Social Media Use as an Enabler of Marketing Evolution in Knowledge-Intensive SMEs

Social Media Use as an Enabler of Marketing Evolution in Knowledge-Intensive SMEs

Iva Atanassova (University of Essex Online, UK & Kaplan International,UK) and Lillian Clark (QA Higher Education, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0131-3.ch003

Abstract

This chapter identifies the operating and dynamic capabilities interactions that are supported by social media use in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), specifically knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS). The focus on social media market intelligence accumulation and assimilation as an operating capability which enables dynamic marketing capability development in the SME marketing context, complements the prevalent focus in the literature on SME adoption and use of social media, as well as literature on how dynamic capabilities alter operating capability. The chapter presents a case study of a KIBS SME operating in South East England. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews with key actors and social media data, and thematically analysed. The findings suggest that the company develops absorptive capacity at the operating level by absorbing intelligence through social media use, and this learning is captured and transformed at the marketing planning level as a dynamic capability, reconfiguring future marketing operational capabilities.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

In an increasingly turbulent and knowledge-based economy, companies face a growing need for real-time market knowledge. Market knowledge and the ability to generate it are at the core of organisational competitiveness (Soto-Acosta, Popa, Palacios-Marques, 2017; Spender, 1996). Experiential learning is considered one of the most significant concepts for analysing the SMEs’ ability to develop new understanding for problem-solving, opportunity identification (Covin and Slevin, 1989; O’Driscoll et al., 2000; Paniagua and Sapena, 2014), and engagement in strategic renewal processes (Cope, 2005; Cope and Watts, 2000).

Although the SME literature is shifting from a static trait-based interpretation of the entrepreneur toward the entrepreneur as a permanent learner (Cope, 2005; Franco and Haase, 2009; Secundo et al., 2017) who is continuously engaged in entrepreneurial learning process, from a theoretical perspective many aspects of SME ‘learning by doing’ marketing approaches remain poorly understood (Cope, 2005).

Both academics and practitioners agree that social media has the potential to enhance organisational knowledge-sharing capabilities (Nguyen et al., 2015; Razmerita and Kirchner, 2011) and improve tacit knowledge accumulation and transfer (Lam et al., 2016; Panahi et al., 2012). To date, however, there is a lack of precise specification or empirical evidence for the exact processes and mechanisms of learning (Kim et al., 2013; Sun and Anderson, 2010; Zhang et al., 2006). Even less is known regarding social media’s contribution to SME ‘learning by doing’ ad-hoc marketing practices (Durkin et al., 2013; Paniagua and Sapena, 2014).

These experiential learning processes are particularly important for high-tech firms, services, creative industries, academic and research spin-offs, as these companies generally play a critical role as knowledge providers. The expansion of the KIBS depends on development and management of new knowledge (Kim et al., 2013; Rae and Carswell, 2001). Due to the rapid changes in such industries, KIBS usually absorb information and favour exploration, experiential practices and iterative routines (Cope and Watts, 2000; Yli-Renko et al., 2001) in order to learn faster than the competition rather than to outplay them (Snyman and Kruger, 2004).

This book chapter describes a case study of an established KIBS SME and uses the MIATSM model of Atanassova and Clark (2015) to explore the marketing evolution triggered through their daily social media use. The MIATSM model draws on the dynamic capability (DC) and absorptive capacity construct (Teece et al., 1997; Cohen & Levinthal, 1990, Zahra & George 2002, Todorova & Durisin, 2007). The MIATSM recognises and conceptualises the organisational internal learning processes and impacting conditions of continuous market-based learning through the use of social media market intelligence as a source of organisational marketing capabilities and evolution. The data, collected through semi-structured interviews, observation, informal discussions, and social media data, allowed the researchers to understand processes that capture learning at the operating and dynamic capability levels, and transform this learning to marketing evolution. The marketing evolution is a process and stages through which the marketing concepts, philosophies, mechanisms, tools & techniques, and orientations of marketing are changing and has changed over the period of the history of marketing (Atanassova and Clark, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

MIATSM Model: The Market Intelligence Accumulation Through Social Media is a model of the processes of market intelligence accumulation through social media use and its assimilation and application in marketing activities.

SME Learning: A SME organisational learning process of continually acquiring, developing and sharing knowledge skills and practices to enhance the organisational effectiveness of an SME.

Social media: Social media is the collective of web 2,0 based online communications channels through which communities can create contents, input, interact, share and collaborate information, co-create knowledge or contents, etc.

Marketing Evolution: The marketing evolution is a process and stages through which the marketing concepts, philosophies, mechanisms, tools and techniques, and orientations of marketing are changing and has changed over the period of the history of marketing.

Dynamic Capabilities: Dynamic capabilities are evolutionary, future-oriented, and difficult to imitate organizational core strengths, embedded knowledge, skills and processes for continuous evolutional fitness of an organisation with its changing environment.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset