ISSN 1842-4562
Member of DOAJ

Does (Company) Size Matter? Differences in Social Media Usage for Business Purposes



social media, company size, social network sites, SNS, SMEs


Ninety-nine percent of all companies in the European Union (E.U.) are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Together, they provide employment for more than half of the European workforce. In its digital Agenda communications and JRC reports, the E.U. expressed high hopes regarding the expected positive impact of social media on employment, social inclusion and economic growth. These observations imply that the E.U. needs to focus on social media adoption if it wants to attain its targets as defined in the Europe 2020 strategy. A study by the International Data Corporation revealed a growing acceptance of social media in SMEs. (Bonagura, 2013) The question addressed in this dissertation is whether company size alters the nature and intensity of the adoption process. To this end an online survey was distributed in a knowledge-sharing network, yielding 182 responses, a 21 % response rate. Our survey covered four areas, which a McKinsey report (2012) identified as holding much potential for value creation, namely (1) internal communication, (2) external communication, (3) knowledge sharing and (4) recruitment. The analysis of our data showed that Social Network Sites (SNS) like Facebook or Linkedin are the most popular platforms and are mostly used to communicate with external stakeholders. Statistical significant differences related to company size were mainly found with regard to the use of internal social media, which are mostly adopted in large enterprises. A second interesting finding is that both SMEs and larger companies reported important benefits related to the adoption of social media. To conclude, a number of factors were identified as hampering the adoption process. All organizations seem to be in need of both tangible (money) and intangible (time, knowledge, skills) resources. Blocking access to social media seems to be the only challenge significantly more prevalent in large enterprises.