Social media has been a significant driver of advancements in SME marketing and its increasing popularity has brought many opportunities for SMEs to market their products and gather information about their customers more cost-efficiently (Bocconcelli et al., 2016; Hutchinson et al., 2015). Word of mouth is an efficient marketing tool and it can be described as a process where customers and users share their experiences to each other (Doyle, 2016). In the context of social media, Resnick et al. (2016) introduces the idea of “word of mouse” that can be described as a new definition for traditional “word of mouth”. The “word of mouth” marketing has been essential for SMEs but due to the advances in technology the traditional use has changed (Resnick et al., 2016). media has helped SMEs to better spread out the word of their products, develop better engagement with their customers as well as to reach out to potential new target audiences more affordably than before (Resnick et al., 2016). Hence, the adoption of social media has allowed SMEs to better organize their marketing activities in a way that suits to their limited resources (Bocconcelli et al., 2016).
Kannan and Li (2017), Bocconcelli et al. (2016) and Rust (2017) all highlight the impact that recent advancements in technology have had on marketing strategies that companies use today. Modern web-based technologies have an important role in how companies market their products and reach out to their target customers (Rust, 2017; Bocconcelli et al., 2016). The concept of digital marketing is described as strategies where digital technologies and Internet have a critical role in the implementation of marketing practises (Kannan & Li, 2017). Digital marketing channels have an essential role in terms of marketing products, promoting brands, acquiring customers as well as maintaining existing customer relationships (Kannan & Li, 2017). Since many consumers use internet-based platforms, the companies actively use the “big data” of their customers on internet to facilitate their marketing activities (Rust, 2017).
The evolution of internet based platforms have changed the traditional marketing approach (Wang & Kim, 2017; Rust, 2017). Wang and Kim (2017) discuss that internet-based platforms have facilitated the creation of inexpensive and accessible online user content as well as interaction between the users. Social media networks and e-commerce marketplaces have allowed customers to be more engaged with the companies as well as to have better access to their products (Wang & Kim, 2017; Rust, 2017). Among many different Social media and e-commerce marketplaces, the ones that are used the most by companies are Facebook, Instagram, Ebay and Amazon (Rust, 2017).
In today’s technologically advanced environment, businesses are constantly online and more of their activities take place there. The high-speed access to internet has become affordable for nearly every household which has led to increased traffic in social media applications such as Facebook and Instagram (Lamberton & Stephen, 2016). Iankova et al. (2018) defines social media as internet-based platforms and applications that allow users to create and share user-generated content with one another. It can be seen as a tool that facilitates the interaction and conversation between users. People use social media in order to participate in social networks and communities that allow them to communicate with each other, maintain and build relationships as well as to share and create content (Lacoste, 2016).
2. Frame of Reference
2.1 Literature collection
2.2 Marketing Strategies for SMEs
2.3 Digital marketing
2.4 Customer relationship management
2.5 Consumer behaviour and buying process
2.6 Automotive industry
2.7 Conceptual model
3.1 Research philosophy
3.2 Pilot study
3.3 Data collection
3.4 Data analysis
3.5 Ethical considerations
4. Empirical Findings
4.1 Social Media Marketing Channels
4.2 Interactions and Relationships
4.3 Customer Commitment
4.4 Marketing Plan
5.1 Channels and activities
5.2 Interaction, Relationships and Customer Commitment
5.3 Marketing Plan
5.4 Conceptual model Applied
7.1 Theoretical implications
7.2 Managerial implications
7.4 Suggestions for future research
8. Reference list
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Social media marketing of SMEs in regional Sweden: A study of the automotive sales industry