Latest Entries »

social media cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study

Background

 

Pick, Sarkar and Rosales (2019) performed a socioeconomic study on technological levels for 164 counties in the United States and found disparities in social media usage between various demographic populations for counties including cities, towns, and rural areas.  It is widely believed that using the Internet to engage in social media networking is expanding (Buratti, Parola, & Satta, 2018).  The importance of including technology innovation in business strategy underscores the need for training to remain current and competitive (Ilona, Melmusi, & Pratiwi, 2019).  The use of this technological innovation to fill social, economic, demographic and geographic gaps, has become a point of interest to scholar practitioners and policymakers in various disciplines (Huang, Yang, & Lee, 2017; Mukherjee & Hollenbaugh, 2019).  Current studies focused on benefits to professional users indicated instruction to be a key factor (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019; Park, Sung, & Im, 2017).  Literature is being added to uncover the needs of small business owners experiencing a new digital divide in learning social media marketing techniques and to provide instructional guidelines for digital marketing strategies (Huggins, & Cunningham, 2019).

Al-khinji, Chen, and  Eldabi (2019) attempted to define social media marketing and instructional needs they say were due to lack of resources, such as funding, time constraints, potentially negative perceptions, and noted other barriers in technology adoption.  When researching knowledge acquisition,  Jumin, Ijab, and Zaman (2017) were able to assist B40 social entrepreneurs reach their customers more effectively by using high end metrics such as social media analytics; intended to support skill, networked knowledge, and social entrepreneurship.  It is important to note, B40 entrepreneurs showed more motivation to implement and use social media tools in less developed geographical locations of the country.

Sharma and Singla (2017) underscored the relevance of this research noting content for social media marketing is a new domain calling for further research and efforts to more clearly define what kind of digital divide actually exists. Their study clarified a need for learning strategies and supported the notion that the real digital divide is related to information and access to knowledge-building resources to effectively launch and maintain successful social media campaigns.

Huang et al. (2017) revealed similar trends, finding small and medium enterprises may have difficulty competing with major businesses if not providing unique value to customers.  Their research supports the premise that entrepreneurs are facing a different set of challenges to compete.  They insisted the domain calls for an analysis of learning requirements in digital marketing strategy and clarified the need for more innovative, and perhaps collaborative, methods of learning to ensure further development of digital marketing knowledge.

Park et al. (2017) supported the premise that digital marketing practices were vital for small business survival.  They clarified this need by exposing a gap in knowledge of use, skill level, and access to instruction for small business owners attempting to create successful social media campaigns.  Richmond, Rader, and Lanier (2017) offered similar evidence of a new digital divide as the reason more knowledge was needed by small business owners.  They portended that finding out how to access training and resources to obtain information and knowledge needed to skillfully execute a social media campaign was determining where future research was deemed essential.

In addition, Morah and Omojola (2018) performed a study on how the use of social media platforms support growth in small and medium scale enterprises (SME’s) using the diffusion of innovations and technology acceptance models, and descriptive survey research.  They claimed their outcomes showed significance in the development of entrepreneurship and increased visibility, while many business owners seemed to be oblivious to their value or needed more instruction to master digital marketing skills.  And finally to clarify the question of access, Etlinger (2017) revealed not only a degree of bandwidth or access issues, but took a deeper look at the knowledge entrepreneurs have in digital marketing strategy, including their ability to read analytics.  This supports the need for more information and training resources that may help entrepreneurs endeavoring to compete in the global economy.

 

Problem Statement

Small business owners who need to know digital marketing techniques to compete in today’s business world may lack the skills  necessary to implement such techniques; impeding the launching and maintaining of social media campaigns, thus hindering them from reaching potential customers (Bhimani, Mention, & Barlatier, 2018; Ishak et al., 2018; Jumin et al., 2017; Sharma, & Singla, 2017; Thakur, & Hale, 2017).  Fortin and Chen (2017) examined existing models for marketing instruction they deem are unsustainable due to new marketing processes in the information age that small business owners may not have adopted, yet.  Gaur and Anshu (2018) contend the value of social media as opportunistic for businesses and proclaimed further research is crucial to address instructional challenges in social media campaign marketing for entrepreneurs.

The problem is that there is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn necessary skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  There is a gap in the literature between how small business owners receive instruction that translates to skills needed to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This need is underscored by Richmond et al. (2017) who claimed rural small business owners experience a new digital divide pointing to a lack of skills in online marketing strategies, and calling for needed instruction rather than lacking access to the Internet.

 

Purpose

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn skills required to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  Kapoor et al. (2018) reviewed evidences and outlined notable advances when highlighting the evolution of social media research, where evidence found developing markets have their own set of issues, which underscored the need for specific instruction when attempting social media marketing.  This instructional gap is supported by Ilavarasan, Kar, and Gupta (2018) who found emerging markets face different challenges, that point to a need for more instruction when learning to conduct social media campaigns.

 

Research Questions

The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.

  1. What are small business owners’ instructional needs in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?
  2. What are small business owners’ instructional experiences in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?

 

Conceptual Framework

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the instructional needs of  small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This research requires a conceptual framework which involves understanding the dissemination of a new innovation by identifying instructional needs of small business owners learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.  Taiwo and Downe (2013) provided validity, which supported innovation adoption in the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model, which has been derived from previous seminal research such as; Social Cognitive Theory, Technology Acceptance Model, Innovation Diffusion Theory, and others.  Additionally, the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) will be employed in this study to align new developments with future needs to improve instruction for the technological innovation of digital marketing.  This research will explore innovative approaches to instruction that converge with the need to help define better ways to teach how to leverage social networks and networked knowledge complimented by technology tools (Goldie, 2016).

 

Nature of Study

A basic qualitative approach will be used to investigate the instructional needs of  small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain  social media marketing campaigns.  Qualitative research is rooted in the methodology of seeking how people understand and interpret the world around them (Ravitch & Carl, 2016). According to Merriam (2009) basic qualitative studies are used to understand how people interpret experiences, construct their worlds, and the meaning behind their experiences.  This basic qualitative approach will be used to gain an understanding of the instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.

 

Definitions

 

Social: is defined by Al-khinji et al. (2019) as being “devoted to, pertaining to or characterized by the friendly relationship or companionship” (Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy, & Silvestre, 2011; Mangold & Faulds, 2009).

Media: refers to mediums used to reach large audiences, such as radio, television, print (Kietzmann et al., 2011; Reuben, 2008).

Social Media: was defined as Internet-based technological applications focused on promotion of creative artifacts and the re-use of updated user-generated content that is exchanged in the process of making new connections between the content and the users who have created it (Xu & Zhang, 2013).

Social Media: was re-defined by Kapoor et al. (2018) as being “made up of various user-driven platforms that facilitate diffusion of compelling content, dialogue creation, and communication to a broader audience (p. 537).”  Auxier (2012) added social media as a larger theme was not easy to define, due to the number of platforms that targeted a diversity of people and purposes.

User Generated Content: shared on social media networks is content “created by the people and for the people, and provides an environment that is conducive for interactions and networking to occur at different levels…for instance, personal, professional, business, marketing, political, and societal” (Kapoor et al., 2018, p. 537).

Social Media Networks: are considered to be a phenomenon for global markets with over two-thirds of the world population of Internet users visiting social networking or blogging sites, and accounting for a majority of time spent on the Internet with a minimum of 60% active social media users (Nielsen, 2016).

Social Media Marketing: is the delivery of information for marketing via social media platforms, significantly recognized as one of the best methods to promote products and services (Hilal, 2018).  Kim and Ko (2012) described the purpose of social media marketing as communication used to market resulting in desired brand equity and a positive impact on purchasing decisions.

Social Media Strategy:  is a defined marketing plan for business that states specific objectives procedures, target audience, and metrics to measure the outcome of social media campaigns (Ng, Wang, & Yu, 2013).

Digital Divide: is considered to be digital inequality for rural, as opposed to urban users of technology in the United States of America (Kruger & Gilroy, 2013).

Innovation: is  a term used to describe the way something is done, or an idea which is considered new by individuals or society (Lundblad, 2003).  Pichlak (2016) said it is making or adopting new things, such as products, ideas, programs, services, technology, policies, new systems of administration, or structure.

Small Business: according to local, state, and national governments, as well as within the industry, has a definition that is continuing to evolve (Abitbol & Rook, 2020), however the Small Business Administration limits small businesses as having less than 500 employees, and microenterprises as having 10 employees or less with limited access to funding (Anastasia, 2015).  

Assumptions

 

Small business owners have demonstrated the need for instruction is a meaningful assumption for this study because, it is not certain how they learn or to what level they have accessed knowledge (Pechenkina & Aeschliman, 2017).  There has been a critical assumption that consumers are passively receiving information via marketing and advertisements, however with the advent of Web 4.0, that paradigm has shifted to consumers becoming active participants seeking out new information about products and services when making purchasing decisions (Hassan, 2018).

Another reason these assumptions are necessary in the context of this study is due to social media becoming a mainstream communication channel which has disrupted traditional media outlets (Muresan & Sinuraya, 2018).  Auxier (2012) confirmed evidence that not many have knowledge about what kind of affect social media marketing has on brands or how relationships made on social platforms influence values in a positive, or negative way.

Lastly, it is assumed that social media has emerged as a dominant form of communication and digital means of marketing products and services, while only 67% of users on the Internet actively engage in social media, and there are few who are knowledgeable about how digital marketing actually affects their brand, or how social media relationships support marketing efforts, with positive word of mouth advertising (Mangold & Faulds, 2009; Mousazadeh, Eva, & Akbarzadeh, 2018).

 

Scope and Delimitations

The problem calls for a need to understand what different aspects of instruction small business owners require in order to learn necessary skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  The focus of this study will provide evidence of economic sustainability achieved by small business owners acquiring the needed skills to be successful in social media marketing.  The boundaries identified in this study are a specifically targeted population in Newton County, Arkansas, a tourist-destination, and rural region of the United States, zooming in on small businesses with less than five employees.  Businesses with more than five employees were not included, nor were businesses that did not use social media marketing.  Instructional needs will be identified and an investigation of digital marketing strategies evaluated, without crossing into more narrowly-defined disciplines where analytics and the ability to translate their meaning are represented.

Theoretical alignment is limited to understanding the adoption and utilization of an innovation to achieve a defined objective, and conceptual framework that relates best to the area investigated consist of social media marketing for small businesses, instructional needs, experiences, perceptions, and the rate of adoption of an innovation; without measuring skill level or ability to read analytical data.  Prior research indicated a gap in academic studies that recommend best practices for selecting and using analytical tools (Hamid, 2020).  As for potential transferability, it might be warranted to look into what others have learned in urban regions where they offer more networking in the way of meet-ups and small business incubators to present the latest in digital marketing tactics to support the growth of small businesses (Morah & Omojola, 2018).  The results of this study may inform future research to help identify instructional needs of entrepreneurs learning social media marketing.

 

Limitations

The methodology used for this study involves open-ended interviews with 12-18 small business owners by phone call, or Skype/Zoom.  Interviews will be scheduled with entrepreneurs actively engaged in social media campaigns during the period of time the study takes place.  Primary sources for information and original data will be derived first hand from interviews with participants, while secondary sources including pertinent data will be culled from research articles, reports and conference proceedings that were published in peer reviewed journals, on governmental and formal survey websites.  There are limitations involved in the small number of participants available to perform this research, because the scope of the study is focused on a rural area with a limited number of entrepreneurs who fit the criteria of managing social media marketing for their business.

Due to the small number of participants having a negative effect on the transferability of this study, this outcome could direct the potential to explore an urban setting where greater numbers of entrepreneurs are currently using methods that work; looking at how they are participating in learning, and how innovations are accepted as a new way of marketing by digital means, versus print and broadcast analog model of the past.  Dependability in finding what knowledge is gained will be accomplished by learning how small business owners use social media to market their companies, what innovative uses they may have discovered that create successful social marketing campaigns to reach customers, and how learning technique may be improved upon to support small business marketing education.

Limitations point to an instructional need that exists without knowing how they currently learn, in order to identify how to develop better training opportunities.  In lieu of gathering large amounts of data from a big dataset, this type of inquiry is intended to provide in-depth feedback to allow for an exhaustive means to analyze data, therefore producing a clearer picture of learning perceptions and their experiences.  Triangulation will serve to make the findings reliable by checking the answers via multiple sources and comparing outcomes; using follow up interviews as necessary.  Since the business owners are the only source of data, there could be limitations in having other sources of information, such as artifacts calling for content analysis, to allow for additional perceptions and realities to be considered.

Personal bias is apparent in my background as a social media educator and consultant.  It is imperative for me to keep personal opinions out of the research, allowing for each interview participant to divulge experiences and perceptions they have to report for this study. I have to practice professional distancing from the participants who are involved in the study.  Equally important to note is the potential for bias on the part of the business owners due to their personal position in the community, company or industry bias, or preconceived bias about the subject matter, research being performed, or the researcher conducting the study.

 

Significance

Park et al. (2017) suggested business owner’s opinions and attitudes affect the overall diffusion of innovative digital marketing strategies.  Being concerned about how to best instruct digital marketing strategy to help small business owners reach potential customers effectively has been proven to be crucial for business sustainability and has contributed to a healthy local economy (Bhimani et al., 2018).

Small business owners need to be taught current ways to learn, and use this innovation effectively to launch and maintain successful social media campaigns (Fortin & Chen, 2017).  Practical application for this research is to further the development of professional practice for small business owners and involves having a clearer picture of what types of instruction they need to learn social media marketing.

 

Summary and Transition

In summary, the background presented above provides research related to the discipline of instruction in social media for small businesses and describes what future research is warranted.  To reiterate; the problem is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn necessary skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  The research questions are intended to help understand the instructional needs and experiences of small business owners learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.

In the conceptual framework section, we reviewed factors and variables to be considered, defining categories by size of business, education level, instructional resources and concepts that determine failure or success for small business owners competing in a global economy.  The nature of this study is qualitative in an effort to gain better understanding of the instructional needs of small business owners learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.  In this chapter we have defined the constructs to be explored, exposed assumptions about the need for instruction, queried about how small business owners learn social media, and lastly explored perceptions about the importance of digital marketing for small businesses.

This introductory chapter also defined the scope of the study, which is focused on instructional needs of small business owners learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  Additionally, the location of the study, population, skills needed for digital marketing, and size of businesses that are actively involved in social media campaigns were reviewed.  Limits of theoretical underpinning, as well as conceptual framework categories and concepts were noted.  The transferability of the intended research as to whether it may generalize to larger urban environments with similar need for instruction to inform future studies, was also considered.  Limitations in the chosen methodology, and potential bias of the researcher as well as participants were disclosed.  Dependability of outcomes, and the need for triangulation to ensure reliability of the findings was discussed.  Then, we reviewed the significance of the outcomes, pointing to a need for instruction as the identified gap in research, which is intended to help educators know how to offer new ways for students to learn, and provide practical solutions for future practice.

The following exhaustive literature review will synthesize studies with regard to the related constructs and methodology chosen, in alignment with the scope of the study.  A myriad of researchers in the domain of education, technology, and business are highlighted; and strengths and weaknesses of their approaches to this issue are explored.  The phenomena under investigation will be reviewed in an effort to describe what is currently known, what may be controversial, and what still needs further research.  The following literature review will look at other studies related to our research questions to support the rationale for the approach selected for this study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Introduction

Instruction for small business is in need of upgrades due to marketing practices in the digital age involving new social media tools and resources (Kapoor et al., 2018).  There are questions about what area of discipline would be appropriate to address would best alignment instructional needs of entrepreneurs (Ilavarasan et al., 2018).  There are no shortages of topics to learn within a huge variety of narrowly-defined subject matter, where agencies have specialized in target segments within the discipline of digital marketing (Al-khinji et al., 2019).  Educators are currently faced with the issue of re-defining how to teach marketing strategies, while attempting to remaining current in digital marketing trends that are always changing (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019).  While some social media instruction had been added to curriculum, educators agreed more knowledge is warranted.  Education innovation researchers (Jordan & Lande, 2016; Rogers, 1995; Siemens, 2008) reminded that it is vital to ask questions about how instruction produces different results when applying technology.

The problem is that there is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns (Fortin & Chen, 2017; Gaur & Anshu, 2018; Richmond et al., 2017).  The purpose of this study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  It is important to acknowledge evidence for a new digital divide that does not involve a lack in access for small business owners, but instead is based on the level of knowledge in the use of digital technology to market products and services (Richmond et al., 2017).

Current literature presented in this review provided confirming evidence that is relevant to small business owners taking on various challenges in accessing instruction for learning social media strategies to market their products and services (Bhimani et al., 2018; Ishak et al., 2018; Jumin et al., 2017; Sharma & Singla, 2017; Thakur & Hale, 2017).  Scholars and practitioners have previously examined what methods exist for knowledge acquisition, documenting experiences and perceptions of entrepreneurs to ascertain what instructional needs were not being met (Fortin & Chen, 2017; Gaur & Anshu, 2018; Richmond et al., 2017).

The introduction of this chapter includes a brief explanation of the literature search strategy used for this research; listing databases, search engines, and key word combinations of terms searched for the study.  The next section of this chapter will examine the source of theory along with appropriate assumptions related to the use of theoretical underpinning, including  an analysis that is literature and research-based in how the theory has been utilized similarly in previous studies.  Then a rationale for the choice in theory is provided, including an explanation of why the chosen theory relates to the research questions and builds upon assumptions of existing theory.

The conceptual framework section attempts to define the concept of social media marketing for small business and synthesize primary sources shared by re-known theorists and philosophers whose work currently stands as evidence to explain and to advance research.  Important aspects which exist in the framework are reviewed, with a description of previous uses of the constructs in other studies that call for more questions to be answered and directly applies to this study.

Next, the literature review section involves a discussion of study outcomes focusing on concepts related to the subject matter and methods that support the scope of this study; including an examination of approaches used by previous researchers, distinguishing differences in similar outcomes and findings, then deconstructing the strengths and weaknesses of strategies and approaches, which serve to justify rationale for the selection of concepts explored in this study.  Followed up by a review of what is known from studies immersed in the phenomena, comparing and contrasting agreements and disagreements in the tradition of scholarly investigation.  The literature review section clarifies what is lacking in the current body of knowledge and synthesizes the information into evidence to support why the research questions are valid, and the chosen approach warranted.  Finally, the summary concludes what is known and what is yet to be discovered in relation to the concepts associated with this topic.  The summary describes how this study fills the identified gap in research, which is intended to further knowledge in the domain of social media marketing education.

 

Literature Search Strategy

Resources that define the scope of the literature review were accessed via web-based libraries and databases including:  Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, EBSCO Discovery Service, ERIC (Education Research Information Center), Walden University Library, Google Scholar, ProQuest, and Sage Publications.  Keywords used included: Social networking, small business, digital marketing instruction, networked knowledge, connected learning, small business and entrepreneurship, small business marketing instruction, social media marketing, social media marketing training,  technology acceptance model. Eighty-nine articles have been selected for this literature review.

This search was completed as comprehensively as possible, including all resources related to instruction for social media marketing.  Topics crossing boundaries in disciplines of education, information communication technology, and business were taken into consideration when applying search criteria.  Buratti et al. (2018) found twenty-six papers had been published in the last ten years, and thirteen more publications had been reviewed more recently by Kapoor et al. (2018).  These scholars warned some research may be limited due to the need to investigate social media concepts using studies regarded as sentinel models and theories, such as the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and Unified Theory of Acceptance in the Use of Technology (UTAUT), which are still considered to be in early stages of development.

 

Conceptual Framework

This study will explore innovative approaches to learning that converge with the need for knowledge, and attempt to help define new approaches in learning how to use social networks and networked knowledge complimented by technology tools (Cydis, 2015; Siemens, 2008).  This epistemology helps narrow the separate paradigm of knowing knowledge (level) versus perceiving how knowledge is gained as defined by our conceptual worldview; and defines the scope where networked knowledge appears to become vital for digital literacy and survival.

Justifying this belief to find whether this epistemology is true or not, depends on input from the users of the technology and resources that are current.  Ontological factors and variables such as size of business, education level of owner, as well as marketing budget create categories and their relationships to concepts; determining failure or success in social media campaigns, which have been found to be increasingly important to small business owners who desire to compete successfully in a global economy.

The phenomena being explored are instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This concept is defined by supporting evidence which shows a new digital divide indicating a lack of access to instructional opportunities (Richmond et al., 2017).  This study will verify the benefits of using this conceptual framework, by monitoring the trends of academia attempting to understand the concept of social media marketing for small business owners, to confirm a need for instruction in digital marketing practices.

Shang and Ghriga (2018) distinguished between social media and the three traditional media, contrasting criteria that included; social media allows for interaction on the part of both receiver and deliverer of information, while making information available to a larger number of people simultaneously.  They contend both businesses and their customers are directly connected; and, social media platforms are free networks to join, making social media channels cost effective for marketing, as well as communication.

The existence of a new digital divide underscores a need for the use of new tools and means by which business owners communicate with their customers due to the shift in resources available with the advent of social media marketing.  According to Bala and Verma (2018), it is critical for entrepreneurs to learn social media strategies that align with their business plan to achieve their goals.  It is evident that they must be willing to adopt this new innovation in order to learn how to launch and maintain successful social media campaigns.

Foundational research theories for this conceptual framework consist of UTAUT, Technology Acceptance Model TAM, and Connectivism.  El-Masri and Tarhini (2017) extended the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (Taiwo & Downe, 2013), which was extracted by a team of researchers led by Venkatesh (Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, & Davis, 2003) from earlier models that included theories supporting the conceptual framework of this study, namely: Social Cognitive Theory (SCT); Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), Innovation of Diffusion Theory (IDT).  El-Masri and Tarhini (2017) indicated factors that relate to business and the adoption rate of e-learning systems, and suggested that the study of acceptance in technological innovation use, can help uncover factors that impact adoption rate, thus reducing costs for business owners.

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) is in alignment with this study, because it can help describe how users adopt innovations, applying two factors that impact attitudes toward technology acceptance; perceptions of how useful the technology is and how the technology is being used.  This framework directly supports why user behavior is a key factor in regards to how they are using technologies to facilitate, influence, and perhaps predict customer intention (Khadim, Hanan, Arhad, & Saleem, 2018).

Connectivism offers a theoretical foundation from a perspective where teaching and learning may be supported by technology to be better utilized, understood, and managed; when development and evaluation are applied.  It is considered impossible to use one theory to explain any phenomenon involved with technology and networked learning.  That is why it is vital to recognize the importance of instruction, as well as how teaching is approached, in networked learning environments online (Goldie, 2016; Siemens, 2008).

