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Research Spotlight #1

“Social Media Adoption in Business-to-Business: IT and Industrial Companies Compared”

By Celine Veldeman, Ellen Van Praet, and Peter Merchant

International Journal of Business Communication, 2017, 54(3), 283-305

Research Question

How do Belgian business-to-business (B2B) companies perceive and react to social media?


The researchers surveyed 92 Belgian companies about their social attitudes and activities. They also conducted in-depth followup interviews with 11 of the companies.

Key Findings

  • 42% of the companies were experimenting with social media without a specific social media strategy or action plan

  • 41% of IT companies (software, web services) were developing social media strategies

  • Only 27% of industrial companies (construction, engineering services) were developing social media strategies

  • Most companies deem social media a good tool for a) cultivating brand awareness, b) sharing a company image, and c) recruiting

  • “… deciding how to use social media in the right way to achieve set goals is considered to be very hard” (p. 293)

Advice for the Field

  • Recognize that a customer’s, employee’s, and potential employee’s expectations about a firm’s social media presence is highly influenced by the dynamics of the industry sector

  • Avoid treating social media as a “stand-alone” communicative endeavor divorced from other essential organizational tasks

  • Acknowledge the difficulty of crafting a useful social media strategy and encourage experimentation

Researcher Approved Summary Pending

Research Spotlight Author:

Phillip G. Clampitt, Ph.D.


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