Title: Are SMEs 'cutting corners' on social media marketing? An exploratory study in the Italian context

Authors: Sara Bartoloni; Chiara Ancillai; Federica Pascucci; Gian Luca Gregori

Addresses: Università Politecnica delle Marche, Piazzale Martelli n 8, 60121, Ancona, Italy ' Università Politecnica delle Marche, Piazzale Martelli n 8, 60121, Ancona, Italy ' Università Politecnica delle Marche, Piazzale Martelli n 8, 60121, Ancona, Italy ' Università Politecnica delle Marche, Piazzale Martelli n 8, 60121, Ancona, Italy

Abstract: The recent rise of social media has presented small and medium size firms with renewed challenges and benefits. Despite the impact of social media on businesses' activities has been largely acknowledged, research on their adoption and use by SME is still limited. Therefore, the scope of this study is twofold: bridging a theoretical gap and answering a business problem. In particular, the study aims to analyse social media adoption, level of usage, strategies and barriers in the context of SMEs. Empirical data were collected in two phases: a cross-sectional survey (122 completed questionnaires) followed by a multiple case study analysis of seven SMEs. The findings show that, despite a high adoption rate of social media, its actual usage often seems to be improvised and lacking a clear strategy. SMEs seem to be deficient of an adequate organisational structure, skilled human resources and financial resources. A positive relationship between the presence of a marketing function and social media use also emerged.

Keywords: social media use; SMEs; digital marketing; marketing function; multiple case study; survey.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2019.103460

International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 2019 Vol.13 No.4, pp.302 - 320

Received: 01 Mar 2018
Accepted: 11 Nov 2018

Published online: 29 Oct 2019 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article