the greater risk — especially to reputations.
Figure 2.4: The most important social platform for marketers
Source: Stelzner (2013, p. 23) Social Media Marketing Industry Report. How marketers are
using social media to grow their businesses
As illustrated in figure 2.4, nearly half of marketers (49%) chose Facebook as their most
important platform, followed by LinkedIn (16%), blogging (14%) and then Twitter (12%).
This chart clearly reveals Facebook is the powerhouse platform for marketers. Hanna et al.
(2011) highlight what was noted by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn “the ability to
leverage relationships embodied in social networks will become one of the most
transformative uses of the Internet.”
Hanna et al. (2011, p. 08) note that technology has transformed the traditional model of
marketing communications. The rise in interactive digital media has catapulted company and
consumer contact from a Web 1.0 passive model, to a Web 2.0 interactive model where
consumers are simultaneously the initiators and recipients of information exchanges. The
combination of both traditional and social mediums allows companies to develop integrated
communication strategies to reach consumers on a myriad of platforms, enabling a wide
sphere of influence.
2.4.1 Strategy Definition
Chandler (1962, p. 15) referred to strategy`s generic purpose as the “determination of the
basic long-term goals of an enterprise and the adoption of courses of actions and the
allocation of resources necessary to carry out these goals. Mintzberg (1978, p. 934) defines
strategy as “a pattern in a stream of decisions”,
Grant (1991, p. 114) states that strategy has been defined as “the match an organization
makes between its internal resources and skills…and the opportunities and risks created by its
external environment” while more recently McKeown (2013) argues that “strategy is about
shaping the future as the attempt to provide the organization with a direction.
More specifically within strategy content research, the individual organization approach
defines the purpose of strategy as the matching of external market opportunities with internal
firm competencies (Porter, 1991)
At first one may think about strategy as a general concept surrounding all the company and as
being controlled by the CEO. The most common way of thinking is to imagine the chief
executive as the one deciding over what to do and then let employees do it. Strategy is a little
bit more subtle and has to be seen as a tool enabling the firm to adapt to changes (Grant,
2.4.2 The role of Strategy
Porter (1991, p. 95) argues that the reason why firms succeed or fail is perhaps the central
question in strategy. It has preoccupied the strategy field since its inception four decades ago.
(Porter, 1996, p. 62) points out that a company can outperform rivals only if it can establish a
difference that it can preserve. It must deliver greater value to customers or create
comparable value at a lower cost, or do both. Porter also affirms that competitive strategy is
about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities does deliver
a unique mix of value.
(Porter, 1996, p. 62) suggests that ultimately, all differences between companies in cost or
price derive from the hundreds of activities required to create, produce, sell, and deliver their
products or services, such as calling on new customers, assembling final products, and
training employees. Martin (2013) insists that strategy is not planning – it is the making of an
integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create
sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns.
Grant (1991) specifies that numerous entrepreneurs can be pushed by the quest for creativity
and not only the quest for profits. There are multitudes of ways to develop strategies; it is a
dynamic process that changes and adapts itself as the external environment changes (Grant,
2010). The main role of strategy is to set directions for it to sail cohesively in its
environment. As strategy sets directions it can also blind the company to potential threats and
dangers (Mintzberg et al. 1998).
Companies without a clear strategy are doomed to bankruptcy. It is like diving in a pool
without making sure there is water in it. In our daily society where the product life cycle has
been sharply shortened and where innovation governs companies a well-implemented
strategy can lead to success. The quest for productivity, quality and speed has overtaken the
management tools. The business environment has become unstable as well as more
unpredictable which has led to a continuous quest for success (Grant, 1991).
2.5 Social Media Strategy
A study conducted by The SMB Group found that one in five small businesses have no social
media strategy. Without strategy or goals, a business is unable to determine whether or not
they are gaining anything through their efforts, or simply wasting time. Those businesses
without a strategy also reported being less satisfied with social media’s ability to generate
new leads (SMB Group, 2012).
Wilson et al. (2011, p. 23) point us that a global bank executive recently described a
challenge for our times. It turns out that a customer who normally would qualify for the
lowest level of service has an impressive 100,000 followers on Twitter. The bank is not
doing much yet with social media and has no formula for adapting it to particular customers,
but the executive still wondered whether the customer’s “influence” might merit special
treatment. It is the kind of perplexing question many companies face as they formulate their
thinking about social media.
To understand how businesses are approaching the challenge, Wilson et al. (2011, p. 23)
analysed strategies and practices at more than 1,100 companies across several industries and
continents, and conducted in-depth interviews with 70 executives who were leading social
media initiatives. Their research revealed four distinct social media strategies, which depend
on a company’s tolerance for uncertain outcomes and the level of results sought and they
argue that organizations would be better served by focusing on one. These individual
strategies are; the predictive practitioner, the creative experimenter, the social media
champion and the social media transformer.
The predictive practitioner - This approach confines usage to a specific area, such as
customer service. It works well for businesses seeking to avoid uncertainty and to deliver
results that can be measured with established tools. Wilson et al. (2011) describe the example
of Clorox that to increase its virtual R&D capabilities, the social media team created Clorox
Connects - a website that enables brainstorming with customers and suppliers. A typical
query posted there: “We’re working on X product idea. What features would you like to see
included?” To encourage participation, Clorox uses incentives borrowed from gaming
The creative experimenter - Companies taking this approach embrace uncertainty, using
small-scale tests to find ways to improve discrete functions and practices. They aim to learn
by listening to customers and employees on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Sometimes they use proprietary technologies to conduct internal tests. The IT services giant
EMC is a creative experimenter. It pays particular attention to how its 40,000 global
employees use internal social media to locate needed expertise within the company. In an
effort reduce the use of outside contractors, it created a test platform, called EMC/ONE, that
helped employees network and connect on projects
The social media champion - This involves large initiatives designed for predictable results.
It may depend on close collaboration across multiple functions and levels and include
external parties. Consider Ford’s 2009 Fiesta Movement Campaign, used to prepare for the
car’s reintroduction in the U.S. It required joint efforts among marketing, communications,
and the C-suite. Wilson et al. (2011, p. 24) describe the example of how the company Ford
decided to lend 100 Fiestas for six months, with the requirement that they had to write in
social media about how they used the car. Within six months the drivers had posted more
than 60,000 items, which garnered millions of clicks, including more than 4.3 million
YouTube views, the $5 million campaign created a prelaunch brand awareness rate of 37%
and generated 50,000 sales leads to new customers
The social media transformer - This approach enables large-scale interactions that extend to
external stakeholders, allowing companies to use the unexpected to improve the way they do
business. In 2010 Cisco launched Integrated Workforce Experience (IWE), a social business
platform designed to facilitate internal and external collaboration and decentralize decision
making. It functions much like a Facebook “wall”: A real-time news feed provides updates
on employees’ status and activities as well as information about relevant communities,
business projects, and customer and partner interactions.
Wilson et al. (2011) argue that with the clarification of social media strategies, companies
and organizations can choose the social media approach that suits their business and which
will help them to reach their objectives. It is also important that the employees can use the
same social media platforms as the company does for its activities, however it is necessary to
give the same message in all the social media used by the company (Kaplan & Haenlein,
Mintzberg et al. (1998) underline the importance of planning and analysing for different
strategy formation schools. The strategist bases his strategy on calculations and analysis of
external and internal factors leading to possible disconnections between theory and reality.
The difficulty for companies can be to accept social media as part of daily life. Martin (2013)
highlights that there are still executives who do not understand the meaning of social media.
Considering these problems, companies may encounter some difficulties while developing
strategy with traditional methods that are formal analysis. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) call
attention to the importance for the company to have a social media strategy that remains
Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) present a classification system for Social Media in the article
Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media. The
combination of two dimensions (self-presentation and self-disclosure) are shown in the table
Table 1.1 – Classification of Social Media
Source: Kaplan’s and Haenlein (2010, p. 62) Article – Users of the World Connected
Kaplan’s and Haenlein (2010, p. 62) suggest that with respect to social presence and media
richness, applications such as collaborative projects (e.g., Wikipedia) and blogs score lowest,
as they are often text-based and hence only allow for a relatively simple exchange. On the
next level are content communities (e.g., YouTube) and social networking sites (e.g.,
Facebook) which, in addition to text-based communication, enable the sharing of pictures,
videos, and other forms of media. On the highest level are virtual game and social worlds
(e.g., World of Warcraft, Second Life), which try to replicate all dimensions of face-to-face
interactions in a virtual environment.
Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) propose that companies need a social media strategy before they
start using social media since with a strategy they will be able to appraise what they need to
take into account with their activity, and where companies should put their focus in social
media. The company needs to carefully choose which social media platforms it wants to use
to reach the right market segments.
2.6 What is Marketing Strategy
The management guru Peter Drucker (2006) states “because the purpose of business is to
create a customer, the business enterprise has two and only two basic functions: marketing
There are a wide range of definitions of marketing strategy. Dibb et al. (2005) state that it is
the selection of which marketing opportunities to pursue, analysis of target market(s) and the
creation and maintenance of an appropriate marketing mix that will satisfy those people in the
The definition of Webster (1997) cited in Hooley et al. (2008, p. 08) is similar to the above:
Marketing strategy seeks to develop effective response to changing market
environments by defining market segments and developing and positioning
product offerings for those target markets
Cravens and Piercy (2009, p. 13) include value for the customer:
Marketing strategy seeks to deliver superior customer value by combining the
customer-influencing strategies of the business into a coordinated set of
Kotler (2008) explains that in the beginning, marketing was a fancy word for selling. Then
came the "four Ps" of product, price, place and promotion, which got us to think about
"integrating the marketing mix". The third stage of marketing's evolution was about
segmentation, targeting and positioning. Previously, we thought we could mass-market to
everyone, like Coca-Cola. Next came customer relationship management (CRM), where the
ultimate aim was to "own the customer" rather than simply to make a sale. Now, we've
entered the era of "co-marketing," in which we invite the customer to join us in designing our
products and promotions. Lego has boosted its sales significantly by recruiting fans into its
innovation effort; Dell has created popular products thanks to a dedicated website that corrals
customer suggestions. Instead of saying 'We manage our customers,' now we co-manage with
Every organization needs to set clear marketing objectives, and the major route to achieving
organizational goals will depend on strategy.
2.7 Social Media and Marketing
Weber (2009) notes that instead of continuing as broadcasters, marketers should become
aggregators of customer communities. It is not about broadcasting marketing messages to an
increasingly indifferent audience. Instead, when marketing to the social web marketers
should participate in, organize and encourage social networks to which people want to
belong, rather than talking at customers, marketers should talk with them.
The task of aggregating customers is done in two ways: by providing compelling content on
your web site and creating retail environments that customers want to visit, and by going out
and participating in the public arena (Weber, 2009).
Marketing to the social web is not only for the largest multinational corporations, it may be
easier and more effective, for a relatively small or medium-size company to take maximum
advantages of social media (Weber, 2009).
Harris and Rae (2010) have looked at the role of social networking in establishing an
integrated marketing strategy. They argue that online communities have evolved considerably
since the early days of news groups and chat rooms and that businesses are recognising the
potential of generic online social networking such as Facebook and MySpace for the
development of their brands and to build relationships with key customers, but this a very
recent trend and it is difficult at this stage to draw conclusions on how successful companies
have been in using social networks in marketing.
Harris and Rae (2010) conclude in their article ‘The online connection: transforming
marketing strategy for small businesses’ that social networks will play a key role in the future
of marketing; externally they can replace customer annoyance with engagement, and
internally they help to transform the traditional focus on control with an open and
collaborative approach that is more conducive to success in the modern business
2.8 Value Creation
Drucker (2006) argues that today, when top management is surveyed, their priorities in order
are: finance, sales, production, management, legal and people. Missing from the list:
marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.
Aligned to Peter Drucker’s advice, (Sheth and Uslay, 2007) consider that the marketing goal
is to deliver value for the organization.
Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004) conclude in their article “Co-creating unique value with
customers” that the role of the customer in the industrial system has changed from isolated to
connected, from unaware to informed, from passive to active. The impact of the connected,
informed, and active consumer is manifested in the following ways:
Information Access: With access to unprecedented amounts of information, knowledgeable
consumer can make more informed decisions
Global view: Consumers can also access information on firms, products, technologies,
performance, prices, from around the world
Networking: Individuals share ideas and feelings without regard of geographic or social
Experimentation: Consumers can also use the internet to experiment with and develop
products, especially digital ones
Activism: As people learn, they can better discriminate when making choices, and, as they
network, they embolden each other to act and speak out
Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004, p. 04) note that consumers have more choices that yield
less satisfaction. Top management has more strategic options that yield less value.
Companies can no longer act autonomously, designing products, developing production
processes, crafting marketing message, and controlling sales channels with little or no
interference from consumers. Consumers now seek to exercise their influence in every part of
the business system.
2.9 This is What Social Media Can Do
This situation shows the extent to which social media can be your best friend, or your enemy,
depending on how corporations use social media.
Jeff Jarvis is the owner of one of the most respected blogs about the internet and media. Dell
sold to Mr Jarvis a faulty laptop and despite having paid for home service insurance, Mr
Jarvis had to send his laptop back several times to fix it. Each time the laptop returned it had
a new problem. Mr Jarvis contacted Dell several times and each time he had to start from the
scratch and he never made progress. “It drove me mad” (Jarvis, 2009).
On June 2005 Mr Jarvis decided to post on his blog;
'The machine is a lemon and the service is a lie', and 'Dell Sucks, Dell Lies. Put that in your
Google and smoke it, Dell’ (Jarvis, 2009).
Mr Jarvis blog received a lot of comments all regarding Dell and it did not take long before
these negative comments appeared in front of the Dell homepage on Google search.
Mr Jarvis wrote a letter directly to Michael George, Dell`s Chief Marketing Officer and Vice
President for US Consumer Business, outlining what happened. Mr Jarvis received a call
from the customer service offering him a full refund which he accepted.
Once it happened, Dell started approaching social media differently, creating IdeaStorm, a
site where customers could vote and discuss new concepts for the company based on what
people wanted. Dell started making decisions based on what their online community felt was
right. This actions resulted in happy customers that felt they were actually part of Dell`s
PepsiCo has used social networks to gather customer insights via its promotions, which have
led to the creation of new varieties of its Mountain Dew brand. Since 2008, the company has
sold more than 36 million cases of them (Divol et al. 2012)
Consumers are adopting increasingly active roles in co-creating marketing content with
companies and their respective brands. In turn, companies and organizations are looking to
online social marketing programs and campaigns in an effort to reach consumers where they
‘live’ online. (Hanna et al. 2011, p. 1)
This chapter began by outlining that the advances in web technologies have helped to make
social media more accessible to internet users. The collaborative nature of these sites have
attracted many businesses as they can engage with their consumer and use input to collect
user generated content to help improve their products (Schenckerber, 2009). Companies
diligently start using social media, but few have a deeper understanding of exactly how social
media interacts with consumers to expand product and brand recognition, drive sales and
profitability (Divol, et al. 2012).
