Overcoming SME barriers to gaining competitive advantage through social media

Lillian Clark, Levent Calli

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    1176 Downloads (Pure)


    Large scale enterprises (LSEs) successfully adopt social media to gain competitive advantage through creation of brand awareness, promotion of customer satisfaction and loyalty, and increased website traffic and sales. SMEs, on the other hand, are often hampered by financial and other resource constraints, which potentially limits their ability to gain competitive advantage though social media. Despite these limitations, research has shown that SMEs do have the potential to successfully integrate social media into their business practices, particularly in their marketing activities. However given the significant role of SMEs in modern economies, more needs to be done to understand what social media strategies are suitable for SMEs to adopt in order to gain competitive advantage, and how SMEs can overcome the factors that limit their ability to deploy these strategies.

    In developing this understanding, it must be recognised that SMEs are highly heterogeneous in nature, with business practices dependent not only on industry but also on the size of the enterprise. For example, while a new five-person software company headed by a young entrepreneur and an established fifty-person family-run furniture manufacturer would both be considered SMEs, their approaches to using social media to gain competitive advantage will likely differ. However, both these types of enterprises may still need to overcome similar barriers of management, finance, technology, staff and/or environment.

    This paper will review existing research into how SMEs are currently using social media to gain competitive advantage, and identify what are the common characteristics of successful business practices. From this review, the potential SME-specific barriers to success will be identified, and a conceptual framework proposed which can be used to develop both government-based and enterprise-specific initiatives to overcome these barriers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2nd European conference on social media
    EditorsAnabela Mesquita, Paula Peres
    PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Print)978-1-910810-31-6
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
    EventECSM 2015 2nd European Conference on Social Media - Porto, Portugal
    Duration: 9 Jul 201510 Jul 2015

    Publication series

    NameEuropean Conference on Social Media
    ISSN (Print)2055-7213
    ISSN (Electronic)2055-7221


    ConferenceECSM 2015 2nd European Conference on Social Media


    • SMEs
    • Social Media
    • Technology Adaptation
    • Social Media Marketing
    • Competitive Advantage


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