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Unformatted text preview: FACULTY OF ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION Henna Sarkkinen THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION IN BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS MARKETS Master’s Thesis Department of Marketing September 2009 UNIVERSITY OF OULU ABSTRACT OF THE MASTER'S THESIS Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Unit Department of Marketing Author Sarkkinen Henna Supervisor (s) Salo J. Professor Title The role of social media in customer communication in business-to-business markets Subject Marketing Type of the degree Master´s thesis Time of publication September 2009 Number of pages 95+2 Abstract The objective of this study is to create an understanding what is the role of social media in customer communication in business-to-business markets. This is explored by defining the characteristics of social media that differentiates it from traditional marketing communication channels. Opportunities and challenges the social media induces for communication are explored as well. Utilization of social media in communication with current customers and with potential customers is also of interest in this study. The context of this study is Finland. The study is conducted by using qualitative research methods. The purpose of this study is to build a holistic picture of the role of social media in customer communication. The theoretical part of this study explores the changes that digital marketing and especially social media creates for traditional marketing communication. Identifying the characteristics of social media enables to understand opportunities and challenges it creates for communication. Relationship development viewpoint is taken because especially in b-to-b markets the communication occurs in customer relationships. The empirical data is collected with semi-structured interviews among Finnish companies operating in industrial markets and experts on social media. By connecting the theoretical and empirical parts of this study the results of the study develop. Characteristics of social media, participation, user-generated content, interaction, transparency and viral marketing, increase the engagement of the company and its customers to the communication and further to the relationship. The opportunities and challenges the social media creates vary in different stages of the relationship development. At the pre-relationship stage the objective is to create awareness of the company and its products. Social media enables reaching wider audience and the potential customers more effective. At the negotiation stage it is important to start to develop the relationship. Communication and targeting markets are more effective in social media. At the development stage parties aim to create mutual value. Social media increases the engagement to communication and enable more informal and continuous communication. Companies operating in b-to-b markets should evaluate whether social media creates added value to their customer communication....
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- Fall '09