New research-based social media toolkit published for SMEs

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Northumbria University has published research into the power and challenges of social media for business. Academics produced the study on behalf of the Marketing Trust, with the aim of supporting the UK SME business to business (B2B) community to enhance their current marketing practices and approach to social media.

The report, ‘The role of social media in a business to business environment,’ identifies seven critical challenges when it comes to effective B2B social media marketing. A supporting toolkit, which utilises the research, aims to help business overcome these challenges.

Mary K Davies, Chairman of the Marketing Trust who commissioned the research, explained: “We funded this project because we believe the use of social media in a B2B context is widely misunderstood.

“Social media is a fast-changing world of communication and many SMEs are failing to grasp its full potential, instead, opting to dabble in it because they feel they should. In commissioning this study we sought to understand how different types of social media are currently used and the role it can play in enhancing the B2B buyer-seller experience.

“The toolkit underpins the research and is designed to provide practical steps, digital tools and examples of best practice, to help businesses capitalise on the opportunities that social media technology can bring to their marketing campaigns.”

The 12-month study found, for example, that many SMEs were not sure which social media platforms are most relevant to them or how to use social media to drive engagement as part of an integrated B2B marketing communications strategy.

The report is based on face-to-face interviews and focus groups with business owners, a comprehensive literature review and a survey of small and medium sized enterprises carried out by Newcastle Business School researchers.

Mary K Davies added: “The Marketing Trust has a clear focus on research, education and training. We partnered with Northumbria University because we wanted the academic rigour that a research team like Northumbria would bring to the subject.

“Whilst the report identified that social media is frequently underused and not managed effectively, it offers great potential when used as part of an integrated communications strategy. However, there is one over-riding finding, and that is, the basics of marketing still apply in this dynamic and increasingly important medium.”

The report and toolkit are free to access and available to download from the Marketing Trust website.

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