Web 2.0 has given businesses and ideal platform where they can increase brand awareness
and build lasting relationships by using a pull medium rather than a traditional push
marketing medium. The literature on social media strategy and marketing strategy was
analyzed. The last part of the chapter focused on assessing literature on successful stories of
organizations that have embarked on using social media.
‘I keep six honest serving men, (they taught me all I knew) their names
were, what, and why, and when, and how, and where and who’.
- Rudyard Kipling
The purpose of this chapter is to identify the methodologies available to the researcher for
this dissertation, outline the particular rationale to conduct primary research and to indicate
the researcher’s awareness and consideration of all of the issues relating to the methodology
and its relationship to the research question (Saunders et al, 2007).
The real challenge in any research project is to turn data into a rigorous, theoretically
informed analysis of a well-defined question or problem. Travers (2002) states that this
challenge is underpinned by the fact that many researchers fail to distinguish properly
between the terms ‘method’ and ‘methodology’.
Methods are techniques used in collecting data, these will be discussed further in this chapter.
Methodology however refers to ‘the assumptions you have as a researcher, which can be
epistemological or political in character, or mean that you support the view of the world
promoted by a particular tradition’ (Travers, 2002)
Birley and Moreland (1998) suggest that it is helpful to look at the research methodology as a
decision making process that is predicated upon sets of background assumptions or
paradigms. Research philosophy is the way through which the researcher generates
knowledge in the context of the research.
The purpose of this chapter is to:
Discuss the research philosophy in relation to other philosophies;
Expound the research strategy, including the research methodologies adopted;
Introduce the research instruments that I have developed and utilised in the pursuit
to investigate of the research question.
Saunders et al. (2007) outline a logical process for conducting research. They portray this
visually in the form of a ‘Research Process Onion’ which can be seen in figure 3.1. This
chapter will follow Saunders et al. (2007) research process which addresses four key stages,
research philosophy, research approaches, research strategies and data collection methods.
Following on from these areas, the chapter will then detail the research paradigm, specific
area of research being studied and the subsequent methodology used in the study. Finally
issues regarding the data collection and implementation of the research and the analysis will
then be discussed.
This chapter will outline the approach I used in the dissertation. The research question is then
outlined followed by the sub-objectives and the context of the research. A number of research
strategies are then discussed and the most suitable is then selected. This is followed by a
discussion on deductive / inductive research, and qualitative / quantitative research
approaches. The possible data collection method of semi structured interviews is then
described along with the different choices that can be made through the research regarding
selection of the companies and interviewees. Finally, the chapter discusses the limitations of
the research approach, the issues of reliability, validity and the role of the researcher.
3.2 The Research Path
The author adopted the ‘the research onion’ model of Saunders et al. (2007). Its structure is a
useful metaphor for the research process as illustrated in figure 3.1.
Figure 3.1: ‘The Research Onion’
Source: The Research Onion (Saunders et al. p. 102)
The figure above shows the research process which was adopted to carry out the research.
Each layer of the ‘onion’ is a stage in the process at which important decisions must be made.
The research process consists of many layers, each linked to the successor in linear fashion.
Saunders et al. (2007) outlined that the research decisions are made based on:
Techniques and procedure.
3.3 The Research Question
A researcher spends a great deal of time refining a research idea. An initial definition of the
research question is important in building theory from case studies according to Eisenhardt
(1989) and that without a research question it is easy to become overwhelmed by the volumes
Saunders et al. (2007) insist on the need to identify a feasible research question and Sekaran
(2003) states that the research question is a precise statement of the question that is to be
investigated. The author selected the following research question based on his earlier reading
for the research proposal:
An Exploration into the impact of Social Media on Marketing Strategy
The researcher has done the following:
1. Defined the specific question area
2. Reviewed the relevant literature
3. Pragmatically examined the feasibility to answer the question.
The author ensured the research question did not lack feasibility regardless of how significant
or researchable a question may be. The following considerations were taken into account:
Availability of literature
Experience of the researcher
Lack of ability to conduct the research
3.4 Research Objectives
The Researcher has outlined three research objectives below. These objectives are explored
in order to gain a better understanding of the research question which is outlined in the
1. Exploring how social media have affected marketing strategies employed by
Rationale: The objective is to establish whether or not the involvement of social media has
had an effect in terms of marketing strategies. The researcher’s aim is to find what strategy
was employed by organizations before the organization embarked on using social media and
what is the current strategy with regards to social media.
In order to explore the effect of social media on marketing strategy, it is crucial to first define
what social media and strategy are and how social media strategists are using them. The
literature review examines the technological advances that have given rise to these social
media websites as well as how organizations are using them. In order to find out the impact
of social media on marketing strategy, primary research in the form of semi-structured
interviews will be conducted in which respondents will be questioned on these subjects.
2. Exploring how social media can add value to the marketing strategies
Rationale: The objective is to explore how social media can add value to the marketing
strategies. The researcher’s aim is to find out if the organizations have experienced
significant increase in market share, growth or financial impact since they started using social
In order to explore how social media can add value, the literature available was examined to
find out how organizations use this form of media. Primary research in the form of semi-
structured interviews will be conducted in which respondents will be questioned how their
organisations add value to the marketing strategy with the use of social media.
3. Exploring what is the impact of social media on marketing expenses
Rationale: This objective is to explore what is the impact of social media on marketing
expenses. The researcher’s aim is to find out whether or not the involvement of social media
has had an effect in terms of reducing marketing expenses and to find out if the overall
investment pays for itself. The internet has enabled companies to reach out worldwide,
targeting consumers that they would not previously have been able to reach (Weber, 2010).
3.5 Research Philosophy
A research philosophy is a belief about the way in which data about a phenomenon should be
gathered, questioned and used. The term epistemology (what is known to be true) as opposed
to doxology (what is believed to be true) encompasses the various philosophies of research
Research is important in both business and academic fields. However, misunderstandings
arise and there is no general consensus as to how ‘research’ should actually be defined.
Amaratunga et al. (2002) offer one reason for this, explaining that research means different
things to different people. They also propose several features that appear to be consistent
amongst the many definitions of research as follows:
- Is a process of enquiry and investigation;
- Is systematic and methodical; and
- Research increases knowledge.
Taking the above research process into account, it is then important to understand where the
process of research should be initiated. Saunders et al. (2007) note that the first stage to be
discussed is the research philosophy. To understand research philosophy and how it applies to
the research study at hand, firstly the origins of knowledge development itself must be
A philosophy is important because it “contains important assumptions about the way in
which you view the world” (Saunders et al. 2007, p. 108) and these assumptions can define
the research strategy and its methods.
Bryman and Bell (2007, p. 30) argue:
Values reflect either the personal beliefs or the feelings of a researcher. On the
face of it, we would expect that social scientists should be value free and
objective in. The research that simply reflected the personal biases of its
practitioners could not be considered valid and scientific because it was bound up
with the subjectivities of its practitioners.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Epistemology concerns what constitutes acceptable
knowledge in a field of study (Saunders et al. 2007; Bryman & Bell, 2007). Epistemology
refers to how a researcher considers knowledge, or how a researcher can know reality or truth
(Hogan et al. 2009). Within the Epistemology there are two opposing schools of thought on
the philosophy of research, these being positivism and Interpretivism (Saunders et al. 2007)
A central question in epistemology is: what must be added to true beliefs to convert them into
knowledge? Epistemology usually restricts itself to questions about how we can ensure we
are obtaining the special kind of knowledge called truth.
A brief comparison between positivism and interpretivism follows in order to justify the
chosen philosophy for this particular study which is interpretivism.
Saunders et al. (2007) note that researches that tend to favour the philosophical stance of the
natural scientist will prefer “working with an observable social reality and that the end
product of such research can be law-like generalisations similar to those produced by the
physical and natural scientists”. They state that to generate a research strategy the researcher
can use existing theory to develop hypotheses. These hypotheses will then be tested and
confirmed as a whole part of it, or it will be refused which in turn will lead to the need to
further development of the theory which then may be tested by further research.
Around the end of the nineteenth century, social scientists began to adopt the positivist
approach because it had been used with much success previously in many of the natural
sciences (Hussey & Hussey, 1997, p. 52). One of the main components of the positivist
approach is that research that is conducted is undertaken, as far as possible, in a value free
way, as a result the research does not affect or alternatively get affected by the subject of the
research being conducted (Hogan, et al. 2009).
Interpretivism is derived from epistemology and the emphasis is on conducting research
among humans rather than objects (Fisher, 2007; Blumberg et al. 2008). Saunders et al.
(2007, p. 106) agree with the statement above pointing out that interpretivism is an
epistemology that advocates that it is necessary for the researcher to understand differences
between humans in our role as social actors. This emphasises the difference between
conducting research among people rather than objects such as trucks and computers.
Saunders et al. (2007) explain that the term ‘social actors’ is quite significant in the
interpretivism approach. The metaphor of the theatre suggests that as humans we play a part
on the stage of human life. In theatrical productions, actors play a part which they interpret in
a particular way (which may be their own or that of the director) and act out their part in
accordance with this interpretation. In the same way we interpret our everyday social roles in
accordance with the meaning we give to these roles.
Realism is an epistemological position which relates to the essence that what the senses show
us as reality is the truth: that objects have an existence independent of the human mind. The
theory of realism is that there is a reality quite independent of the mind. In this sense, realism
is opposed to idealism, the theory that only the mind and its contents exist. (Saunders et al.
Saunders et al. (2007) argue that an interprevist perspective is highly appropriate in the case
of business and management research, particularly in such fields as organisational behaviour,
marketing and human resource management. For this reason, as the dissertation topic is
related to business and management research, the author chose the interpretivism approach in
his research process for the purpose of answering the research problem.
The research conducted will seek to provide subjective data in order to gain some sort of
meaning rather than trying to measure something.
3.6 The Research Approach
It is necessary to examine the different research methods that are available when conducting
research at this point. These approaches occupy the second layer of the ‘onion’ (Saunders et
al. 2007). The research approach is concerned with trying to identify any characteristics that
can and will influence the research design in some way (Hogan, et al. 2009).
Saunders et al (2007) note that the research approach can either be deductive, where a theory
is developed and hypothesis (or hypotheses) and design a research strategy to rest the
hypothesis, or the approach may be inductive, where data needs to be collected and develop
theory as a result of the data analysis.
3.6.1 Deductive Research
Deduction refers to scientific testing of hypothesis, from which, information can be deduced.
Saunders et al. (2007, p. 117) state that deduction involves the development of theory that is
subjected to a rigorous test.
Amaratunga et al. (2002) state that deduction is fundamental to the positivist tradition which
centres upon atomist – that is, objects of experience are atomic, independent events. In
addition, a further key factor of deduction is the ability to generalise findings that is,
Saunders et al. (2007, p. 117) reference Robson (2002) who describes a sequential list of five
stages through which deductive research should follow:
1. deducing a hypothesis (a testable proposition about the relationship between two or
more concepts or variables) from the theory;
2. expressing the hypothesis in operational terms (that is, indicating exactly how the
concepts or variables are to be measured), which propose a relationship between two
specific concepts or variables;
3. testing this operational hypothesis (this will involve one or more of the strategies
detailed in Chapter 5);
4. examining the specific outcome of the inquiry (it will either tend to confirm the theory
or indicate the need for its modification);
5. if necessary, modifying the theory in the light of the findings.
3.6.2 Inductive Research
The alternative to a deductive research approach is an inductive approach which relates to
qualitative approaches. It differs from deduction in that theory is induced and is developed
from primary data, rather than the opposite, where data is extracted from existing theory and
then tested. In contrast with deduction, causation does not refer to regularity between separate
things or events ‘but about what an object is likely to do and what it can do, and only
derivatively what it will do in any particular situation’ (Amaratunga et al, 2002, p. 19).
The data collected would need to be analysed by the researcher in order to make sense of it,
and the subsequent results would form the basis of a theory.
The concept of induction fundamentally centres upon understanding how humans interpret
their social world (Saunders et al, 2007). Developing greater understanding and gaining
insight into human behaviour using techniques other than those with numerical tendencies
can prove beneficial for theory production and development.
Saunders et al. (2007, p. 119) believe that induction places an emphasis on:
Its tendency to construct a rigid methodology that does not permit alternative
explanations of what is going wrong
Research using an inductive approach is likely to be particularly concerned with the
context in which such events were taking place.
Social media is a relatively new topic and according to Creswell (2003) if there is not much
existing literature on a topic because it is a relatively new phenomenon, it is more appropriate
to work inductively in order to reflect upon what theoretical themes the data is suggesting.
Due to the recent nature of social media, the author decided that the inductive approach
would be more appropriate to explore the research question.
3.7 Research Design
The following section outlines the design process undertaken.
3.7.1 Secondary Research
Secondary data is information that has already been collected and is usually available in
published or electronic form. Secondary data has often been collected, analysed, and
organized with a specific purpose in mind, so it may have limited applications to specific
3.7.2 Primary Research
Primary research involves gathering data for a specific research task. It is based on data that
has not been gathered beforehand. Primary research can be either qualitative or quantitative.
Primary research can be used to explore a market and can help develop the hypotheses or
research questions that must be answered by further research. Primary data can be either in
the form of quantitative data or qualitative data, depending on which is most suitable form for
the research question concerned (Hanson & Grimmer, 2007).
Saunders et al (2007) argue that the advantage of primary research is that the researcher can
address specific research issues as well as having a high degree of control over how the
information is collected. The disadvantages are that it can be time consuming in preparing
and analysing the data and in some cases it could be out of date by the time the research is
Saunders et al. (2007, p. 142) note that ethnography is rooted firmly in the inductive
approach. It emanates from the field of anthropology. The purpose is to describe and explain
the social world the research subjects inhabit in the way in which they would describe and
explain it. This is very time consuming research and it takes place over an extensive period as
the researcher needs to immerse in the social world being researched as completely as
Ethnography is not a prevailing research strategy in business, however it can be very helpful
to get a better understanding of those involved in the research or of a particular context.
Netnography is a branch of Ethnography that analyses the free behaviour of individuals on
the internet (O’Donohoe, 2010). Jiyao and Reynolds (2010) argue that it is the application of
ethnography to a computer-mediated environment with the epistemological remit largely
Netnography is faster, simpler, timelier and much less expensive than traditional ethnography
because it is unelicited, it is more naturalistic and unobtrusive than focus groups, surveys, or
interviews (Kozinets, 2006). Netnography provides information on the symbolism, meanings,
and consumption patterns or online communities consumption unrelated but online sociability
based on the exchange of information
3.7.5 Qualitative Research
According to Porter (1996), some authors have been reluctant to define the term ‘qualitative’.
