Social media practices in SME marketing activities
: a dynamic capability approach

  • Iva Valentinova Atanassova

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis explores the marketing transformation processes taking place in a diverse selection of SMEs as a result of their use of social media. Building on literature from SME marketing, social media and dynamic capabilities, the Market Intelligence Accumulation Through Social media (MIATSM) model is developed and presented, which conceptualises the processes and factors, affecting the organisational ability to transfer market intelligence gained from social media into internal, organisational-level learning and marketing evolution. The study employs phenomenological case study methodology to develop five explorative case studies of diverse SMEs operating in South East England. The data was collected via semi-structured interviews with key actors, social media data and informal discussions, and thematically analysed using MIATSM model.
    The MIATSM model application demonstrated that at the operating capability level, through the use of social media on a daily basis, and applying proactive logic, two of the studied companies built absorptive capacity and this learning was captured on a strategic level and led to strategic changes in their marketing practices. Organisational VRIN (valuable, rare, inimitable, non-substitutable) resources, such as loyalty, engagement, and relationships, were also positively impacted. The other three case companies exhibit disjointed, outbound practices, unclear strategic direction, rigid structure, narrow mind sets, and broken internal communication flows, which constrained the accumulation and application of market intelligence for marketing evolution. The findings of this research highlight that the organisational factors – culture, structure and systems, actors, and resources – have crucial importance for developing an ability to adapt to new information that arises externally, and reaping the benefits of organisational social media use.
    The findings demonstrate the research and practical application of the MIATSM model in shedding light on the highly context-dependent and under-researched processes of absorptive capacity development on operating and dynamic capability level through the use of social media, and the follow-on marketing evolution. This thesis makes original contributions in that it extends the understanding of the role of social media for SME marketing practices development, and provides a model to guide understanding development in the area. Additionally, these findings bring contribution and new insights to the SME Marketing, Social Media and Dynamic Capability literature. Future research should build on this study by applying the MIATSM model to other industry and organisational contexts.
    Date of AwardOct 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorLillian Clark (Supervisor), Colin Wheeler (Supervisor) & Sarah Turnbull (Supervisor)

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