The use of social media by exporting B2B SMEs, implications for performance

  • Z Ziad Hassan Saeed Abdelmoety

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The evolution of social media enables the creation of virtual customer environments where online communications have impacted increasingly on the marketing environment. As such, 21st century firms need to consider the many opportunities that social media present. Given the scant empirical evaluation of social media use in the SMEs Business-to-Business (B2B) context, this thesis aims to "empirically investigate SMEs B2B firms' actual use of social media and how it impacts their export performance". This study contributes to the emerging SMEs B2B digital marketing literature by determining, firstly, the factors that affect SMEs B2B firms using social media and, secondly, the mechanism through which SMEs B2B firms can potentially benefits from using social media in their exporting efforts. A number of hypotheses were developed building on the available literature. These hypotheses were examined using data from a sample of 277 British firms from different industries. Structural equation modelling was employed to test the hypotheses. The results suggest that the usage of social media is affected significantly by perceived ease of use; perceived relative advantage; and subjective norms. Additionally, both the firm's training and innovativeness enhance the relationship between subjective norms and social media use. The results reveal, also, that the social media use influences export performance indirectly through the quality of international business contacts; understanding customers' views and preferences; and understanding competition in different markets. However, the link between social media use and export performance is not indirectly influenced by the number of international business contacts and brand awareness. Furthermore, customer engagement enhances the relationships between social media use and the aforementioned factors through which social media use indirectly influences export performance. Cultural adaptation enhances, also, the relationships between understanding customers' views and preferences;understanding competition in different markets; and export performance. Important implications for how SMEs B2B firms may benefit best from using social media for their exporting efforts and future research are derived from the findings.
Date of Award28 Sep 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorSpiros Gounaris (Supervisor) & Aliakbar Jafari (Supervisor)

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