Logical and factual research has revealed an instructional gap reported as a new digital divide, which is believed to be an accurate assumption (Pick, et al., 2019).  Speculation that a digital divide for small business owners exists in rural regions could be considered opinion, unless there are thorough investigations which distinguish this notion as a justified belief in the domains of education, technology, and business.  Evidence-based findings by peer-reviewed researchers will confirm the validity of accurate results reported, and provide direction for future studies that are scholastically supported.

 

Current Literature Review

Themes that emerged in the literature include the need for instruction for small business owners learning social media marketing and the adoption rate of an innovation; layers uncovered in the documents involve a concept referred to as the new digital divide (Bala & Verma, 2018; Pick et al., 2019; Richmond et al., 2017), as well as social media marketing, experiences, perceptions, and needs of entrepreneurs facing this challenge; while subtopics considered were competition, sustainability, and global economy.  Rowley and Keegan (2019) performed a critical assessment of literature in the domain of social media marketing, offering an agenda for future research, information to support best practices, and initiated further discussion using a systematic literature review approach.

Statistics showed 92% of businesses were marketing their products and services on the Internet and believed social media marketing was crucial to their success, while 80% believed social media marketing increased website visits; therefore a worthy investment for companies using digital marketing (Khadim et al., 2018).  Facebook has been recognized as the leader in social media marketing worldwide (Patra, 2020; Sukrat & Papasratorn, 2018).  Statista (2019) reported Facebook alone had 2.5 billion monthly users, with fifty million active users on business pages, and the Facebook advertising platform reported three million business users.  Often it is true that users of social media are not aware of the increase in platforms globally, hence not realizing opportunities available to increase the visibility of their brand on a scale that was never achievable before the advent of digital marketing and the Internet (Vijay & Srivastava, 2019).  Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) reported a gap between modern business practices and current curriculum to cover the issues and challenges faced by entrepreneurs when social media marketing.

This is a systematic literature review of studies related to instructional needs in social media marketing for small business owners, to understand perceptions and innovation adoption experiences.  Constructs in alignment with the research questions of this study are social media marketing, instructional needs of small business owners learning digital marketing, and small business owner experiences.  Methodology chosen for this study involves open-ended interviews of 12-18 small business owners by phone call or Skype/Zoom.  These methods prove to be consistent with the scope of this study, by boundaries clearly identified as instructional needs of small business owners learning to use social media marketing, limiting measurements of success, skill, or ability to evaluate analytical data, hence the outcome of their efforts.

In chapter 1 we noted the number of research efforts reported, where 26 of 31 studies had been reviewed in the past ten years (Buratti et al., 2018), denoting early stages in the development of a social media marketing knowledge-base; reporting over 50 percent of the manuscripts were quantitative with 16 studies, qualitative research ranked second with 5 papers, and conceptual last with 5 manuscripts.  Surprisingly,  Only one literature review was found, which verified a gap in research to systemize evidence-based findings in the field of social media marketing for business.

Williams and Hausman (2017) developed risk categorization, using a social media risk register, to assist organizations in learning how to assess risks and associated consequences of using social media to market their brands.  Comparable to this study, these researchers used an interpretive approach and qualitative research design, to offer suggestions for policies in response to needs of small business owners.  They employed coding to analyze outcomes and understand needs for risk management policies when strategizing digital marketing campaigns (Williams & Hausman, 2017).

Scholar practitioners have approached the problem by acknowledging how the adoption of social media marketing for small business has disrupted communication channels that have been relied upon by individuals, businesses, universities and governments for decades.  Using these tools correctly was agreed to lead to success in marketing products and services, and brand recognition (Ariff et al., 2018; Hilal, 2018; Muresan & Sinuraya, 2018).  However a weakness exposed proved lack of knowledge in proper implementation, leading to incorrect use and reputation damage (Williams & Hausman, 2017).  Strengths in the approach of social media studies related to small business adoption involved a gap in instructional opportunities intended to boost brand exposure and additional avenues for promotion of products and services, while exposing weaknesses related to incorrect employment of social media marketing initiatives, which could damage the image of business who chose to embrace the technology by attempting digital marketing practices (Williams & Hausman, 2017).

Another weakness exposed by the research indicated a lack in learning opportunities for social media education according to a study in the domain of communication, where Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) reported that curriculums generally approached studies from relationship levels in society, rather than from a perspective of the financial impact of businesses, hence noting the practice being different than what is found in the classroom.  They developed a pedagogical tool intended to engage learners, with a summary of potential effects of social media marketing on small business (Mukherjee & Hollenbaugh, 2019), and deemed factors which motivated users and practical implementation are reasonable topics for future studies.

A gap exists for instruction without knowing how users currently learn, which would allow educators measures to identify and develop better training opportunities.  Another weakness demonstrated in the research points to more diffusion of innovation studies needed, indicating slow adoption of technology due to perceptions which are negative regarding how useful social media can be for marketing purposes, as well as lack of time, money, and labor to ensure proper training takes place to fill the gap of unfamiliarity with the new technology (Al-khinji et al., 2019).

The rationale for choosing the concepts of social media marketing, small business owner experiences and instructional needs, is based on other studies focused on the sustainability of small business, and furthering the need for developing digital marketing training opportunities.  In an empirical study, Patra (2020) found social media had a direct impact on business revenue and that affect was increasing, which was a compelling trend that supported this premise.

A study referred to as The Social Media Magnet (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019) reported shifting paradigms calling for inbound marketing education programs for professors to consider when teaching digital marketing strategy, to help them keep up with the blistering pace of technology trends in education.  Their contribution was a pedagogy for online delivery, updated regularly, offering new theory within a practicum for teaching college students strategies for digital marketing, including website development, tools and resources for social media, and email campaigns.  This curriculum was recommended for academics who may not be current in digital literacy by utilizing recommended tools to develop skills holistically, from strategic and tactical perspectives (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019).  An instructional gap exists without educators knowing how entrepreneurs currently learn; to identify and develop better training opportunities.

A review of studies related to key phenomena involving instructional needs and perceptions of small business owners when learning social media marketing told us there were gaps in research providing instructional best practices for small business owners learning social media marketing tactics.  There is much written on the positive impact of social media marketing for businesses in the digital age, however research is limited in current studies regarding how business owners learn digital marketing strategies, for further development of best practices in teaching and implementing social media marketing.

There are numerous studies investigating the adoption of innovations and technology use, showing the adoption rate of social media marketing for small business survival has continued to increase (Ariff et al., 2018).  Ilona et al. (2019) performed a qualitative study to address a gap in knowledge to support social media adoption by small and medium enterprises (SME) in Indonesia.  They utilized the Technology Organization Environment (TOE) model to show adoption of social media was determined by the context of technology, such as advantages, how compatible, complex and ability to trial and observe outcomes.  They found users were more likely to adopt an innovation if they were open to the concept (Ilona et al., 2019). Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) performed the only study of its kind to learn the effects in how social media was being used for business, filling a gap for research to follow, using fictitious case studies as examples, and providing a pedagogy that business communication instructors could utilize to teach the future workforce of socially connected practitioners.

Studies related to the research questions of this work fall short in addressing instructional needs and experiences of small business owners learning to use social media.  Reasons for chosen concepts stem from instructional needs and perceptions of small business owners, as addressed in the research questions of this study.  The approach of this study is meant to help fill gaps in the literature supporting instruction for small business owners learning to use social media marketing (Bhimani et al., 2018; Ishak et al., 2018; Jumin et al., 2017).  Some studies focused on instruction of social media marketing in colleges, universities, and small business incubators; however, many were dated (Barton, 2019; Case & King, 2011; Cydis, 2015; McHaney, Warkentin, Sachs, Pope, & Ormond, 2015).

 

Understanding Instructional Needs

The number of global citizens who use the Internet has exceeded 4.54 billion, with 3.80 billion using social media platforms, spending close to 7 hours a day online (Datareportal, 2020).  However, there are not many educational institutions reported to fill the gap in knowledge of digital marketing for small business owners (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019).

From the perspective of potential students, the domain of digital marketing calls for more skill in technology applications, which drives the development of social media marketing principles to be addressed in practicum environments that allow for collaborative learning (Malik, 2017).  Future marketing managers need learning experiences that are effective at creating knowledge for best practices in social media marketing; utilizing analytical data to evaluate outcomes, which was reported as a huge domain for future research in business and industry (Dammert & Nansamba, 2019).  Malik (2017) identified instructional needs for digital marketing to include social media marketing knowledge as an effective means for positioning advertising campaigns on digital platforms, as well as ease in monitoring and tracking success.

 

…………………….. Local Economy to Global Marketplace: competition & sustainability

Depending on the industry, the Small Business Administration defines small business as having 500 employees or less and limited access to funding (Anastasia, 2015).  The sustainability of small businesses is important because they are the catalysts of local economies and represent 28 million (99.7%) of the companies in the United States, with 49.2% of employed individuals in the entire country (Small Business Administration, 2020) who could benefit greatly by utilizing social media for marketing.

Henry (2019) found many small business owners struggle to compete in microenterprise with the innovative social media rich environment used for marketing in the digital age.  Studies continually report the disruption of traditional communication channels, creating new means for disseminating information by social media marketing, and building personal relationships with consumers who are also using the free platforms to connect, seek knowledge, and communicate (Lee, 2018).  It is not clear how participants seek to gain knowledge and principles; other than in a connected environment of trusting individuals, business rivals, and other reputable companies, which assisted them in networked knowledge construction in exercising social media implementation (Henry, 2019).  This is confirming evidence in user attempts to make sense of social media, in an effort to learn how to utilize its features, which has been believed to help achieve business goals.  Additionally, Henry (2019) found entrepreneurs leveraged their knowledge of social media marketing and economic challenges, by defining markets they must target to remain competitive.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………… How They Learn

The outcome of this study will help understand instructional needs and experiences of small business owners learning to use social media marketing; exploring challenges and identifying needs for digital marketing knowledge, while documenting the experiences of small business owners launching and maintaining social media campaigns.  Morah and Omojola (2018) used the Diffusion of Innovations and Technology Acceptance Models to provide descriptive research about small and medium enterprises in Nigeria, and found a great number of entrepreneurs were not aware of strategies employed to use social media to stimulate economic growth for their business.  Huggins and Cunningham (2019) developed a pedagogy to teach digital marketing strategies, producing tech-savvy graduates to fill positions in firms calling for inbound marketing professionals.  Small business owners have been reported to understand the challenge, however are uncertain about how to use social media and technology resources to boost their economic standing (Henry, 2019).

 

……………………………………………………… Training methodology based on how they learn

Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) presented a pedagogical tool designed to increase engagement for learners, revealing how theory and practice are concepts that are not always in alignment in real world situations;  however their studies showed social media marketing could make a difference in business success.  Huggins and Cunningham (2019) designed pedagogy to engage learners in methods for online delivery with systematic and timely updates, adding innovative theory and online interventions to teach students digital marketing tactics used in launching live campaigns.

 

Understanding Instructional Experiences

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Digital Divide

Innovative technology has been a boon to small businesses that lack traditional resources.  Utilizing the infrastructure of free social media networking sites, provides unlimited opportunities to reach out to customers without a strain on financial budgets. Muresan and Sinuraya (2018) have proven the reliability and consistency of this notion with their outcomes that suggest the new digital divide is real, but pointed to the lack of access to training opportunities.  They showed how important digital skills are for using the Internet to promote products and services, which have proven to be more beneficial than employing traditional media outlets and marketing mixes. They found the Internet to be a more effective way to target audiences and define demographics on many levels (Muresan & Sinuraya, 2018).

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Perceptions

Social media marketing has been proven to have a significant impact on business success and scholars agree that it is an important tool for small businesses to be able to listen, learn, and engage with their customers like never before, however Szymkowiak and Garczarek-Bąk (2019) deemed business owners to be more skeptical in their use of innovative social marketing tools and resources. Al-khinji et al. (2019) also proposed the innovation to be unattractive to new users who might have been slower to adopt new technologies due to negative attitudes, which created barriers due to potential lack of resources, training, and basic unfamiliarity in use.

…………………………………………………………………………………….. Adoption of an innovation

There are no shortages of studies in the effectiveness of using social media for marketing purposes (Sanwariprasad, Prakash, & Quddus, 2020).  Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) performed a pedagogical study on the sustainability of small businesses by using case studies that were fictional examples of typical scenarios of social media use.  Nummela, Saarenketo, and Loane (2016) claimed small businesses tend to enjoy flexibility and are more agile in their ability to navigate social networks, due to having fewer employees and stronger social connections that translate to highly innovative uses for new digital marketing channels.  Business Process Management (BPM) studies how the design of processes and activity sequencing, while innovation dissemination helps to understand processes as they unfold, while keeping up with technological changes and the organization of systems (Mendling, Pentland, & Recker, 2020).  Szymkowiak and Garczarek-Bąk (2019) found digital literacy was essential in overcoming resistance to any new technology, and that it is still unclear how online media use leads to positive or negative long term effects when considering different ways of processing information versus time spent on social media.

 

Summary and Conclusion

The major themes found in the literature involve understanding small business owner needs for instruction in the domain of social media marketing, with clarification of perceptions and  rate of adoption.  Layers revealed in the research indicate a new digital divide in learning online marketing strategies, identifying instructional needs, and uncovering how they learn by understanding their experiences.  Subtopics identified include local and global economy, competition, sustainability, and future directions for digital marketing instructional opportunities.

Related to instructional needs of small business owners learning to use social media marketing to promote their products and services, there are many studies that supported the need for digital literacy for effective outcomes, however there was a gap in knowledge about how small business owners learned social media marketing techniques, which points to a great need for instructional assessment and implementation of new methods for learning to use innovative marketing tools.  Buratti et al. (2018) offered supporting evidence, proclaiming that keeping up with the competition and pressure to adopt technological innovations has become more prevalent for business sustainability, hence causing business owners to reconsider their approach to management, communication, stakeholder interests, and how they deliver value.

The gap in literature this study hopes to help fill in an effort to further knowledge and understanding in the domains of education, business, and technology is to understand the experiences and identify the needs of small business owners learning to use social media to launch and maintain successful marketing campaigns.  Sukrat and Papasratorn (2018) contend future research is warranted to expand populations and potentially generalize their business model to other environments in helping to define maturity levels in social commerce.  Pick et al. (2019) found rural users are behind urbanites by 10 percent, pointing to social and economic influences and discrepancies in technology use for counties in the U.S.  Their study was not able to provide statistics regarding social media adoption, but showed there are clearly different patterns in social media use in metropolitan regions in contrast to rural regions of the country.

Additionally, it is believed that traditional methods for advertising via print, radio, and television are in need of review due to new markets that have opened up with digital tools and communication channels (Subramanian, 2018).  Bhimani et al. (2018) confirmed social media is a catalyst for innovation, and revealed behavior and perspectives about resources was the theoretical lens most commonly used in research.  Finally, Hamid (2020) insisted that businesses need a systematic way to adopt social media marketing as an advantageous means for marketing and communication, calling for the development of a framework for adoption, and noting key performance measures for organizations attempting to use social media marketing.

 

 

 

Chapter 3: Research Method

Introduction

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  In this chapter I will describe the research design and rationale for this study, with a review of my role as the researcher.  In the methodology section, there will be information regarding participant selection and instrumentation used in this study, taking into consideration content validity established and how the research questions were addressed.  Following that procedures for recruitment, participation, and data collection are explained.  This section concludes with full disclosure on issues of trustworthiness acknowledged in conducting this research.

 

Research Design and Rationale

 

The research questions to be answered were derived from the current literature that identified instructional gaps that exist for business owners learning how to use social media to market products and services.

 

  1. What are small business owners’ instructional needs in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?
  2. What are small business owners’ instructional experiences in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?

Central concepts to this study involve social media marketing for small business owners, with an emphasis on the phenomenon of how they learn, to improve instruction in digital marketing for entrepreneurs.  In performing this study we will understand perceptions, experiences, and needs of small business owners learning to use social media marketing, in an effort to fill a gap for more research to clarify the dissemination of an innovation that is designed to support the local and global economy (Szymkowiak & Garczarek-Bąk, 2019).  Current literature supports the need for a systematic approach to instruction, and calls for a framework to understand the adoption rate of social media marketing, to know how they learn; which provides the rationale for this tradition and serve stakeholders in a positive way (Hamid, 2020).

The phenomenological approach used in this study is aligned to help understand the experiences of small business owners to interpret the phenomena in a traditional research setting  (Vagle, 2018).  My knowledge and experience in education technology and digital marketing strategy will help create an effective interpretation of the perceptions participants express, to help understand how they learn  and what experiences they have had in launching and maintaining social media campaigns.

 

Role of the Researcher

As an observer in this study my role as the researcher requires eligible participants have no personal relationship with them; defined as contact with the participants outside of the research.  A professional relationship may exist, particularly when the invitation to be involved in the interview process is extended by myself in the role of a researcher.  That alone could trigger a power over participant relationship, due to a potential need to please the requester with information that could be skewed or exaggerate the benefits or challenges in their experience of implementation.  Descriptive bracketing will be implemented to allow me as the researcher to keep personal assumptions and opinions to myself, to be unencumbered to look objectively at what is externally supposed in the study, and to ascertain the essential meaning reported about the phenomenon experienced by participants (Gearing, 2004).  To curb the potentiality of bias, very little communication between the participants and the researcher will take place, outside basic information regarding the study and the process for their participation; stressing the importance of honest and exact information offered by them in their answers.

Ethical issues taken into consideration involve the approach taken to invite participants to be interviewed in the study, how much contact and communication are allowed to take place without causing affinity or judgement on the part of the participant when answering questions in the interview.  The plan to address this issue is to have a third party organization provide contact information for potential participants.  A formal letter of invitation will be disseminated by the service organization that represents the small business owners; namely the local Chamber of Commerce, in hopes that this research will be given credibility by the recommendation of a professional organization they are currently a member in, to reassure that a verifiable source will be asking them to offer information about their operations with good intentions to provide knowledge to the community.  Once invitations are accepted, formal written communication will follow, with very little personal contact and verbal communication as possible.  Since I do not belong to the organization and am not involved in activities sponsored by this group, I will be considered an outside researcher interested in helping the local economy by providing feedback and evaluation for the betterment of the community.  Equally important to note, is that I am a resident of the county, with my own interests and preferences in doing business and meeting daily needs.  These interests and agendas will remain confidential, with little to no knowledge on the part of the respondents as to my personal background and geographic origin.  The participants will only be made aware of my professional background in social media marketing, education, and instruction.

 

Methodology

Methodology of this research involves a system of methods used for studying focal points, such as small business, social media and digital marketing; and concepts include experiences, perceptions, and rate of adoption.  The scope for this work involves social media marketing for small businesses, training and instruction needs, perceptions, adoption of an innovation, and skill level.  It is unknown how much small business owners actually value social media; this study is bound by experience and knowledge of participants, however does not pursue inquiry of their use and interpretation of analytics.

The methodology used for this study involves open-ended interviews with 12-18 small business owners by phone call, or Skype/Zoom.  The methodology for this study involves creating qualitative phenomenological research (Vagle, 2018), with an emphasis on social media marketing for small businesses to understand the experiences and reveal instructional needs of entrepreneurs.  I will be utilizing a qualitative approach with open-ended interviews as a means for collecting data, to investigate strategies used to market products and services with social media tools.  The interviews will last between 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how much information each individual is willing to divulge.  Prepared questions about their experiences will be provided, allowing for each respondent to describe perceptions, approaches, and outcomes of what they currently know about digital marketing strategies.  The conversations will be recorded to ensure no data is lost, and to be able to refer back to transcriptions to verify results reported in the final outcomes and conclusion of this study.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………. Participant Selection Logic

Participants involved in this study are comprised of small business owners who are located in Newton County, Arkansas and have been using social media strategies to market their products and services prior to and during the course of this study.

Nonprobability sampling is in alignment with this research, due to the nature and purpose of this study to understand experiences of small business owners learning to use social media marketing.  Purposeful sampling selection will be employed due to the small-sized population (Elfenbein & Schwarze, 2020).  Purposeful sampling is also a useful method, to answer questions the researcher has in mind for a purpose, which is in alignment with the research questions to help understand small business owner experiences and perceptions about social media marketing strategies.  Should there be too little of a sampling yield, convenience sampling is applicable, due to potential participants being situated in a near proximity to the researcher collecting the data (Clarke & Braun, 2020).

There are a limited number of entrepreneurs doing business in Newton County, Arkansas which limits the scope of this study by narrowing down constructs to fit a finite number of small business owners actively launching and maintaining social media marketing campaigns, while this study is being conducted.  The method for ensuring criteria is being met, will be to inquire within the local Chamber of Commerce and request a list of active marketing small businesses who comply.  The criteria is small businesses owned and operated by individuals who are living and doing business in Newton County at the time of the study.  The definition of small business according to the Small Business Administration (2020), depending on the industry, has a maximum of 250 employees or maximum of 1,500 employees and a maximum of $750,000 to $38.5 million in annual income.  Justification for the small sample size lies in the availability of participants, places an emphasis on quality data analysis potential, and resources that are available, such as time and number of small businesses that qualify (Farrugia, 2019).

It is important to qualify participants at the onset of the research (Lester, Cho, & Lochmiller, 2020).  Business owners will be considered to have met the criteria, if the Chamber of Commerce deems them as appropriately aligned with the small business category according to their definition, and fits the criteria outlined by the Small Business Administration (2020).  A qualified participant meets the eligibility requirement if owning a small business located in Newton County Arkansas, and has conducted social media marketing campaigns for their business.  The Chamber of Commerce observed definition will serve as a support for the following criteria:

 

  • Owner of a small business located in Newton County, Arkansas
  • Possessing at least 2 years of experience doing business in Newton County
  • Employing 1 to 5 individuals, which may include oneself
  • $100, 000 or less in business assets at the time the study was conducted
  • Offering products and services locally, and globally
  • Experience conducting social media campaigns

 

The number of participants required has been targeted at 12-18 small business owners, due to the size of the county and total number of businesses that potentially exist. That number will be verified by the Chamber of Commerce to ensure this goal is realistic in relation to the number of active members they have that are implementing social media marketing campaigns at the time of this study.

The procedures to identify participants will involve an initial assessment of the Chamber of Commerce membership roster, verifying the number of small businesses according to the criteria, to determine potential to reach 12-18 small business owners who would consent to being interviewed about their social media marketing strategies.  The businesses on the qualifying list will be sent an invitation to join the research and be interviewed about their social media marketing experiences.  They will further be recruited by a follow up request and consent form.

