Integration of Successful Customer Engagement for SMEs on Social Media




Social Media, Facebook, Customer Engagement, SME, User Interaction, Business Communication


Customer engagement (CE) is a widely known and accepted conceptual approach to describing the engagement and interactions of social media users with brand pages. Research activities focus on the influencing factors and effects of CE on various platforms, above all, Facebook. The focus is mainly on the corporate presence of large corporations or specific industries. Pages of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), as the backbone of the global economy, are rarely the starting point for research. Therefore, the question arises as to how SMEs need to design their social media communication to generate a high level of customer engagement on social media. Consequently, this study aims to expand previous research findings on successful CE in relation to SMEs and derive recommendations for action. For this purpose, Facebook users and company representatives were interviewed using semi-structured qualitative interviews. The in-depth evaluation of the interview data was carried out using a qualitative content analysis based on a deductive-inductive coding procedure. As a result, six categories with various sub-categories that constituted relevant influencing factors for the participants and promoted engagement were identified. These are Management, the structure of the presence, general aspects of use, motives, content, reaction, and finally, process and background knowledge.

Users expect a website to provide information, entertainment, added value, a personal connection, and the opportunity to communicate. SMEs already have extensive expertise in social media marketing but perceive topic acquisition and a lack of resources as a challenge. They all emphasise the relevance of images, product and company-related topics, and an authentic, informal, understandable communication style with humour. Posts should also appear regularly, be up-to-date and short, and have correct spelling and emojis. Finally, questions, prompts and links are engagement drivers. The added value of this study lies in the deepening of the CE concept in relation to the research gap on SMEs. In addition, the results are discussed regarding their practical implications for SMEs to successfully design their presence on social media.

Author Biography

Malte Wattenberg, Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Malte Wattenberg is research assistant at the "Denkfabrik Digitalisierte Arbeitswelt" at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Germany. His work and research focus in particular on the requirements of digital transformation in companies as well as digital business models and social media communication.