Startups and Social Media Marketing: A Qualitative Study of B2B Tech Startups

Fredrik Oscar Hanna & Rolf Bender Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Social media is a global phenomenon which has been embraced by individuals and companies alike. Despite the recognized organizational benefits of social media adoption, the research area within a B2B domain is underdeveloped. The purpose of this thesis is to further the understanding of how B2B tech startups in practice work with social media as a marketing tool. Specifically, the researchers aim to explore how B2B tech startups strategically work with social media marketing, for which purposes, and which decision-making processes that influence how social media marketing is executed. To the authors’ knowledge, no studies have yet investigated B2B social media marketing in a startup context. Empirical data has been collected through six in-depth interviews with respondents from three B2B tech startups, with two participants from each. Thereafter, a thematic analysis has been conducted. No generalizable social media marketing strategy can be identified for B2B tech startups. Although there appears to be differences in regards to most general dimensions, they all embrace a modern social media marketing culture, which is characterized by flexibility, openness and risk taking. Furthermore, it is found that the B2B tech startups pursue several of the theoretically supported objectives for engaging in social media marketing. Hence, they utilize social media for the “right” reasons. The objectives include e.g. brand awareness, enhancing trust, relationship management, market sensing and lead generation. Finally, it is found that decision makers primarily combine experience and rationality when making choices in regards to social media marketing, which is known as dual processing. Additional insights have also been uncovered. The B2B tech startups utilize a multiplatform approach, there is a general lack of formalization, and the sample emphasize the benefits of social selling and communicating through personal profiles. In terms of contributions, the research primarily serves as a foundation for subsequent research about social media marketing in a startup setting. The thesis also provides practitioners with valuable insights of the explored research areas

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages242
SupervisorsSøren Henning Jensen