To confirm a relationship between the sample size and saturation, snowball sampling will be utilized in a final effort to get valid responses from as many owners as possible to gather data from a large enough population for saturation to take place (Clarke & Braun, 2020).  Particularly when snowball sampling, making sure credible referrals match the criteria required to be eligible will help qualify each participant and bound the case study (Yin, 2017).  It is important to qualify participants that are required to meet specific criteria used to define their status as a small business owner actively implementing social media campaigns at the time the study is conducted.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………. Instrumentation

The instrument used to collect data for this research is recorded interview protocol, using open ended questions to receive input during an approximately 30 minute long meeting via phone call or Skype/Zoom.  Other instruments include: the researcher, an invitation to participate in the study, a consent form, interview questions, and a thank you letter.  The source of information will be derived from interviews with small business owners who have had experience in launching and maintaining social media campaigns to marketing their products and services.

To evaluate the experiences and instructional needs of small business owners learning to use social media marketing it is sufficient to ask them to disclose what they know, and learn directly from their experiences and attitudes about what form of instruction might help them overcome challenges associated with digital marketing education.  Qualitative research is designed to draw out deep perceptions and rich data, after which a complete analysis takes place with coded interpretations that are far more accurate than a general survey of variables and concepts (Gill, 2020).  This approach is best for focusing on the experiences and needs of participants, giving them a chance to describe the phenomena in a study that is bounded.  A better understanding of the perceptions small business owners experience when implementing social media campaigns can be derived by phenomenological interpretation, focused on the attitudes and opinions of a few respondents, verses vague feedback from a large group of individuals (Elfenbein & Schwarze, 2020).  Followed by member checking to provide transferability and generalizable outcomes to similar settings where entrepreneurs are struggling with accessing instruction for using tools and resources available on social media networks.

 

…………………………….. Procedures for Recruitment, Participation, and Data Collection

An invitation will be created for potential respondents by myself for recruitment purposes.  For transparency, a representative at the local Chamber of Commerce will be asked to reach out in a communication channel normally employed, such as a newsletter, or social media post.  The invitation will outline the goal for the study to be accomplished, a disclaimer stating the study is to be objective as possible, and that the researcher will remain transparent throughout the process.  This invitation will also provide a brief explanation of what the research study is about and what role they would play by offering information about their experiences in learning how to conduct social media campaigns.

As interested persons respond to the invitation, they will receive more detailed instructions about the interview process and be given choices for preferred interface for their personal interview, including the time, date, location, and expected duration of the interview.  They will have a choice between a meeting by phone, or Skype/Zoom technology application.

For all meetings I will provide a private, comfortable, and secure environment and begin by reassuring them that confidentiality will be adhered to at all times, explaining that they will remain anonymous throughout the process of their involvement, followed by a review of security measures that will be strictly followed.  They will then receive an informed consent form that will contain a review of study criteria, along with a confirmation of their commitment, date, time, and location of their interview.  I will also provide contact information for myself, the dissertation chair, and the head of the IRB should they need to address any issues or concerns.

The interviews will contain open ended questions and will be structured to take approximately 30 minutes, depending on how much information participants are willing to provide.  I intend to implement 12 to 18 interviews for this case study, using purposeful sampling at the onset, moving to convenience sampling to achieve the number projected, and using snowball sampling to locate more participants if needed to ensure saturation (Clarke & Braun, 2020).

The first research question asked will identify instructional needs in how they learned to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This interview will be conducted using open-ended questions to help participants recall and share needs they have been confronted with, including how they have dealt with issues and met challenges during the process of learning social media marketing strategies.  The data will be collected from interviews with  participants, by myself, the author of the research study.

One main interview with each participant, of approximately 30 minutes in length will take place at the onset of the study.  At least one follow up interview will be necessary to member check and qualify the data derived from the initial interview.  The interviews will be recorded via audio recording software installed on my smart phone for transcription purposes during the analysis phase of the study, and a backup recording will be made with my laptop for redundancy.  These measures will take place with security and safety protocol in mind at all times when handling the data.

The second research question asks about small business owner experiences in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  The data will be collected from semi-structured interviews with participants, by myself, the author of the research study.  One main interview of approximately 30 minutes in length will take place at the onset of the study.  And, one follow up interview will be necessary to member check and qualify the data derived from the initial interview. Finally, the information will be recorded via audio recording software installed on a smart phone and a backup recording will be made with my laptop for redundancy; with security and safety protocol in mind at all times when handling the data.  Should there be too few participants to achieve saturation at this point the number of respondents might have to be reduced to fit the finite number of businesses located in this rural region of the country.

For debriefing, participants will be released from the study after a final exit interview process.  This process will take place during the second interview scheduled with each participant by formal member checking, giving ample time to provide any information that might be necessary and to help the participant understand how they will receive information about the outcome of the study, as well as answer any questions they may have about their participation in the study.  Each exit interview will conclude with a final assurance of security measures taken and the observance of confidentiality of all the information they will have provided for this study.  At this time, I will personally wish them success for their business and in using social media marketing in the future to promote their products and services via the Internet.

Follow up procedures that may be implemented thereafter would involve contacting the participant formally to provide additional information, such as clarification to give answers to previous questions they may have had about their participation, questions about the purpose of the study, or outcomes that may affect them.

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………… Data Analysis Plan

Data collection instruments are essential tools used to address the research questions in a study (Hollin et al., 2020).  Interview protocol will be employed in this study, with follow up interviews used for member checking to increase the credibility of the findings.  To maintain the integrity of the data, accuracy will be achieved by using audio recording software for transcribing the interview contents, which allows for the ability to member check the outcomes reported, and a backup of each recording for redundancy.  Software will be used for recording and coding the interview content, and participants will be invited to give feedback after data has been coded to be verified as an accurate interpretation of the findings.  Any discrepancies will be noted and addressed, or documented to account for potential misinformation being reported in the study.

A period of four weeks will be used to allow enough time for interviews and follow up interviews to take place.  A fifteen minute period before and after each interview will be allotted for introductions and logistical acknowledgments, taking special care to see that the respondents are comfortable and able to function well in the interview setting.  I will review interview protocol and announce when the interview and audio recording will begin.  The interviews will be structured with an introduction to explain the purpose of the study, review previous knowledge or background information that might help provide context to the research goals, and a review of research questions, closing with an invitation for the participant to ask any questions they might have about the study, and offering a copy of the findings when complete, thanking them for their participation and following up with a written acknowledgement of appreciation.  It will be important to organize a section for notetaking to record any personal observations I might have as the researcher, insights or additional knowledge that might be pertinent; such as tones, feelings, physical observations, ideas, impressions, expressions, or non-verbal cues.  This tool will be used for reflection by the researcher and utilized to document any personal judgements; consciously using bracketing to reduce bias.

Case numbers for participants and an alphanumeric system to safeguard the confidentiality of small business owners participating will be employed.  I will lock the data in my cell phone and computer, which require password authentication; I will be the only person to have access to these credentials.  Hard copies will be stored in a locked cabinet that only the researcher can access and paper files will be destroyed after seven years, by shredding and disposing of them properly.

As researcher of the study, I qualify as a primary data collection instrument (Mays & Pope, 2020), because my background in social media education and marketing may be of use to guide in the process of identifying how knowledge is constructed by small business owners learning to use social media as a marketing tool.  It is equally vital to use other instruments to access a bulk of the data by conducting semi-structured interviews, and employing member checking to test reliability of the findings to be certain they match the intentions of respondents; until information gathered becomes redundant and saturation is achieved.  Organizing the data, coding, identifying themes that are common to the study, interpreting and processing that data to disclose results will be conducted with focused attention to detail.  Key themes will be identified first, then common themes, patterns, and layers will be documented.

Coding the information allows for themes to emerge and patterns to be identified, which adds to the credibility of outcomes (Cope, 2020).  It will be vital to gather data in chucks, to use descriptive coding and merge subcategories, to be able to have a deep understanding of the information derived from the interview process.  There is a requirement to seriously reflect on the data analyzed to allow for the most accurate interpretation as possible.  A matrix will be created to organize data, note observations, and present findings.  Discrepancies will be noted and mitigated with rigor to align information derived from qualified evidence and outcomes to be determined by the most credible sources of data.

 

Issues of Trustworthiness

This section will outline the ways trustworthiness is addressed to support the credibility of this qualitative research study, concluding with my approach for the ethical treatment and observation of the rights of participants throughout the process.  Transparency in the role of the researcher is vital to achieve fairness and accuracy in outcomes (Alt, 2019).

Credibility

Verifying internal credibility and validity of the findings will be established by member checking, saturation, and bracketing on the part of the researcher to achieve exactness in intended meanings of themes represented in the outcome (Richard, 2020).  Peer review will also determine support or denial in the credibility of the findings.

 

Transferability

To sustain the transferability of outcomes and external validity, it is necessary to have feedback to provide thick descriptions during the interview process, which may be solicited in additional interviews as warranted.  This is a form of member checking used to verify whether the findings are consistent with the intended meaning of the information collected.  Should participants display bias in changing information in the member checking phase, that will be noted in an effort to curb skewing of results in response to personal agendas.  Again, the researcher will provide a consent form for participants who agree to be interviewed to articulate the critical need for honesty; and, a reminder that they can stop participation of their own free will or withdraw from the study at any time.

 

Dependability

To establish dependability and reliability of information and outcomes it is necessary to document everything to be accurate in reporting data without any errors or misrepresentations.  Iteratively asking the questions to ascertain whether the answers are consistent is one strategy to check for accuracy.  Using personal narratives from several interviews at different times allows for a variety of perspectives, while also setting standards and scope to compare data gathered.  Triangulation is a way to ensure validity by using different methods to gather data on the same topic (Lemon & Hayes, 2020).

 

Confirmability

Strategies to establish confirmability involve the elimination of any researcher bias, by using only information garnished in the context of the study and member checking to triangulate data; documenting any deviation from accurate interpretation of information derived from interviews.  Reflexivity will require a mutual understanding between the researcher and participants, consciously observing and paying particular attention to any preconceived notions or bias that may exist in an effort to remain objective throughout the process (Whitaker & Atkinson, 2019).

 

Ethical Procedures

For integrity in gathering the data, ethical procedures will be utilized to gain access to participants and gather data for this research effort.  The Walden University Institutional Review Board (IRB) documents verify permissions and approvals that are required to conduct this study.  These documents reflect the intention of the researcher to adhere to strict guidelines about the treatment of human participants during the recruitment and data collection process.  Concerns and how they will be addressed are outlined in these documents, including refusal or early withdrawal from the study, or any other incident that could potentially occur during contact with participants.  Treatment of participants who choose to withdraw will be the same as those who remain active, with all due respect and integrity.  Data is to be stored digitally on my computer hard drive and cell phone with password authentication necessary to obtain access.  Research files will  be saved for seven years, after which digital copies will be deleted from the hard drive of my computer and phone; while paper copies will be stored in a locked file cabinet and after seven years shredded and disposed of properly.

Treatment of data, issues, and archival concerns are addressed according to the steps taken to monitor confidentiality and security measures.  The subjects are to remain anonymous throughout the entire process and protections taken to ensure the data remains confidential, which involves data storage protocol that is widely accepted by using secure password authentication to access data, that only the researcher can use.  When the information has been triangulated and member checking is used to verify the accuracy of the data, it will then be organized and disseminated by the researcher as required.

Other ethical issues to consider include my position as a scholar practitioner making contact with the local Chamber of Commerce to ask for access to their database of members.  To ensure there is no conflict of interest, it will be necessary for me to remain as transparent as possible throughout the process.  It will be critical to protect and store all the data supplied by the organization to ensure the confidentiality and security of data is not compromised in any way.  Power issues that could arise involve my position as a business owner living in the same county as the participants, while implementing this research project.  Professional distancing will be encouraged to create a barrier for little to no personal information to be shared with the participants of the study.  There may be incentive to participate in the study to encourage interested persons in being a part of the project, without requiring anything in return, after their participation in the interviews.

 

Summary

This study was initiated to understand the experiences of small business owners learning to use social media marketing to identify instructional needs that may exist.  These elements adequately cover the nature and scope of this study, which will render quality data to be collected to achieve effective qualitative outcomes (Johnson, Adkins, & Chauvin, 2020).  There are numerous studies that support entrepreneurs using social media to market their products and services, however a limited body of knowledge currently exists for determining how they learn digital marketing practices, what challenges they face, and what instructional needs are not being met.  It is essential to know how they currently learn, to develop guidelines to succeed in launching and maintaining social media campaigns for small business.  In summary, alignment between the research questions, phenomena under investigation and approach to this research has been presented, and my role as the researcher with intended transparency in collecting and analyzing data was reported.  Finally, the process for selecting participants was reviewed and issues of trustworthiness were examined.  The results of this research will be explored in the next chapter.

 

Dissertation Progress 4.20.2020

Oh my…this is going so fast.  Looking good for the actual study to take place this fall.  Yay!  Progress, at last 🙂  feeling humbled.

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study

Background

 

Pick, Sarkar and Rosales (2019) performed a socioeconomic study on technological levels for 164 counties in the United States and found disparities in social media usage between various demographic and socioeconomical populations for counties in cities, towns, and rural areas.  It is widely believed that using the Internet to engage in social media networking is expanding (Buratti, Parola, Satta, 2018).  The importance of including technology innovation in business strategy underscores the need for training to remain current and competitive (Ilona, Melmusi, & Pratiwi, 2019).  The use of this technological innovation to fill social, economic, demographic and geographic gaps, has become a point of interest to scholar-practitioners and policymakers in various disciplines (Mukherjee & Hollenbaugh, 2019; Huang, Yang, & Lee, 2017). Current studies focused on benefits to professional users indicate instruction to be a key factor  (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019; Park, Sung, & Im, 2017). Literature is being added to uncover the needs of small business owners experiencing a new digital divide and to provide instructional guidelines for social media marketing strategies (Huggins, & Cunningham, 2019).

Al-khinji, Chen, and  Eldabi (2019) attempted to define social media marketing and uncovered instructional needs they say were due to lack of resources, such as funding, time constraints, potentially negative perceptions, and noted other barriers in technology adoption.  When researching knowledge acquisition,  Jumin, Ijab,and Zaman (2017) were able to assist B40 social entrepreneurs reach their customers more effectively by using high end metrics such as social media analytics; intended to support skill, networked knowledge and social entrepreneurship. Surprisingly, B40 entrepreneurs showed more motivation to implement and use social media tools in less developed geographical locations of their country.

Sharma and Singla (2017) underscored the relevance of this research noting content for social media marketing is a new domain calling for further research and efforts to more clearly define what kind of digital divide actually exists. Their study clarified a need for learning strategies and supported the notion that the real digital divide is related to information and access to knowledge-building resources to effectively launch and maintain successful social media campaigns.

Huang, Yang, and Lee (2017) revealed similar trends, finding small and medium enterprises may have difficulty competing with major businesses if not providing unique value to customers.  Their research supports the premise that entrepreneurs are facing a different set of challenges to compete.  They insisted the domain calls for an analysis of learning requirements in digital marketing strategy and clarified the need for innovative, and perhaps collaborative, methods of learning to ensure further development of digital marketing knowledge.

Park, Sung, and Im (2017) supported the premise that digital marketing practices were vital for small business survival. They clarified this need by exposing a gap in knowledge of use, skill level and access to instruction for small business owners attempting to create successful social media campaigns.  Richmond, Rader, and Lanier (2017) offered similar evidence of a new digital divide as the reason more knowledge was needed by small business owners. They portended that finding out how to access training and resources to obtain information and knowledge needed to skillfully execute a social media campaign was determining where future research was deemed essential.

In addition, Morah and Omojola (2018) performed a study on how the use of social media platforms support growth in small and medium scale enterprises (SME’s) using the diffusion of innovations and technology acceptance models, and descriptive survey research.  They claimed their outcomes showed significance in the development of entrepreneurship and increased visibility, while many business owners seemed to be oblivious to their value or needed more instruction to master digital marketing skills.  And finally, to clarify the question of access, Etlinger (2017) revealed not only a degree of bandwidth or access issues, but took a deeper look at the knowledge entrepreneurs have in digital marketing strategy, including their ability to read analytics.  This supports the need for more information and training resources that may help entrepreneurs endeavoring to compete in the global economy.

 

Problem Statement

Small business owners who need to know digital marketing techniques to compete in today’s business world may lack the skills  necessary to implement such techniques; impeding the launching and maintaining of social media campaigns, thus hindering them from reaching potential customers (Ishak, Nordin, Ghazali, Ungku, Abidin, & Bakar, 2018; Bhimani, Mention, & Barlatier, 2018; Jumin et al., 2017; Sharma, & Singla, 2017; Thakur, & Hale, 2017).  Fortin and Chen (2017) examined existing models for marketing instruction they deem are unsustainable due to new marketing processes in the information age that small business owners may not have adopted, yet.  Gaur and Anshu (2018) contend the value of social media as opportunistic for businesses and proclaimed further research is crucial to address instructional challenges in social media campaign marketing for entrepreneurs.

The problem is that there is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn necessary skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  There is a gap in the literature between how small business owners receive instruction that translates to skills needed to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This need is underscored by Richmond et al. (2017) who claim rural small business owners experience a new digital divide pointing to a lack of skills in online marketing strategies, and calling for needed instruction rather than lacking access to the Internet.

 

Purpose

 

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  Kapoor, Tamilmani, Rana, Patil, Dwivedi, and Nerur (2018) reviewed evidences and outlined notable advances when highlighting the evolution of social media research, where evidence found developing markets have their own set of issues, which underscored the need for specific instruction when attempting social media marketing. This instructional gap is supported by Ilavarasan, Kar, and Gupta (2018) who found emerging markets face different challenges, that point to a need for more instruction when learning to conduct social media campaigns.

 

Research Questions

The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.

  1. What are small business owners’ instructional needs in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?
  2. What are small business owners’ instructional experiences in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?

 

Conceptual Framework

 

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the instructional needs of  small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This research requires a conceptual framework which involves understanding the dissemination of a new innovation by identifying instructional needs of small business owners learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.  Taiwo and Downe (2013) provided validity, which supported innovation adoption in the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model, which has been derived from previous seminal research such as; Social Cognitive Theory, Technology Acceptance Model, Model of PC Utilization, and Innovation Diffusion Theory.  Additionally, the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) will be employed in this study to align new developments with future needs and improve instruction for the technological innovation of digital marketing. This research will explore innovative approaches to instruction that converge with the need to help define better ways to teach how to leverage social networks and networked knowledge complimented by technology tools (Goldie, 2016).

 

Nature of Study

A basic qualitative approach will be used to investigate the instructional needs of  small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain  social media marketing campaigns.  Qualitative research is rooted in the methodology of seeking how people understand and interpret the world around them (Ravitch & Carl, 2016). According to Merriam (2009), basic qualitative studies are used to understand how people interpret experiences, construct their worlds, and the meaning behind their experiences. This basic qualitative approach will be used in this study to gain an understanding of the instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.

Definitions

 

Social: is defined by Al-khinji, Chen, and Eldabi (2019) as being “devoted to, pertaining to or characterized by the friendly relationship or companionship” (Kietzmann et al., 2011; Mangold & Faulds, 2009).

Media: refers to mediums used to reach large audiences, such as radio, television, print (Kietzmann et al., 2011; Reuben, 2008).

Social Media:  is defined as Internet-based technological applications focused on promotion of creative artifacts and the re-use of updated user-generated content that is exchanged in the process of making new connections between the content and the users who have created it (Xu & Zhang, 2013).

User Generated Content: shared on social media networks is content “created by the people and for the people, and provides an environment that is conducive for interactions and networking to occur at different levels…for instance, personal, professional, business, marketing, political, and societal” (Kapoor et al., 2018, p. 537).

Social Media: was re-defined by Kapoor et al. (2018) as being “made up of various user-driven platforms that facilitate diffusion of compelling content, dialogue creation, and communication to a broader audience (p. 537).”

Social Media Networks: are considered to be a phenomenon for global consumers with over two-thirds of the world population of Internet users visiting social networking or blogging sites, and accounting for 10% of all of the time spent on the Internet (Nielsen, 2009).  Auxier (2012) added social media as a larger theme was not easy to define, due to the number of platforms that targeted a diversity of people and purposes.

Social Media Marketing: is the delivery of information for marketing via social media platforms, significantly recognized as one of the best methods to promote products and services (Hilal, 2018).  Kim and Ko (2012) described the purpose of social media marketing as communication used to market resulting in desired brand equity and a positive impact on purchasing decisions.

Social Media Strategy:  is a defined marketing plan for business that states specific objectives procedures, target audience, and metrics to measure the outcome of social media campaigns (Ng & Wang, 2013).

Digital Divide: is considered to be digital inequality for rural, as opposed to urban users of technology in the United States of America (Kruger & Gilroy, 2013).

Innovation: is  a term used to describe the way something is done, or an idea which is considered new by individuals or society (Rogers, 2003).  Pichlak (2016) said it is making or adopting new things, such as products, ideas, programs, services, technology, policies, new systems of administration, or structure.

 

Assumptions

 

Small business owners have demonstrated the need for instruction is a meaningful assumption for this study because, it is not certain how they learn or to what level they have accessed knowledge (Pechenkina & Aeschliman, 2017). There has been a critical assumption that consumers are passively receiving information via marketing and advertisements, however with the advent of Web 4.0, that paradigm has shifted to consumers becoming active participants seeking out new information about products and services when making purchasing decisions (Hassan, 2018).

Another reason these assumptions are necessary in the context of this study is due to social media becoming a mainstream communication channel which has disrupted traditional media outlets (Mureasan & Sinuraya, 2018).  Pew Research Center (2012) confirmed evidence that not many have knowledge about what kind of affect social media marketing has on brands or how relationships made on social platforms influence values in a positive, or negative way.

Lastly, it is assumed that social media has emerged as a dominant form of communication and digital means of marketing products and services, while only 67% of users on the Internet actively engage in social media, and there are few who are knowledgeable about how digital marketing actually affect their brand, or how social media relationships support marketing efforts, with positive word of mouth advertising (Mangold & Faulds, 2009; Mousazadeh, Eva, & Akbarzadeh, 2018).

 

Scope and Delimitations

 

The problem calls for a need to understand what different aspects of instruction small business owners require in order to learn necessary skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns. The focus of the study will provide evidence of economic sustainability achieved by small business owners acquiring the needed skills to be successful in social media marketing. The boundaries identified in this study are a specifically targeted population in Newton County, Arkansas, a tourist-destination, and rural region of the United States, zooming in on small businesses with less than five employees.  Businesses with more than five employees were not included, nor were businesses that did not use social media marketing.  Instructional needs will be identified and an investigation of digital marketing strategies evaluated, without crossing into more narrowly-defined disciplines where analytics and the ability to translate their meaning are represented.