Generally however, it is accepted that the qualitative paradigm is primarily concerned with
understanding. Qualitative methodologies are shaped in order to encapsulate a view of the
phenomenon within its own context. The goal is to gain insight and further understanding
from a humanistic perspective, of the phenomenon being studied.
Porter (1996) argues however, that the distinction between the two approaches is not clear
and to simplify them would be to ignore specifically the complexity of the qualitative
approach. He states that there are two types of qualitative scholars. One type rejects the
scientific approach as a means for studying human behaviour, the other accepts the basic
goals of science but rejects some of its procedures.
Qualitative research is primarily concerned with gaining direct experience with a setting and
is intrinsically an exploratory endeavor (May, 2002). Qualitative data refers to all non-
numeric data or data that have not been quantified and can be product of all research
strategies (Hogan et al. 2009).
Qualitative research includes in-depth and semi-structured interview, focus groups and
participant observations to explore the research question. Qualitative research is an
exploratory study as it aims to seek new insights and ask questions to assess phenomena.
(Saunders et al. 2007).
Kvale (1996) also notes that a qualitative research interview seeks to cover both factual and a
meaning level, though it is usually more difficult to interview on a meaning level.
The author has selected qualitative analysis by means of in-depth interviews to carry out the
research methodology. This method will enable the researcher to develop own thoughts and
interpretations. The author wanted to be able to interpret the answers collected during the
interviews and found the qualitative approach most suitable to the study.
(Kozinets, 2002) explains that qualitative methods are particularly useful for revealing the
rich symbolic world that underlies needs, desires, meanings and choice. Interviews when
conducted in comfortable ways are likely to be more personal as well as fruitful.
Saunders et al. (2007, p. 472) describe qualitative data as:
Based on meanings expressed through words
Collection results in non-standardised data requiring classification into categories
Analysis conducted through the use of conceptualisation
Qualitative research was chosen as the most suitable form of research design for the
exploration of the impact of social media on marketing strategy as the research was
exploratory in nature as well as there being time constraints involved.
The interview approach takes seriously that the notion that people are experts on their own
experience and so best able to report how they experienced a particular event or phenomenon.
If a range of people are interviewed about the same phenomenon there will inevitably be a
range of perspectives (Darlington & Scott, 2002).
3.8 Data collection Method
Data collection is an important aspect of any type of research study. Inaccurate data
collection can impact the outcome of a study and as a consequence lead to invalid results
When searching for information to solve a problem, some kind of data collection needs to be
Questionnaires, interviews, sampling, survey, case studies etc., are some of the data
collection methods that can be used by a researcher, other methods such as observation, focus
groups and secondary data are indeed used but perhaps to a lesser degree (Saunders et al,
This section will briefly review the methods available to the researcher, subsequently
justification will be given for the specific method chosen and this will then be discussed in
The author rejected group interviews and focus groups because he was not exploring a single
theme or collective attitude (Lancaster, 2005). One to one interviews were selected as it
offered the best way of accomplishing the research objectives. They can be formal and
structured or informal and unstructured, or they can be halfway between (Saunders et al.
3.8.1 Semi Structured Interview Process
Face-to-face interviews have the strength that researchers can ask follow-up questions and
individuals are able to say much more in a face-to-face interview than in an email, so
researchers will get more information from a face-to-face interview.
The author used semi-structured interviews, as the author wanted the interviews to follow a
framework and at the same time being able to adapt the questions. In semi-structured
interviews the researcher will have a list of themes and questions to be covered. It was also
the most appropriate collection tool to assess the opinion of managers on this process which
is an important objective of this research project. In addition to this, the questions in this
research project are open ended and qualitative interviews are best suited to open ended
questions (Saunters et al, 2007).
One of the strengths of the qualitative interview process is that it allows the researcher to
probe answers, and where it is required, to get the interviewee to explain, or build on their
responses (Saunders et al, 2007).
Four interviews were conducted face-to-face and each interview was transcribed as shown in
appendix F and analysed later on. Each of the interviews was developed to last not more than
30 minutes considering the difficulty to reach the respondents during office hours.
220.127.116.11 Depth Interviews
Depth interviews are used when it is important that there is no ‘contamination’ of
respondents’ views, as can happen in a focus group scenario (Lehmann et al, 1998). The
depth interview is also unstructured; there is a guide or ‘theme sheet’ but no structured
questions as in a questionnaire. Unlike a focus group there is also enough freedom for the
respondent to steer the conversation. According to Hague (2002), the most important element
for the researcher in a depth interview is listening, ‘to listen carefully to a respondent is to
show interest and this is encouragement to say more. Furthermore, only through listening will
an understanding be built up from which there could be a deeper line of questioning – the
very substance of depth interviewing’.
3.8.2 The Sample
The research samples are companies currently active in social media located in Ireland. The
interviewees were contacted through LinkedIn as illustrated in appendix A, based on their
area of responsibility which is related to the researcher’s topic. Participants held prominent
positions in their respective organizations and therefore were informed to answer any
3.8.3 The Choice of the Companies
The author selection was based on the criteria of companies being active on social media. The
person in charge of social media and or marketing strategy was targeted as illustrated in
3.8.4 Candidate Selection
According to Yin (1984), the basis of selection of people for interview should be done so on
the theoretical underpinning of the study. The primary source of interview data must be
people in roles that are actively involved with, and have direct experience of the phenomenon
being studied (Blaike, 1993). For the purpose of this study there was a need to identify
managers that have experience in social media and marketing.
The focus on the candidate selection was to identify candidates with extensive knowledge
and experience in their roles. The researcher approached 15 potential candidates and got the
confirmation of four of them. All candidates were located in Ireland spread across a number
of different industry sectors. In order to prevent a bias on the part of the interviewees only the
broad topic of the research was mentioned rather than the specific details.
As requested by two of the interviewees, their respective company name have been kept
3.8.5 Data Required
An interview guide was developed for the interviews in order to guide them and ensure that
every topic was covered in each separate interview. The four candidates identified as
interviewees for the semi structured interview process were provided by email with an outline
of themes in the research to be asked prior to the interviews as illustrated in appendix C.
As the interviews were semi-structured in nature it allowed the interviewee to be probed on
responses given to provide a greater understanding of their meaning.
The following topics were covered during the interviews:
Social Media Strategy
Social Media Marketing Expenses
Value of Social Media
3.8.6 Structure of the interviews
The interviews started by explaining to the interviewee the purpose of the interview, format
and how long the interview would approximately take. The author allowed the interviewee to
clarify any doubts they had, meantime laptop and IPhone were prepared to record the
interviews. The main concern of the researcher was to understand the real meaning of what
the interviewee said.
Kvale (1996) notes:
The qualitative research interview seeks to describe and get the meanings of the
central themes in the life of the world of the subjects. The main task in
interviewing is to understand the meaning of what the interviews say.
In order to conduct the interviews the researcher prepared a questionnaire as shown in
appendix E, based on the research question and semi structure interview was use as the author
wanted the interviewees to follow a framework and at the same time being able to adapt the
questions to their answers.
3.8.7 Limitations of Methodology
Chapter three outlined the research process and the questions that need to be accessed when
deciding on research questions, objectives, deciding on a research method and the forms of
the research to be conducted. The approach using qualitative data through interviews was
selected. Four organizations were identified for interviews which will be analysed using
comparative analysis in the next chapter
It is important for the researcher to acknowledge the limitations of the methodology being
employed in this study. There are a number of weaknesses associated with a qualitative
approach and interviews in particular as a method of data collection. These include flexibility
where the respondent provided the answer which they believe the interviewer is seeking, bias
resulting from poor questions or in relation to the respondents answer, poor respondent recall,
possible respondent discomfort in sharing sensitive information, the possible underestimation
and the dangers of becoming over dependent on one respondent (Darlington & Scott, 2002;
Yin, 2003). In order to overcome these weaknesses, the researcher circulated the key themes
of the interview questions in advance to the interviewees to give them an opportunity to
familiarize themselves with the research. The researcher had also reviewed a considerable
amount of literature prior to the interviews, to ensure focus on the research question and the
other key points in the interview.
There also weaknesses due to the small number of interviewees in the research. This was due
to time constraints and the difficulty of access. Considering the limited time and the resources
available to this study, it was decided that semi structured interviewees was the most
3.8.8 The role of the Researcher
The researcher biases are prejudices and value judgments which the researcher holds but
tends not to be aware of. Researchers may, unknown to themselves, impose their own belief
or frame of reference on the research process and this can be lead to distortions in the
research (Holloway, 1997). It is very difficult for the researcher to avoid or eliminate
researcher bias completely especially in qualitative research. Interviews are a subjective
technique and therefore the risk of bias is quite high (Darlington & Scott, 2002).
3.9 Data Preparation and Analysis
For analysis of the data in this study the researcher has approached the process from an
inductive position. The researcher has used existing theory to shape the approach to the
qualitative research process and to aspects of the data analysis (Saunders et al, 2007). The
author followed Yin’s (2003) idea where existing theory was used to formulate the research
question and objectives and these theoretical propositions were used to create a rough
framework to analyze the data. Therefore the research analysis follows an inductive
Data preparation includes the editing and transcription of all data collected during the semi-
structured interview process. The preparation is a similar process for both qualitative and
quantitative data. As the researcher chose qualitative data to answer the research question, it
needed to be collected in a non-standardized way to capture the richness and fullness
associated with it (Saunders et al. 2007).
All interviews conducted were recorded and additional notes were taken on any key points
mentioned. The recording of the interview was played back to be able to carry out further
analysis. The data was analyzed in order to get meaning from the information collected.
The activities listed below detailed by Saunders et al. (2007, p. 479) were followed in order
to perform a qualitative analysis:
Categorisation - It involves classifying data into meaningful categories, these categories
are in effect codes or labels that the researcher will use to group the data
‘Unitising’ data – It is the process to attach relevant portions of data to the appropriate
categories that have been advised.
Recognising relationships and developing the categories - Reorganising data searching
for key themes and patterns or relationships.
Developing and testing theories to reach conclusions. Firstly patterns and relationships
are established, hypotheses are developed with the aim of testing them against the data
Once the transcribing was finalised the author conducted the first activity of classifying the
data into meaningful categories. These categories are in effect codes or labels that were used
to group the data. Categories provide the researcher with an emergent structure that is
relevant to the research project to organise and analyse the data further.
The identification of these categories will be guided by the purpose of the research as
expressed through the research question and objectives. Strauss and Corbin (1998) are
mentioned by Saunders et al. (2007, p. 480) who suggest that there are three main sources to
derive names for these categories:
Utilise terms that emerge from the data collected
Base them on the actual terms used by the researcher participants
Base them on terms used in existing theory and the literature.
3.9.2 Utilising Data
Following the development of the categories, the author attached relevant portions of data to
the appropriate category. For this research, the data was mainly words, a line of a transcript
or a complete paragraph of a transcript.
The researcher followed Saunders et al. (2007, p. 480) transferring and field to end up with
piles of related units of data, it was essential to label each unit of data carefully to know its
3.9.3 Recognizing Relationships and Developing Categories
As the researcher continued to analyse the data key themes and relationships in the
rearranged data began to developed (Saunders et al. 2007). The author decided to subdivide
and integrate categories as way to focus on the analysis.
3.9.4 Developing and Testing Hypothesis
Saunders et al (2007) note that as the researcher seeks to reveal patterns within the data and
to recognise relationships between categories, you will be able to develop hypotheses in order
to test these. Hypothesis is defined as ‘a testable proposition’. The appearance of an apparent
relationship or connection between categories will need to be tested to be able to conclude
that there is an actual relationship.
3.9.5 Reliability and Validity
The concept of reliability has to do with how well the research project has been carried out
(Blaxter et al. 2006). Easterby-Smith et al. (2002, p. 53) refers reliability to the extent to
which data collection techniques or analysis procedures will yield consistent findings. It can
be assessed by posing the following three questions (as cited in Saunders et al. (2007)
Will the measures yield the same results on other occasions?
Will similar observations be reached by other observers?
Is there transparency in how sense was made from the raw data?
Creswell (2003) describes reliability as the attempts to minimize errors in the research. In this
study all of the interviews were conducted using the same framework, the same theme and a
consistent interview technique to ensure consistency and dependability.
Since the primary data is based on interviews the researcher is fully aware about the
subjective answers being possibly interpreted in several ways. The researcher has been trying
therefore to interpret the answers as they have been written and not adjust them to his own
Saunders et al (2007, p. 150) note that validity is concerned with whether the findings are
really about what they appear to be about. Is the relationship between two variables a causal
relationship? Validity has to do with whether the methods, approaches, and techniques
actually relate to, or measure, the issues that are being explored in the research (Blaxter et al,
The objective of this chapter was to indicate that the researcher has understood the issues
regarding the methodology and its relationship to the research objectives. This chapter began
with a review of the most appropriate philosophical paradigms to do this research, and
subsequently continued by detailing the chosen methodology of interpretivism. The following
penultimate chapter will present the main analysis and findings.
Analysis and Findings
Data analysis is not an end in itself…its purpose is to produce
information that will help address the problem at hand’.
- Malhotra 1999, p.434
The next step in the study is the task of analyzing the data that has been collected from the
primary research, during the course of the semi-structured interviews as well as the
ethnography research. In this chapter the analysis and findings will be presented. It reports on
the facts that the researcher has discovered (Saunders et al. 2007).
In order to explore the themes that emerged from both the literature review and industry
reviews, the author asked questions revolving around their use of social media. While it must
be stated that the sample used could not be considered representative of the population as a
whole, the following insights have been gained. The interviews were semi-structured in
nature, the questions were varied depending on each participant`s responses.
According to Malhotra (1999), data analysis and preparation is the penultimate stage in the
market research process. It is important that meaningful conclusions can be drawn from the
data in order for appropriate decisions to be made. Aaker et al. (2001) note that the purpose
of data collection and analysis is to convert the data into ‘defensible, actionable sets of
conclusions and reports’.
The analysis will be broken into sections. The first section will list the research questions
and the interviewee`s point of view for that specific question and linkages will be made
between the findings and the literature review. The results from the interviews will be
analyzed and the data is presented herein and organized around three research questions,
followed by the presentation of additional thematic material. This will be followed by new
findings that emerged during the four interviews. The new findings will be presented as
emergent themes which constitute new knowledge outside the main research objectives.
Analysis and Findings
Four people were interviewed ranging from Managers to Senior Directors. Interviewees
represented males and females populations. Interviews were conducted in the months of July
and August of 2013 and they lasted between 25 and 50 minutes.
Gorden (1992) states that interviews have some specific purpose, so it is necessary to store
the responses in a relevant, usable, and accessible form to fulfill this purpose. Everyone who
uses the results of interviews needs some way to code the results so that they can be used
without listening to the whole recording or reading the whole transcript.
