Dissertation: Harness the power of social media through appropriate strategies – engagement is a key performance indicator

Fang Fang Li
The explosive growth of social media during the last decade has dramatically changed the dynamics of business-customer interactions. Yet relatively few firms have properly strategized their social media appearance and involvement, says Fang Fang Li, who will publicly defend her doctoral dissertation at the University of Vaasa on Wednesday 18th May.

According to Li's dissertation, for most companies, the ongoing challenge is not to initiate social media campaigns, but to combine social media with their marketing strategy to engage customers and create values.

Fang Fang Li explores the concept of social media marketing strategy and identifies four social media marketing strategies. These are social commerce strategy, social content strategy, social monitoring strategy, and social CRM strategy, representing different social media marketing objectives and increasing levels of strategic maturity.

Engagement measures the success of an interaction

The study suggests that customer engagement can be regarded as a desirable marketing performance metric, as it reflects the outcome of connectedness and interaction on social media.

 Firms can benefit from such customer engagement in both tangible and intangible ways. On the one hand, they can generate higher revenues and profits and increase market share; on the other hand, they can benefit intangibly by receiving feedback or new ideas to help improve a product or service.

Implementing social media strategies requires proper resources and capabilities

Fang Fang Li's research shows that successful implementation of social media strategies requires adequate resources and capacity.

– Apart from the content creation and dissemination capabilities, firms should have the ability to listen and respond to social media conversations and the capacity to collect and analyse social media data, says Fang Fang Li.

 However, the challenges may occur in data integration relating to how companies link the massive social media data on customer activities to other data sources.

Cultural value greatly affects both firms’ social media marketing strategies and consumers’ attitudes and behaviours on social media

This study suggests firms and marketers understand social media’s culture-bound nature and utilize social media with a global vision.

Through the comparative study of social media marketing strategies development process in Finnish firms and Chinese firms, the result shows cultural differences in firms from two culturally distinctive countries, reflecting different ways of decision-making.

For instance, compared with Finnish firms, the Chinese firms show a more unequally distributed power in decision-makings relating to social media content delivery and problem solving.

The study also applied different cultural dimensions to examine how customer engagement differs toward different social media content in different cultural contexts. This is particularly applicable for international marketing managers in engaging global customers. For instance, the results indicate that the negative social media comments are likely to have a stronger negative impact on customer engagement behaviour in high uncertainty avoidance cultures (i.e., highly changes resistant and low risk taking) when compared with low uncertainty avoidance cultures.

Fang Fang Li's doctoral thesis consists of four articles in which she used both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Her research includes interviews with 15 business leaders in China, Finland and Sweden. In addition, two separate surveys have been conducted. The first involved 52 marketing executives from the United States and the second 43 social media marketing researchers from different countries.

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Fang Fang Li’s doctoral dissertation “The integration of social media and marketing strategy: tactics, strategy, and culture” will be held on Wednesday 18th May at 14:00 at the University of Vaasa, auditorium Nissi.

Participation in the event is also possible online: https://uwasa.zoom.us/j/63824679737?pwd=L0hDMFk0NGgvNHUvZVZtclpZZHVEZz09 Password: 350536

Professor Edwin J. Nijssen (Eindhoven University of Technology) will act as an opponent and Professor Peter Gabrielsson as a custos.

Doctoral dissertation

Li, Fang Fang (2022) The integration of social media and marketing strategy: tactics, strategy, and culture. Acta Wasaensia 485. Väitöskirja/ Doctoral dissertation. Vaasan yliopisto / University of Vaasa.

Publication pdf: https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-395-020-7

Further information

Fang Fang Li, tel +358 451185355; email: fang.fang.li@uwasa.fi

Fang Fang was born in Zhejiang, China in 1986. Currently, she lives in Vaasa with her family. She has a Master’s degree in business administration from Kalmar University (Sweden) in 2008 and a Master’s degree in international marketing from Halmstad University (Sweden) in 2009.



Li, Fang Fang (2022) The integration of social media and marketing strategy: tactics, strategy, and culture. Acta Wasaensia 485. Väitöskirja/ Doctoral dissertation. Vaasan yliopisto / University of Vaasa

Publication pdf: https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-395-020-7

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