Theoretical alignment is limited to understanding the adoption and utilization of an innovation to achieve a defined objective, and conceptual framework that relates best to the area investigated consist of social media marketing for small businesses, instructional needs, experiences, perceptions, and the rate of adoption of an innovation; without measuring skill level or ability to read analytical data. Prior research indicated a gap in academic studies that recommend best practices for selecting and using analytical tools (Hamid, 2020).  As for potential transferability, it might be warranted to look into what others have learned in urban regions where they tend to offer more networking in the way of meet-ups and small business incubators to present the latest in digital marketing tactics to support the growth of small businesses (Morah & Omojola, 2018).  The results of this study may inform future research to help identify instructional needs of entrepreneurs learning social media marketing.

 

Limitations

 

The methodology used for this study involves open-ended interviews with 12-18 small business owners in person, by phone call, or Skype/Zoom.  Interviews will be scheduled with entrepreneurs actively engaged in social media campaigns during the period of time the study takes place. Primary sources for information and original data will be derived first hand from interviews with participants, while secondary sources including pertinent data will be culled from research articles, reports and conference proceedings that were published in peer reviewed journals, on governmental and formal survey websites.  There are limitations involved in the small number of participants available to perform this research, because the scope of the study is focused on a rural area with a limited number of entrepreneurs who fit the criteria of managing social media marketing for their business.

Due to the small number of participants having a negative effect on the transferability of this study, this outcome could direct the potential to explore an urban setting where greater numbers of entrepreneurs are currently using methods that work; looking at how they are participating in learning, and how innovations are accepted as a new way of marketing by digital means, versus print and broadcast analog model of the past.  Dependability in finding what knowledge is gained will be accomplished by learning how small business owners use social media to market their companies, what innovative uses they may have discovered that create successful social marketing campaigns to reach customers, and how learning technique may be improved upon to support small business marketing education.

Limitations point to an instructional need that exists without knowing how they currently learn, in order to identify how to develop better training opportunities. In lieu of gathering large amounts of data from a big dataset, this type of inquiry is intended to provide in-depth feedback to allow for an exhaustive means to analyze data, therefore produce a clearer picture of learning perceptions and their experiences.  Triangulation will serve to make the findings reliable by checking the answers via multiple sources and comparing outcomes; using follow up interviews as necessary.  Since the business owners are the only source of data, there could be limitations in having other sources of information, such as artifacts calling for content analysis, to allow for additional perceptions and realities to be considered.

Personal bias is apparent in my background as a social media educator and consultant.  It is imperative for me to keep personal opinions out of the research, allowing for each interview participant to divulge experiences and perceptions they have to report for this study. I have to practice professional distancing from the participants who are involved in the study.  Equally important to note is the potential for bias on the part of the business owners due to their personal position in the community, company or industry bias, or potential bias about the subject matter, research being performed, or the researcher conducting the study.

 

Significance

 

Park et al. (2017) suggested business owner’s opinions and attitudes affect the overall diffusion of innovative digital marketing strategies.  Being concerned about how to best instruct digital marketing strategy to help small business owners reach potential customers effectively has been proven to be crucial for business sustainability and has contributed to a healthy local economy (Bhimani et al., 2018).

Small business owners need to be taught current ways to learn, and use this innovation effectively to launch and maintain successful social media campaigns (Fortin & Chen, 2017).  Practical application for this research is to further the development of professional practice for small business owners and involves having a clearer picture of what types of instruction they need to learn social media marketing.

 

Summary and Transition

 

In summary, the background presented above provides research related to the discipline of instruction in social media for small businesses and describes what future research is warranted. To reiterate; the problem is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn necessary skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  The research questions are intended to help understand the instructional needs and experiences of small business owners learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.

In the conceptual framework section, we reviewed factors and variables to be considered, defining categories by size of business, education level, instructional resources and concepts that determine failure or success for small business owners competing in a global economy.  The nature of this study is qualitative in an effort to gain better understanding of the instructional needs of small business owners learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.  In this chapter we have defined the constructs to be explored, exposed assumptions about the need for instruction,  queried about how small business owners learn social media, and lastly explored perceptions about the importance of digital marketing for small businesses.

This introductory chapter also defined the scope of the study, which is focused on instructional needs of small business owners learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  Additionally, the location of the study, population, skills needed for digital marketing, and size of businesses that are actively involved in social media campaigns were reviewed.  Limits of theoretical underpinning, as well as conceptual framework concepts and categories were noted. The transferability of the intended research as to whether it may generalize to larger urban environments with similar need for instruction to inform future studies, was also considered.  Limitations in the chosen methodology, and potential bias of the researcher as well as participants were disclosed.  Dependability of outcomes, and the need for triangulation to ensure reliability of the findings was discussed.  Then, we reviewed the significance of the outcomes, pointing to a need for instruction as the identified gap in research, which is intended to help educators know how to offer new ways for students to learn, and provide practical solutions for future practice.

The following exhaustive literature review will synthesize studies with regard to the related constructs and methodology chosen, in alignment with the scope of the study.  A myriad of researchers in the domain of education, technology, and business are highlighted; and strengths and weaknesses of their approaches to this issue are explored.  The phenomena under investigation will be reviewed in an effort to describe what is currently known, what may be controversial, and what still needs further research.  The following literature review will look at other studies related to our research questions to support the rationale for the approach selected for this study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Introduction

Instruction for small business is in need of upgrades due to marketing practices in the digital age involving new social media tools and resources (Kapoor et al., 2018).  There are questions about what area of discipline would be best suited to address instructional needs of entrepreneurs (Ilavarasan, Kar, & Gupta, 2018).  There are no shortages of topics to learn within a huge variety of narrowly-defined subject matter, where agencies have specialized in target segments within the discipline of digital marketing (Al-khinji, Chen, & Eldabi, 2019).  Educators are currently faced with the issue of re-defining how to teach marketing strategies, while attempting to remaining current in digital marketing trends that are always changing (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019).  While some social media instruction had been added to curriculum, educators agreed more knowledge is warranted.  Education innovation researchers (Jordan, 2018; Rogers, 2010; Siemens, 2008) reminded that it is vital to ask questions about how instruction produces different results when applying technology.

The problem is that there is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns (Richmond et al., 2017; Fortin & Chen, 2017; Gaur & Anshu, 2018).  The purpose of this study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns. It is important to acknowledge confirming evidence for a new digital divide that does not involve a lack in access for small business owners, but instead is based on the level of knowledge in the use of digital technology to market products and services (Richmond et al., 2017).

Current literature presented in this review provided evidence that is relevant to small business owners taking on  the various challenges in accessing instruction for learning social media strategies to market their products and services (Ishak et al., 2018; Bhimani, Mention, & Barlatier, 2018; Jumin et al., 2017; Sharma, & Singla, 2017; Thakur, & Hale, 2017).  Scholars and practitioners have previously examined what methods exist for knowledge acquisition, documenting experiences and perceptions of entrepreneurs to ascertain what instructional needs were not being met (Richmond et al., 2017; Fortin & Chen, 2017; Gaur & Anshu, 2018).

The introduction of this chapter includes a brief explanation of the literature search strategy used for this research; listing databases, search engines, and key word combinations of terms searched for the study. The next section of this chapter will examine the source of theory along with appropriate assumptions related to the use of theoretical underpinning, including  an analysis that is literature and research-based in how the theory has been utilized similarly in previous studies.  Then a rationale for the choice in theory is provided, including an explanation of why the chosen theory relates to the research questions and builds upon assumptions of existing theory.

The conceptual framework section attempts to define the concept of social media marketing for small business and synthesize primary sources shared by re-known theorists and philosophers whose work currently stands as evidence to explain and to advance research. Important aspects which exist in the framework are reviewed, with a description of previous uses of the constructs in studies that call for more questions to be answered and directly applies to this study.

Next, the literature review section involves a discussion of study outcomes focusing on concepts related to the subject matter and methods that support the scope of this study; including an examination of approaches used by previous researchers, distinguishing differences in similar outcomes and findings, then deconstructing the strengths and weaknesses of strategies and approaches, which serve to justify rationale for the selection of concepts explored in this study.  Followed up by a review of what is known from studies immersed in the phenomena, comparing and contrasting agreements and disagreements in the tradition of scholarly investigation. The literature review section clarifies what is lacking in the current body of knowledge and synthesizes the information into evidence to support why the research questions are valid, and the chosen approach warranted. Finally, the summary concludes what is known and what is yet to be discovered in relation to the concepts associated with this topic.  The summary describes how this study fills the identified gap in research, which is intended to further knowledge in the domain of social media marketing education.

 

Literature Search Strategy

Resources that define the scope of the literature review were accessed via web-based libraries and databases including:  Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, EBSCO Discovery Service, ERIC (Education Research Information Center), Walden University Library, Google Scholar, ProQuest, and Sage Publications.  Keywords used included: Social networking, small business, digital marketing instruction, networked knowledge, connected learning, small business and entrepreneurship, small business marketing instruction, social media marketing, social media marketing training,  technology acceptance model. Approximately seventy articles have been selected for this literature review.

This search was completed as comprehensively as possible, including all resources related to instruction for social media marketing. Topics crossing boundaries in disciplines of education, information communication technology, and business were taken into consideration when applying search criteria.  Buratti et al. (2018) found twenty-six papers had been published since 2014 and thirteen more publications had been reviewed more recently by Kapoor, et al. (2018).  These scholars warned some research may be limited due to the need to study social media concepts using studies regarded as sentinel models and theories, such as the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and Unified Theory of Acceptance in the Use of Technology (UTAUT), which are still considered to be in early stages of development.

 

Conceptual Framework

This study will explore innovative approaches to learning that converge with the need for knowledge, and attempt to help define new approaches in learning how to use social networks and networked knowledge complimented by technology tools (Cydis, 2015; Siemens, 2008).  This epistemology helps narrow the separate paradigm of knowing knowledge (level) versus perceiving how knowledge is gained as defined by our conceptual worldview; and defines the scope where networked knowledge appears to become vital for digital literacy and survival.

Justifying this belief to find whether this epistemology is true or not, depends on input from the users of the technology and resources that are current.  Ontological factors and variables such as size of business, education level of owner, as well as marketing budget create categories and their relationships to concepts; determining failure or success in social media campaigns, which have been found to be increasingly important to small business owners who desire to compete successfully in a global economy.

The phenomena being explored are instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This concept is defined by supporting evidence which shows a new digital divide indicating a lack of access to instructional opportunities (Richmond et al., 2017).  This study will verify the benefits of using this conceptual framework, by monitoring the trends of academia attempting to understand the concept of social media marketing for small business owners, to confirm a need for instruction in digital marketing practices.

Shang and Ghriga (2018) distinguished between social media and the three traditional media, contrasting criteria that included; social media allows for interaction on the part of both receiver and deliverer of information, while making information available to a larger number of people simultaneously. They contend both businesses and their customers are directly connected; and, social media platforms are free networks to join, making social media marketing cost effective for marketing, as well as communication.

The existence of a new digital divide underscores a need for the use of new tools and means by which business owners communicate with their customers due to the shift in resources available with the advent of social media marketing. According to Bala and Verma (2018), it is critical for entrepreneurs to learn social media strategies that align with their business plan to achieve their goals.  It is evident that they must be willing to adopt this new innovation in order to learn how to launch and maintain successful social media campaigns.

Foundational research theories for this conceptual framework consist of UTAU2, Technology Acceptance Model TAM, and Connectivism.  El-Masri and Tarhini (2017) extended the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (Taiwo & Downe, 2013), which was extracted by a team of researchers led by Venkatesh (2003) from earlier models that included theories supporting the conceptual framework of this study, namely: Social Cognitive Theory (SCT); Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), Innovation of Diffusion Theory (IDT).  El-Masri and Tarhini (2007) indicated factors that relate to business and the adoption rate of e-learning systems, and suggested that the study of acceptance in technological innovation use, can help uncover factors that impact adoption rate, thus reducing costs for business owners.

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) is in alignment with this study, because it can help describe how users adopt innovations, applying two factors that impact attitudes toward technology acceptance; perceptions of how useful the technology is and how the technology is being used.  This framework directly supports why user behavior is a key factor in regards to how they are using technologies to facilitate, influence, and perhaps predict customer intention (Khadim, Hanan, Arhad, &  Saleem, 2018).

Connectivism offers a theoretical foundation from a perspective where teaching and learning may be supported by technology to be better utilized, understood, and managed; when development and evaluation are applied.  It is considered impossible to use one theory to explain any phenomenon involved with technology and networked learning.  That is why it is vital to recognize the importance of instruction, as well as how teaching is approached, in networked learning environments online (Goldie, 2016; Siemens, 2008).

Logical and factual research has revealed an instructional gap reported as a new digital divide, which is widely believed to be an accurate assumption (Pick, et al., 2019).  Speculation that a digital divide for small business owners exists in rural regions could be considered opinion, unless there are thorough investigations which distinguish this notion as a justified belief in the domains of education, technology, and business.  Evidence-based findings by peer-reviewed researchers confirm the validity of accurate results reported, and provided a direction for future studies that are scholastically supported.

Current Literature Review

Themes that emerged in the literature include the need for instruction for small business owners learning social media marketing and the adoption rate of an innovation; layers uncovered in the documents involve a concept referred to as the new digital divide (Bala & Verma, 2018; Richmond et al., 2017; Pick et al., 2019), as well as social media marketing, experiences, perceptions, and needs of entrepreneurs facing this challenge; while subtopics considered were competition, sustainability, and global economy.  Rowley and Keegan (2019) performed a critical assessment of literature in the domain of social media marketing, offering an agenda for future research, information to support best practices, and initiated discussion using a systematic literature review approach.

Statistics showed 92% of businesses were marketing their products and services on the Internet and believed social media marketing was crucial to their success, while 80% believed social media marketing increased website visits; therefore a worthy investment for companies using digital marketing (Khadim, Hanan, Arshad, & Saleem, 2018).  Facebook has been recognized as the leader in social media marketing worldwide (Patra, 2020; Sukrat & Papasratorn, 2018).  Statista (2017) reported Facebook alone had 1.97 billion monthly users, with fifty million active users on business pages, and the Facebook advertising platform reported two million business users.  Often it is true that users of social media are not aware of the increase of platforms globally, hence not realizing opportunities available to increase the visibility of their brand on a scale that was never achievable before the advent of digital marketing and the Internet (Vijay & Srivastava, 2019).  Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) reported a gap between modern business practices and current curriculum to cover the issues and challenges faced by entrepreneurs and social media marketing.

This is a systematic literature review of studies related to instructional needs in social media marketing for small business owners, to understand perceptions and innovation adoption experiences. Constructs in alignment with the research questions of this study are social media marketing, instructional needs of small business owners learning digital marketing, and small business owner experiences.  Methodology chosen for this study involves open-ended interviews of 12-18 small business owners by phone call or Skype/Zoom. These methods prove to be consistent with the scope of this study, by boundaries clearly identified as instructional needs of small business owners learning to use social media marketing, limiting measurements of success, skill, or ability to evaluate analytical data, hence the outcome of their efforts.

In chapter 1 we noted the number of research efforts reported, where 26 of 31 studies had been reviewed prior to 2014, denoting early stages in the development of a social media marketing knowledge-base; reporting over 50 percent of the manuscripts were quantitative with 16 studies, qualitative research ranked second with 5 papers, and conceptual last with 5 manuscripts (Buratti, Parola, & Satta, 2018). Only one literature review was found, which verified a gap in research to systemize evidence-based findings in the field of social media marketing for business.

Williams and Hausman (2017) developed risk categorization, using a social media risk register, to assist organizations in learning how to assess risks and associated consequences of using social media to market their brands.  Comparable to this study, these researchers used an interpretive approach and qualitative research design, to offer suggestions for policies in response to needs of small business owners.  They employed coding to analyze outcomes and understand needs for risk management policies when strategizing digital marketing campaigns (Williams & Hausman, 2017).

Scholar practitioners have approached the problem by acknowledging how the adoption of social media marketing for small business has disrupted communication channels that have been relied upon by individuals, businesses, universities and governments for decades.  Using these tools correctly was agreed to lead to success in marketing products and services, and brand recognition (Hilal, 2018; Muresan & Sinuraya, 2018; Ariff et al., 2018).  However a weakness exposed proved lack of knowledge in proper implementation, leading to incorrect use and reputation damage (Williams & Hausman, 2017).  Strengths in the approach of social media studies related to small business adoption involved a gap in instructional opportunities intended to boost brand exposure and additional avenues for promotion of products and services, while exposing weaknesses related to incorrect employment of social media marketing initiatives, which could damage the image of business who chose to embrace technology by attempting digital marketing practices (Williams & Hausman, 2017).

Another strength exposed by the research indicated a lack in learning opportunities for social media education according to a study in the domain of communication, where Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019), reported that curriculums generally approached studies from relationship levels in society, rather than from a perspective of the financial impact of businesses, hence noting the practice being different than what is found in the classroom. They developed a pedagogical tool intended to engage learners, with a summary of potential effects of social media marketing on small business (Mukherjee & Hollenbaugh, 2019),  and deemed factors which motivated users and practical implementation are reasonable topics for future studies.

A gap exists for instructional need without knowing how users currently learn, which would allow educators an opportunity to identify ways to develop better training opportunities.  Another weakness demonstrated in the research points to more diffusion of innovation studies needed, indicating slow adoption of technology due to perceptions which are negative regarding how useful social media can be for marketing purposes, as well as lack of time, money, and labor to ensure proper training takes place to fill the gap of unfamiliarity with the new technology (Al-khinji, Chen, & Eldabi, 2019).

The rationale for choosing the concepts of social media marketing, small business owner experiences and instructional needs, is based on other studies focused on the sustainability of small business, and furthering the need for developing digital marketing training opportunities.  In an empirical study, Patra (2020) found social media had a direct impact on business revenue and that affect was increasing, which is a compelling trend which supported this premise.

A study referred to as The Social Media Magnet (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019) reported shifting paradigms calling for inbound marketing education programs for professors to consider when teaching digital marketing strategy, to help them keep up with the blistering pace of technology trends in education.  Their contribution was a pedagogy for online delivery, updated regularly, offering new theory within a practicum for teaching college students strategies for digital marketing, including website development, tools and resources for social media and email campaigns. This curriculum was recommended for academics who may not be current in digital literacy by utilizing recommended tools to develop skills holistically, from strategic and tactical perspectives (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019).  An instructional gap exists without educators knowing how entrepreneurs currently learn; to identify and develop better training opportunities.

A review of the studies related to key phenomena involving instructional needs and perceptions of small business owners when learning social media marketing tell us there are gaps in research providing instructional best practices for small business owners learning social media marketing.  There is much written on the positive impact of social media marketing for businesses in the digital age, however research is limited in current studies regarding how business owners learn digital marketing strategies, for further development of best practices in teaching and implementing social media marketing.

There are numerous studies investigating the adoption of innovations and technology use, showing the adoption rate of social media marketing for small business survival is continuing to increase (Ariff, 2018).  Ilona, Melmusi, and Pratiwi (2019) performed a qualitative study to address the gap in knowledge to support social media adoption by small and medium enterprises (SME) in Indonesia.  They utilized the Technology Organization Environment (TOE) model to show adoption of social media was determined by the context of technology, such as advantages, how compatible, complex and ability to trial and observe outcomes.  They found users were more likely to adopt an innovation if they were open to the concept (Ilona, Melmusi, & Pratiwi, 2019). Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) performed the only study of its kind to learn the effects in how social media was being used for business, filling a gap for examples to follow, using fictitious case studies as examples, and providing a pedagogy that business communication instructors could utilize to teach the future workforce of socially connected practitioners.

Studies related to the research questions of this work fall short in addressing instructional needs and experiences of small business owners learning to use social media.  Reasons for chosen concepts stem from instructional needs and perceptions of small business owners, as addressed in the research questions of this study.  The approach of this study is meant to help fill gaps in the literature supporting instruction for small business owners learning to use social media marketing (Bhimani, Mention, & Barlatier, 2018; Ishak et al., 2018; Jumin et al., 2017).  Some studies focused on instruction of social media marketing in colleges, universities, and small business incubators; however, many are outdated (Barton, 2019; McHaney et al., 2015; Case & King, 2011; Cydis, 2015).

Understanding Instructional Needs

 

The current target demographic for businesses are digital natives, more commonly referred to as millennials, who spend two hours and one minute a day engaging on social media platforms according to the Global Digital Report (2018).  However, there are not many educational institutions reported to fill the gap in knowledge of digital marketing for small business owners (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019).

From the perspective of potential students, the domain of digital marketing calls for more skill in technology applications, which drives the development of social media marketing principles to be addressed in practicum environments that allow for collaborative learning (Malik, 2017).  Future marketing managers need learning experiences that are effective at creating knowledge for best practices in social media marketing; utilizing analytical data to evaluate outcomes, which was reported as a huge domain for future research in business and industry (Dammert & Nansamba, 2019).  Malik (2017) identified instructional needs for digital marketing to include social media marketing knowledge as an effective means for positioning advertising campaigns on digital platforms, as well as ease in monitoring and tracking success.

Local Economy to Global Marketplace: competition & sustainability

The Small Business Administration (2018) says small business is defined as having less than $7.5 million for a majority of non-manufacturing companies annual receipts and manufacturing businesses with less than 500 individuals employed. The sustainability of small businesses is important because they are the catalysts of local economies and represent 28 million (99.7%) of the companies in the United States, with 49.2% of employed individuals in the entire country (Small Business Administration, 2018), who could benefit greatly by utilizing social media for marketing.

Henry (2019) found many small business owners struggle to compete in microenterprise with the innovative social media rich environment used for marketing in the digital age.  Studies continually report the disruption of traditional communication channels, creating new means for disseminating information by social media marketing, and building personal relationships with consumers who are also using the free platforms to connect, seek knowledge, and communicate (Lee, 2018). It is not clear how participants seek to gain knowledge and principles; other than in a connected environment of trusting individuals, business rivals, and other reputable companies, which assisted them in networked knowledge construction in exercising social media awareness (Henry, 2019). This is confirming evidence of users attempts to make sense of social media, in an effort to learn how to utilize its features, which has been beleived to help achieve business goals.  Additionally, Henry (2019) found entrepreneurs leveraged their knowledge of social media marketing and economic challenges, while defining markets they must target to remain competitive.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………… How They Learn

The outcome of this study hopes to understand the instructional needs and experiences of small business owners learning to use social media marketing; exploring challenges to identify needs for digital marketing knowledge, while documenting the experiences of small business owners launching and maintaining social media campaigns.  Morah and Omojola (2018) used the Diffusion of Innovations and Technology Acceptance Models to provide descriptive research about small and medium enterprises in Nigeria, and found a great number of entrepreneurs were not aware of strategies employed to use social media to stimulate economic growth for their business.  Huggins and Cunningham (2019) developed a pedagogy to teach digital marketing strategies, producing tech-savvy graduates to fill positions in firms calling for inbound marketing professionals.  Small business owners have been reported to understand the challenge, however are uncertain about how to use social media and technology resources to boost their economic standing (Henry, 2019).

