Using Social Media in the B2b Context

12 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2010 Last revised: 4 May 2018

See all articles by Robert E. Spekman

Robert E. Spekman

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Eliane Dotson

affiliation not provided to SSRN


Business-to-business marketers have begun to appreciate the value social networks -- specifically, the use of social media -- to nurture relationships with current customers and to reach one's potential customers. This note explores the different facets of social media: what it is, what the risks are, and how best to harness it for use in a B2B context. Despite skepticism regarding their efficacy and whether they accomplish the goals established by the firm, social media have been used increasingly in recent years by B2B marketers, who can use them to attract communities of interest to the firm. The note addresses how to incorporate social media tactics into one's marketing plan and presents a normative discussion of where social media fit as part of a larger integrated communications program.



Rev. Apr. 26, 2018

using Social Media in the B2B Context

Social Networks

To varying degrees, our relationships influence how we function in society; our ties help to define who we are professionally and personally. Research has indicated, moreover, that social networks determine economic action, particularly where search and deliberation are important or complex. To manage uncertainty, we form exchange relationships, the study of which typically tracks information flow within a network to determine who interacts with whom and who sits at key information nodes. Once we understand network theory, we can begin to exploit our own linkages to our competitive advantage and, by identifying and rectifying gaps in the network, turn social capital into financial capital for the benefit of the firm.

How might such network analysis apply to B2B marketers? At the firm level, data comprising the flow of materials or cash can indicate opinion leaders and lead users who affect the adoption of an innovation. Although we do not know the extent to which a B2B marketer can influence buyer behavior through the web and social media, we can build on the social network research tradition to better understand how B2B firms can effectively use social media to achieve their goals.

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Keywords: marketing, marketing plans, social networks, social media, communications

Suggested Citation

Spekman, Robert E. and Dotson, Eliane, Using Social Media in the B2b Context. Darden Case No. UVA-M-0778, Available at SSRN:

Robert E. Spekman (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4860 (Phone)


Eliane Dotson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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