The introduction of Web 2.0 and the rise of social media marketing

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Methodology

This chapter presents the research philosophy, approach and strategy used for this specific study. Moreover, it refers to the methods to collect the primary and secondary data. Finally, it provides an overall view of the data analysis and ends with the evaluation of chosen methodology.

Research philosophy

Research by the definition of Kothari (2004) is the scientific and systematic search for potential information related to a specific topic and is done through the art of scientific investigation. In order to conduct a scientific research there are specific steps for a researcher to go through. Onion process introduced by Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) shows different stages that have to be clarified before starting to collect data. As illustrated in Figure 3-1, these stages are research’s philosophy, approach, strategies and time horizons.
Research philosophy is the first layer and is about deciding on the overall viewpoint on the whole world. This is the rout of the whole research process. The values of a researcher will affect both the research that has been pursued and the methods selected to pursue it. Research philosophy by Saunders et al. (2009) is classified into realism, positivism and interpretivism. In general, two main research paradigms used by marketing researchers are positivism and interpretivism (Carson, Gilmore, Perry & Gronhaug, 2001).
The research philosophy applied in the thesis is interpretivist method. As the study only focuses on the subjective interpretation and qualitative data, this research philosophy can help the authors to fulfill their purpose and answer their research questions.

Research approach

Second layer of the onion process suggested by Saunders et al. (2009) is the research approach that includes inductive and deductive methods. According to Hyde (2000) in the inductive approach researcher first collects the data and then explores it with the purpose to see on which themes or issues he or she can concentrate. It is a theory building process going first through observation and then seeking for establishing generalization about that specific phenomenon. Moreover, marketing science has historically developed methods related to confirming theories rather than discovering them. Malhotra and Birks (2006) mention that the interpretivism attempts to establish the legitimacy of the approach through induction.
As thesis covers the topic related to the marketing communication and utilizes the interpretive philosophy an inductive research approach is selected. The authors started their investigation from a specific observation, had a cautious look at the process of data collection and then moved towards theories with the goal to establish theoretical framework for empirical data.

Research strategy

According to Saunders et al. (2009), research strategy includes survey, experiment, case study, grounded theory, action research and ethnography. Authors of this research applied case study as their research strategy. Case study, in its common definition, is the study of particularity and complexity of a single case that aims to understand activity within important circumstances. It generally includes a comprehensive investigation with data collecting over a period of time.
According to Stake (1995) a case study strategy can be best applicable when the researchers have an active part in the organization under the study. As one of the authors was engaged in the activities of the company under study, this strategy was selected. The experience empowered the authors to focus on the case of ID24 and get comprehensive data from the company, concerning how it operates and how it aims to utilize social media in marketing communication.

Research method

Qualitative and quantitative researches are two methods of gathering data that are based on the information type in the research process (Neuman & Lawrence, 2003). Shay (2001) argues that qualitative methods are most suitable for a marketing research as a number of different opinions and not just one truth must be revealed. Therefore qualitative method is selected for the study. This technique offers the opportunity to collect a wide range of information from different groups of people related to the case study of the thesis. Since utilization of social media is a rather new approach in marketing and there is little knowledge of how it affects B2B marketing communication, a qualitative study can provide more nuances and better understanding than a quantitative.
Qualitative research plays a major role in marketing decision-making process as an exploratory tool. In case studies exploratory research is frequently used to formulate the problem and gather insights. It is more flexible and unstructured in terms of collecting information (Shukla, 2008). In this study an exploratory research design is adopted because the qualitative research method of collecting data is applied, and the authors attempt to investigate different aspects of the research theme rather than confirm existence of strictly defined paradigms.

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Time horizons

According to Saunders et al. (2009) and Menard (2002), time horizons of a scientific research can be either cross -sectional or longitudinal. Cross-sectional research examines data at one point in time and measures the variables only once on each case and during the same period. Longitudinal research examines data in different time periods and the variables are measured repeatedly. Due to the time constrains, the cross-sectional time horizon is selected for this study and data is collected under three months.

Data collection

Data can be obtained through primary and secondary sources (Merriam, 2002). Primary data are collected by the researcher for the purpose of a specific research and is related to the particular problem, while secondary data are collected for purposes other than the problem at hand (Smith & Albaum, 2005). Authors of this research utilize both approaches to overcome the limitations of each of the methods, gather relevant data and approve it with the previous research.

Primary data collection

Primary data are collected principally for a specific research purpose and may employ a variety of methods from qualitative research to surveys and experiment (Aaker, Kumar & Day, 2003). According to Saunders et al. (2009), primary data collection methods are observation, questionnaires, sampling and interviews. The methods selected for this research are observation and interviews.

Observation

Observation is the most spread data collection method in qualitative research (Newman & Benz, 1998). This method implies gathering information through watching and recoding relevant facts, actions and behaviors (Kumar, Aaker & Docy, 2003; Bennett, 1995).
In this study one of the authors was involved in the activities of the company for two months and got the opportunity to explore working environment and participate in day-to-day activities. Therefore the authors gained the opportunity to observe how the company’s managers discussed and motivated the necessity of applying social media channels, and how they formed their professional networks on Web 2.0 platforms, combining them with traditional marketing methods to obtain the best outcome.
Regarding the modes of administration, observation techniques are classified into personal observation, electronic observation, audit, content analysis and trace analysis (Malhorta & Birks, 2006). Personal observation is applied to this study as a suitable method when researchers have the opportunity to observe the actual behavior as it occurs.
Observation method in a research has a number of advantages comparing with interviews and questionnaires. It allows to record information directly, without relying on the retrospective or anticipatory accounts of others. The observer can notice something that participants don’t pay attention to. Data collected in observation can be used as a check on and a supplement to the data obtained from other sources, in this master thesis it supplements interviews. However, observation method has some specific limitations such as inadequacies of the measuring instruments and subjectivity of the observer (Sapsford & Jupp, 2006), which creates a need to employ other data collection methods such as interviews. The limitations of applied methods are explained in more details in the method evaluation part of this chapter.

1. Introduction
1.1 Problem discussion
1.2 Problem specification
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Delimitations
1.6 Dispositions
2. Theoretical framework
2.1 The introduction of Web 2.0 and the rise of social media marketing
2.2 Business-to-business marketing communication
2.3 Integrated marketing
2.4 Customer relationship management .
2.5 Planning integrated marketing campaign
2.6 Summary of the theory
3. Methodology 
3.1 Research philosophy
3.2 Research approach
3.3 Research strategy
3.4 Research method
3.5 Time horizons
3.6 Data collection
3.7 Data analysis
3.8 Method Evaluation
4. Empirical findings 
4. 1 Presentation of the company
4.2 Observation
4. 3 Interviews
5. Analysis 
5.1 Integration of social media platforms
5.2 The choice of social media platforms
5.3 Building relationships with social media
5.4 Offline/online marketing communication
6. Conclusion 
7. Discussion
7.1 Limitations and self-criticism
7.2 Suggestion for further research
7.3 Managerial implications
References

Master thesis within Business Administration

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