……………………………………………………… Training methodology based on how they learn

Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) presented a pedagogical tool designed to increase engagement for learners, revealing how theory and practice are concepts that are not always in alignment in real world situations;  however their studies showed social media marketing could make a difference in business success.  Huggins and Cunningham (2019) designed pedagogy to engage learners in methods for online delivery with systematic and timely updates, adding innovative theory and online interventions to teach students digital marketing tactics, launching live campaigns.

Understanding Instructional Experiences

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Digital Divide

Innovative technology has been a boon to small businesses that lacked traditional resources.  Utilizing the infrastructure of free social media networking sites, provides unlimited opportunities to reach out to customers without a strain on financial budgets. Muresan and Sinuraya (2018) have proven the reliability and consistency of this notion with their outcomes that suggest the new digital divide is real, but pointed to the lack of access to training opportunities. They showed how important digital skills are for using the Internet to promote products and services, which have proven to be more beneficial than employing traditional media outlets and marketing mixes. They found the Internet to be a more effective way to target audiences and define demographics on many levels (Muresan and Sinuraya, 2018).

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Perceptions

Social media marketing has been proven to have a significant impact on business success and scholars agree that it is an important tool for small businesses to be able to listen, learn, and engage with their customers like never before, however Szymkowiak and Garczarek-Bąk (2019) deemed business owners to be more skeptical in their use of innovative social marketing tools and resources. Al-khinji, Chen, and Eldabi (2019) also proposed the innovation to be unattractive to new users who might have been slower to adopt new technologies due to negative attitudes, which created barriers due to potential lack of resources, training, and simply unfamiliarity in use.

…………………………………………………………………………………….. Adoption of an innovation

There are no shortages of studies in the effectiveness of using social media for marketing purposes (Sanwariprasad, Prakash, & Quddus, 2020). Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) performed a pedagogical study on the sustainability of small businesses by using case studies that were fictional examples of typical scenarios of social media use.  Nummela and Saarenketo (2016) claimed small businesses tend to enjoy flexibility and are more agile in their ability to navigate social networks, due to having fewer employees and stronger social connections that translate to highly innovative uses for new digital marketing channels.  Szymkowiak and Garczarek-Bąk (2019) found digital literacy was essential in overcoming resistance to any new technology, and that it is still unclear how online media use leads to positive or negative long term effects when considering different ways of processing information versus time spent on social media.

Summary and Conclusion

The major themes found in the literature involve understanding small business owner needs for instruction in the domain of social media marketing, with clarification of perceptions and  rate of adoption.  Layers revealed in the research indicate a new digital divide in learning online marketing strategies, identifying instructional needs, and uncovering how they learn by understanding experiences.  Subtopics identified include local and global economy, competition, sustainability, and future directions for digital marketing instructional opportunities.

Related to instructional needs of small business owners learning to use social media marketing to promote their products and services, there are many studies that supported the need for digital literacy for effective outcomes, however there was a gap in knowledge about how small business owners learned social media marketing techniques, which points to a great need for instructional assessment and implementation of new methods for learning to use innovative marketing tools.  Buratti et al. (2018) offered supporting evidence, proclaiming that keeping up with the competition and pressure to adopt technological innovations has become more prevalent for business sustainability, hence causing business owners to reconsider their approach to management, communication, stakeholder interests, and how they deliver value.

The gap in literature this study hopes to help fill in an effort to further knowledge and understanding in the domains of education, business, and technology is to understand the experiences and identify the needs of small business owners learning to use social media to launch and maintain successful marketing campaigns. Sukrat and Papasratorn (2018) contend future research is warranted to expand populations and potentially generalize their business model to other environments in helping to define maturity levels in social commerce.  Pick et al. (2019) found rural users are behind urbanites by 10 percent, pointing to social and economic influences and discrepancies in technology use for counties in the U.S. Their study was not able to provide statistics regarding social media adoption, but showed there are clearly different patterns in social media use in metropolitan regions in contrast to rural regions of the country.

Additionally, it is believed that traditional methods for advertising via print, radio, and television are in need of review due to markets that have opened up with digital tools and communication channels (Subramanian, 2018).  Bhimani et al. (2018) confirmed social media is a catalyst for innovation, and revealed behavior and perspectives about resources was the theoretical lens most commonly used in research. And finally, Hamid (2020) insisted that businesses need a systematic way to adopt social media marketing as an advantageous means for marketing and communication, calling for the development of a framework for adoption, and noting key performance measures for organizations attempting to use social media marketing.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3: Research Method

Chapter 3

Introduction

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  In this chapter I will describe the research design and rationale for this study, with a review of my role as the researcher.  In the methodology section, there will be information regarding participant selection and instrumentation used in this study, taking into consideration content validity established and how the research questions were addressed. Following that procedures for recruitment, participation and data collection are explained. This section concludes with full disclosure on issues of trustworthiness acknowledged in conducting this research.

 

Research Design and Rationale

The research questions to be answered were derived from the current literature that identified instructional gaps that exist for businesses owners learning how to use social media to market products and services.

  1. What are small business owners’ instructional needs in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?
  2. What are small business owners’ instructional experiences in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?

Central concepts to this study involve social media marketing for small business owners, with an emphasis on the phenomenon of how they learn, to improve instruction in digital marketing for entrepreneurs. In performing this study we hope to understand perceptions and experiences of small business owners learning to use social media marketing, in an effort to fill a gap for more research to clarify the dissemination of an innovation that could prove to support the local and global economy (Szymkowiak & Garczarek-Bąk, 2019).  Current literature supports the need for a systematic approach to instruction, and calls for a framework to understand the adoption rate of social media marketing, to know how they learn; which provides rationale for this tradition and serves stakeholders in a positive way (Hamid, 2020).  The phenomenological approach used in this study is aligned to help understand the experiences of small business owners to interpret the phenomena in a traditional research method (Vagle, 2018).  My knowledge and experience in education technology and digital marketing strategy will help create an effective interpretation of the perceptions participants express, to help understand how they learn  and what experiences they have had in launching and maintaining social media campaigns.

 Role of the Researcher

As an observer in this study my role as the researcher requires eligible participants have no personal relationship, defined as contact with the participants outside of the research.  A professional relationship may exist, particularly when the invitation to be involved in the interview process is extended by myself in the role of a researcher.  That alone could trigger a power over participant relationship, due to a potential need to please the requester with information that could be skewed or exaggerate the benefits or challenges in their experience of implementation. Descriptive bracketing will be implemented to allow me as the researcher to keep personal assumptions and opinions to myself, to be unencumbered to look objectively at what is externally supposed in the study, and to ascertain the essential meaning reported about the phenomenon experienced by participants (Gearing, 2004).  To curb the potentiality of bias, very little communication between the participants and the researcher will take place, outside basic information regarding the study and the process for their participation; stressing the importance of honest and exact information offered by them in their answers.

Ethical issues taken into consideration involve the approach taken to invite participants to be interviewed in the study, how much contact and communication are allowed to take place without causing affinity or judgement on the part of the participant when answering questions in the interview.  The plan to address this issue is to have a third party organization provide contact information for potential participants.  A formal letter of invitation will be disseminated by the service organization that represents the small business owners; namely the local Chamber of Commerce, in hopes that the research will be given credibility by the recommendation of a professional organization they are currently a member in, to reassure that a verifiable source will be asking them to offer information about their operations with good intentions to provide knowledge to the community. Once invitations are accepted, formal written communication will follow, with very little personal contact and verbal communication as possible.  Since I do not belong to the organization and am not involved in activities sponsored by this group, I will be considered an outside researcher interested in helping the local economy by providing feedback and evaluation for the betterment of their community.  Equally important to note, is that I am a resident of the community, with my own interests and preferences in doing business and meeting daily needs. These interests and agendas will remain confidential, with little to no knowledge on the part of the respondents as to my personal background and geographic origin.  The participants will only be made aware of my professional background in social media marketing, education, and instruction. 

Methodology

Methodology of this research involves a system of methods used for studying focal points, such as small business, social media and digital marketing; and concepts include experiences, perceptions, rate of adoption.  The scope for this work involves social media marketing for small businesses, training and instruction needs, perceptions, adoption of an innovation, and skill level.  It is unknown how much small business owners actually value social media; this study is bound by experience and knowledge of participants, however does not pursue inquiry of the use and interpretation of analytic data.

The methodology used for this study involves open-ended interviews with 12-18 small business owners by phone call, or Skype/Zoom.  The methodology for this study involves creating qualitative phenomenological research  (Vagle, 2018), with an emphasis on social media marketing for small businesses to understand the experiences and potentially reveal instructional needs of entrepreneurs.  Utilizing a qualitative approach with open-ended interviews as a means for collecting data, to investigate strategies used to market products and services with social media tools.  The interviews will last between 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how much information each individual is willing to divulge. Prepared questions about their experiences will be provided, allowing for each respondent to describe perceptions, approaches, and outcomes of what they currently know about digital marketing strategies. The conversations will be recorded to ensure no data is lost, and to be able to refer back to transcriptions to verify results reported in the final outcomes and conclusion of this study.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………. Participant Selection Logic

Participants involved in this study are comprised of small business owners who are located in Newton County, Arkansas and have been learning to use social media to market their products and services prior to and during the course of this study.

Nonprobability sampling is in alignment with this research, due to the nature and purpose of this study to understand experiences of small business owners learning to use social media marketing.  Purposeful sampling selection will be employed due to the small-sized population (Elfenbein & Schwarze, 2020).  Purposeful sampling is also a useful method, to answer questions the researcher has in mind for a purpose, which is in alignment with the research questions to help understand small business owner experiences and perceptions about social media marketing strategies.  Should there be too little of a sampling yield, convenience sampling is applicable, due to potential participants being situated in a near proximity to the researcher collecting the data (Clarke & Braun, 2020).

There are a limited number of entrepreneurs doing business in Newton County, Arkansas which limits the scope of this study by narrowing down constructs to the fit the number of small business owners actively launching and maintaining social media marketing campaigns, while the study is being conducted.  The method for ensuring criteria is being met, will be to inquire within the local Chamber of Commerce and request a list of active marketing small businesses who comply.  The criteria is small businesses owned and operated by individuals who  are living and doing business in Newton County at the time of the study.  The definition of small business according to the Small Business Administration (2018) is companies that have less than $7.5 million annual gross receipts and less than 500 individuals employed.  Justification for the small sample size lies in the availability of participants, places an emphasis on quality data analysis potential, and resources that are available, such as time and number of small businesses that qualify (Farrugia, 2019).

It is important to qualify participants at the onset of the research (Lester, Cho, & Lochmiller, 2020).  Business owners will be considered to have met the criteria, if the Chamber of Commerce deems them as appropriately aligned with the small business category according to their definition, and fits the criteria outlined by the Small Business Administration (2018).  A qualified participant meets the eligibility requirement if owning a small business located in Newton County Arkansas, and has conducted social media marketing campaigns for their business.  The Chamber of Commerce observed definition will be a guideline for the criteria:

  • Owner of a small business located in Newton County, Arkansas
  • Possessing at least 2 years of experience doing business in Newton County
  • Employing 1 to 5 individuals, which may include oneself
  • $100, 000 or less in business assets at the time the study was conducted
  • Offering products and services locally, and globally
  • Experience conducting social media campaigns

 

The number of participants required has been targeted at 12-18 small business owners, due to the size of the county and total number of businesses that potentially exist. That number will be verified by the Chamber of Commerce to ensure this goal is realistic in relation to the number of active members they have that are implementing social media marketing campaigns.

The procedures to identify participants will involve an initial assessment of the Chamber of Commerce membership roster, verifying the number of small businesses according to their criteria for small business, to determine potential to reach 12-18 small business owners who would consent to being interviewed about their social media marketing strategies.  The businesses on the qualifying list will be sent an invitation to join the research and be interviewed about their social media marketing experiences.  They will further be recruited by a follow up request and consent form.

To confirm a relationship between the sample size and saturation, snowball sampling will be utilized in a final effort to get valid responses from as many owners as possible to gather data from a large enough population for saturation to take place (Clarke & Braun, 2020).  Particularly when snowball sampling, making sure credible referrals match the criteria required to be eligible will help qualify each participant and bound the case study (Yin, 2017).  It is important to qualify participants that are required to meet specific criteria used to define their status as a small business owner actively implementing social media campaigns at the time the study is conducted.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………. Instrumentation

The instrument used to collect data for this research is recorded interview protocol, using open ended questions to receive input during an approximately 30 minute long meeting via phone call or Skype/Zoom. Other instruments include: an invitation to participate in the study, a consent form, interview questions, and a thank you letter.  The source of information will be derived from interviews with small business owners who have had experience in launching and maintaining social media campaigns to marketing their products and services.

To evaluate the experiences and instructional needs of small business owners learning to use social media marketing it is sufficient to ask them to disclose what they know, and learn directly from their experiences and attitudes about what form of instruction might help them overcome challenges associated with digital marketing education.  Qualitative research is designed to draw out deep perceptions and rich data, then a complete analysis takes place with coded interpretations that are far more accurate than a general survey of variables and concepts (Gill, 2020).  This approach is best for focusing on the experiences and needs of participants, giving them a chance to describe the phenomena in a study that is bounded.  A better understanding of the perceptions small business owners experience when implementing social media campaigns can be derived by phenomenological interpretation, focused on the attitudes and opinions of a few respondents, verses vague feedback from a large group of individuals (Elfenbein & Schwarze, 2020).  Followed by member checking to provide transferability and generalizable outcomes to similar settings where entrepreneurs are struggling with accessing instruction for using tools and resources available on social media networks.

 

…………………………….. Procedures for Recruitment, Participation, and Data Collection

An invitation will be created for potential respondents by myself for recruitment purposes.  For transparency, a representative at the local Chamber of Commerce will be asked to reach out in a communication channel normally employed, such as a newsletter, or social media post. The invitation will outline the goal for the study to be accomplished, a disclaimer stating the study is to be objective as possible, and that the researcher will remain transparent throughout the process.  This invitation will also provide a brief explanation of what the research study is about and what role they would play by offering information about their experiences and perceptions in learning how to conduct social media campaigns.

As interested persons respond to the invitation, they will receive more detailed instructions about the interview process and be given choices for preferred interface for their personal interview, including the time, date, location, and expected duration of the interview.  They will have a choice between a meeting by phone, or Skype/Zoom technology application.

For all meetings I will provide a private, comfortable, and secure environment and begin by reassuring them that confidentiality will be adhered to at all times, explaining that they will remain anonymous throughout the process of their involvement, followed by a review of security measures that will be strictly followed.  They will then receive an informed consent form that will contain a review of study criteria, along with a confirmation of their commitment, date, time, and location of their interview.  I will also provide contact information for myself, the dissertation chair, and the head of the IRB should they need to address any issues or concerns.

The interviews will contain open ended questions and will be structured to take no longer than approximately 30 minutes, depending on how much information participants are willing to divulge.  I intend to implement 12 to 18 interviews for this case study, using purposeful sampling at the onset, moving to convenience sampling to achieve the number projected, and using snowball sampling to locate more participants if needed to ensure saturation (Clarke & Braun, 2020).

The first research question asked will identify instructional needs in how they learned to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This interview will be conducted using open-ended questions to help participants recall and share needs they have been confronted with, including how they have dealt with issues and met challenges during the process of learning social media marketing strategies.  The data will be collected from interviews with  participants, by myself, the author of the research study.

One main interview with each participant, of approximately 30 minutes in length will take place at the onset of the study.  At least one follow up interview may be necessary to member check and qualify the data derived from the initial interview. The interviews will be recorded via audio recording software installed on my smart phone for transcription purposes during the analysis phase of the study, and a backup recording will be made with my laptop for redundancy. These measures will take place with security and safety protocol in mind at all times when handling the data.

The second research question asks about small business owner experiences in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  And, the data will be collected from semi-structured interviews with participants, by myself, the author of the research study.  One main interview of approximately 30 minutes in length will take place at the onset of the study.  And, one follow up interview may be necessary to member check and qualify the data derived from the initial interview. Finally, the information will be recorded via audio recording software installed on a smart phone and a backup recording will be made with my laptop for redundancy; with security and safety protocol in mind at all times when handling the data.  Should there be too few participants to achieve saturation at this point the number of respondents might have to be reduced to fit the finite number of businesses located in this rural region of the country.

 

As for debriefing, participants will be released from the study after a final exit interview.  This will be done during the second interview scheduled with each participant by formal member checking, giving ample time to provide any information that might be necessary and to help the participant understand how they will receive information about the outcome of the study, as well as answer any questions they may have about their participation in the study.  Each exit interview will conclude with a final assurance of security measures taken and the observance of confidentiality of all the information they will have provided for this study. I will personally wish them success for their business and in using social media marketing  in the future to promote their products and services via the Internet.

Follow up procedures that may be implemented thereafter would involve contacting the participant formally to provide additional information, such as clarification to give answers to previous questions they may have had about their participation, questions about the purpose of the study, or outcomes that may affect them.

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………… Data Analysis Plan

Data collection instruments are essential tools used to address the research questions in a study (Hollin, Craig, Coast, Beusterien, Vass, DiSantostefano, & Peay, 2020).  Interview protocol will be employed in this study, with follow up interviews used for member checking to increase the credibility of the findings.  To maintain the integrity of the data, accuracy will be achieved by using audio recording software for transcribing the interview contents, which allows for the ability to member check the outcomes reported, with backup recordings for redundancy. Software will be used for recording and coding the interview content, and participants will be invited to give feedback after data has been coded to be verified as an accurate interpretation of the findings.  Any discrepancies will be noted and addressed, or documented to account for potential misinformation being reported in the study.

A period of four weeks will be used to allow enough time for interviews and follow up interviews.  A fifteen minute period before and after each interview will be allotted for introductions and logistical acknowledgments, taking special care to see that the respondents are comfortable and able to function well in the interview setting.  I will review interview protocol and announce when the interview and audio recording will begin.  The interviews will be structured with an introduction to explain the purpose of the study, review previous knowledge or background information that might help provide context to the research goals, and a review of research questions, closing with an invitation for the participant to ask any questions they might have about the study, and offering a copy of the findings when complete, thanking them for their participation and following up with a written acknowledgement of appreciation. It will be important to organize a section for notetaking to record any personal observations I might have as the researcher, insights or additional knowledge that might be pertinent; such as tones, feelings, physical observations, ideas or impressions, expressions, or non-verbal cues. This tool will be used for reflection by the researcher and utilized to document any personal judgements; consciously using bracketing to reduce bias.

 

Case numbers for participants and an alphanumeric system to safeguard the confidentiality of small business owners participating will be employed. I will lock the personal raw data in my cell phone and computer, which require password authentication; I will be the only person to have access to these credentials.  Hard copies will be stored in a locked cabinet that only the researcher can access and paper files will be destroyed after seven years by shredding and disposing of them properly.

As researcher of the study, I qualify as a primary data collection instrument (Mays & Pope, 2020), because my background in social media education and marketing may be of use to guide in the process of identifying how knowledge is constructed by small business owners learning how to use social media as a marketing tool.  It is equally vital to use other instruments to access a bulk of the data by conducting semi-structured interviews, and employing member checking to test reliability of the findings to be certain they match the intentions of respondents; until information gathered becomes redundant and saturation is achieved.  Organizing the data, coding, identifying themes that are common to the study, interpreting and processing that data to disclose results will be conducted with focused attention to detail. Key themes will be identified first, then common themes, patterns, and layers will be documented.

Coding the information allows for themes to emerge and patterns to be identified, which adds to the credibility of outcomes (Cope, 2020).  It will be vital to gather data in chucks, to use descriptive coding and merge subcategories, to be able to have a deep understanding of the information derived from the interview process.  There is a requirement to seriously reflect on the data analyzed to allow for the most accurate interpretation as possible. A matrix will be created to organize data, note observations, and present findings.  Discrepancies will be noted and mitigated with rigor to align information derived from qualified evidence and outcomes to be determined by the most credible sources of data.

 

Issues of Trustworthiness

This section will outline the ways trustworthiness is addressed to support the credibility of this qualitative research, concluding with my approach for the ethical treatment and observation of the rights of participants throughout the process.  Transparency in the role of the researcher is vital to achieve fairness and accuracy in outcomes (Alt, 2019).

 

Credibility

Verifying internal credibility and validity of the findings will be established by member checking, saturation, and bracketing on the part of the researcher to achieve exactness in intended meanings of themes represented in the outcome (Richard, 2020).  Peer review will also determine support or denial in the credibility of the findings.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………… Transferability

 

To sustain the transferability of outcomes and external validity, it is necessary to have feedback to provide thick descriptions during the interview process, which may be solicited in additional interviews as warranted. This is a form of member checking used to verify whether the findings are consistent with the intended meaning of information collected.  Should participants display bias in changing information in the member checking phase, that will be noted in an effort to curb skewing of results in response to personal agendas.  Again, the researcher will provide a consent form for participants who agree to be interviewed to articulate the critical need for honesty; and, a reminder that they can stop participation of their own free will or withdraw from the study at any time.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Dependability

To establish dependability and reliability of information and outcomes it is necessary to document everything to be accurate in reporting data without any errors or misrepresentations.  Iteratively asking the questions to ascertain whether the answers are consistent is one strategy to check for accuracy.  Using personal narratives from several interviews at different times allowed for a variety of perspectives, while also setting standards and scope to compare data gathered. Triangulation is a way to ensure validity by using different methods to gather data on the same topic (Lemon & Hayes, 2020).

………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Confirmability

Strategies to establish confirmability involve the elimination of any researcher bias, by using only information garnished in the context of the study and member checking to triangulate data; documenting any deviation from accurate interpretation of information derived from interviews.  Reflexivity will require a mutual understanding between the researcher and participants, consciously observing and paying particular attention to any preconceived notions or bias that may exist in an effort to remain objective throughout the process (Whitaker & Atkinson, 2019).

………………………………………………………………………………………………… Ethical Procedures

 For integrity in gathering the data, ethical procedures will be utilized to gain access to participants and gather data for this research effort.  The Walden University Institutional Review Board (IRB) documents verify permissions and approvals that were required to conduct this study. These documents reflect the intention of the researcher to adhere to strict guidelines about the treatment of human participants during the recruitment and data collection process.  Concerns and how they will be addressed are outlined in these documents, including refusal or early withdrawal from the study, or any other incident that could potentially occur during contact with participants.  Treatment of participants who choose to withdraw will be the same as those who remain active, with all due respect and integrity.  Data is to be stored digitally on my computer hard drive and cell phone with password authentication necessary to obtain access.  Research files will saved for seven years, after which the digital copy will be deleted from the hard drive of my computer and phone; while paper copies will be stored in a locked file cabinet and after seven years shredded and disposed of properly.

