Understanding Social Media Entrepreneurship to promote innovation within SMEs




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Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship



Peer reviewed



TOPIC Social media has transformed the delivery, structure and availability of information, putting the once capital-intensive role of broadcasting (Simmons et al., 2011) within the reach of individuals. New interactions are generated by social media technologies (Hanse et al., 2010); connectivity is enhanced by human networks (Hwang and Kim, 2015). Blackshaw & Nazaro (2006, cited in Xiang and Gretzel 2010) define Social Media as Internet-based applications that carry consumer-generated content. Importantly, Hansen et al. (2011) adds a focus on the tools and potential business benefits to improve quality and create customer and partner communities (Hansen et al., 2014). Furthermore, the information shared through the networks has significant business value that plays an essential role within the business (Hansen et al., 2011)

AIM Social media provides immense power to consumers and transforms individuals from passive recipients of information and products into active creators of content (information and ideas) who are able to actively and immediately communicate with one another. Digital technologies produce positive social impact in various fields from healthcare to financial sectors (DCMS, 2017). Interactions and collaborative technologies are included by social media (Farshid et al., 2011). Researchers have highlights the benefits for businesses to engage with social media to improve their communication and brand management viewpoints (Barwise and Meehan, 201; Gaines-Ross, 2010; EFMA, 2013), while others pointed out the positive impact of on-line engagement for off-line social relationships (Fisher and Reuber, 2011) and mobile marketing (Jayawardhena et al., 2009). Finally, Durkin et al. (2013) identify, a paucity of social media research relating to strategic considerations, innovation and entrepreneurship. However, one of the emerging challenges facing Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) is how they appropriately incorporate and harness the mass collaboration that social media facilitates.

METHODOLOGY The paper is based on a qualitative study; it used observation to explore certain kinds of structured data (Mintzber, 1973). The data were collected by observing two SMEs based in Leicester. Observation allowed us to inductively develop patterns of social media use and activities. For the paper two case studies will provide the data for analysis. Observations of the case studies social media use will also be undertaken to observe and record their online actions and behaviours (Collis and Hussey, 2014: 148). The non-participant observation will be undertaken via social media technologies used by the case studies. Some of the activities and meta-data will be aniseed using a variety of online tools (example: simplymeasured.com). Durkin et al.’s (2013: 724) theoretical model of social media adoption and use provides the framework of observation.

CONTRIBUTION The paper adds to the current understanding of SMEs and social media us by adding to the context of innovation amongst micro businesses. Through observation the paper provides a number of good practice case studies. Key to the paper’s contribution is going beyond the understanding of use.



Social Media, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Social Capital


Beckinsale, M. and Romano, S. (2017) Understanding Social Media Entrepreneurship to promote innovation within SMEs. ISBE 2017 Conference Proceedings


Research Institute

Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)