As explained in section 3.9 a coding was created and applied by classifying data into
meaningful categories, these categories are in effect codes or labels that the author used to
group the data. It was followed by the process of attaching relevant portions of data to the
appropriate category and reorganizing the data for key themes and patterns relationships.
4.3.1 Coding Categories
Gorden (1992) notes that to perform the task of summarizing, condensing, and storing a
concrete example that falls into a certain coding category, we assign an abstract symbol to
represent any case in that category. Thus, each category has its own symbolic label, or code.
This label may be an abbreviation, a number, a letter or anything else that is convenient for
the process of summarizing, analyzing, storing or retrieving the information.
The coding categories were defined as stated by Saunders et al. (2007, p. 479). It can be seen
in table 4.1 which shows the coding categories defined and assigned to every research
objective. Appendix G shows the coding category applied for all four interviews.
Analysis and Findings
Table 4.1: Coding Categories
Coding Category Research Objective
Social media impact on marketing
What is the impact of social media on marketing
strategy employed by organizations?
Social media value How social media can add value to the marketing
Social media on marketing expenses What is the impact of social media on marketing
The author read through the transcript, underlined each fragment of relevant information, and
labeled each with the category symbol, thereby showing the category of relevant information
into which it falls, Gorden (1992). This method has two advantages: We do not cut up the
transcript and we keep each relevant fragment in its original context.
The author feels that it is important to note the absence of significant academic reference in
this chapter as social media is a relatively new phenomenon and therefore this is a new study
and cannot at most be compared marginally to similar studies within the area of social media
The following section provides a detailed analysis of the information gathered in all four
interviews drawing from both predefined structural themes and emergent themes whilst
making reference to information gathered during the review of existing literature. In order to
maintain focus on the information, the analysis has been presented under the three core
objectives of the study.
4.4 Interviewees background on social media channels
4.4.1 Social Media Channels in a private capacity
All participants are social media users of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter in a private
capacity as illustrated in appendix G. Participant A is the only one interviewee who uses
Analysis and Findings
Flicker. Participant B uses Pinterest and Participant C uses also YouTube and Instagram in a
private capacity. Participant D has a blog which he uses occasionally.
4.4.2 Social Media Channels in a professional capacity
The social media platforms that are the most utilized by all the participants are Twitter,
LinkedIn and Facebook. However, all the other social media channels that were mentioned
were familiar to all of the participants.
This information is directly supported by the work of Stelzner (2013) who made a specific
reference that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging and YouTube were the top five
platforms in 2013. These were the most popular platforms used by marketers to grow their
business, with Facebook leading the pack.
Respondent A is the only Participant using Flicker and Google Plus in a professional
capacity. Respondent C uses also Issuu in a professional capacity. Respondent D is also
developing a blog for British Midland International Regional.
The newer the platform, the less enthusiasm and confidence was shown towards the platform,
mainly because it is regarded as a new entrant into the market. For example, Google Plus is a
recently developed product and not all participants use it, although all knew it was an
emerging social media channel.
Kaplan’s and Haenlein (2010, p. 62) suggest that with respect to social presence and media
richness, applications such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube, score medium in
richness and presence, as they are content communities and social networking sites which, in
addition to text-based communication, enable the sharing of pictures, videos, and other forms
of media. Hanna et al. (2011) argue that as companies develop social media strategies,
platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are too often treated as stand-alone
elements rather than part of an integrated system
Analysis and Findings
4.5 Research Questions
4.5.1 Research Question One – What is the impact of social media on marketing
strategy employed by organizations?
In this section the author analyzed what the impact is of social media on marketing strategies
employed by organizations. Most of the respondents state that social media has a positive
impact on theirs company’s marketing strategy as it enables a two way communication, as
opposed to traditional marketing strategies. Through social media organizations can listen to
what customers are saying about them and they have the option to alter campaigns based on
the feedback they get from the customers:
‘Now with social media marketing it is a two way communication, and with
traditional marketing it was one way communication. For example, when kids go back
to college we promote campaigns to reach them on Facebook only. We can adopt
Facebook or Twitter depending on our strategy. In the past we used only radio and
TV, therefore we could not reach a specific group of people, we could not reach
individually, we can hear with social media what people are saying about us'
Source - Participant A
The above recommendation is supported by Hanna et al. (2011, p. 08) who note that
technology has transformed the traditional model of marketing communications. The rise in
interactive digital media has catapulted company and consumer contact from a Web 1.0
passive model, to a Web 2.0 interactive model where consumers are simultaneously the
initiators and recipients of information exchanges.
Participant B indicated that his company (Social Media Solutions) changes its strategy if the
customers are not happy with the way they provide services. This leverage engagement for a
competitive advantage, as well as trying to get customer’s opinion through social media.
‘It is not that if I sell shoes and customers ask umbrellas, then I will sell umbrellas,
No, I will just change our product. Listening to what they ask and give to them.
People are pushing their message and we need to listen to what they want, we must
not push out our product “buy my stuff, buy my stuff”, customers want us to solve
Source - Participant B
Analysis and Findings
The view of Participant B correlates with the research by Harris and Rae (2010) who argue in
their article “The online connection: transforming marketing strategy for small businesses”,
that social networks will play a key role in the future of marketing. This is because
companies can replace customer annoyance with engagement.
Participant C highlighted that their marketing strategy has gone very digital by incorporating
social media. By having embarked on using social media it has now become a much more
interactive communication channel with their customers and it is cost effective. Letters and
flyers are no longer sent to members, social media is used to drive the marketing strategy.
‘It reminds people, it reinforces live on the spot to go back to our website, to keep
people updated. It is an integral part of our marketing strategy. We would be
considered a small organization, it is very cost effective for us to use social media.’
Source - Participant C
Wilson et al. (2011) argue that with a clarification of social media strategies, companies can
choose the social media approach that suits their business, and helps them to reach their
Participant C highlighted that their website is the core of their business, it is the central place
where they have all the information for their members, and with social media it is a two way
communication. Social media revolves around their website by reminding people and
providing live updates.
‘We want people to log on, we want people to view the reports and that justifies their
membership. It supports the web strategy so much, it makes it quicker and easier and
also, it helps us to have a dialogue. Someone who might go on our website, will also
tweet, they might tell us something’.
Source - Participant C
Organizations can use the data collected from customers and use algorithmic software to
discover what customers are saying about organizations through social media channels, and
this information is fed back into their strategy. Participant B agrees with Participant A by
highlighting that certain software can help companies to monitor what their customers are
saying about them. Once organizations are listening to the chatter of what has been said about
their brand, companies can start participating in these conversations and engage with their
Analysis and Findings
Mintzberg, Ahlstrand and Lampel (1998) point out the importance of analyzing the external
as well as the internal environment before implementing a strategy, which may not apply to
social media. This was confirmed by Participant D who stated that there are no changes in the
marketing strategy through the use of social media. Participant D highlighted that they have
not used social media to replace traditional marketing however, it is considered an additional
channel to create brand awareness.
‘There are no changes. We communicate the same message across more channels’.
Source - Participant D
4.5.2 Research Question Two - How social media can add value to the marketing
Questioning participants in terms of how social media can add value to the marketing
strategies provided some interesting insights. There was a correlation between the views of
each participant on this specific topic which suggests that by interacting with customers on
social media channels, organizations can understand the customer’s need and use this
knowledge to shape their customer service.
‘Social Media is not a sales channel, it is about engagement, giving value to the
customer, giving value to our products. For example: we provide on our social
media channels tips to the customers, 10 tips to keep their home safe while they go
on holidays, we provide 10 tips for protecting their car, it is a two way
communication. Brand Awareness is part of if indirectly’.
Source - Participant A
Social media is switching from PCs and laptops to mobiles. It is quicker and easier to access
the information anywhere we are. The vast majority of social media channels, such as
Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter are available on smartphones. Participant C
observes that they knew that a lot of their customers are active on social media, so channels
like Twitter and LinkedIn would be ideal place to connect and target them directly.
(Crittenden, Peterson, & Albaum, 2010 cited in Hanna et al. 2011) noted that mobile devices
(e.g., smartphones) are facilitating to reach two-way interactions with customers with a
contextual, location-based richness unheard of just a few years ago. Smith (2013) observes
Analysis and Findings
that 93% of marketers use social media for business and that 189 million of Facebook's users
are "mobile only."
“Social media has been very successful with our organization. Customers no
longer need to go to their branch or call our organization, waiting on the phone to
talk to us. Customers can reach us on Twitter, Facebook and they will get a reply
within minutes. [..]We are reducing phone calls from customers. Customers go on
Facebook, Twitter and they know about us, they get many of their questions
answered through our social media channels.” Customers have a question, we
answer them online. They tweet, we reply in few minutes.’
Source - Participant A
Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) suggests that it is necessary to give the same message across all
social media channels used by companies and also they call attention to the importance for
the company to have a social media strategy that remains flexible. Kaplan and Haenlein note
that using different contact channels can be a worthwhile and profitable strategy, but
organizations need to remember: one goal of communication is the resolution of ambiguity
and reduction of uncertainty, and nothing is more confusing than contradicting messages
across different channels.
Participant A pointed out that social media has had a positive impact in their organization
because now they can reach a bigger audience and it is easier to build followers and target a
specific group of people on Facebook or LinkedIn. With social media it is much easier to
select the audience companies want to reach.
Participant C highlighted that social media can help organizations to deliver more value to
their existing customers, reach new customers and through social media they can understand
what works for them. Surveys can be utilized to get the customer`s insights, such as:
How do they access our content?
Are they using tablets? Phones? Are using PCs or laptops?
Are our customers using Twitter?
Are our customers happy about using Twitter?
These findings confirm the study of Divol et al. (2012) who observe that businesses are
getting involved in social media in an attempt to increase sales, create brand awareness and or
Analysis and Findings
attempt to reach new customers. It is also in line with Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004) note
that consumers have more choices and they now seek to exercise their influence in every part
of the business system.
Participant C observed that social media makes their website more effective and social media
adds value in the way where they set private groups for their members on LinkedIn and
YouTube. That is a feature that the members perceive as extra value and they go on to the
private group on LinkedIn and YouTube where they can access a lot of content.
4.5.3 Research Question Three - What is the impact of social media on marketing
Participants were questioned in terms of how social media has impacted their marking
expenses and if the overall investment pays for itself. Not all participants agreed that social
media has reduced marketing expenses.
Respondent A reveals that they have got lower cost to reach a bigger audience, however
social media was never designed to reduce their marketing expense. Social media amplifies
their KPI`s such as: leads on the website, brand awareness. It could save money by increasing
their social spend against traditional spend. The larger the organisation, the harder to
There is a correlation between the information provided by Participant A and Participant C
who noted that the marketing expenses have dropped. Social media makes their website more
effective and it adds value to the organization.
‘Definitely the postage cost, Social Media does not cost us anything other than
maintaining it, monitoring it and setting up the LinkedIn, but other members
perceive a value on being a member on LinkedIn groups. The overall investment in
social media pays for itself’
Source - Participant C
Participant B denoted that companies still need to pay high prices to advertise on TV and
Radio. Businesses are still putting their banners on the side of the road, however nobody is
looking at them:
Analysis and Findings
‘Look at the cars when you are driving on the left or right, people are texting, they
are not looking at banners. The investment on social media pay for itself, it is easier
and cheaper to reach the audience.’
Source - Participant B
As opposed to Participants A, B and C, Participant D described that the marketing expenses
is increasing fast due to social media.
‘Marketing expense is increasingly fast, increase at every level. All the new channels
need new resources .These new resources are labour intensive (cost). At the same
time, media that really works, such as press etc., is NOT going down in cost, and has
less leadership, so the cost per thousand is actually increasing (cost)’.
Source - Participant D
Participant D insists that social media has not reduced their marketing expenses and that
traditional marketing through radio and TV are still effective. When participant D was asked
the question: “Has social media reduced your marketing expenses?” the following view was
‘No and it will not in a million years. Anyone that says social media is reducing
marketing expenses does not know about numbers, because if you reduce my budget
from EUR 1,000,000.00 to EUR 800,000.00 in a long term, yes. If I had 1 million
followers, yes, but I do not, I have to buy them. Would I rather have an ad on radio
one at 9 o’clock in the morning or an ad on Facebook, of course an ad on radio one,
but today, in 5 years it will be different’
Source - Participant D
4.6 New findings
After conducting the interviews, several themes emerged throughout the answers of the
interviewees. New findings will be presented in this section as emergent themes because they
constitute new knowledge outside the main research objectives, and are considered as
contributing knowledge to the general topic of social media. The themes that came into play
throughout the interviews are detailed in table 4.2.
Analysis and Findings
Table 4.2: Emerging Themes
How to use social media
Main reason for using social media within organizations
Risks of Social Media
4.6.1 How to use Social Media
The interview’ responses provided some interesting information with regards to the use of
social media. All participants were able to articulate factors influencing the utilization of
social media and provided insight into the strategic everyday job of a social media
Participant D stated that organizations that embark on using social media need to have good
content. Participant D noted that if companies are launching a brand on Facebook, they have
to buy the followers, or have to be creative in developing the content in such a way that it
turns into a feature that people are interested in:
‘The dirty secret of social media is: you have got to have content, you got to have
followers, what I mean whether on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, you need
subscribers, whatever you want to call them.’
Source - Participant D
Participant D illustrated “When and Why to create content” as shown in figure 4.1.
Awareness is the first stage in the customer purchase funnel since a potential buyer must be
aware of the products or service before evaluating and consciously choosing to purchase. It
was also highlighted that marketers can use different tools and ways to create content
depending on the social media strategy adopted. Entertainment and inspiration can be used
for an emotional purchase decision, whereas businesses can adopt the strategy of educating
and convincing for a rational purchase decision.
Analysis and Findings
Figure 4.1: When and Why to create content
Source: Participant D
These findings confirm the study of Weber (2009) who noted that the task of aggregating
customers is done in two ways: (1) by providing compelling content websites and creating
environments that customers want to visit, and (2) by participating in the conversations.
In contrast to Participant D, Participant C noted that they do not just want to get followers,
but they want high quality people as followers. LinkedIn and YouTube has a private channel
– a channel closed to the general public, therefore enabling them to communicate privately
and better targeting members who are interested in the day-to-day activities of the company
that they follow.
Participant C highlighted the attention that companies need to have when adopting social
media. Organizations need to ensure someone is monitoring all their social media channels,
so that if any comments are posted, they will be ready to react. In case businesses get
negative comments on their social media platforms, they have to react and handle them
directly and quickly. This can also be seen as an opportunity to turn a negative comment into
Analysis and Findings
something positive and enable organizations to engage people that use social media to
express dissatisfaction. By addressing this dissatisfaction, organizations can change their
products or services to better accommodate the customer’s needs.