Treatment of data, issues, and archival concerns are addressed according to steps taken to monitor confidentiality and security measures.  The subjects are to remain anonymous throughout the entire process and protections taken to ensure the data remains confidential include data storage protocol that is widely accepted by using secure password authentication to access data, that only the researcher can use.  When the information has been triangulated and member checking is used to verify the accuracy of the data, it will be disseminated by the researcher as required.

Other ethical issues to consider include my position as a scholar practitioner making contact with the local Chamber of Commerce to ask for access to their database of members.  To ensure there is no conflict of interest, it will be necessary for me to remain as transparent as possible throughout the process.  It will be critical to organize and store all the data supplied by the organization to ensure the confidentiality and security of data is not compromised in any way.  Power issues that could arise involve my position as a business owner in the same county as the participants, while implementing this research project.  Professional distancing will be encouraged to create a barrier for no personal information to be shared with the participants of the study.  There may be incentive to participate in the study to encourage interested persons in being a part of the project, without requiring anything in return, after their participation in the interviews.

 

Summary

This study was initiated to understand the experiences of small business owners learning to use social media marketing to identify instructional needs that may exist.  These elements adequately cover the nature and scope of this study, which will render quality data to be collected to achieve effective qualitative outcomes (Johnson, Adkins, & Chauvin, 2020).  There are numerous studies that support entrepreneurs using social media to market their products and services, however a limited body of knowledge exists for determining how they learn digital marketing practices, what challenges they face, and what instructional needs are not being met. It is essential to know how they currently learn, to develop guidelines to succeed in launching and maintaining social media campaigns for small business.  In summary, alignment between the research questions, phenomena under investigation and approach to this research has been presented, and my role as the researcher with intended transparency in collecting and analyzing data was reported.  Finally, the process for selecting participants was reviewed and issues of trustworthiness were examined. The results of this research will be explored in the next chapter.

Progress on Capstone

AnythingIsPossible

Understanding Instructional Needs of  Entrepreneurs Learning Social Media Marketing

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study

Pick, Sarkar and Rosales (2019) performed a socioeconomic study on technological levels for 164 counties in the United States and found disparities in social media usage between various demographic and socioeconomical populations for counties in cities, towns, and rural areas.  It is widely believed that using the Internet to engage in social media networking is expanding (Buratti, Parola, Satta, 2018).  The importance of including technology innovation in business strategy underscores the need for training to remain current and competitive (Ilona, Melmusi, & Pratiwi, 2019).  The use of this technological innovation to fill social, economic, demographic and geographic gaps, has become a point of interest to scholar-practitioners and policymakers in various disciplines (Mukherjee & Hollenbaugh, 2019; Huang, Yang, & Lee, 2017). Current studies focused on benefits to professional users indicate instruction to be a key factor  (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019; Park, Sung, & Im, 2017). Literature is being added to uncover the needs of small business owners experiencing a new digital divide and to provide instructional guidelines for social media marketing strategies (Huggins, & Cunningham, 2019).

Al-khinji, Chen, and  Eldabi (2019) attempted to define social media marketing and uncovered instructional needs they say were due to lack of resources, such as funding, time constraints, potentially negative perceptions, and noted other barriers in technology adoption.  When researching knowledge acquisition,  Jumin, Ijab,and Zaman (2017) were able to assist B40 social entrepreneurs reach their customers more effectively by using high end metrics such as social media analytics; intended to support skill, networked knowledge and social entrepreneurship. Surprisingly, B40 entrepreneurs showed more motivation to implement and use social media tools in less developed geographical locations of their country.

Sharma and Singla (2017) underscored the relevance of this research noting content for social media marketing is a new domain calling for further research and efforts to more clearly define what kind of digital divide actually exists. Their study clarified a need for learning strategies and supported the notion that the real digital divide is related to information and access to knowledge-building resources to effectively launch and maintain successful social media campaigns.

Huang, Yang, and Lee (2017) revealed similar trends, finding small and medium enterprises may have difficulty competing with major businesses if not providing unique value to customers.  Their research supports the premise that entrepreneurs are facing a different set of challenges to compete.  They insisted the domain calls for an analysis of learning requirements in digital marketing strategy and clarified the need for innovative, and perhaps collaborative, methods of learning to ensure further development of digital marketing knowledge.

Park, Sung, and Im (2017) supported the premise that digital marketing practices were vital for small business survival. They clarified this need by exposing a gap in knowledge of use, skill level and access to instruction for small business owners attempting to create successful social media campaigns.  Richmond, Rader, and Lanier (2017) offered similar evidence of a new digital divide as the reason more knowledge was needed by small business owners. They portended that finding out how to access training and resources to obtain information and knowledge needed to skillfully execute a social media campaign was determining where future research was deemed essential.

In addition, Morah and Omojola (2018) performed a study on how the use of social media platforms support growth in small and medium scale enterprises (SME’s) using the diffusion of innovations and technology acceptance models, and descriptive survey research.  They claimed their outcomes showed significance in the development of entrepreneurship and increased visibility, while many business owners seemed to be oblivious to their value or needed more instruction to master digital marketing skills.  And finally, to clarify the question of access, Etlinger (2017) revealed not only a degree of bandwidth or access issues, but took a deeper look at the knowledge entrepreneurs have in digital marketing strategy, including their ability to read analytics.  This supports the need for more information and training resources that may help entrepreneurs endeavoring to compete in the global economy.

 

Problem Statement

Small business owners who need to know digital marketing techniques to compete in today’s business world may lack the skills  necessary to implement such techniques; impeding the launching and maintaining of social media campaigns, thus hindering them from reaching potential customers (Ishak, Nordin, Ghazali, Ungku, Abidin, & Bakar, 2018; Bhimani, Mention, & Barlatier, 2018; Jumin et al., 2017; Sharma, & Singla, 2017; Thakur, & Hale, 2017).  Fortin and Chen (2017) examined existing models for marketing instruction they deem are unsustainable due to new marketing processes in the information age that small business owners may not have adopted, yet.  Gaur and Anshu (2018) contend the value of social media as opportunistic for businesses and proclaimed further research is crucial to address instructional challenges in social media campaign marketing for entrepreneurs.

The problem is that there is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn necessary skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  There is a gap in the literature between how small business owners receive instruction that translates to skills needed to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This need is underscored by Richmond et al. (2017) who claim rural small business owners experience a new digital divide pointing to a lack of skills in online marketing strategies, and calling for needed instruction rather than lacking access to the Internet.

 

Purpose

 

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  Kapoor, Tamilmani, Rana, Patil, Dwivedi, and Nerur (2018) reviewed evidences and outlined notable advances when highlighting the evolution of social media research, where evidence found developing markets have their own set of issues, which underscored the need for specific instruction when attempting social media marketing. This instructional gap is supported by Ilavarasan, Kar, and Gupta (2018) who found emerging markets face different challenges, that point to a need for more instruction when learning to conduct social media campaigns.

 

Research Questions

The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.

  1. What are small business owners’ instructional needs in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?
  2. What are small business owners’ instructional experiences in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?

 

Conceptual Framework

 

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the instructional needs of  small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This research requires a conceptual framework which involves understanding the dissemination of a new innovation by identifying instructional needs of small business owners learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.  Taiwo and Downe (2013) provided validity, which supported innovation adoption in the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model, which has been derived from previous seminal research such as; Social Cognitive Theory, Technology Acceptance Model, Model of PC Utilization, and Innovation Diffusion Theory.  Additionally, the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) will be employed in this study to align new developments with future needs and improve instruction for the technological innovation of digital marketing. This research will explore innovative approaches to instruction that converge with the need to help define better ways to teach how to leverage social networks and networked knowledge complimented by technology tools (Goldie, 2016).

 

Nature of Study

A basic qualitative approach will be used to investigate the instructional needs of  small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain  social media marketing campaigns.  Qualitative research is rooted in the methodology of seeking how people understand and interpret the world around them (Ravitch & Carl, 2016). According to Merriam (2009), basic qualitative studies are used to understand how people interpret experiences, construct their worlds, and the meaning behind their experiences. This basic qualitative approach will be used in this study to gain an understanding of the instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.

Definitions

Social: is defined by Al-khinji, Chen, and Eldabi (2019) as being “devoted to, pertaining to or characterized by the friendly relationship or companionship” (Kietzmann et al., 2011; Mangold & Faulds, 2009).

Media: refers to mediums used to reach large audiences, such as radio, television, print (Kietzmann et al., 2011; Reuben, 2008).

Social Media:  is defined as Internet-based technological applications focused on promotion of creative artifacts and the re-use of updated user-generated content that is exchanged in the process of making new connections between the content and the users who have created it (Xu & Zhang, 2013).

User Generated Content: shared on social media networks is content “created by the people and for the people, and provides an environment that is conducive for interactions and networking to occur at different levels…for instance, personal, professional, business, marketing, political, and societal” (Kapoor et al., 2018, p. 537).

Social Media: was re-defined by Kapoor et al. (2018) as being “made up of various user-driven platforms that facilitate diffusion of compelling content, dialogue creation, and communication to a broader audience (p. 537).”

Social Media Networks: are considered to be a phenomenon for global consumers with over two-thirds of the world population of Internet users visiting social networking or blogging sites, and accounting for 10% of all of the time spent on the Internet (Nielsen, 2009).  Auxier (2012) added social media as a larger theme was not easy to define, due to the number of platforms that targeted a diversity of people and purposes.

Social Media Marketing: is the delivery of information for marketing via social media platforms, significantly recognized as one of the best methods to promote products and services (Hilal, 2018).  Kim and Ko (2012) described the purpose of social media marketing as communication used to market resulting in desired brand equity and a positive impact on purchasing decisions.

Social Media Strategy:  is a defined marketing plan for business that states specific objectives procedures, target audience, and metrics to measure the outcome of social media campaigns (Ng & Wang, 2013).

Digital Divide: is considered to be digital inequality for rural, as opposed to urban users of technology in the United States of America (Kruger & Gilroy, 2013).

Innovation: is  a term used to describe the way something is done, or an idea which is considered new by individuals or society (Rogers, 2003).  Pichlak (2016) said it is making or adopting new things, such as products, ideas, programs, services, technology, policies, new systems of administration, or structure.

Assumptions

Small business owners have demonstrated the need for instruction is a meaningful assumption for this study because, it is not certain how they learn or to what level they have accessed knowledge (Pechenkina & Aeschliman, 2017). There has been a critical assumption that consumers are passively receiving information via marketing and advertisements, however with the advent of Web 4.0, that paradigm has shifted to consumers becoming active participants seeking out new information about products and services when making purchasing decisions (Hassan, 2018).

Another reason these assumptions are necessary in the context of this study is due to social media becoming a mainstream communication channel which has disrupted traditional media outlets (Mureasan & Sinuraya, 2018).  Pew Research Center (2012) confirmed evidence that not many have knowledge about what kind of affect social media marketing has on brands or how relationships made on social platforms influence values in a positive, or negative way.

Lastly, it is assumed that social media has emerged as a dominant form of communication and digital means of marketing products and services, while only 67% of users on the Internet actively engage in social media, and there are few who are knowledgeable about how digital marketing actually affect their brand, or how social media relationships support marketing efforts, with positive word of mouth advertising (Mangold & Faulds, 2009; Mousazadeh, Eva, & Akbarzadeh, 2018).

Scope and Delimitations

The problem calls for a need to understand what different aspects of instruction small business owners require in order to learn necessary skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns. The focus of the study will provide evidence of economic sustainability achieved by small business owners acquiring the needed skills to be successful in social media marketing. The boundaries identified in this study are a specifically targeted population in Newton County, Arkansas, a tourist-destination, and rural region of the United States, zooming in on small businesses with less than five employees.  Businesses with more than five employees were not included, nor were businesses that did not use social media marketing.  Instructional needs will be identified and an investigation of digital marketing strategies evaluated, without crossing into more narrowly-defined disciplines where analytics and the ability to translate their meaning are represented.

Theoretical alignment is limited to understanding the adoption and utilization of an innovation to achieve a defined objective, and conceptual framework that relates best to the area investigated consist of social media marketing for small businesses, instructional needs, experiences, perceptions, and the rate of adoption of an innovation; without measuring skill level or ability to read analytical data. Prior research indicated a gap in academic studies that recommend best practices for selecting and using analytical tools (Hamid, 2020).  As for potential transferability, it might be warranted to look into what others have learned in urban regions where they tend to offer more networking in the way of meet-ups and small business incubators to present the latest in digital marketing tactics to support the growth of small businesses (Morah & Omojola, 2018).  The results of this study may inform future research to help identify instructional needs of entrepreneurs learning social media marketing.

Limitations

The methodology used for this study involves open-ended interviews with 12-18 small business owners in person, by phone call, or Skype/Zoom.  Interviews will be scheduled with entrepreneurs actively engaged in social media campaigns during the period of time the study takes place. Primary sources for information and original data will be derived first hand from interviews with participants, while secondary sources including pertinent data will be culled from research articles, reports and conference proceedings that were published in peer reviewed journals, on governmental and formal survey websites.  There are limitations involved in the small number of participants available to perform this research, because the scope of the study is focused on a rural area with a limited number of entrepreneurs who fit the criteria of managing social media marketing for their business.

Due to the small number of participants having a negative effect on the transferability of this study, this outcome could direct the potential to explore an urban setting where greater numbers of entrepreneurs are currently using methods that work; looking at how they are participating in learning, and how innovations are accepted as a new way of marketing by digital means, versus print and broadcast analog model of the past.  Dependability in finding what knowledge is gained will be accomplished by learning how small business owners use social media to market their companies, what innovative uses they may have discovered that create successful social marketing campaigns to reach customers, and how learning technique may be improved upon to support small business marketing education.

Limitations point to an instructional need that exists without knowing how they currently learn, in order to identify how to develop better training opportunities. In lieu of gathering large amounts of data from a big dataset, this type of inquiry is intended to provide in-depth feedback to allow for an exhaustive means to analyze data, therefore produce a clearer picture of learning perceptions and their experiences.  Triangulation will serve to make the findings reliable by checking the answers via multiple sources and comparing outcomes; using follow up interviews as necessary.  Since the business owners are the only source of data, there could be limitations in having other sources of information, such as artifacts calling for content analysis, to allow for additional perceptions and realities to be considered.

Personal bias is apparent in my background as a social media educator and consultant.  It is imperative for me to keep personal opinions out of the research, allowing for each interview participant to divulge experiences and perceptions they have to report for this study. I have to practice professional distancing from the participants who are involved in the study.  Equally important to note is the potential for bias on the part of the business owners due to their personal position in the community, company or industry bias, or potential bias about the subject matter, research being performed, or the researcher conducting the study.

 

Significance

 

Park et al. (2017) suggested business owner’s opinions and attitudes affect the overall diffusion of innovative digital marketing strategies.  Being concerned about how to best instruct digital marketing strategy to help small business owners reach potential customers effectively has been proven to be crucial for business sustainability and has contributed to a healthy local economy (Bhimani et al., 2018).

Small business owners need to be taught current ways to learn, and use this innovation effectively to launch and maintain successful social media campaigns (Fortin & Chen, 2017).  Practical application for this research is to further the development of professional practice for small business owners and involves having a clearer picture of what types of instruction they need to learn social media marketing.

Summary and Transition

In summary, the background presented above provides research related to the discipline of instruction in social media for small businesses and describes what future research is warranted. To reiterate; the problem is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn necessary skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  The research questions are intended to help understand the instructional needs and experiences of small business owners learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.

In the conceptual framework section, we reviewed factors and variables to be considered, defining categories by size of business, education level, instructional resources and concepts that determine failure or success for small business owners competing in a global economy.  The nature of this study is qualitative in an effort to gain better understanding of the instructional needs of small business owners learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.  In this chapter we have defined the constructs to be explored, exposed assumptions about the need for instruction,  queried about how small business owners learn social media, and lastly explored perceptions about the importance of digital marketing for small businesses.

This introductory chapter also defined the scope of the study, which is focused on instructional needs of small business owners learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  Additionally, the location of the study, population, skills needed for digital marketing, and size of businesses that are actively involved in social media campaigns were reviewed.  Limits of theoretical underpinning, as well as conceptual framework concepts and categories were noted. The transferability of the intended research as to whether it may generalize to larger urban environments with similar need for instruction to inform future studies, was also considered.  Limitations in the chosen methodology, and potential bias of the researcher as well as participants were disclosed.  Dependability of outcomes, and the need for triangulation to ensure reliability of the findings was discussed.  Then, we reviewed the significance of the outcomes, pointing to a need for instruction as the identified gap in research, which is intended to help educators know how to offer new ways for students to learn, and provide practical solutions for future practice.

The following exhaustive literature review will synthesize studies with regard to the related constructs and methodology chosen, in alignment with the scope of the study.  A myriad of researchers in the domain of education, technology, and business are highlighted; and strengths and weaknesses of their approaches to this issue are explored.  The phenomena under investigation will be reviewed in an effort to describe what is currently known, what may be controversial, and what still needs further research.  The following literature review will look at other studies related to our research questions to support the rationale for the approach selected for this study.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Introduction

Instruction for small business is in need of upgrades due to marketing practices in the digital age involving new social media tools and resources (Kapoor et al., 2018).  There are questions about what area of discipline would best alignment with the instructional needs of entrepreneurs (Ilavarasan, Kar, & Gupta, 2018).  There are no shortages of topics to learn within a huge variety of narrowly-defined subject matter, where agencies have specialized in target segments within the discipline of digital marketing (Al-khinji, Chen, & Eldabi, 2019).  Educators are currently faced with the issue of re-defining how to teach marketing strategies, while attempting to remaining current in digital marketing trends that are always changing (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019).  While some social media instruction had been added to curriculum, educators agreed more knowledge is warranted.  Education innovation researchers (Jordan, 2018; Rogers, 2010; Siemens, 2008) reminded that it is vital to ask questions about how instruction produces different results when applying technology.

The problem is that there is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns (Richmond et al., 2017; Fortin & Chen, 2017; Gaur & Anshu, 2018).  The purpose of this study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns. It is important to acknowledge confirming evidence for a new digital divide that does not involve a lack in access for small business owners, but instead is based on the level of knowledge in the use of digital technology to market products and services (Richmond et al., 2017).

Current literature presented in this review provided confirming evidence that is relevant to small business owners taking on  the various challenges in accessing instruction for learning social media strategies to market their products and services (Ishak et al., 2018; Bhimani, Mention, & Barlatier, 2018; Jumin et al., 2017; Sharma, & Singla, 2017; Thakur, & Hale, 2017).  Scholars and practitioners have previously examined what methods exist for knowledge acquisition, documenting experiences and perceptions of entrepreneurs to ascertain what instructional needs were not being met (Richmond et al., 2017; Fortin & Chen, 2017; Gaur & Anshu, 2018).

The introduction of this chapter includes a brief explanation of the literature search strategy used for this research; listing databases, search engines, and key word combinations of terms searched for the study. The next section of this chapter will examine the source of theory along with appropriate assumptions related to the use of theoretical underpinning, including  an analysis that is literature and research-based in how the theory has been utilized similarly in previous studies.  Then a rationale for the choice in theory is provided, including an explanation of why the chosen theory relates to the research questions and builds upon assumptions of existing theory.

The conceptual framework section attempts to define the concept of social media marketing for small business and synthesize primary sources shared by re-known theorists and philosophers whose work currently stands as evidence to explain and to advance research. Important aspects which exist in the framework are reviewed, with a description of previous uses of the constructs in studies that call for more questions to be answered and directly applies to this study.

Next, the literature review section involves a discussion of study outcomes focusing on concepts related to the subject matter and methods that support the scope of this study; including an examination of approaches used by previous researchers, distinguishing differences in similar outcomes and findings, then deconstructing the strengths and weaknesses of strategies and approaches, which serve to justify rationale for the selection of concepts explored in this study.  Followed up by a review of what is known from studies immersed in the phenomena, comparing and contrasting agreements and disagreements in the tradition of scholarly investigation. The literature review section clarifies what is lacking in the current body of knowledge and synthesizes the information into evidence to support why the research questions are valid, and the chosen approach warranted. Finally, the summary concludes what is known and what is yet to be discovered in relation to the concepts associated with this topic.  The summary describes how this study fills the identified gap in research, which is intended to further knowledge in the domain of social media marketing education.

 

Literature Search Strategy

Resources that define the scope of the literature review were accessed via web-based libraries and databases including:  Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, EBSCO Discovery Service, ERIC (Education Research Information Center), Walden University Library, Google Scholar, ProQuest, and Sage Publications.  Keywords used included: Social networking, small business, digital marketing instruction, networked knowledge, connected learning, small business and entrepreneurship, small business marketing instruction, social media marketing, social media marketing training,  technology acceptance model. Approximately seventy articles have been selected for this literature review.

This search was completed as comprehensively as possible, including all resources related to instruction for social media marketing. Topics crossing boundaries in disciplines of education, information communication technology, and business were taken into consideration when applying search criteria.  Buratti et al. (2018) found twenty-six papers had been published since 2014 and thirteen more publications had been reviewed more recently by Kapoor, et al. (2018).  These scholars warned some research may be limited due to the need to study social media concepts using studies regarded as sentinel models and theories, such as the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and Unified Theory of Acceptance in the Use of Technology (UTAUT), which are still considered to be in early stages of development.

 

Conceptual Framework

This study will explore innovative approaches to learning that converge with the need for knowledge, and attempt to help define new approaches in learning how to use social networks and networked knowledge complimented by technology tools (Cydis, 2015; Siemens, 2008).  This epistemology helps narrow the separate paradigm of knowing knowledge (level) versus perceiving how knowledge is gained as defined by our conceptual worldview; and defines the scope where networked knowledge appears to become vital for digital literacy and survival.

Justifying this belief to find whether this epistemology is true or not, depends on input from the users of the technology and resources that are current.  Ontological factors and variables such as size of business, education level of owner, as well as marketing budget create categories and their relationships to concepts; determining failure or success in social media campaigns, which have been found to be increasingly important to small business owners who desire to compete successfully in a global economy.

The phenomena being explored are instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This concept is defined by supporting evidence which shows a new digital divide indicating a lack of access to instructional opportunities (Richmond et al., 2017).  This study will verify the benefits of using this conceptual framework, by monitoring the trends of academia attempting to understand the concept of social media marketing for small business owners, to confirm a need for instruction in digital marketing practices.

Shang and Ghriga (2018) distinguished between social media and the three traditional media, contrasting criteria that included; social media allows for interaction on the part of both receiver and deliverer of information, while making information available to a larger number of people simultaneously. They contend both businesses and their customers are directly connected; and, social media platforms are free networks to join, making social media marketing cost effective for marketing, as well as communication.

