Purpose: The purpose of this research is to investigate the use of Twitter in business as a medium for knowledge sharing and to crowdsource information to support innovation and enhance business relationships in the context of business-to-business (B2B) marketing.
Design/methodology/approach: This study uses a combination of methodologies for gathering data in 52 face-to-face interviews across five countries and the downloaded posts from each of the interviewees' Twitter accounts. The tweets were analysed using structural topic modelling (STM), and then compared to the interview data. This method enabled triangulation between stated use of Twitter and respondent's actual tweets.
Findings: The research confirmed that individuals used Twitter as a source of information, ideas, promotion and innovation within their industry. Twitter facilitates building relevant business relationships through the exchange of new, expert and high-quality information within like-minded communities in real time, between companies and with their suppliers, customers and also their peers.
Research limitations/implications: As this study covered five countries, further comparative research on the use of Twitter in the B2B context is called for. Further investigation of the formalisation of social media strategies and return on investment for social media marketing efforts is also warranted.
Practical implications: This research highlights the business relationship building capacity of Twitter as it enables customer and peer conversations that eventually support the development of product and service innovations. Twitter has the capacity for marketers to inform and engage customers and peers in their networks on wider topics thereby building the brand of the individual users and their companies simultaneously.
Originality/value: This study focuses on interactions at the individual level illustrating that Twitter is used for both customer and peer interactions that can lead to the sourcing of ideas, knowledge and ultimately innovation. The study is novel in its methodological approach of combining structured interviews and text mining that found the topics of the interviewees' tweets aligned with their interview responses.
Bibliographical noteCopyright Helen Cripps, Abhay Singh, Thomas Mejtoft and Jari Salo. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
- Business to business marketing
- Social media
- Topic modelling