Having been asked by many different businesses if social media can enhance business performance, last year a colleague and I decided to see if this was true. So we chose an industry that we are both interested in – the wine industry and a platform that we felt was under researched – LinkedIn and had a look. Here’s what we found.
LinkedIn activity does create value for wine industry professionals through their participation. This participation can be through posing and answering specific questions, sharing industry trends and news, interacting with others on a regular basis and building both personal and firm brand reputation. We saw multiple examples of both reciprocity and also altruism within the professional wine groups we investigated. Value was created through both transactional relationships – short exchanges that resulted in new information or a new contacts or an answer to a specific question over viticulture issues or distributor requests after which the parties disengaged and also developing longer term relationships in which trust was incrementally developed. This finding contradicts much of the established thinking that only longer term relationships will provide real value between businesses. Our evidence demonstrated new contracts and bottom line impact occurring in transactional relationships as well as the longer relationship types. Business performance enhancement was also achieved through collaborative problem solving between LinkedIn group members.
The practical takeaways from this for businesses deciding whether to invest time and energy in LinkedIn groups are:
- Be prepared to participate regularly in groups to make contacts
- Sharing information will increase trust
- Groups can enhance both an individual’s brand, e.g. their own credibility in an industry as well as that of the brand they are employed by
- Short term ‘in and out’ relationships can be beneficial but be honest about it
Here is our model, recently published in Industrial Marketing Management.
If you’d like a copy of the full paper either search on Google scholar for, Quinton, S. and Wilson D. (2016). Tensions and ties in social media networks: Towards a model of understanding business relationship development and performance enhancement through the use of LinkedIn, Industrial Marketing Management, 54, pp.15-24. or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org