Participant D detailed an example of a story they are trying to create and insisted that there is
no correlation between social media and market share growth.
At the moment we are trying to create a story, this is a very good example – We
want to create a story that makes really interesting about flying, so we will record
a passenger getting his/her bag, going on board the aircraft, talking to a pilot,
visualising the aircraft and put that on social media. People will watch on
YouTube and they will see what the aircraft looks like. It does not drive sales,
only brand awareness. If I had 10 crew members and I would say, bring your
IPhone with you and interview a customer a day for the next 10 days and then put
on the YouTube site interviews 30 seconds long, it could be fun. Would it drive
any sales? Good question.’- so there is no correlation between cooler social
media and companies revenue, 0 correlation.’
Source - Participant D
Participant B shares the same opinion as Participant D, marketers can use storytelling to
engage with the audience and build relationships. Business can benefit from following a
brand storytelling approach as it can increase the popularity of their content. The power of
social media can be combined with storytelling as stories are the way that humans make
sense of the world. We do not tell our colleagues on Monday about our weekend starting with
figures or the number of people we met, we tell them stories.
‘That is where everything is at the moment, it is called storytelling. Tell your story,
tell your story about your business, tell your story about your brand, tell your story
about your local business, why? Because people embrace that. People will see where
you have been and where you are coming from. If you made a mistake, just say we are
sorry about this, people embrace that’.
Source - Participant B
This finding correlates with Weber (2009) who notes that marketers need to be innovative
and adopt a completely new way of communicating with the audience. It is not about
broadcasting marketing messages to an increasingly indifferent audience, marketers rather
than talking at customers, marketers should talk with them.
Analysis and Findings
Participant C provided an example of a Twitter activity during an event as illustrated in figure
4.2. This is a draft and only small selections of tweets are demonstrated. It shows that for
that particular event rather than trying to update their website, the use of Twitter was of great
value. During the Awards event they could put all news and live updates on Twitter, as well
as on the night of the event it was announced who was the winner of “All Ireland Marketing
Awards”. After the event they were able to top the charts and based on the feedback they get
from the members they have the option to alter campaigns.
Figure: 4.2 - Tweet activity from the #aima13and
Source: Participant C
Participant D illustrated how KLM uses social media in their website as depicted in figure
4.3. KLM enables the use of a variety of social media platforms in their website, such as meta
search, affiliate websites, search engines and banners. These platforms offer great value to
connect with customers and redirect them to their business.
Analysis and Findings
Figure 4.3: Example of how KLM uses social media
Source: Participant D
4.6.2 Main reason for using social media within organizations
Various reasons were given for using social media: The ability to reach thousands of potential
customers with the click of a button and the opportunity to refine searches to provide very
specific results were both described as leading reasons for which organizations have become
more engaged with social media. Participant A has adopted the following strategy with regards
to the use of social media:
Our long term strategy is to feed information to the customers. We hear what
customer say about campaigns through social media and we feed it back to our
strategy. If customers hear about us often, if they read positive comments, it is likely
they will join our organization when they need a bank account, mortgage, car
insurance, or house insurance. There is a social media importance at the moment, the
approach has changed; now we are an important asset to the organization and there
will be an increase on budget that we can spend.
Source - Participant A
Participant A also pointed out that the primarily reason they use social media is customer
service. Targeting customers became far more niche. TV is very broad, whereas on
Facebook they can target specific group of people, specific age, and region where current and
Analysis and Findings
potential customers live. With social media they can target individually, they are on 15
channels promoting campaigns to attract new customers.
Participant B noted that companies cannot make money with social media, but they can build
‘You cannot make money with social media. You build relationships with social media’
Source - Participant B
Participant C stated that within their company the main reason to use social media is to
inform their members and provide quick updates. Twitter for example is used to provide to
the members a quick update about some piece of news and or updates about new events.
Participant D pointed out as depicted in figure 4.4 what are the main reasons why companies
are using social media. Marketers want to improve conversion, support marketing initiatives
and build brand awareness, businesses want to give the brand a personality, support the brand
position as well as drive traffic.
Figure 4.4: Why are companies using social media
Source: Participant D
Participant D explained the objectives that British Midland International has in embarking on
using social Media:
Build a customer engagement / social media strategy that will:
Educate: ensure that people know the BMI and BMI regional brand still around
Analysis and Findings
Build traffic to www.bmiregional.com
Be the next generation: allow BMI to leapfrog the current ‘static’ and ‘corporate’
approach the competitors like British Airways, Flybe, CityJet have
Become a more consumer driven ‘modern’ airline – modeled on JetBlue, Air Asia,
and PorterAir and other carriers, not UK carriers
Drive the collection of email addresses and a database – this is the number one
requirement. However, this is not just about running competitions; we need to drive
valid customer capture data.
Engage with customers – build a tone of voice that is fresh, modern and new.
4.6.3 Brand Awareness
Brand awareness was a repetitive theme outlined by all four participants, it was a constant
factor for success. There were several statements made by participants that the main reason
for using social media is to develop brand awareness.
Participants clearly highlighted the fact that they are trying to create awareness and as such it
is important to have a presence on social media platforms. Some of the participant’s answers
1. Participant D stated that the strategy of social media at British Midland International is
brand awareness. They are trying to find out whether social media works and they are
trying to understand brand awareness and trying to convert the awareness to sales.
Participant D provided in the following insight when asked “How successful has social
media been in your organization?”
‘Anyone who is saying that social media has been successful in their organization
is lying. I am telling you they are lying, they have not made the right connection
with awareness, if they can show me a funnel through that channel, it is a
different thing’. If the objective is brand awareness it is a different thing.’
Source - Participant D
(Li and Bernoff, 2008) point out that in traditional marketing theory consumers are driven
into the big end of the funnel through awareness activities like advertising. They proceed
through stages of consideration, preference, and action and loyalty to become buyers.
Analysis and Findings
Marketers have little control over what happens in the middle stages, marketers still see the
effectiveness of awareness as depicted in figure 4.5.
Figure 4.5: The Marketing Funnel
Source: Li and Bernoff, 2008, page 101
2. Participant A observed that through social media they are making people more aware of
their brand. If they could measure that “someone” opened a new account because of
social media, it would be great, however it is impossible to measure. If someone needs a
mortgage and they hear often about our brand, they will think about us when deciding for
the mortgage “top of mind”’
3. Participant D noted that companies can use YouTube for advertising as their vehicle to
communicate to their audience, because 20% of people are getting information through
mobile devices. Organizations can advertise less on TV and printed ads (magazines, and
newspapers) if they do brand awareness advertising. If companies are looking for
awareness, they should opt for social media, if you are looking for action, they should
use PPC (Pay per click / paid advertising) as PPC is 100% measurable, easy to amend,
easy to control as well as PPC can stand in where it is difficult to get visibility.
4. Participant D revealed that the society used to see the world in just five or six channels
on TV or radio and now we see other channels. As a result British Midland International
sees this as an opportunity to communicate messages through these channels. Their goal
is to drive awareness.
‘We want to proof awareness, we want to get our messages out there, we want
to reach out our audience.’
Source - Participant D
Analysis and Findings
4.6.4 Social Media Risks
Interacting with customers on social media carries risks and benefits for companies, but the
opportunities can be greater than the risks when organizations understand the customer’s
need, and use this knowledge to shape their customer service.
The following risks emerged from a number of the interviews and included:
1. Security – Security has been the main concern on the banking industry. Social media
has become the frontline of many organizations for real-time engagement with their
customers. In turn, online breaches can hurt a brand`s image.
2. Negative Comments on Social Media - Organizations need to be aware of negative
comments on social media. And so they need to moderate and make sure who is
responsible for social media within their organizations.
3. Resources – To maintain all social media platforms, marketers will need to have a lot
of resources to feed the channels with good content, translate the content into several
languages, feed with information.
‘Yesterday I launched a new route from Norway to South of France, do you
think social media was the first thing on my priority list? No, but let`s say I
have the Facebook page BMI Regional in Norway today, good - it would be
interesting. Now, let’s say I have got my website, my Facebook page,
Tweeter, Google Plus and YouTube, so I have got four channels, yeah? And
they were live yesterday morning, who is going to feed all that? How are
they going to feed with? Why would I do that when I know it does not drive
Source - Participant D
This example illustrate the research of Shih and Shalett (2013) who revealed that there are
conversations taking place about companies or brand 24 hours a day, seven days a week in
social media. Social media offers a variety of opportunities for brands to understand and
participate in those conversations. While participating in social media is not without risk, not
participating might prove to be the greater risk — especially to reputations. Harris and Rae
(2010) notes that businesses need to agree on how best to handle the possible loss of control
associated with public display of negativity about the business on social networks.
Conclusions and Recommendations
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
- Nelson Mandela.
5.1 Summary of Dissertation
The aim of this research document was to explore the impact of social media on marketing
strategies employed by organizations. The research was conducted through four in-depth
interviews with participants who are directly involved with social media and marketing
strategy. The findings from the analysis were linked with the literature review.
The final stage of the market research process as proposed by Malhotra (1999) is to report
and present the results from the analysis and make recommendations. The objective of this
chapter is to formulate conclusions based on the findings from the research. These
conclusions will relate, where applicable and the author will propose practical
recommendations for social media marketing practitioners and to academics suggest future
research avenues on social media marketing strategy.
The methodology section outlined that the research undertaken is from the interpretive
paradigm and the researcher chose a qualitative method of semi-structured interviews to
undertake the research to provide a large breadth of results and to allow for discussion and
openness from the participants. The researcher also compared this qualitative method with
other methods as a comparison. The researcher outlined the possible benefits of this approach
and finally described how the analysis of the research would be undertaken.
The analysis section of this report analysed the findings for four interviews conducted, sub
objectives were explored and the findings for the four new emergent themes were outlined.
Chapter five will discuss the implications of the research, limitations and recommendations
for future research will be outlined.
Conclusions and Recommendations
5.2 Review of the Research Objectives
5.2.1 Conclusion – Research Question One - Exploring how social media have affected
marketing strategies employed by organizations
The information gathered throughout all four interviews provided an insight into the impact
of social media on organisational marketing strategies at both an operational and strategic
level. The themes which emerged throughout the interviews directly aligned to the
information which has previously been collated in the review of existing literature and
subsequently allowed for a series of informed conclusions to be established.
The author suggests that social media has had a significant and positive impact on marketing
activities employed by the organizations interviewed. Interviewees denoted that social media
enables them to have a two way communication with their current and potential customers.
The findings suggest that social media creates exciting new ways to engage target audiences
and it plays an important role in their marketing strategy. Organizations can see which
conversations are happening, which topics are trending and get a realistic view of what
people are saying about their brands and this information is then fed into their marketing
The findings of the research suggest that Web 2.0 sites are ideal for viral marketing
campaigns as messages can spread through a network with users passing them onto their
contacts. It is clear from the literature review that social media channels are having an impact
on business and will potentially remain for some time in the future.
5.2.2 Conclusion – Research Question Two - Exploring how social media can add value
to the marketing strategies
The themes which emerged through the exploration of how social media can add value to the
marketing strategies was engagement, easier to reach a bigger audience as well as easier to
create brand awareness.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The interviews conducted resulted in positive feedback with regards to the value that social
media can add to the marketing activities. Social media has allowed Company A, Social
Media Solutions and Company B to be more direct with their targeting customers who will
have an interest in their brand.
The findings suggest that social media allows organizations to interact with current and
potential customers, thus marketers can understand their customers’ needs through social and
use this knowledge to shape their marketing strategies.
The findings suggest that consumers are adopting gradually active roles in co-creating
marketing content with companies and their respective brands. In turn, companies and
organizations are looking at online social marketing programs and campaigns in an effort to
reach consumers where they ‘live’ online (Hanna et al. 2011, p. 1)
Harris and Rae (2010) cited Godin (2008) who notes that organizations have to be
“remarkable” to succeed in the marketplace today, which comes down to getting “talked
about virally” both online and offline.
5.2.3 Conclusion – Research Question Three - Exploring what is the impact of social media
on marketing expenses
Three out of the four organizations interviewed reduced their marketing expenses by having
embarked on the use of social media. One organization highlighted that the marketing
expenses is increasing fast at every level as all the new channels need new resources which
are labour intensive (cost).
The findings suggest that the impact of social media on marketing expenses has been
moderated. Traditional print advertising is still been used, but it is in in decline due to social
Organizations revealed that there are lower costs to reach a bigger audience, however
traditional marketing through radio and TV are still very effective. At the same time, it was
emphasised that if organizations want to sell more, they have to adopt the use of PPC (Pay
Conclusions and Recommendations
5.3 General Conclusion
By embarking on using social media, organizations can contact customers all over the world
and benefit from viral marketing and word-of-mouth advertising. Content can be shared
through the appropriate social media channels, which are most often Facebook, LinkedIn and
Twitter. The sharing capabilities of these sites enable organizations to post their media
content online, providing targeted exposure within their social network. Every time someone
“likes,” shares, or tweets their post, their content will be broadened throughout those
The author argues that all three research objectives have been achieved. The impact of social
media on marketing strategy has been explored, analyzed and discussed. This study also
explored areas above it such as social media value, how to use social media, the main reason
organizations embarked on using social media, brand awareness and social media risks.
5.4 Research Limitations
It is normal to discuss the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the research (Saunders et
al. 2007). The primarily limitations of note in the research are both time and scope. Ideally a
study can take years to decades to complete. The breadth of the research question meant that
a huge amount of reading was necessary over many different areas. The volume for the
literature review was vast and this had to be reduced due to lack of space and time
constraints. The researcher was largely constrained by a time frame. The researcher found
that at the end of the interviews there was still a vast amount of information to be obtained
but was constrained by time.
The scope of the research was also limited to the sample size of four participants. For an even
further in-depth analysis, it would be beneficial to interview a much larger sample size and to
review inclusion and exclusion criteria so as to compare and contrast across different
industries. This would give a much richer data set but would need more time to complete.
As the researcher decided to undertake interviews to conduct the study, there are always a
number of limitations that can be found. Validity of interviews can be a limitation of
Conclusions and Recommendations
qualitative research. Interviews are dependent on both the researcher’ judgment and
participant’ openness to the topic. This also raises the notion of interviewer and interviewee
bias that can be an aspect of interviews.
5.5.1 Recommendations for future researchers
Future research might discover the impact of social media on brand awareness. As
Wallis (2006) concluded, technology and media are a good fit in terms of social
Future researchers may explore the impact of social media on consumer purchasing
decision process. Marketing Leadership Group (2012) reveals that people are
increasingly turning to social networks as the easiest way to get their questions
answered. Potential buyers are going online to research products or services before
they purchase them. On average, buyers progress nearly 60% of the way through their
purchase decision-making process before engaging with a sales representative
Future research can look into how organizations are using social media to listen to
customers and engage with them.
