Dissertation: The Impact of Social Media on Marketing Strategy

Academics insist that Marketing is ‘in crisis’, or even ‘broken’. If so, what role can Social Media play in reversing this decline?

At the bottom of this page, visitors can download the full dissertation that the Author produced whilst studying for his MSc in eMarketing in 2009-11. Since March 2012, there have been over 1,520 downloads recorded from this page alone. The same paper is also posted on www.academia.edu from which over 1,730 downloads have been made along with over 28,000 ‘views’. Alternatively, you can also download an abbreviated form of the dissertation which is in the form of a slidedeck.

The impact of social media on marketing strategyThis dissertation topic was chosen because then as now, social media were dominating discussion in both Marketing and life in general. They present both challenges and opportunities to organisations. For instance, they have brought about a revolution in how consumers communicate with each other and with organisations – and this has impacted on businesses and how they in turn communicate with their customers.

But Social Media have also affected companies in more subtler but no less important ways, such as forcing them to be more transparent and accountable. This revolution of sorts in business has occurred when Marketing has also been undergoing its own trials and tribulations. Many academics state that it is in ‘decline’, in ‘crisis’, or even ‘dead in the water’. Assuming that is the case, how are Social Media impacting Marketing? This dissertation is intended to answer this question. The author argues that the true value of this research lies in the literature review and its accompanying conceptual framework which proposes that whilst Marketing is in decline, Social Media may offer a way of reversing this decline.

Strategy and marketing strategy are examined first, before the apparent decline in Marketing is explored. The desk research ends with an examination of the areas that social media have impacted on the organisation, and in particular on Marketing. There then follows interviews with Marketing or Social Media representatives from 7 top companies in the UK – British Gas, Dell, first direct, Nokia, Moneysupermarket.com, Birds’ Eye Igloo, and M&S. The conclusion of the research is that whilst there is concensus in some areas between academics and marketers, there is a disconnect in others. Although it is agreed that Social Media are having an impact, practitioners see Social Media in a more tactical sense, whilst academics see them having a broader, strategic impact and role. So the effects are seen as having an evolutionary effect by practitioners rather than the revolutionary one suggested by academics.

This dissertation runs to over 100 pages (almost 30,000 words), and that does not include the many Appendices. The paper is divided into main sections of Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Findings, Discussion, and Conclusion.

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