Social media resource mobilisation in B2B relationships of entrepreneurial firms

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Drummond, Conor
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University College Cork
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Digitalisation has increased the importance of online forms of marketing. In the past decade, social media (SM) has had a notable influence on practices in a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketing context. Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing has begun to slowly follow suit. SM’s low cost, resource commitment and simplicity in use compared with traditional marketing communications, has distinctive appeal for business relationship development. Entrepreneurial firms are particularly poised to gain from these new technologies. These organisations lack critical resources from the outset and find resource access more challenging when compared to larger firms. These difficulties can be partially overcome through B2B relationships as entrepreneurial firms mobilise resources through network ties. Moving beyond the traditional perspective of SM platforms as just another set of communication tools, SM may be an attractive resource for entrepreneurial firms in their interaction in their B2B relationships and networks. SM when conceived as a resource in interaction can be combined with other resources and with those of the partner firms to solve problems. This may help the entrepreneurial firm to overcome some of the challenges associated with being small and new. Although an emergent area of study with empirical research and relevant literature remaining scarce, we currently know little about SM from an entrepreneurial B2B context. Exploring how entrepreneurial firms mobilise SM as a resource in interaction is the focus for this research study. The aim of this thesis is to conceptualise SM as a resource for entrepreneurial firms and B2B partners, mobilised in interaction between the firm and its B2B relationships. This is explored using an Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) group perspective. The objectives for this study are focused on understanding: 1) If entrepreneurial firms use SM strategically and if so, what SM B2B network marketing strategies and tactics are used by entrepreneurial firms? 2) Through which processes are SM mobilised as a resource? That is, what are the processes of Social Media Resource Mobilisation (SMRM)? 3) How one of these processes, collaborative SMRM, is developed in interaction? The findings from this study indicate firstly, that entrepreneurial firms engage in four SMRM strategies and 15 SMRM tactics to complement their development of SM B2B relationships and networks. Secondly, four processes of SMRM are identified. These are; Dyadic and Network Actor Engagement, Information Search and Share, Operational Processes Co-ordination and Reconfiguration, and Collaboration. Finally, this research details how the collaborative SMRM process - mobilising SM as a resource in interaction in a collaborative setting - occurs in interaction between the entrepreneurial firm and collaborating SM B2B network actors. These findings contribute to the field of SM B2B marketing and entrepreneurship theory, including a classification of strategic SM B2B network marketing, and a collaborative SMRM process model. Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA) is also applied to an IMP based SM B2B study for the first time, making a methodological contribution to the area.
Networks , Entrepreneurial Firms , Industrial Marketing , Social media , Resource mobilisation , B2B relationships , Entrepreneurial firms
Drummond, C. M. 2020. Social media resource mobilisation in B2B relationships of entrepreneurial firms. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.