5.5.2 Recommendations for organizations
Dissertations often end with actionable recommendations for organizations (Saunders et al.
200; Fisher, 2007. The author has the following recommendations to make for organizations:
Organizations should be active on social media if they have not done yet
Organizations should listen to their customer through social media instead of trying to
push their message
Conclusions and Recommendations
Marketing strategies should be adapted based on the feedbacks provided by customers
through the social media channels
If they have not already done so, organizations should adopt software to help them to
find out what the customers are talking about them on the internet and feed it back
into their strategy
Brand awareness is a vital instrument for the organizations in enabling differentiation,
therefore social media should be adopted to lead to a competitive advantage
Organizations should use the data from social media channels to craft their strategy.
As outlined by Shih and Lisa (2013), there are conversations taking place about
companies or brands 24 hours a day, seven days a week in social media.
Organizations need to be part of these conversations.
The social Web is changing how people communicate and access information. With a
smartphone or tablet in hand, marketers can search for and find almost any
information they seek, within seconds, whenever and wherever you are. People are
looking you up. Not having a presence means you are not easily "findable" and
perhaps leads people to question whether yours is a credible business (Shih & Lisa
The author encourages organizations to participate in social media, but advise them to
do so properly. When responding to a problem or issue communicated through a
social channel, marketers must seek to achieve resolution in a timely manner, redirect
the message to the appropriate subject matter expert and provide updates to the
inquirer until it is resolved.
APPENDIX A - SAMPLE EMAIL SENT TO INTERVIEWEES IN JUNE 2013
I hope you are well.
Thank you for accepting my invite to connect.
I am currently writing a dissertation on the topic of the impact of Social Media on Marketing
Strategy for my Masters in Strategic Management at DIT. I was wondering if you would
perhaps be happy to participate in my study. The methodology of this research is still in the
developmental phase, however I am planning on conducting interviews sometime in August
and I would be keen to have your thoughts included.
The aim of my dissertation is not to explore how organizations use social media, or detail the
use of each type of social media, but to study the impact of social media on marketing
strategies and their influences. I am still working on the literature review and on the questions
to be asked which I would email you before the interview to prepare yourself for the
questions, ensuring you comfortable to answer them.
The interview will take approximately 30 minutes. Of course you will receive an e-copy of
the completed dissertation once it is finalized. Your help is much appreciated.
APPENDIX B - SAMPLE EMAIL SENT TO THE INTERVIEWEES IN JUNE 2013
I hope that you are well. Just a quick recap of our previous communication. I am currently
studying for a Master’s degree in Strategic Management and I was delighted that you agreed
to be interviewed.
After many hours of hard work, I am finally available to interview you in July or August
2013. Please let me know your preference of time and venue where we can meet.
Your time is much appreciated.
APPENDIX C - INTERVIEWEE GUIDE
EMAIL SENT TO THE INTERVIEWEES – PRE INTERVIEW BRIEF
This is a short message for interviewees who have agreed to be interviewed as part of
Fernando Bez’s research project which forms part of his Master’s Degree at Dublin Institute
You would need to answer the following four sections:
Section 1: General Questions
Section 2: Social Media
Section 3: Marketing Strategy
Section 4: Value – Social Media
This guide has been produced to enable you to prepare yourself for the questions, ensuring
you are comfortable in answering them. Please note most-questions are open-ended and this
is a ‘semi-structured’ interview. You are not obliged to answer all the questions and you are
not expected to divulge sensitive company information. You and your organization have the
option to remain anonymous.
Please note the interview will take approximately 30 minutes and it will be recorded for
validity and scripting purposes. Copies of the audio and the interview transcripts can be
provided upon request. You will receive an e-copy of the completed dissertation once it is
Your help is much appreciated.
The Impact of Social Media on Marketing Strategy
What is the Impact of Social Media on Marketing Strategy?
APPENDIX D – INTERVIEWEES PROFILE
Interview # Interviewee Industry - Size Job Title Company Name
1 Participant A Banking - LE Online Marketing and
Social Media Manager
2 Participant B Consulting - SME Social Media Marketing
Consultant / CEO
Social Media Solutions
3 Participant C Education - SME Digital Communications
Lecturer in International
Marketing and Digital
4 Participant D Airlines - SME Marketing Director British Midland
APPENDIX E -THEME SHEET FOR INTERVIEWS
An Exploration into the Impact of Social Media on Marketing Strategies
Section 1: General Questions
Q1 - What is your job title?
Q2 - What social media channels do you use in a:
Section 2: Social Media
Q03 - What is the main reason for using social media within your organization?
Q04 - How successful has social media been within your organization? Can you give
Q05 - What is your opinion with regards to the future of social media within your
Q06 - Has social media had a positive impact on your organization? Can you give examples?
Q07 - Do you foresee any risks associated with social media?
Section 3: Marketing Strategy
Q08 - What is your marketing strategy and how has it changed in the last 5 years?
Q09 - Is the marketing department solely responsible for social media within the
organization? How does the marketing department use the data from the social media sites?
Q10 - What is the impact of social media on your marketing strategy?
Section 4: Value - Social Media
Q11 - How would you define your social media strategy and how does it add value to the
Q12 - Would you say that marketing within your organization is about increasing sales / or
brand awareness? Can you give examples?
Q13 - Has social media had a positive effect on increasing the company’s revenue? Can you
Q14 - What impact has social media had on the brand image both internally and externally?
Section 4 – Marketing Expenses
Q15 - What impact has social media had on your marketing expenses? Has social media
reduced your marketing expenses? Can you give examples?
APPENDIX F - SAMPLE INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
Interview # 4
An Exploration into the Impact of Social Media on Marketing Strategy
Interview with Participant D
BMI – British Midland International Regional
Industry / Size of Industry Airlines - SME
of August 2013
Number of Years in the Org 1 year
Age categories 38 - 42
Male / Female Male
Transcribed Interview 50 minutes, 07 seconds
Author: Thank you for your time, much appreciated. You have seen the theme sheet for
the interview, so I am going to kick off. What is your job title?
Interviewee: Marketing Director for BMI – British Midland Airways
Author: Which social media channels do you use in a private capacity?
Interviewee: Facebook, LinkedIn and I have a Twitter account which sometimes I use. I
have a blog which I only use sometimes as well.
Author: and in a professional capacity?
Interviewee: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and we are just developing a blog.
Author: Do you use SlideShare and YouTube?
Interviewee: We have a YouTube account but we just started using it.
Author: Thank you, and what is the main reason for using social media within BMI?
Interviewee: So, I am going to give you two answers: One is the current reason, to try and
build the brand back up to where it is, it is about awareness capability and awareness
capability. So what we do, we used to see the world in just 5 or 6 channels on TV or radio,
now we see other channels and we see this as an opportunity to communicate messages
through these channels. This is our main reason because our goal is to drive awareness, it is
our core goal. Okay, now there is a set of goals that are slightly different to that, I will move
on to, messages about product offers, whether it is any good to do that, this is a separate
topic. So what is the main reason we are doing it? We want to proof awareness, we want to
get our messages out there, we want to reach out our audience. The reality is, we can survive
without that. So your second question
Author: How successful has social media been within your organization? Can you give
Interviewee: I have to caveat that, we did not have our own vanity URL until about 4 months
ago and I would say a qualified success because, the reason I say that is because I think
…going to your question 5 for a second, what is the future of social media within your
organization, I will keep bouncing between your question 5 and 4.
Author: What is your opinion with regards to the future of social media?
Interviewee: My opinion is that in the future social media will be a quite powerful tool, in
the future. Today, no!
Author: Would you say in 5 years?
Interviewee: Yes, 5 years, not 2 years but 5 years giving we do not know what things will
happen. The reason I say that, today how successful has social media been within my
organization? The dirty secret of social media is: you have got to have content, you got have
followers, what I mean whether on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, you need subscribers,
whatever you want to call them. People who go and say I am going to make this action which
means I am going to get your content in my inbox trough the fact that I follow you on
LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, It is like a tree failing in the middle of the forest, at the moment
when the tree falls in the forest, what I say, if you own a product that is of high interest and it
is interest to you, it may not be interested to me. I am interested in motorcycles and cars,
okay, so if it is football and you are obsessed by certain teams and your friends are obsessed
by Liverpool, they will go, give me everything, I am obsessed by cars, give me everything. I
don’t care what it is, I have no interest in horses, I do not care, I do not care if this company
is on social media, it is irrelevant to me, Okay. These are things like hobbies, but for most
products sectors, apart from things that you put into your mouth, food, things your wear,
things that display your personal image to the world, those housing, kids, things that you have
a personal feeling, family, beyond that they are the rest of the world products. It includes
everything from soft drinks to aluminum sheeting. In my very first job I was selling
aluminum sheets 25 years ago and this product has no place in social media, it has a place
like Zappos do, so what Zappos do is, if you are working for Zappos in the warehouse, they
shoot a video of you putting the shoes on and they go.. this is the new type of converse, this is
cooler, great for guys doing whatever, 30 seconds of video or 1 minute, bang. Great. For
content they have nothing, so maybe you could do that also for sheeting aluminum. But there
are products with low interest, and so even if you have great content, nobody cares, nobody is
interested in aluminum sheeting. My product about cars is interesting, everybody cares. So
this is, how successful has social media been within my organization? Mid-level, sometimes
people care about airlines, sometimes they do not. Those who are fascinated about airlines,
follow us, people who do not give a sh** about airlines, do not follow up. What position has
social media got? It has got a position of communicating our features, the value that your
offer, communicate your brand value great if you can do it, but really, who is following you?
I can have the world`s best social media content, if you do not see it, what is the point? It is
irrelevant, that is why email and print are still the most effective way to communicate today.
If I launched a social media campaign saying – buy my stuff.
Author – I only buy if I care
Interviewee – Yep, that is one reason, what is the other reason? If you see it. Currently we
have got 300 followers on Twitter and 1000 followers on Facebook and 300 on LinkedIn. We
have got good content but who is going to buy it? Whereas I can put an ad on newspaper and
reach 1 million people. Why would you click like on my company`s Facebook page?
Author: If I am interested in Airlines.
Interviewee: Only you, because 99% of people don’t! People could not care less, people do
not care. It is like the aluminum sheeting. If you take the classic funnel of purchasing
decision (interviewee drawing the funnel), here I am just vaguely aware of you, awareness,
prospect, but it comes to here where I have the interest, I have got the desire, I have to act.
okay? Desire, action. That is where email is the best, that is where social media is here but I
have already got them. If I have never heard of you, I can get you through print or radio, if
you have never heard of me, I can still reach you. If you have never heard of me, I cannot
reach you through social media. The dirty true about social media that Facebook never says,
Twitter never says is that you want followers? You have to buy in, you gotta buy in.
Author: but it is easier to reach the customer with social media?
Interviewee: No, you have to buy in. Ads on the paper do not miraculously appear, it is a lie,
it is the biggest lie in the world. People go and say you can run competitions, but
competitions are not for free. How do you get from 200 followers on Facebook to 2000
followers? You give away tickets, they did not turn up, we have to buy in. I worked for one
of the biggest brands in UK. They spend 100 K trying to get followers, it is the top 10 super
brand on UK, 99.9999% awareness. So if I say how successful is social media in the
organization? They are not that good, but they developed YouTube and they lost 150 million
last year and they sacked their management, so there is no correlation between cooler social
media and companies revenue, 0 correlation.
Author: What is the main reason for using social media?
Interviewee: Experimentation, the boss wants it, it will be good in the future, awareness.
How successful has social media been in your organization? Anybody that answers that
saying, yes, very successful, that person is lying to you. Because if the objective is awareness,
I can send you the case study about how the American Airlines let people know the 737
would go into town in Miami, great. That is a specific thing, great. But if you want to go and
sell seats? If you want to develop a brand showing how the aircraft 737 would go into town,
great, they already have 1 million followers. If you are launching a brand tomorrow on
Facebook, you have to buy the followers or else get a piece of content that is so compelling
that everybody wants to share it, which is back to the piece of creativity that you are going to
develop to turn that into something that people want, how is that going to work? So what is
my opinion with regards to the future of social media within my organization? I think it has a
positive future, because in the last few weeks I just hired a guy who worked for Red Bull on
social media to develop some content, but the interesting about that content is that I want him
to create content, I am going to give him a month and go: how quickly the followers will
raise up? If they do not rise up, I prefer spend money on the competition, I am wasting my
time. Because if I have 10 thousand pounds in my pocket, my last 10 thousand, will I use
social media campaign or will I put an ad on the paper? It is no brainer, I would not go near
Author: You would still chose for the traditional marketing, radio and TV?
Interviewee: If you want to sell, do not use social media, they do not sell. Nobody says that,
unless you analyze case studies, where you analyze everybody, no one’s says social media
increase revenue, when you analyze what they say, they use it as a proxy to something else,
it has an ROI (return of investment) because you will eventually take an action which is to
buy something, eventually, because from the awareness you go to action, Okay.
Author: Brand awareness?
Interviewee: Brand Awareness, that is all. Nothing else, no conversion to sales.
Author: But it could convert into sales…
Interviewee: Yep, I have my last 10 thousand pounds to invest, you have a small budget, you
have a small business, I will definitely not spend on social media, no way, not in a million
Author: So you would go for traditional marketing? Radio and TV?
Interviewee: Not for small business. Google Ad Words, possibly Facebook advertising
which is a different thing (interviewee explaining the purchase funnel) I have got the website
here where they can buy off the website or I can buy in the shop, Okay? Which are the
actions to get them to the shop and which are the actions to get to the website? They have got
to visit, therefore he has got to want, he has got a desire, he has got to be interested in it, you
have to get his attention in the first place. If I have a bagel shop at Harold Cross Road, that
shop you went to see me, Black Apple Café, they do not have a website, I can never find
them, but they have a Facebook page, so Okay, this the equivalent, that is a relatively cheap
website, but I had to tell you that Café existed, yep? You were not aware, so what is the point
of me saying you need more social media…
Author: If that café had a website it would not change..
Interviewee: Yep, it would not change a thing. It does not mean anything. If you set up a
new café and I say you have to have social media, what is that you could advise them, they
would say, yep, good idea, yep, then you set up a Facebook page and you have got 100
followers, how are they going to know? How are they going to get attention? brand
awareness? That is why Google`s… I will send you the visuals because I have them
(interviewee explaining the purchase funnel) you got desire and here Ad Words, you revert
and here is where you do awareness, that is it.
Author: Has social media had a positive impact on the organization?
Interviewee: It depends what a positive impact is. If it is sales, noooo. Anybody that is
saying this is lying, I am telling you they are lying, they have not made the right connection
with awareness, if they can show me a funnel through that channel, it is a different thing.
Author: Are you saying that social media is all about brand awareness?
