An Investigation of Successful Implementation of Social Media by Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
This study investigates the successful implementation of social media by small and medium-sized New Zealand businesses. The reasons for selecting social media as the focal innovation were twofold. Firstly, it is vital that marketers embrace it. Social media has revolutionised the way in which marketers can communicate and promote to customers. Fundamentally, message control has passed from the marketer to the customer. Secondly, it provided an opportunity to explore innovation implementation from a business perspective early on in its diffusion cycle. Although businesses were only recently invited to join social media platforms, it was anticipated that many businesses would have adopted it within the last three years. This research contributes to the sparse literature on social media. It also contributes to the growing body of literature on innovation implementation, businesses as the unit of analysis, and research which uses implementation success as its outcome variable. Additionally, it contributes to the body of research for businesses that have less than 20 employees, defined as either small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or micro-organisations, depending on the country. The objectives of this research were to identify which characteristics were most significant in influencing the successful implementation of social media and to propose a conceptual model. Due to the scarcity of literature on social media, constructs and measures were developed from other disciplines and innovation types. Research was grounded in innovation and implementation theory. The Organisational Innovativeness theory and the Variance theory (particularly the Technology-Organisation-Environment or TOE framework) were found to be of particular relevance. Marketing theory was also referred to, with the outcomes being marketing-based measures. The research was conducted in three steps. Firstly, in the pre-test phase senior managers from the New Zealand Retailers Association and academics provided feedback on the questionnaire. The Association then sent a pilot survey to their members, generating 53 usable responses. Secondly, the main survey was distributed via Facebook to businesses operating in that medium. Following analysis, the third phase involved interviews which further explored themes identified from the quantitative stage. Theoretical, methodological and managerial contributions were made from the research. Theoretical contributions included the development and empirical testing of a conceptual model for successful social media implementation. Significant predictor variables identified included complexity, a clear strategy, resources, access to training and education, and competition. These were measured by a number of dependent variables including use, overall management satisfaction and newly-developed scales for net benefits (including increased profit and increased brand loyalty). Methodological contributions included the timing of the survey. As social media has only been implemented relatively recently, information was easily recalled and bias as to whether it was likely to be a successful innovation or not was reduced. Additionally, the survey was distributed through Facebook, a new channel with viral opportunities and subsequent response rate measurement limitations. Managers will also find the results of interest not only in the implementation of social media but also for other strategic types of computer-mediated communication innovations.