Social media can be used as a tool by B2B companies to educate their buyers, according to new research by emlyon business school.
The study, conducted by Catherine Pardo, Professor of Marketing at Emlyon business school, and her co-authors, analysed how B2B companies can use social media to ‘strategize’ (i.e. take a position in their ecosystems).
They found that Twitter, in a B2B context, is relevant not only for communication or commercial purposes but also to educate buyers and help them better understand what a supplier company can do for them.
The researchers emphasise that social media plays a role in shaping business networks to the extent that they are a place where companies share discourse on their role, thus potentially constructing or changing potential buyers’ representation of them.
The authors identify four main dimensions that structure B2B companies’ official discourses on Twitter and consequently the position they want to occupy in business ecosystems.
Firstly, digital transformation, this is when companies want to be identified as those that can help other actors digitalise.
Secondly, customer experience dimension, this is when companies want to emphasise their ability to commit to customers.
Thirdly, customisation of offerings dimension, this is where companies want to share their ability to adapt or even tailor make their product and service for customers.
And finally, an ecosystem actor dimension, where companies emphasise their ability to establish and develop relationships with different partners in a business network.
“Our findings show that social media channels such as Twitter, such as market-shaping tools, are mainly used by B2B companies to reach network partners – for instance potential customers – and help them share positions that are largely articulated around a strong customer orientation approach,” says Catherine Pardo, Professor of Marketing at emlyon.
The researcher advises managers of B2B companies to consider social media as more than a channel where they can invest in to create awareness for the brand, or attract consumers to their website. They should integrate it into a coherent omnichannel strategy.
The research was published in the journal Industrial Marketing Management.