Interviewee: Qualified brand awareness. Can you give examples? yep, you got nice visuals,
you have got maybe 1000 followers, they get similar feed, its warm and fluffy, warm and
fuzzy, do not drive sales. I will give an example, yesterday I launched a new route from
Norway to South of France, do you think social media was the first thing on my priority list?
No, but let`s say I have Facebook page BMI Regional in Norway today, ahh, good, it would
be interesting. Now, let’s say I have got my website, my Facebook page, Twitter, Google plus
and YouTube, so I have got four channels, yeah? and they were live yesterday morning, who
is going to feed all that? How are they going to feed with? Why would I do that when I know
it does not drive sales? So, your next question is,
Author: Do you foresee any risks associated with social media?
Interviewee: It is resources, it sucks up your resources and cannot drive sales. I have got one
person, to translate all that into Norwegian, costing like 2 thousand EUR a month, that is like
snip to do my social media, it is nothing. Let’s say I would spend 60 K paying employees to
work on my social media. So I have got 60 thousand EUR to play with, would I spend 60
thousand EUR on Google Ad Words versus social media? No, I spend on Ad Words, oh
yeah, if you want sales, Ad Words.
Author: and if you see any bad comments on the internet about your organization, how
do you approach? Do you try to answer?
Interviewee: It does not happen because we do not have many followers, we do not have any
problems. Now, we do had problems, what we found it that the most vocal people are people
who have being (interviewee drawing - interesting level.. boring…boring..do not care) bang,
bags got lost, flights delayed, snow, and most do not care about it. Now, how often do you
Author: Every two months.
Interviewee: Okay, week one to week 7, you do not think about anything, do you?
Author: I do not think about anything because I probably have two airlines in my mind.
Interviewee: which airlines today?
Author: Aerlingus if I can or Ryanair.
Interviewee: Where do you fly to?
Author: Those two airlines I would consider to fly in Europe, I am from Brazil and I
would consider others. To flight to Brazil I would consider British Airways, Iberia,
TAM, KLM and possibly TAP.
Interviewee: SkyScanner is good to check the options available and the best connections and
then you can go straight to the airline`s website, SkyScanner cannot sell for a better price, this
is not their business model, their business model is advertising. Given that every two months
you fly, okay, because you live in Ireland you book on the internet, if you live in UK you do
not always book on the internet, if you live in France you book through a travel agency, if
you live in Germany you book through a travel agency, in Italy you book through a travel
agency, in Spain you book through a travel agency and only recently in Brazil you book not
through a travel agency, until GOL came along, probably before that it was through travel
agencies. So, what you see in Ireland is not what happens all over the world because of
monopoly, actually duopoly. So do I foresee any risks associated with social media? If I
operated in a duopoly like Aerlingus and Ryanair, I do not have to care about social media. I
have got 100% awareness and I do not have to care if someone goes on Twitter and say, you
suck, who gives a *** you will get the same supplier.
Author: Everyone complains about Ryanair`s customer service, but in the end of the
day they keep flying with Ryanair.
Interviewee: They have got what is called market power from the economics section. They
have got market power so that they can make that statement, if you do not have market power
like us, you want to choose a route that is a monopoly, so that you have a market power or
you keep that at even kill, at the moment slate magazine is talking about social media for
Airline Berlin, they are saying they are so bad, they do not have their social media right, it
has nothing to do with their social media. Secondly in social media the guys who dominate
the conversation on social media, the percentage is local, travel reason frequently and this
company thinks their opinion counts. We (BMI) carry 400 thousands passengers a year and
we can be brought down by ten people who do not use our airlines that often, you know. So
we have to manage the situation from social media to keep these crazy guys happy. I will
give you an example, this is a particular example, every day people write about airlines on
Facebook pages about lost luggage but their problem is not with the airlines, but the airport
services, it has nothing to do with the airlines but with the airport, it is like saying that car
knocked me down, and in fact the driver knocked you down, am I going to sue Ford? No, I
am going to sue the driver. So here we go, customers are blaming Airline Berlin on the
Facebook page, customer service of Airline Berlin replies – Did you contact lost and found?
Because the Airlines do not carry their bags, what I am trying to say here is related to your
question, do I foresee any risks associated with social media? The risks are where people
blame somebody else for things that are not their fault and the brand can be at the back of it.
When 200 bags were missing from company ABC, their ground hander should been sacked,
they should have solved straight away, apology. But the guy running social media seating
here for Airline Berlin, he does not know what is going on with baggage, he has not been told
anything. The idea has not matched the processes, if this guy who works on social media for
that company had real time knowledge of what was happening with their bags, great, but how
would you do that? When Ryanair loses your bags you go, Michael O’Leary you suck? What
would he say? Who cares. You lost my drums? Who cares? Do you want cheap prices or not?
You as a customer has made a choice to flight with them, you did not have to fly with
Ryanair, you could have made another choice. Now, if it is not a monopoly route where you
can fly with somebody else, maybe you have a choice, maybe you would say - it is a
monopoly route and I have no choice.
Author: they would lose my baggage and I would keep flying with them
Interviewee: yep, losing the gear we cannot help you and they cannot help you because they
do not know anything about it. If you are working for the airlines GOL in Brazil and you are
working for GOL on social media and 100 bags are missing, how are you going to know?
Will someone phone you? That will not happen, you will only know after the fact. You are
not going to phone all airports everyday asking – are there bags missing? So that is the risks,
resources and expectations.
Author: thank you. What is your marketing strategy and how has it changed in the last
Interviewee: The marketing strategy for the business, in general, here is the best way to
synopsis that is: mass marketing, branding deals. So display advertising is now much more
powerful, much more capable, in the UK and Ireland, you can use display, advertising and
YouTube advertising as you vehicle to communicate to your audience because 20% of your
audience is getting information through mobile devices. You can advertise less on TV and
print (magazines, newspapers), if you do brand awareness advertising. If you do deal based
advertising, they will be part of the support mechanisms. The big thing that is happening is
geolocation, in the last two years, the display advertising has really improved because the
banner advertising can be tailored to demographics and geographies. Which are the
challenges, from the marketing perspective, how do you communicate your prospects
happening, he (customer) does not see it, never, the one used to printed ad will never see an
Author: Is the marketing department solely responsible for social media within the
Interviewee: Yes, marketing is solely responsible for social media.
Author: and how does the marketing department use the data from the social media
sites? how do you use your data to craft your strategy?
Interviewee: We do not. The data is not good enough. We do not have enough data on the
existing customers. It is not worth to analyse our 1000 followers on social media compared to
the 500.000 customers.
Author: So you do not really use social media to craft your strategy?
Interviewee: We are going to, but not at the moment. I will send you later on a graph for
content media marketing, it is very good, you can see customer acquisition, brand awareness
and the activity, it is very clever how they communicate, which one you do or you do not.
The second most important thing, where does it fit into the overall picture? When Google
talks and I agree about if you are looking for awareness, go for social media, if you are
looking for action, use PPC (Pay per click / paid advertising). I have a visual and I will send
to you, very useful.
Author: What is the impact of social media on your marketing strategy? Basically what
was your strategy before social media and what is your strategy now?
Interviewee: There are no changes. We communicate the same message across more
channels. One settle difference is that, if you want to create a story, at the moment we are
trying to create a story, this is a very good example – We want to create a history that makes
really interesting about flying, so we will record a passenger getting his/her bag, going on
board of the aircraft, talking to a pilot, visualising the aircraft and put that on social media.
People will watch on YouTube and they will see what the aircraft looks like. It does not drive
sales, only brand awareness. I got the idea from Zappos where the kids are wearing shoes, if I
could get every one of the crew doing this, it would be great, but it is kind of hard to do, but
if I had 10 crew members like you and I would say, bring your IPhone with you and
interview a customer a day for the next 10 days and then put on the YouTube site interviews
30 seconds long it could be fun. Would it drive any sales? Good question.
Author: Interesting. And how would you define your social media strategy and how
does it add value to the organization?
Interviewee: Break even at the moment. How do I define it? Trying to build awareness.
Trying to find out whether it works (clears throat), understanding and sales.
Author: Do you use it to listen to customers?
Interviewee: No, not yet. I will send you later on our social media objectives, I have to
written down, otherwise I will forget. The formal says – Awareness leads to sales, I do not
discriminate it, but I would not do it if it does not lead to sales, there is no point in doing it. If
you are Coca-Cola you can afford to do everything to sale, being part of people`s lives
because it is something you put in people`s mouth and it will create brand awareness. You
got let’s say a billion of cans out there, selling 1% extra through social media is irrelevant to
me, but for Coca-Cola 1% increase of their total revenue is a lot. We (BMI) do not have 70%
margin like Coca-Cola.
Author: Thank you. Has social media had a positive effect on increasing the company’s
revenue? Can you give examples?
Interviewee: The only way it works is if we do a promotion, using a discount code and
making it appears on social media and again it links to followers, if I have 1 million followers
getting the discount code, great. That is why when people talk about the ROI (return of
investment) from social media, it may be worth buying 10.000 social media followers, so I
can use my discount codes if I know my customer lifetime value. If my customer lifetime
value comes on board 20 times, spending on average 200 EUR, total amount 4.000 EUR
when the margin is 10%, equal 400 EUR, it means I should spend up to 399 EUR acquiring
you, because then I get my lifetime value, that is the way it works, everything else is bull**.
It is the same for the aluminium sheeting company, people are not interested in aluminium
sheets but if I can run a big social media promotion, costing me 10.000 EUR getting 10.000
followers, let’s say I can get each followers for 1 EUR, and I do a promotion, it means I get
10.000 new customers, for those I use a code giving 10% discount, giving 2 EUR for each of
Author: What impact has social media had on the brand image both internally and
Interviewee: Not a lot, but it will have, it will be positive because of good content. Selling
aluminium sheeting no. Why everyone is talking about social media? Because there is a lot
of money to be made from it.
Author: Has your social media reduced your marketing expenses?
Interviewee: Definitely not, it is increasingly fast, increase at every level. All the new
channels need new resources .These new resources are labour intensive (cost). At the same
time, media that really works, such as press etc., is NOT going down in cost, and has less
leadership, so the cost per thousand is actually increasing (cost).
Author: so you are saying that investing on social media is not paying for itself?
Interviewee: No and not in a million years. Anyone that says it is does not know about
numbers, because if you reduce my budget from EUR 1,000,000.00 to EUR 800,000.00 in a
long term, yes, if I had 1 million followers, yes, but I do not, I have to buy them. Would I
rather have an ad on radio 1 at 9 o’clock or an ad on Facebook, of course an ad on radio 1,
but today, in 5 years it will be differently.
Author: Now everyone is on apps on mobiles….
Interviewee: Yeah, they will go more. There is a big difference, you are probably 30 and you
have seen this massive difference between people under the age of 25. In 2000 you were 18
years old and you did not really know Google, there was kind of it, you did not use Google
during your undergraduate degree, there was Yahoo, you did not really have broadband, just
dial up, I still dialled up in my house 5 years ago, can you believe? Internet cafes were the
only one place you got broad brands, computers were very expensive. The concept of doing
apps on the phones, you moved into it, it is cool, you have grown up with it, you moved from
printed newspapers to tablets. If you were 18 now, that is only you know, therefore the
concept of people reading papers and not triangulating between black and white TV and flat
screen TV, the crowd below your age group are coming much more powerful because they do
not know anything else, my nice chose her IPhone for EUR 500, she is 14 years old going to
Dundrum shopping centre, 14 years old 10 years ago did not do that. You (author) have your
view of old black and white TVs with buttons, that will be your view for everything. I still
remember the first TV, I said: this is amazing, it is actually incredible, it was a miracle. 30
years ago when I was still a kid we did not have a phone, probably the same in Brazil, if I
said to you when you grow up, I cannot believe you do not have a phone, everyone has.
Ireland in the 1980s people did not have landlines, we needed to phone their neighbours, and
then they got into your house to let you know. That is in my memory, but what if you were 16
years old now and you only know broadband, tablets, IPhones, in 10 years’ time the speed of
broadband will increase, TV everywhere obviously, Wi Fi everywhere, no data roaming
charges, then I go, that is going to have a massive impact in my marketing
Author: Thank you. I do not have any more questions, is there anything else you would
like to add?
Interviewee: No, I will send you by email the objectives of our social media and a
PowerPoint presentation which will be very important for your document.
Author: Thank you so much for your time, much appreciated.
[End of Transcrition]
APPENDIX G - CODING OF THE THEMES
A - Social Media channels in a Private Capacity
Cause illustrated Interview #
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Flicker 1
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram 3
LinkedIn, Facebook, and I have a Twitter account which sometimes I use. I have a blog
which I only use sometimes.
CODING OF THE THEMES
B - Social Media channels in a Professional Capacity
Cause illustrated Interview #
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flicker, YouTube, Google Plus 1
Facebook for advertising, it is a very popular one for me to build my list. I use
YouTube, Twitter to build engagement. You Tube I have 200 thousand fans on
that channel, I have Twitter channel, but I would be more involved in Facebook,
pushing my content into Facebook groups
Twitter LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Issuu 3
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and we are just developing a blog. We have an
YouTube account but we just started using it
CODING OF THE THEMES
C - Social media impact on Marketing Strategies
Cause illustrated Interview #
We listen to what customers say about us through social media and we could for
instance, change campaigns. Now with the social media marketing it is a two way
communication, and with traditional marketing it was one way communication. In the
past we used only radio and TV, therefore we could not reach a specific group of
people, we could not reach individually. We have strategies on campaigns on
Facebook, for example, when kids go back to college we promote campaigns to reach
them on Facebook only. We can adopt Facebook or Twitter depending on our
We have software’s helping us to know what customers are saying and we plug this
information into our strategy
Listening. Stop pushing, close your mouth and listen. It does not matter the size of the
business. Go out, find out what the market wants and provide it to them, that it is, it is
simple. Facebook is watching and engaging, I change my strategy if my customer
does not like the way I provide the service. It is not that if I sell shoes and they ask
umbrellas, then I will sell umbrellas, no, I will just change our product. Listening to
what they ask and give to them. People are pushing and we need to listen what they
want, we must not push out our product “buy my stuff, buy my stuff”, customers want
us to solve their problem. We need to listen to what they are saying through social
media and give to them.
Our website is generally our core, it is the central place we have the information, we
want people to log on, we want people to view the report. And that justifies their
membership, they think, I go there if I want to go to the event, if I want to get that
report, if I want to get that piece of news, etc. Social media wraps round that, because
it reminds them, it updates, it quick reminds them to go back there. It supports the
web strategy so much, it makes it quicker and easier and also, it helps us to have a
dialogue. Someone who might go on our website, will also tweet, might tell us
something, might say, yeah, it is really good, it becomes a communication.
