Social Media: Their role as support tools in B2B organizations
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The aim of this research is to figure out the role Social Media plays as a support tool for business-to-business organizations. The amount of literature dealing with Social Media and business-to-business organizations increases steadily. However, most of the literature covers the advantages and disadvantages of Social Media, including implementation and measurement techniques. Thus lacking concrete business examples and areas of application for Social Media. Therefore, this paper will provide the most important benefits and barriers of Social Media, information about business processes where Social Media is applicable. In addition, it will provide an in-depth investigation of Social Media use in the innovation process and the marketing and sales process. This will be followed by a case study about Siemens’ Social Media use in order to give the reader a practical example. The research was conducted by a literature review, for which literature was retrieved from web search on Scopus and Google Scholar. The research revealed that business-to-business organizations mainly benefit from Social Media by having the possibility to maintain and improve relationships with their customers, as well as facilitating access to customers’ needs, suggestions and feedback. Next to customers B2B organizations are also able to observe their competitors and respective markets. Moreover, as Social Media enables two-way communication, the customer can engage themselves in processes and projects as inputs. Additional benefits include brand awareness and cost reductions. Furthermore, the research exposed that Social Media is applicable in almost all business processes in an organization, especially in the innovation as well as in the marketing and sales process. During the innovation process, Social Media can support customer involvement and collaboration with decreased uncertainty and new product failures. In the marketing and sales process, Social Media improves product promotion and the approach to prospective customers and buyers. With these new insights, this research will contribute to existing literature and knowledge.