An exploration of B2B social media practices in an era of digital transformation: the case of the pharmaceutical industry in Thailand
Jouan de Kervenoael, Ronan and Chatlada , Ratana and Schwob, Alexandre and Toral, İnci (2016) An exploration of B2B social media practices in an era of digital transformation: the case of the pharmaceutical industry in Thailand. In: 23rd International Conference on Recent Advances In Retailing And Services Science, Edinburgh, Scotland
Research suggests that humans’ experiences have been significantly impacted by the digitisation of communication technologies (Castell, 2001). In this digital context, marketing practices in the B2B sector have shifted towards leveraging new technologies (Goggin, 2012) and new platforms such as social media. While some studies support the view that digitalisation processes have largely produced positive impacts, in turn creating marketing opportunities especially in emerging growing markets such as Thailand (Ansari and Phillips, 2011; Gross, 2014); others point to the associated tensions that arise from that particular digital environment where technology demands challenge firms’ traditional frames of reference, stability and resources, thus threatening current strategies (Andriessen et al, 2011; Santos and Eisenhardt, 2009). Tension is defined as “clash of ideas or principles or actions and… the discomfort that may arise as a result” (Stohl et al.; 2001 pp.353, 354). As such, leveraging the power of social media in B2B (Pharmaceutical sector) is somehow under investigated especially in the context where strong legal constraints are present (Ventrataram and Nagatode, 2014; Whalen, 2012; Liu, 2011). The aim of this study is to explore how and to what extent pharmaceutical stakeholders (firm, physician and pharmacist) are starting to leverage the power of social media communication. Sale force management and social media literature is utilized together with literature on communication and innovation management in B2B. Findings from 23 in depth interviews (6 physicians, 7 pharmacists and 10 managers from a leading global pharmaceutical firm) are analysed. Themes such as content acceptance, self-efficacy, control, managerial tensions, technical issue (security and privacy) and legislation impact are found to be relevant. In addition, cultural factors appear to also mediate engagement by stakeholders. Theoretical implication of social media communication in B2B sector under strong and evolving legislative conditions are discussed together with the emerging managerial implications for the pharmaceutical industry of digital transformation in an era of accelerated culture.
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