I think it is a two communication and it is very timely. It reminds people, it reinforces
live on the spot to go back to the website, to go and check, to keep people updated. It
is an integral part of our marketing strategy but I also it is very cost efficient. We
would be considered a small organization, SME, so it is very cost effective for us to
use social media. At the moment we do not send letter any more, very little, do not
use flyer, we use social media to drive our strategy.
There are no changes. We communicate the same message across more channels. One
settle difference is that, if you want to create a story, at the moment we are trying to
create a story, this is a very good example – We want to create a history that makes
really interesting about flying, so we will record a passenger getting his bag, going on
board the of aircraft, talking to a pilot, visualising the aircraft and put that on social
media. People will watch on YouTube and they will see what the aircraft looks like. It
does not drive sales, only brand awareness. if I could get every one of the crew doing
this, it would be great, but it is kind of hard to do, If I had 10 crew members like you
(author) and I would say, bring your IPhone with you and interview a customer a day
for the next 10 days and then put on the YouTube site interviews 30 seconds long it
could be fun. Would it drive any sales? Good question.
CODING OF THE THEMES
D - Social Media Value
Cause illustrated Interview #
We have set up ask (Company A) where customers tweet questions, if for example
the transaction did not go through. Customers no longer need to go to their branch or
call our organization, waiting on the phone to talk to us. Customers can reach us on
Twitter, Facebook and they will get a reply within minutes. Our social media is a
marketing channel, we provide updates, announcements on the channels we are on,
about 15 channels.
How successful has social media being within your org. Very successful. We are
reducing phone calls from customers, no waiting for calls anymore. Customers go on
Facebook, Twitter and they know about us, they get many of their questions answered
through our social media channels.
Has social media had a positive impact on your organization? Both customer service
piece and lower cost to reach a bigger audience. Our goal by means of the use of
social media is to try and build followers, we target specific group of people on
Facebook, Linked In. Now with social media it is much easier to select the audience
we want to reach
How would you define your social media strategy? Customer service, we can hear
what people say about us. We are creating a new LAB in Dundrum / Dublin and we
want to lead our Industry
Social Media is not a sales channel, it is about engagement, giving value to the
customer, giving value to our products. For example we provide on our social media
channels tips to the customer, 10 tips to keep your home safe while you go on
holidays, we provide 10 tips for protecting your car, two way communication. Brand
Awareness is part of if indirectly
Next questions is about Brand Image, What impact has social media had on the brand
image both internally and externally? Interviewee: Positive effect, again the view of
customer service. They have a question, we answer online. They tweet, we reply in
few minutes but sometimes it could take longer. No need to call or wait
Quick and easy, but reminding, being reactive and I think people will look, it is much
more mobile, because I think people look at Twitter on their phones, they look at the
website but it is changing, I think for Twitter updates, quick updates, social media is
better on a mobile device. So I think for the busy ones, social media points them back
to the website, but you look at your tweets on your phone. Or even Linked In for
mobile is a good example, again, when we think about the web, but a lot of people are
on Linked In for mobile, apps are everything
We want to focus on extending our membership, so growth. We also want to give
more value to our existing members, so we want to understand what works for them.
We just did a survey, we do a survey every year, we ask them, how do they access our
content? Are you using tables? Phones? Are you using Pcs, laptop, we also ask are
you using Twitter? So we know, we can see from analytics, we are also asking for
feedback from the members. Are you happy about using Twitter, we have got some
good feedback. So our marketing strategy has gone very digital and it is has got social
media within it.
Has social media had a positive impact on the organization? It depends what a
positive impact is. If it is sales, noooo. Anybody that is saying this is lying, I am
telling you they are lying, they have not made the right connection with awareness, if
they can show me a funnel through that channel, it is a different thing.
What position has social media got? It has got a position of communicating our
features, the value that your offer, communicate your brand value great if you can do
it, but really, who is following you?
When Ryanair loses your bags you go, Michael O’Leary you suck? What would he
say? Who cares? You lost my drums? Who cares? Do you want cheap prices or not?
You as a customer has made a choice to flight with them, you did not have to fly with
Ryanair, you could have made another choice. Now, if it is not a monopoly route
where you can fly with somebody else, maybe you have a choice, maybe you would
say - it is a monopoly route and I have no choice.
How do I define our social media strategy? We are trying to build awareness. Trying
to find out whether it works (clears throat), understanding and sales.
So this is, how successful has social media been within my organization? Mid-level,
sometimes people care about airlines, sometimes they do not. Those who are
fascinated about airlines, follow us, people who do not give a sh** about airlines, do
not follow up.
CODING OF THE THEMES
E - Social Media on Marketing Expenses
Cause illustrated Interview #
Has social media had a positive impact on your organization? Both customer service
piece and lower cost to reach a bigger audience.
No, it was never designed to reduce, at least at the moment. It amplifies the KPI`s
such as: leads on the website, brand awareness. It could save money by increasing
your social spend against traditional spend. The larger the organisation, the harder to
A company still needs to pay high prices to be on TV and Radio, yes they do.
Companies are still putting their ridiculous banners on the side of the road and
nobody is looking. Look at the cars on the left or right, people are texting, they are
not looking at banners. The investment on social media pay for itself, it is easier and
cheaper to reach the audience. I do not need to pay for ridiculous pricy ads on the
TV and Radio
Definitely the postage cost, I think it makes the website more effective, and it adds
value, social media adds value in the way, for example: our Linked In group
Fernando is a private group we use for the members, we have our YouTube channel
as well, so that is something a member perceive as extra value and the members go
on to the private group on Linked In which they do a lot and they might ask
questions – I am trying to find the answer to this question, I am looking for someone
to do some marketing or I am trying to find a report on SYZ, yeah. So they perceive
a value, so it does not cost us anything other than maintaining it, monitoring it and
setting up the Linked In, but other members perceive a value on being a member on
LinkedIn groups. The overall investment in social media pays for itself.
Definitely not, it is increasingly fast, increase at every level. All the new channels
need new resources .These new resources are labour intensive (cost). At the same
time, media that really works, such as press etc., is NOT going down in cost, and
has less leadership, so the cost per thousand is actually increasing (cost).
No and not in a million years. Anyone that says it is does not know about numbers,
because if you reduce my budget from EUR 1,000,000.00 to EUR 800,000.00 in a
long term, yes, if I had 1 million followers, yes, but I do not, I have to buy them.
Would I rather have an ad on radio 1 at 9 o’clock or an ad on Facebook, of course an
ad on radio 1, but today, in 5 years it will be differently.
CODING OF THE THEMES
F - How to use Social Media
Cause illustrated Interview #
If a customer post a bad comment on the internet about your organization and you
find out, what do you do? If it is just a negative problem, we do not reply. If they
write for example “all people in your organization should be dead”, there is
nothing to be replied. However if someone asked a question that we think is
genuine, for example “could you please tell me why…” then yes, we will answer
the question. On twitter we can only write 140 characters so it is more difficult to
post bad comments, but on Facebook we can write much more. I would say brand
reputation is also a risk, people posting bad stuff.
If you see a negative comment on the internet about your company, what do you
do? You jump and address it, simple. Always. Two reason, number 1 you show not
just to one person but to everyone that you are addressing that issue and that you
are listening. Okay, you do show you are there to address the situation. Be
prepared to listen, be prepared to address the situation. People want to see that. If
you made a mistake go publicly and say, we made a mistake but this is how we
want to do it going forward. Believe or not, if they make a comment and you
address like that it will become a really good thing for you. Companies are
ignoring these comments. It is the worst thing they can do.
Make your story out there. It does not matter if you are an individual marketer, it
does not matter if you are a local business. Very few I have come across get it, that
is Okay, they have not get it yet. Here is the reason why, why do I use social media
and why anybody should use social media? It is very simple, tell your story out
there. If you are building your business online, whether you are a local business, it
does not matter which niche you are in. Because by using social media you need to
do one thing, that is where everything is at the moment, it is only one thing and
people are not focused, it is called storytelling. Tell your story, tell your story
about your business, tell your story about your brand, tell your story about your
local business, tell your story about the culture your business has, tell your story
above all, tell your story about your failures, and tell your story about the mistakes
you made, why? Because people embrace that. People will see where you have
been and where you are coming from. If you made a mistake, just say we are sorry
about this, people embrace that
I have to answer, we would answer that person by giving positive examples of.
Firstly I think you need to make sure someone is monitoring so they see it, because
if we are all away on holidays and no one is looking at it? And secondly, we need
to be ready to react, because I think if you say nothing to negative, it is bad. But I
think if you can say, I am sorry, we had really good feedback, please contact us.
Handle them, react, answer them or deal with them directly. I also think that it is
an opportunity to answer someone. Sometimes you can turn a negative into a
positive and the other thing you need to be careful of, it is so easy to do something,
to make a mistake yourself. It is so easy to write something and hit publish. I think
you have to be careful of what people are saying and monitoring and handle it.
You also have to be aware you have to use good business sense, you have to check
It is about listening and engaging, nobody is engaging, nobody is listening to what
the customer wants, answering questions, sorting out problems and engaging.
People still feel that sticking an ad on the newspaper is going to work, Radio and
TV. Still feel that pushing their content to their customers, that is not what they
want, Customer do not give a sh** about that. They want to be listened to, they
want to be heard, they want to be engaged and the problem is that every business
nowadays, with the exception of a hand full, they are not using social media to
It will just show that for this particular event rather than trying to update our
website, or whatever, Twitter was great, we could put all news, updates. It was an
awards event, so on the night we were to announce who won the best marketing,
live, he is a photo of them getting the price on the stage, what people turned up,
look, there is someone famous, here there is someone successful in Ireland,
whatever. So me could use Twitter to do that, we then were able, to top the charts,
we did that. I will send you an email. That is in my opinion one of the best
example of how we use social media for live, live updates Fernando from events
We want quality people, even on LinkedIn, our group is private for the members,
so We would rather, if it is a good member, lots of people saying….
Twitter, it is a really quick way of getting the message out there, it is easier for us
to advertise, or there are only a few places left on the new Masters course on DIT,
we can use the short hotlink to link people straight to the website. So Twitter is
good to do a quick update and the person who is interested can go to our website. I
think it is a good example, it is so quick, it is very easy to use.
We looked at how last year’ event worked. So for 2013 event we looked at 2012,
how many tweets we got, we structured for the new event, we had people re-
tweeting. So we approached some of our advocated, people that work at the event,
can you make sure you re-tweet, you have also to set it up, you know, you have to
orchestrate. We always look at the analytics; we try to learn for the next time.
The dirty secret of social media is: you have got to have content, you got have
followers, what I mean whether on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, you need
subscribers, whatever you want to call them.
So what Zappos do is, if you are working for Zappos in the warehouse, they shoot
a video of you putting the shoes on and they go, this is the new type of converse,
this is cooler, great for guys doing whatever, 30 seconds of video or 1 minute,
bang. Great. For content they have nothing, so maybe you could do that also for
sheeting aluminum. Great.
G - Main Reason for Using Social Media
Cause illustrated Interview #
Our long term strategy is to feed information to the customers. We hear what customer
say about campaigns through social media and we feed it back to our strategy. If
customers hear about us often, if they read good comments, it is likely they can join our
organization when they need a bank account, mortgage, car insurance, house insurance.
There is a social media important at the moment, the approach has changed, now we
are an important asset to the organization and there will be an increase on budget we
Customer service primarily. Targeting customers became far more niche. TV reaches
everybody, it is very broad. On Facebook we can target specific group of people,
specific age, region where they live. With social media we can target individually. We
are on 15 channels and we promote competitions on the channels to attract new
Everybody says to me. How can we make money with social media? I was brought to a
company in London, they sat me down and they said to me. Can you tell us how to
make money with social media? I stood up and I said: If that is the core reason you
brought me here today, you have been mislaid, I cannot help you. I got a reaction
immediately. The reason been I got a reaction was because they wanted to know how
to make money with social media and I was not going to tell them. I said: You cannot
make money with social media. You build relationships with social media.
Within our to inform and to keep our members informed and quick updates. Use
Twitter for example to give the members a quick update about some piece of news and
another reason would be, we do a lot of events, and we find for example that Twitter is
really good to Tweet from an event, because it can be live during the event, so you
would not be updating your website, You might add Twitter, you might use Twitter to
put up photos from the event or give some news.
We would have been quite a traditional organisation, we are proud of what we trend on
Twitter because it is a big deal in Ireland. That shows how we use our social media and
we need to show that we are good at using it if we want to start to sell and market the
courses in digital marketing, so we have to practice, we cannot ask people to do the
training if we are not doing ourselves.
CODING OF THE THEMES
H - Brand Awareness
Cause illustrated Interview
We are just making people more aware of the brand. Maybe for smaller companies
social media could help to increase their revenue. In the past if customer had a question
they would need to go to brand or call them, now with our social media channels, they
get their answer in seconds by using our social channels. If I could measure that
“someone” opened a new account because of social media, it would be great, however it
is impossible to measure. If someone needs a mortgage and they hear often about our
brand, they will think about us when deciding for the mortgage “top of mind”
Not so much brand awareness because we are in such small market, people are
interested in knowing us, what we want them to do them, is to get them to renew their
membership or new member, most people know us in Ireland, our awareness is good,
we are well known.
Social media is about qualified brand awareness. Can I give examples? Yeah, you got
nice visuals, you have got maybe 1000 followers, they get similar feed, its warm and
fluffy, warm and fuzzy, do not drive sales.
YouTube advertising as your vehicle to communicate to your audience because 20% of
your audience is getting information through mobile devices. You can advertise less on
TV and print (magazines, newspapers), if you do brand awareness advertising.
When Google talks and I agree about if you are looking for awareness, go for social
media, if you are looking for action, use PPC (Pay per click / paid advertising)
Social media is all about brand awareness, that is all. Nothing else, no conversion to
One is the current reason, it is about awareness capability and awareness capability. So,
we used to see the world in just 5 or 6 channels on TV or radio, now we see other
channels and we see this as an opportunity to communicate messages through these
channels. This is our main reason because our goal is to drive awareness, core goal
Okay, now there is a set of goals that are slightly different to that, I will move on to,
messages about product offers, and whether it is any good to do that, this is a separate
topic. So what is the main reason we are doing it? We want to proof awareness, we want
to get our messages out there, and we want to reach out our audience. The reality is, we
can survive without that (social media).
Experimentation, the boss wants it. I will be good in the future, awareness. How
successful has social media been in your organization? Anybody that answers that
saying, yes, very successful, that person is lying to you. Because if the objective is
If you set up a new café and I say you have to have social media, what is that you could
advise them, they would say, yep, good idea, yep, then you set up a Facebook page and
you have got 100 followers, how are they going to know? How are they going to get
attention? Brand awareness? That is why Google`s… you got desire and here Ad
Words, you revert and here is where you do awareness, that is it.
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