The digital dilemma: An investigation into social media marketing within organisations


Hanlon, Annmarie 2019. The digital dilemma: An investigation into social media marketing within organisations. Thesis
AuthorsHanlon, Annmarie
Qualification namePhD

This thesis investigates different application of social media marketing within organisations and identifies critical success factors resulting in a strategic social media application framework for organisations. The context of this research is the organisational application of social media and whilst social media networks have been present since 1997, the utilisation of social media by individuals has been examined by many scholars. However its application to organisations remains an area requiring further research. Thus, to understand differences in social media marketing within organisations, this thesis has problematised the notion of generational cohorts and the presence or absence of formal marketing qualifications.Following a pragmatist epistemology and ontology, this study has sought warranted assertions within a mixed-methods framework. An explanatory mixed-methods sequential design approach was adopted and for Research Phase One, an online survey within a set of closed online digital marketing groups was administered, to investigate the purposes of social media usage and affordances gained. This provided data from 448 respondents representing a variety of organisations, using social media at work. The second research phase was qualitative semi-structured interviews with participants drawn from Research Phase One, which involved 26 semi-structured mixed-mode interviews, based on the participant’s availability and location. The purpose of the semi-structured interviews was to explore critical issues raised in the online survey.The thesis is informed by the construct of affordances – which involve opportunities for action and positive affordances provide benefits. These were harnessed to delineate the benefits of social media, within an organisational context. This work provides original contributions to knowledge: The empirical research provides evidence of differences in social media marketing application between generational cohorts and those with and without formal marketing qualifications. There were statistically significant differences in the application of customer service, measuring results and managing social media interaction.The research found that there was no classification for different types of social media managers. Furthermore, digital skills gaps were identified as digital natives were more likely to have formal marketing qualifications than digital immigrants. Thus following the pragmatic principle, working typologies were presented for those using social media in organisations to better frame training and social media management. The critical success factors within organisations were justifiably warranted which asserted social media affordances for organisations: brand management, customer segmentation, customer service, interaction (engagement), entertainment, remuneration (offers), and sales cycle (testimonies and reviews). Two critical factors were confirmed: clear strategy and vision for social media management, and measure results from social media. These social media affordances were applied at varying levels of maturity and this led to the development of social media affordances maturity scale, that is grounded in a pragmatist epistemology bringing utility and understanding for organisations. This thesis identifies differences in social media marketing within organisations and in accordance with its aim, ascertains the critical success factors and develops frameworks for social media application in organisations.

Keywordssocial media in organisations; social media marketing; marketing; digital natives; social media application; pragmatism; pragmatic principle; marketing qualifications; frameworks; thematic map; GRAMMS; mixed methods; maturity scale
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)hdl:10545/623636
File Access Level
File Access Level
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Mar 2019, 16:40
Publication dates18 Mar 2019

The author of this thesis (including any appendices or schedules to this thesis) owns any copyright in it (the ‘copyright’). The author has given the University of Derby certain rights to use such copyright for administration purposes only. Copies of this thesis, either in full or in extracts, and whether in hard or electronic copy, may be made only in accordance with the copyright, designs and patents act 1988 (as amended) and regulations issued under it or, where appropriate, in accordance with licensing agreements which the University of Derby has from time to time. This page must form part of any such copies made. The ownership of certain copyright, patents, designs, trademarks and other intellectual property (the ‘intellectual property’) and any reproductions of copyright works in the thesis, for example figures, charts and tables (‘reproductions’), which may be described in this thesis, may not be owned by the author and may be owned by third parties. Such intellectual property and reproductions cannot and must not be made available for use without written permission of the owner(s) of the relevant intellectual property and/or reproductions. Further information on the conditions under disclosure, publication and commercialisation of this thesis, the copyright and any intellectual property rights and/or reproductions described in it may be made only in accordance with the copyright, designs and patents act 1988 (as amended) and regulations issued under it or, where appropriate, in accordance with licensing agreements which the University of Derby holds.

ContributorsLongbottom, David (Advisor) and Lawson, Alison (Advisor)
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