The existence of a new digital divide underscores a need for the use of new tools and means by which business owners communicate with their customers due to the shift in resources available with the advent of social media marketing. According to Bala and Verma (2018), it is critical for entrepreneurs to learn social media strategies that align with their business plan to achieve their goals.  It is evident that they must be willing to adopt this new innovation in order to learn how to launch and maintain successful social media campaigns.

Foundational research theories for this conceptual framework consist of UTAU2, Technology Acceptance Model TAM, and Connectivism.  El-Masri and Tarhini (2017) extended the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (Taiwo & Downe, 2013), which was extracted by a team of researchers led by Venkatesh (2003) from earlier models that included theories supporting the conceptual framework of this study, namely: Social Cognitive Theory (SCT); Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), Innovation of Diffusion Theory (IDT).  El-Masri and Tarhini (2007) indicated factors that relate to business and the adoption rate of e-learning systems, and suggested that the study of acceptance in technological innovation use, can help uncover factors that impact adoption rate, thus reducing costs for business owners.

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) is in alignment with this study, because it can help describe how users adopt innovations, applying two factors that impact attitudes toward technology acceptance; perceptions of how useful the technology is and how the technology is being used.  This framework directly supports why user behavior is a key factor in regards to how they are using technologies to facilitate, influence, and perhaps predict customer intention (Khadim, Hanan, Arhad, &  Saleem, 2018).

Connectivism offers a theoretical foundation from a perspective where teaching and learning may be supported by technology to be better utilized, understood, and managed; when development and evaluation are applied.  It is considered impossible to use one theory to explain any phenomenon involved with technology and networked learning.  That is why it is vital to recognize the importance of instruction, as well as how teaching is approached, in networked learning environments online (Goldie, 2016; Siemens, 2008).

Logical and factual research has revealed an instructional gap reported as a new digital divide, which is widely believed to be an accurate assumption (Pick, et al., 2019).  Speculation that a digital divide for small business owners exists in rural regions could be considered opinion, unless there are thorough investigations which distinguish this notion as a justified belief in the domains of education, technology, and business.  Evidence-based findings by peer-reviewed researchers confirm the validity of accurate results reported, and provided a direction for future studies that are scholastically supported.

Current Literature Review

Themes that emerged in the literature include the need for instruction for small business owners learning social media marketing and the adoption rate of an innovation; layers uncovered in the documents involve a concept referred to as the new digital divide (Bala & Verma, 2018; Richmond et al., 2017; Pick et al., 2019), as well as social media marketing, experiences, perceptions, and needs of entrepreneurs facing this challenge; while subtopics considered were competition, sustainability, and global economy.  Rowley and Keegan (2019) performed a critical assessment of literature in the domain of social media marketing, offering an agenda for future research, information to support best practices, and initiated discussion using a systematic literature review approach.

Statistics showed 92% of businesses were marketing their products and services on the Internet and believed social media marketing was crucial to their success, while 80% believed social media marketing increased website visits; therefore a worthy investment for companies using digital marketing (Khadim, Hanan, Arshad, & Saleem, 2018).  Facebook has been recognized as the leader in social media marketing worldwide (Patra, 2020; Sukrat & Papasratorn, 2018).  Statista (2017) reported Facebook alone had 1.97 billion monthly users, with fifty million active users on business pages, and the Facebook advertising platform reported two million business users.  Often it is true that users of social media are not aware of the increase of platforms globally, hence not realizing opportunities available to increase the visibility of their brand on a scale that was never achievable before the advent of digital marketing and the Internet (Vijay & Srivastava, 2019).  Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) reported a gap between modern business practices and current curriculum to cover the issues and challenges faced by entrepreneurs and social media marketing.

This is a systematic literature review of studies related to instructional needs in social media marketing for small business owners, to understand perceptions and innovation adoption experiences. Constructs in alignment with the research questions of this study are social media marketing, instructional needs of small business owners learning digital marketing, and small business owner experiences.  Methodology chosen for this study involves open-ended interviews of 12-18 small business owners in person, phone call, or Skype/Zoom. These methods prove to be consistent with the scope of this study, by boundaries clearly identified as instructional needs of small business owners learning to use social media marketing, limiting measurements of success, skill, or ability to evaluate analytical data, hence the outcome of their efforts.

In chapter 1 we noted the number of research efforts reported, where 26 of 31 studies had been reviewed prior to 2014, denoting early stages in the development of a social media marketing knowledge-base; reporting over 50 percent of the manuscripts were quantitative with 16 studies, qualitative research ranked second with 5 papers, and conceptual last with 5 manuscripts (Buratti, Parola, & Satta, 2018).  Surprisingly, only one literature review was found, which verified a gap in research to systemize evidence-based findings in the field of social media marketing for business.

Williams and Hausman (2017) developed risk categorization, using a social media risk register, to assist organizations in learning how to assess risks and associated consequences of using social media to market their brands.  Comparable to this study, these researchers used an interpretive approach and qualitative research design, to offer suggestions for policies in response to needs of small business owners.  They employed coding to analyze outcomes and understand needs for risk management policies when strategizing digital marketing campaigns (Williams & Hausman, 2017).

Scholar practitioners have approached the problem by acknowledging how the adoption of social media marketing for small business has disrupted communication channels that have been relied upon by individuals, businesses, universities and governments for decades.  Using these tools correctly was agreed to lead to success in marketing products and services, and brand recognition (Hilal, 2018; Muresan & Sinuraya, 2018; Ariff et al., 2018).  However a weakness exposed proved lack of knowledge in proper implementation, leading to incorrect use and reputation damage (Williams & Hausman, 2017).  Strengths in the approach of social media studies related to small business adoption involved a gap in instructional opportunities intended to boost brand exposure and additional avenues for promotion of products and services, while exposing weaknesses related to incorrect employment of social media marketing initiatives, which could damage the image of business who chose to embrace technology by attempting digital marketing practices (Williams & Hausman, 2017).

Another strength exposed by the research indicated a lack in learning opportunities for social media education according to a study in the domain of communication, where Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019), reported that curriculums generally approached studies from relationship levels in society, rather than from a perspective of the financial impact of businesses, hence noting the practice being different than what is found in the classroom. They developed a pedagogical tool intended to engage learners, with a summary of potential effects of social media marketing on small business (Mukherjee & Hollenbaugh, 2019),  and deemed factors which motivated users and practical implementation are reasonable topics for future studies.

A gap exists for instructional need without knowing how users currently learn, which would allow educators an opportunity to identify ways to develop better training opportunities.  Another weakness demonstrated in the research points to more diffusion of innovation studies needed, indicating slow adoption of technology due to perceptions which are negative regarding how useful social media can be for marketing purposes, as well as lack of time, money, and labor to ensure proper training takes place to fill the gap of unfamiliarity with the new technology (Al-khinji, Chen, & Eldabi, 2019).

The rationale for choosing the concepts of social media marketing, small business owner experiences and instructional needs, is based on other studies focused on the sustainability of small business, and furthering the need for developing digital marketing training opportunities.  In an empirical study, Patra (2020) found social media had a direct impact on business revenue and that affect was increasing, which is a compelling trend which supported this premise.

A study referred to as The Social Media Magnet (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019) reported shifting paradigms calling for inbound marketing education programs for professors to consider when teaching digital marketing strategy, to help them keep up with the blistering pace of technology trends in education.  Their contribution was a pedagogy for online delivery, updated regularly, offering new theory within a practicum for teaching college students strategies for digital marketing, including website development, tools and resources for social media and email campaigns. This curriculum was recommended for academics who may not be current in digital literacy by utilizing recommended tools to develop skills holistically, from strategic and tactical perspectives (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019).  An instructional gap exists without educators knowing how entrepreneurs currently learn; to identify and develop better training opportunities.

A review of the studies related to key phenomena involving instructional needs and perceptions of small business owners when learning social media marketing tell us there are gaps in research providing instructional best practices for small business owners learning social media marketing.  There is much written on the positive impact of social media marketing for businesses in the digital age, however research is limited in current studies regarding how business owners learn digital marketing strategies, for further development of best practices in teaching and implementing social media marketing.

There are numerous studies investigating the adoption of innovations and technology use, showing the adoption rate of social media marketing for small business survival is continuing to increase (Ariff, 2018).  Ilona, Melmusi, and Pratiwi (2019) performed a qualitative study to address the gap in knowledge to support social media adoption by small and medium enterprises (SME) in Indonesia.  They utilized the Technology Organization Environment (TOE) model to show adoption of social media was determined by the context of technology, such as advantages, how compatible, complex and ability to trial and observe outcomes.  They found users were more likely to adopt an innovation if they were open to the concept (Ilona, Melmusi, & Pratiwi, 2019). Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) performed the only study of its kind to learn the effects in how social media was being used for business, filling a gap for examples to follow, using fictitious case studies as examples, and providing a pedagogy that business communication instructors could utilize to teach the future workforce of socially connected practitioners.

Studies related to the research questions of this work fall short in addressing instructional needs and experiences of small business owners learning to use social media.  Reasons for chosen concepts stem from instructional needs and perceptions of small business owners, as addressed in the research questions of this study.  The approach of this study is meant to help fill gaps in the literature supporting instruction for small business owners learning to use social media marketing (Bhimani, Mention, & Barlatier, 2018; Ishak et al., 2018; Jumin et al., 2017).  Some studies focused on instruction of social media marketing in colleges, universities, and small business incubators; however, many are outdated (Barton, 2019; McHaney et al., 2015; Case & King, 2011; Cydis, 2015).

Understanding Instructional Needs

The current target demographic for businesses are digital natives, more commonly referred to as millennials, who spend two hours and one minute a day engaging on social media platforms according to the Global Digital Report (2018).  However, there are not many educational institutions reported to fill the gap in knowledge of digital marketing for small business owners (Huggins & Cunningham, 2019).

From the perspective of potential students, the domain of digital marketing calls for more skill in technology applications, which drives the development of social media marketing principles to be addressed in practicum environments that allow for collaborative learning (Malik, 2017).  Future marketing managers need learning experiences that are effective at creating knowledge for best practices in social media marketing; utilizing analytical data to evaluate outcomes, which was reported as a huge domain for future research in business and industry (Dammert & Nansamba, 2019).  Malik (2017) identified instructional needs for digital marketing to include social media marketing knowledge as an effective means for positioning advertising campaigns on digital platforms, as well as ease in monitoring and tracking success.

…………………….. Local Economy to Global Marketplace: competition & sustainability

The Small Business Administration (2018) says small business is defined as having less than $7.5 million for a majority of non-manufacturing companies annual receipts and manufacturing businesses with less than 500 individuals employed. The sustainability of small businesses is important because they are the catalysts of local economies and represent 28 million (99.7%) of the companies in the United States, with 49.2% of employed individuals in the entire country (Small Business Administration, 2018), who could benefit greatly by utilizing social media for marketing.

Henry (2019) found many small business owners struggle to compete in microenterprise with the innovative social media rich environment used for marketing in the digital age.  Studies continually report the disruption of traditional communication channels, creating new means for disseminating information by social media marketing, and building personal relationships with consumers who are also using the free platforms to connect, seek knowledge, and communicate (Lee, 2018). It is not clear how participants seek to gain knowledge and principles; other than in a connected environment of trusting individuals, business rivals, and other reputable companies, which assisted them in networked knowledge construction in exercising social media awareness (Henry, 2019). This is confirming evidence of users attempts to make sense of social media, in an effort to learn how to utilize its features, which has been beleived to help achieve business goals.  Additionally, Henry (2019) found entrepreneurs leveraged their knowledge of social media marketing and economic challenges, while defining markets they must target to remain competitive.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………… How They Learn

The outcome of this study hopes to understand the instructional needs and experiences of small business owners learning to use social media marketing; exploring challenges to identify needs for digital marketing knowledge, while documenting the experiences of small business owners launching and maintaining social media campaigns.  Morah and Omojola (2018) used the Diffusion of Innovations and Technology Acceptance Models to provide descriptive research about small and medium enterprises in Nigeria, and found a great number of entrepreneurs were not aware of strategies employed to use social media to stimulate economic growth for their business.  Huggins and Cunningham (2019) developed a pedagogy to teach digital marketing strategies, producing tech-savvy graduates to fill positions in firms calling for inbound marketing professionals.  Small business owners have been reported to understand the challenge, however are uncertain about how to use social media and technology resources to boost their economic standing (Henry, 2019).

……………………………………………………… Training methodology based on how they learn

Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) presented a pedagogical tool designed to increase engagement for learners, revealing how theory and practice are concepts that are not always in alignment in real world situations;  however their studies showed social media marketing could make a difference in business success.  Huggins and Cunningham (2019) designed pedagogy to engage learners in methods for online delivery with systematic and timely updates, adding innovative theory and online interventions to teach students digital marketing tactics, launching live campaigns.

Understanding Instructional Experiences

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Digital Divide

Innovative technology has been a boon to small businesses that lacked traditional resources.  Utilizing the infrastructure of free social media networking sites, provides unlimited opportunities to reach out to customers without a strain on financial budgets. Muresan and Sinuraya (2018) have proven the reliability and consistency of this notion with their outcomes that suggest the new digital divide is real, but pointed to the lack of access to training opportunities. They showed how important digital skills are for using the Internet to promote products and services, which have proven to be more beneficial than employing traditional media outlets and marketing mixes. They found the Internet to be a more effective way to target audiences and define demographics on many levels (Muresan and Sinuraya, 2018).

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Perceptions

Social media marketing has been proven to have a significant impact on business success and scholars agree that it is an important tool for small businesses to be able to listen, learn, and engage with their customers like never before, however Szymkowiak and Garczarek-Bąk (2019) deemed business owners to be more skeptical in their use of innovative social marketing tools and resources. Al-khinji, Chen, and Eldabi (2019) also proposed the innovation to be unattractive to new users who might have been slower to adopt new technologies due to negative attitudes, which created barriers due to potential lack of resources, training, and simply unfamiliarity in use.

…………………………………………………………………………………….. Adoption of an innovation

There are no shortages of studies in the effectiveness of using social media for marketing purposes (Sanwariprasad, Prakash, & Quddus, 2020). Mukherjee and Hollenbaugh (2019) performed a pedagogical study on the sustainability of small businesses by using case studies that were fictional examples of typical scenarios of social media use.  Nummela and Saarenketo (2016) claimed small businesses tend to enjoy flexibility and are more agile in their ability to navigate social networks, due to having fewer employees and stronger social connections that translate to highly innovative uses for new digital marketing channels.  Szymkowiak and Garczarek-Bąk (2019) found digital literacy was essential in overcoming resistance to any new technology, and that it is still unclear how online media use leads to positive or negative long term effects when considering different ways of processing information versus time spent on social media.

Summary and Conclusion

The major themes found in the literature involve understanding small business owner needs for instruction in the domain of social media marketing, with clarification of perceptions and  rate of adoption.  Layers revealed in the research indicate a new digital divide in learning online marketing strategies, identifying instructional needs, and uncovering how they learn by understanding experiences.  Subtopics identified include local and global economy, competition, sustainability, and future directions for digital marketing instructional opportunities.

Related to instructional needs of small business owners learning to use social media marketing to promote their products and services, there are many studies that supported the need for digital literacy for effective outcomes, however there was a gap in knowledge about how small business owners learned social media marketing techniques, which points to a great need for instructional assessment and implementation of new methods for learning to use innovative marketing tools.  Buratti et al. (2018) offered supporting evidence, proclaiming that keeping up with the competition and pressure to adopt technological innovations has become more prevalent for business sustainability, hence causing business owners to reconsider their approach to management, communication, stakeholder interests, and how they deliver value.

The gap in literature this study hopes to help fill in an effort to further knowledge and understanding in the domains of education, business, and technology is to understand the experiences and identify the needs of small business owners learning to use social media to launch and maintain successful marketing campaigns. Sukrat and Papasratorn (2018) contend future research is warranted to expand populations and potentially generalize their business model to other environments in helping to define maturity levels in social commerce.  Pick et al. (2019) found rural users are behind urbanites by 10 percent, pointing to social and economic influences and discrepancies in technology use for counties in the U.S. Their study was not able to provide statistics regarding social media adoption, but showed there are clearly different patterns in social media use in metropolitan regions in contrast to rural regions of the country.

Additionally, it is believed that traditional methods for advertising via print, radio, and television are in need of review due to markets that have opened up with digital tools and communication channels (Subramanian, 2018).  Bhimani et al. (2018) confirmed social media is a catalyst for innovation, and revealed behavior and perspectives about resources was the theoretical lens most commonly used in research. And finally, Hamid (2020) insisted that businesses need a systematic way to adopt social media marketing as an advantageous means for marketing and communication, calling for the development of a framework for adoption, and noting key performance measures for organizations attempting to use social media marketing.

 

 

Discuss your research method here. Refer to the appropriate dissertation checklist for guidance on the content of sections in this chapter.

 

Chapter 3: Research Method

Research Design and Rationale

 

 

Role of the Researcher

 

Methodology

Methodology of this research involves a system of methods used for studying focal points, such as small business, social media and digital marketing; and concepts include experiences, perceptions, rate of adoption.  The scope for this work involves social media marketing for small businesses, training and instruction needs, perceptions, adoption of an innovation, and skill level.  It is unknown how much small business owners actually value social media; this study is bound by experience and knowledge of participants, however does not pursue inquiry of the use and interpretation of analytic data.

The methodology used for this study involves open-ended interviews with 12-18 small business owners in person, by phone call, or Skype/Zoom.  The methodology for this study is qualitative phenomenological research, with a focus on social media marketing for small businesses to understand the experiences and potentially reveal instructional needs of entrepreneurs.  Utilizing a qualitative approach with open-ended interviews as a means for collecting data, to investigate strategies they use to market products and services with social media tools.  The interviews will last between 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how much information each individual will divulge. They will be asked prepared questions about their experiences, allowing for each respondent to describe perceptions, approaches, and outcomes of what they currently know about digital marketing strategies. The conversations will be recorded to ensure no data is lost, and to refer back to transcriptions to verify results reported in the final outcomes and conclusion of this study.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………. Participant Selection Logic

……………………………………………………………………………………………………. Instrumentation

…………………………….. Procedures for Recruitment, Participation, and Data Collection

………………………………………………………………………………………………… Data Analysis Plan

 

Issues of Trustworthiness

Credibility

……………………………………………………………………………………………………… Transferability

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Dependability

………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Confirmability

………………………………………………………………………………………………… Ethical Procedures

 

Summary

 

 

Chapter 5: Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations

First Heading

Insert summary, conclusions, and recommendations here. Refer to the appropriate dissertation checklist for guidance on the content of sections in this chapter.

 

 

References

 

Al-khinji, S., Chen, W., & Eldabi, T. (2019). Effect of Social Media in B2b Marketing: Investigation of Ewom Effect in Oil and Gas Sector in Qatar. KnE Social Sciences, 152-172.

Ariff, N. Z. Z. M., Kassim, N. A., Shoid, M. S. M., Abdullah, C. Z., Baharuddin, K., Mansor, M. H. M., & Radzi, R. (2018). The Benefits of Using Social Media and the Impact of not filtering the Information. International Journal of Academic Research in Progressive Education and Development, 7(3), 304–313.

Bala, M., & Verma, D. (2018). Critical Review of Digital Marketing. International Journal of Management, IT & Engineering. 8 (10).

Barton, T. (2019). Small business and social enterprise: To thrive not fail. Papers in Canadian Economic Development, 18, 17-43.

Bhimani, H., Mention, A. L., & Barlatier, P. J. (2018). Social media and innovation: A systematic literature review and future research directions. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2018.10.007

Buratti, N., Parola, F., & Satta, G. (2018). Insights on the adoption of social media marketing in B2B services. The TQM Journal, 30(5), 490-529.

Case, C. J., & King, D. L. (2011). AACSB accredited institutions and the Web 2.0: Lagging behind businesses in social networking implementation. Issues in Information Systems , 12 (2), 1–8.

Cydis, S. (2015). Authentic instruction and technology literacy. Journal of Learning Design, 8(1), 68-78.

Dammert, A., & Nansamba, A. (2019). Skills training and business outcomes: experimental evidence from Liberia.

El-Masri, M., & Tarhini, A. (2017). Factors affecting the adoption of e-learning systems in Qatar and USA: Extending the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology 2 (UTAUT2). Educational Technology Research and Development, 65(3), 743-763.

Etlinger, S. (2017). Beyond ROI. Altimeter Group. p. 4. Retrieved from https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C6&q=beyond+roi++etlinger&btnG=

Fortin, D., & Chen, N. (2017) Guest editorial. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 34(6), 469-471. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-07-2017-2268

Gaur, L., & Anshu, K. (2018). Harnessing Potentials of Social Media in Transforming Businesses. International Journal of Engineering & Technology, 7(2), 9-1.

Goldie, J. G. S. (2016) Connectivism: a knowledge learning theory for the digital age? Medical Teacher, 38(10),1064-109.

Hamid, A. A. A. (2020). A Conceptual Framework for Social Media Adoption in Business. International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology, 9(1), 01-12..

Hassan, Hewa Ghafor. (2018).  The Impact of Social Media on Consumer Behavior during Product Purchase Decision Making Process. EPH – International Journal of Business & Management Science. Vol. 4. Issue 3.

Henry, C.A. (2019). Management of social media usage by microenterprises in Rural Trinidad and Tobago.

Hilal, M.I.M. (2018). Impact of social media marketing on purchase intention: Creation of brand equity for Sri Lankan brands. Journal of Management Matters Volume 5 Number 1. Pp.  47- 57

Huang, H. C., Yang, H. C., & Lee, Y. D. (2017). Global Extension by Online Marketing for SME: Customer-based Brand Equity through Social Media. 2(8), 6-15.

Huggins, K. A., & Cunningham, J. E. (2019).  The Social Media Magnet: A New Paradigm in Inbound Marketing Instruction.

Ilavarasan, V., Kar, A., & Gupta, M. P. (2018). Social media and business practices in emerging markets: still unexplored. Journal of Advances in Management Research15(2), 110-114.

Ilona, D., Melmusi, Z., & Pratiwi, H. (2019). Technology context and social media adoption among small and medium enterprises. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1339(1) 12101.

Ishak, F. A. C., Nordin, M. A., Ghazali, H., Ungku, U. F., Abidin, Z., & Bakar, A. Z. A. (2018). The utilization of social media as a marketing tool in food truck business.  International Journal of Accounting3(13), 117-124.

Jumin, J., Ijab, M. T., & Zaman, H. B. (2017). An Integrated Social Media Trading Platform for B40 Social Media Entrepreneurship. In International Visual Informatics Conference. Springer, Cham.112-119.

