Enabling entrepreneurs to perform more efficient market research by exploiting social media

Frenken, R.R.M. (2013) Enabling entrepreneurs to perform more efficient market research by exploiting social media.

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Abstract:Objectives: The purpose of this thesis was to uncover how entrepreneurs could use social media to conduct market research, and specifically how the incubator VentureLab Twente could help entrepreneurs in this process. To unravel this topic the current situation of the entrepreneurs on their entrepreneurial search behaviors was assessed both offline and online and their current social media usage was assessed. Next the obstacles that they faced while using social media was analyzed and finally the possible ways to use social media for market research (affordances) that where constructed in the theoretical framework were discussed with the entrepreneurs to ascertain which affordances they found useful. Design: This thesis is based on fourteen interviews with entrepreneurs from VentureLab Twente and three interviews with entrepreneurs from an American business incubator. These interviews focused on the specific idea the entrepreneurs were working on and what their experiences were. The semi-structured interviews are based on the search behaviors and techniques, social media categories, social media affordances and possible obstacles that are constructed in the theory, and these are also the themes that have been used during the analysis. This analysis has been done by transcribing the interviews, after which all transcripts have been coded by two people and analyzed using the generic analytic cycle. The results have been displayed using data matrices. Results: The results showed that most entrepreneurs do exhibit the entrepreneurial search behaviors as described by Dyer et al. (2008) in an offline context, but in the online context only the observing behavior was clearly used. Entrepreneurs also rarely use social media, and when they do, they mainly use it to profile themselves or their business and sometimes exhibit ‘observing’ behavior. The biggest obstacles that the entrepreneurs see in using social media for market research purposes are ‘image’, ‘privacy’, ‘industry or branch’, ‘time’ and ‘knowledge’ related obstacles. It is concluded that most of these obstacles could be traced back to the fact that entrepreneurs often did not know enough about which applications are available, what their functionalities are and what affordances they could offer. Finally we used the constructed framework of which affordances and market research methods would be applicable in which social media applications to discuss with this with the entrepreneurs. This led to the identification of a number of market research techniques for each search behavior, and the possible social media applications and affordances for them as they have been deemed useful and applicable by the entrepreneurs. The data led us to propose the use of the ‘two factor theory’ by Herzberg (1964) in order to help entrepreneurs use social media, for example by organizing workshops where first the obstacles are removed, and then the affordances that social media applications can offer are introduced and explained. Value: The information gathered from this research can enable VentureLab Twente to efficiently help entrepreneurs to use social media to conduct market research. The two things that have to be done are to take away the obstacles that have been identified and discussed, and add motivation to use these social media by explaining the affordances that the different social media applications have to offer. The constructed framework of search behaviors, market research methods and the matching social media applications can be used to develop different workshops for the different affordances of social media. This research can also help individual entrepreneurs to discover the possibilities of social media and to conduct efficient market research. Finally this research can be the starting point for further research to generalize the applicability of social media to conduct market research.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration BSc (56834)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/63468
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