Kapoor, K. K., Tamilmani, K., Rana, N. P., Patil, P., Dwivedi, Y. K., & Nerur, S. (2018). Advances in social media research: past, present and future. Information Systems Frontiers20(3), 531-558.

Khadim, R.A., Hanan, M.A, Arhad, A., Saleem, N. (2018). Revisiting Antecedents of Brand Loyalty. Academy of Strategic Management Journal.  (17)1.

Kruger, L. and Gilroy, A. (2013). Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs. Journal of Current Issues in Media & Telecommunications, 5(4), 303-329.

Lee, I. (2018). Social media analytics for enterprises: Typology, methods, and processes.

Business Horizons, 61, 199-210. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2017.11.002

Malik, R. (2017). An empirical study of digital marketing and its elements. IJSRST, 3, 715-718.

Merriam, Sharan B.Merriam, Sharan B. (2009) Qualitative research :a guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, Calif. : Jossey-Bass.

McHaney, R., Warkentin, M., Sachs, D., Pope, M. B., & Ormond, D. (2015). Teaching social media in business. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 14, 39-62. Retrieved from http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol14/JITEv14IIPp039-062McHaney0945.pdf

Morah, D. N., & Omojola, O. (2018). Social media use and entrepreneurship development in Nigeria: Lagos and Onitsha in focus. International Journal of Advance Study and Research Work1(5), 15-26.

Mousazadeh, H., Eva, I., & Akbarzadeh, F. (2018). The Effect of Social Networks on Oral Advertisements and Tourists’ Feelings in Northern Iranian Rivers.  Journal of Tourism & Hospitality Research. 7(1.2), 83-96.

Mukherjee, D., & Hollenbaugh, E.E. (2019). Do social media help in the sustainability of small businesses?  A pedagogical study using fictional business cases.  International Journal of Higher Education Management, 6 (1).

Muresan, D., & Sinuraya, R. (2018). Relation between internet and social media to support sales in business. In IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 407(1), 012062.

Nummela, N., Saarenketo, S., & Loane, S. (2016). The dynamics of failure in international new ventures: A case study of Finnish and Irish software companies. International Small Business Journal, 34(1), 51-69.

Park, J. Y., Sung, C. S., & Im, I. (2017). Does Social Media Use Influence Entrepreneurial Opportunity? A Review of its Moderating Role. Sustainability9 (9), 13.

Patra, S. (2020). An empirical examination of the impact on social media on business. International Journal of Management (IJM), 11(2).

Pechenkina, E., & Aeschliman, C. (2017). What do students want?  Making sense of student preferences in technology-enhanced learning. Contemporary Educational Technology, 8(1), 26-39.

Pick, J., Sarkar, A., & Rosales, J. (2019). Social Media Use in American Counties; Geography and Detriments. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 8(9), 424.

Ravitch, S. M., & Carl, N. M. (2016). Validity: Process, strategies, and considerations. Qualitative research: Bridging the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological, 185-214.

Richmond, W., Rader, S., & Lanier, C. (2017).  “The “Digital Divide” for rural small businesses”, Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1108/JRME-02-2017-0006

Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York: The Free Press.

Rowley, Jenny and Keegan, Brendan (2019). An overview of systematic literature reviews in social media marketing. Journal of Information Science. ISSN 0165-5515

Sanwariprasad, K. S., Prakash, S. S., & Quddus, A. A. A. A. (2020). A study on impact of digital marketing on business firms. Studies in Indian Place Names, 40(4), 211-216.

Sharma, M. A., & Singla, R. (2017). Impact of Digital Marketing on Public Relations in Emerging Market Scenario. Catalyst, 2(2), 3.

Shang, D., & Ghriga, M. (2018). Exploring social media analytics on community development practices. Journal of Information Technology Management, 29(4), 39.

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers [ITForum discussion post]. Message posted to http://itforum.coe.uga.edu/Paper105/Siemens.pdf

Subramanian, K.R. (2018). Social Media and the Word of Mouth Publicity. International Research Journal of Advanced Engineering and Science, 3(2)95-100.

Sukrat, S., & Papasratorn, B. (2018). A maturity model for C2C social commerce business model. International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies, 9(1), 27-54.

Szymkowiak, A., & Garczarek-Bąk, U. (2019). Ambivalent attitudes towards social

media. Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Skłodowska, – Oeconomia, 53(1).

Taiwo, A. A., & Downe, A. G. (2013). The theory of user acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT): A meta-analytic review of empirical findings. Journal of Theoretical & Applied Information Technology49(1).

Tewksbury, R. (2009). Qualitative versus Quantitative Methods: Understanding Why Qualitative Methods are Superior for Criminology and Criminal Justice. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, 1(1), 39.

Thakur, R., & Hale, D. (2017). Special Issue Editors Introduction: Impact of Social Media on Business. The Journal of Business Inquiry, 17(1), 1-3.

Vijay & Srivastava (2019). Exploring the dynamic linkages between social media and present marketing practices. International Journal of Customer Relations, 7(1), 26.

Williams, S.P., & Hausman, V. (2017). Categorizing the business risks of social media. Procedia computer science, 121, 266-273.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomlinson Prospectus 2020

This is the approved version….Finally Moving Forward.

AnythingIsPossible

Prospectus

Understanding Instructional Needs of  Entrepreneurs Learning Social Media Marketing

Kathryn “Sky” Tomlinson

PhD in Education, Learning and Innovation Specialization

 

Problem Statement

Small business owners who need to know digital marketing techniques to compete in today’s business world may lack the skills  necessary to implement such techniques; impeding the launching and maintaining of social media campaigns, thus hindering them from reaching potential customers (Ariff et al., 2018; Bhimani, Mention, & Barlatier, 2018; Jumin, Ijab, & Zaman, 2017; Sharma, & Singla, 2017; Thakur, & Hale, 2017).  Fortin and Chen (2017) examined existing models for marketing instruction they deem are unsustainable due to new marketing processes in the information age that small business owners may have not yet adopted.  Gaur and Anshu (2018) contend the value of social media is opportunistic for businesses and proclaim further research is needed to address instructional challenges in social media campaign marketing for entrepreneurs.

The problem is that there is an increased need for understanding what types of instruction small business owners require in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  There is a gap in the literature between how small business owners receive instruction that translates to the skills they need to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This need is underscored by Richmond, Rader, and Lanier (2017) who claim rural small business owners experience a new digital divide pointing to a lack of skills in online marketing strategies, pointing to needed instruction rather than lacking access to the Internet.

Purpose

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand what types of instruction small business owners need in order to learn the skills to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  Kapoor et al. (2018) reviewed evidences and outlined notable advances when highlighting the evolution of social media research, where evidence found developing markets have their own set of issues, underscoring the need for specific instruction when attempting social media marketing. This instructional gap is supported by Ilavarasan, Kar, and Gupta (2018) who found emerging markets face a set of different challenges, that point to a need for instruction when learning to conduct social media campaigns.  Additionally, Al-khinji, Chen, and Eldabi (2019) revealed challenges in adoption, barriers in perceptions regarding the usefulness of social media, and limited instructional options due to funding and time constraints.

 

Significance

Park et al. (2017) suggest business owner’s opinions and attitudes affect the overall diffusion of innovative digital marketing strategies.  Being concerned about how to best instruct digital marketing strategy to help small business owners reach potential customers effectively has been proven to be crucial for business sustainability and contributes to a healthy local economy (Bhimani et al., 2018).  The importance of including technology innovation in business strategy points to training needed to remain current and competitive (Ilona, Melmusi, & Pratiwi, 2019).

Small business owners need to be taught ways to learn and use this innovation effectively to launch and maintain successful social media campaigns (Fortin & Chen, 2017).  Practical application for this research is to further the development of professional practice for small business owners and involves having a clearer picture of what types of instruction small business owners need to learn social media marketing.

 

Background

Resources for this literature review were accessed via web-based libraries and databases including:  Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, Walden University Library, Google Scholar.  Keywords included: Social networking, small business, digital marketing, networked knowledge, connected learning, small business and entrepreneurship, social media marketing, technology acceptance model.  Articles relating to social media marketing for small business include:

 

  1. Researching knowledge acquisition, Jumin et al. (2017) were able to assist B40 social entrepreneurs define their customers more effectively by using high end metrics such as social media analytics using sentiment analysis; intended to support skill, networks and social entrepreneurship. Similarly, these B40 entrepreneurs implemented the use of social media tools in less developed geographical locations of their country.
  2. Sharma and Singla (2017) underscore the relevance of this research echoing how content for social media marketing is a huge domain calling for further research efforts to more clearly define what kind of digital divide actually exists. This study clarifies the need for learning strategies and supports the notion that the real digital divide is related to information and access to knowledge-building resources to effectively launch and maintain successful social media campaigns.
  3. Huang, Yang, and Lee (2017) show similar trends, finding small and medium enterprises may have difficulty competing with major businesses if not providing unique value to customers. This supports the premise that these entrepreneurs are facing a different set of challenges to compete.  An analysis of learning requirements in digital marketing strategy also clarifies a need for innovative, and perhaps collaborative, methods of learning and the development of digital marketing knowledge.
  4. Park et al. (2017) findings support the premise that digital marketing practices are vital. They clarify this need by exposing a gap in knowledge of use and skill level and instruction of small business owners to create successful social media campaigns.
  5. Richmond et al. (2017) offer similar evidence of a ‘new digital divide’ as a reason for more knowledge needed by small business owners. Finding out how to access instruction and resources to obtain knowledge and information to skillfully execute a social media campaign is where future research is called for.
  6. Morah and Omojola (2018) performed a study on how the use of social media platforms support growth in small and medium scale enterprises (SME’s) using the Diffusion of Innovations and Technology Acceptance Models and descriptive survey research. They claim that the outcomes show significance in the development of entrepreneurship and increased visibility, while many business owners seem to be oblivious to their value or need instruction to master digital marketing strategy.
  7. To clarify the question of access, Etlinger (2017) revealed not only a degree of bandwidth or access issues, but took a deeper look at the knowledge entrepreneurs have in digital marketing strategy, including the ability to read analytics. This supports the need for more information and training resources to help entrepreneurs endeavoring to compete in a global economy.
  8. A study by Al-khinji, Chen, & Eldabi (2019) defines social media marketing and uncovers instruction needs due to lack of resources, such as funding and time constraints, potential negative perceptions, and other barriers in technology adoption.

 

Conceptual Framework

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the instructional needs of  small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.  This research requires a conceptual framework which involves understanding the dissemination of a new innovation by identifying instructional needs of small business owners learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.  Taiwo and Downe (2013) provide validity supporting innovation adoption in the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model, which is derived from previous seminal research such as; Social Cognitive Theory, Technology Acceptance Model, Model of PC Utilization, and Innovation Diffusion Theory.  In addition, the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) will be used to align new developments with future needs to improve instruction for technological innovations. This researcher will explore innovative approaches to instruction that converge with the need to help define better ways to teach how to leverage social networks and networked knowledge complimented by technology tools (Goldie, 2016).

 

Research Questions

The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns.

  1. What are small business owners’ instructional needs in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?
  2. What are small business owners’ instructional experiences in learning how to launch and maintain social media marketing campaigns?

 

Nature of Study

A basic qualitative approach will be used to investigate the instructional needs of  small business owners who are learning how to launch and maintain  social media marketing campaigns.  Qualitative research is rooted in the methodology of seeking how people understand and interpret the world around them (Ravitch & Carl, 2016). According to Merriam (2009), basic qualitative studies are used to understand how people interpret experiences, construct their worlds, and the meaning behind their experiences. This basic qualitative approach will be used in this study to gain an understanding of the instructional needs of small business owners who are learning how to conduct social media marketing campaigns.

 

Possible Types and Sources of Data

  • Open-ended interviews of 12-18 small business owners in person, phone call, or Skype/Zoom.

 

References

 

Al-khinji, S., Chen, W., & Eldabi, T. (2019). Effect of Social Media in B2b Marketing: Investigation of Ewom Effect in Oil and Gas Sector in Qatar. KnE Social Sciences,

Ariff, N. Z. Z. M., Kassim, N. A., Shoid, M. S. M., Abdullah, C. Z., Baharuddin, K., Mansor, M. H. M., & Radzi, R. (2018). The Benefits of Using Social Media and the Impact of not filtering the Information. International Journal of Academic Research in Progressive Education and Development, 7(3), 304–313.

Bala, M., & Verma, D. (2018). Critical Review of Digital Marketing. International Journal of Management, IT & Engineering. 8 (10).

Bhimani, H., Mention, A. L., & Barlatier, P. J. (2018). Social media and innovation: A systematic literature review and future research directions. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2018.10.007

Buratti, N., Parola, F., & Satta, G. (2018). Insights on the adoption of social media marketing in B2B services. The TQM Journal, 30(5), 490-529.

Chuttur M.Y. (2009). “Overview of the Technology Acceptance Model: Origins,

Developments and Future Directions ,” Indiana University, USA . Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems, 9(37).

Etlinger, S. (2017). Beyond ROI. Altimeter Group. p. 4. Retrieved from https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C6&q=beyond+roi++etlinger&btnG=

Fortin, D., & Chen, N. (2017) Guest editorial. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 34(6), 469-471. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-07-2017-2268

Gaur, L., & Anshu, K. (2018). Harnessing Potentials of Social Media in Transforming Businesses. International Journal of Engineering & Technology, 7(2), 9-1.

Goldie, J. G. S. (2016) Connectivism: a knowledge learning theory for the digital age? Medical Teacher, 38(10), pp. 1064-109.

Huang, H. C., Yang, H. C., & Lee, Y. D. (2017). Global Extension by Online Marketing for SME: Customer-based Brand Equity through Social Media. 2(8), 6-15.

Ilavarasan, V., Kar, A., & Gupta, M. P. (2018). Social media and business practices in emerging markets: still unexplored. Journal of Advances in Management Research15(2), 110-114.

Jumin, J., Ijab, M. T., & Zaman, H. B. (2017). An Integrated Social Media Trading Platform for B40 Social Media Entrepreneurship. In International Visual Informatics Conference. Springer, Cham.112-119.

Kapoor, K. K., Tamilmani, K., Rana, N. P., Patil, P., Dwivedi, Y. K., & Nerur, S. (2018). Advances in social media research: past, present and future. Information Systems Frontiers20(3), 531-558.

Ilona, D., Melmusi, Z., & Pratiwi, H. (2019). Technology context and social media adoption among small and medium enterprises. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series 1339 (1).

Merriam, Sharan B.Merriam, Sharan B. (2009) Qualitative research :a guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, Calif. : Jossey-Bass.

Morah, D. N., & Omojola, O. (2018). Social media use and entrepreneurship development in Nigeria: Lagos and Onitsha in focus. International Journal of Advance Study and Research Work1(5), 15-26.

Park, J. Y., Sung, C. S., & Im, I. (2017). Does Social Media Use Influence Entrepreneurial Opportunity? A Review of its Moderating Role. Sustainability, 9, (9), 13.

Ravitch, S. M., & Carl, N. M. (2016). Validity: Process, strategies, and considerations. Qualitative research: Bridging the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological, 185-214.

Richmond, W., Rader, S., & Lanier, C. (2017).  “The “Digital Divide” for rural small businesses”, Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1108/JRME-02-2017-0006

Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York: The Free Press.

Sharma, M. A., & Singla, R. (2017). Impact of Digital Marketing on Public Relations in Emerging Market Scenario. Catalyst, 2(2), 3.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers [ITForum discussion post]. Message posted to http://itforum.coe.uga.edu/Paper105/Siemens.pdf

Taiwo, A. A., & Downe, A. G. (2013). The theory of user acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT): A meta-analytic review of empirical findings. Journal of Theoretical & Applied Information Technology49(1).

Tewksbury, R. (2009). Qualitative versus Quantitative Methods: Understanding Why Qualitative Methods are Superior for Criminology and Criminal Justice. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, 1(1), 39.

Thakur, R., & Hale, D. (2017). Special Issue Editors Introduction: Impact of Social Media on Business. The Journal of Business Inquiry, 17(1), 1-3.

 

Anything Can Happen...and, it Always Does.

 

 

 

screen shot 2019-01-23 at 3.21.19 pm

(Click on visual image to see Mind Map)

 

Prospectus:

Digital marketing for rural small business owners conducting social media campaigns.

Problem Statement

From a theoretical perspective, defining the issues involved in launching and maintaining social media campaigns for business could be challenging with many variables and concepts to consider (Ariff, Kassim, Shoid, Abdullah, Baharuddin, Mansor, and Radzi, 2018). If language can make meaning of words different for individuals of different cultural backgrounds, then a single definition for a concept that is meant to be understood cannot represent how much is known on that particular subject (Siemens, 2008).  Small business owners need knowledge in new media and digital marketing practices to do business now, thus are reliant on research findings that may offer current best practices. Fortin and Chen (2017) examined traditional models for marketing they deem unsustainable due to new marketing processes in the information age.

Richmond, Rader, and Lanier (2017) confirmed evidence of a new digital divide for rural small business owners, based on knowledge in the use of digital technology and online marketing strategies, rather than lack of access to the internet. The intent of this study is to fill the gap which exists between rural small business owners in Newton County, Arkansas and successful social media campaigns. On the other hand, Etlinger (2017) presented disconfirming evidence, proving how little small business owners actually value social media, while also identifying a gap in knowledge and skill for using and interpreting data.  This study intends to explore social networks, the learning curve, and access issues for small business owners.  We know that social networks connect people like hubs, who use this medium to build community (Laureate Education, 2014).  Going deeper into relevant theoretical underpinning, Siemens (2004) asks “What is the impact of networks and complexity theories on learning?” (p. 3).  Defining these networks and grounding their use in theory is the objective of this research.  The outcome of this work is intended to help small business owners in Newton County Arkansas, a county that ranks 85 in the top 100 poorest counties in the United States, better understand how technology and networked knowledge play a role in learning digital marketing as they master their own social media campaigns.

Purpose

The purpose and intent of this study is to understand what problems exist relating to the skill level of rural small business owners that may hinder them from creating successful social media campaigns.  Kawaljeet Kaur Kapoor & Kuttimani Tamilmani, & Nripendra, Rana & Pushp, Patil & Yogesh, Dwivedi & Sridhar Nerur (2018) reviewed evidences and outline notable advances, as well as the evolution of social media research.  This study intends to probe deeper into the needs of the rural small business owner, because  “emerging and developing markets offer different challenges while deploying social media for various business functions” (Vigneswara Ilavarasan, Arpan Kar, M.P. Gupta, 2018). This study is intended to help understand current knowledge, with a review of research to date, commencing a qualitative study, which will be used to inform about interest, specific skill level, and challenges of rural small business owners.

Significance

The goal of this study is to provide a deeper understanding of data pertaining to skill level and potential adoption rate in digital marketing for small business owners.  In agreement with this notion Park, Sung, and Im (2017) found “the advances of social media in practice remain based on the users’ perceptions and enthusiasm about its implementation” (p.12).  Identifying this performance gap makes it apparent that many small businesses owners may not understand digital marketing strategies. The original contribution this study intends to make, is to better understand the level of knowledge and skill rural small business owners have in digital marketing strategies.  Being concerned about their customers’ needs and how to reach potential customers effectively is crucial for business sustainability and a good local economy.

This study is intended to build upon findings, and to support “Research that attempts to better understand consumers in the digital age helps to develop better marketing communication solutions” (Fortin & Chen, 2017, p. 469). Practical application to further the development of professional practice for rural small business owners involves having a better understanding of how entrepreneurs use social media.  To understand the problem it is critical to define not only access issues, but also in knowing how to clearly understand the trends analytics are able to represent; in monitoring and predicting opportunities.  This study is designed to explore effective features accessible to entrepreneurs that may create value when attempting to compete with big business in the digital age.

Background

Articles relating to social media marketing for small rural businesses include:

  1. The Jumin, Ijab, and Zaman (2017) researchers were able to help B40 social entrepreneurs understand their customers better by using high end metrics such as sentiment analysis and social media analytics; serving to boost their social entrepreneurship.
  2. Etlinger (2017) aligns with the question to understand not only the degree of bandwidth or access issues, but in taking a deeper look at the level of knowledge rural entrepreneurs have in digital marketing strategy and analytic skill.
  3. Sharma and Singla (2017) underscored the relevance of this research echoing how content for social media marketing is a huge domain calling for further research efforts to more clearly define what kind of digital divide actually exists.
  4. Huang, Yang, and Lee (2017) note small and medium enterprises may have difficulty competing with major businesses, if not providing unique value to customers.
  5. Park, Sung, and Im (2017) findings prove digital marketing practices are vital, yet noting a gap in knowledge of use and skill level of rural small business owners to create successful social media campaigns.
  6. Richmond, Rader, & Lanier, (2017) offer evidence of a ‘new digital divide’ as a reason for more knowledge and skill needed by small business owners.
  7. Van Tiem, Moseley, and Dessinger (2012) point to factors to consider for products and services to fill customer needs, which in turn helps the local economy.

Framework

One objective of this premise is to know specifically how social networks impact learning theory. Social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986) and Connectivism (Siemens, 2004) provide basic framework as primary theoretical underpinning. New millennial researchers (Siemens, 2008; Rogers, 2010; Jordan, 2018) agree it is vital to ask questions about how theories have different results when applying technology.  This study intends to utilize learning theory needed by small business owners in a struggling economy to keep up with the pace of technology, thus addressing gaps as they are uncovered and modifying conditions for learning.  Defining new approaches to learning environments using social networks complimented by technology use, such as social media analytics, are increasingly important to rural small business owners today.

Research Questions

Based on the gap in the level of knowledge small business owners possess about digital marketing strategies identified in the review of current research, a qualitative study will be employed to inform the subject further by asking questions like: a) How do small business owners recognize a need for using social media marketing strategies?  b) Do they outsource statisticians to help them monitor analytics to help them measure the success of their digital marketing campaigns?  c) Do they ask a volunteer, family-member or friend to monitor their campaigns and hope for the best outcome, because they do not consider digital marketing a big priority to their business?  d) Or, do entrepreneurs value digital marketing strategies by attempting to launch and monitor their own social media campaigns? Relevant to this research Siemens (2004) asks, “What is the impact of networks and complexity theories on learning?” (p. 3).  It is the goal of this study to answer questions that pertain to social media networks and help understand how technology, language, and networked knowledge play a role in learning for struggling entrepreneurs in Newton County, Arkansas.

Nature of Study

To answer why and how social media marketing skills are important to small business owners, a qualitative approach will be employed to find out whether these rural entrepreneurs value social media marketing for their business; who takes responsibility for their social media campaigns; and, to learn what skill level is recommended for the  adoption of this new marketing innovation.  Tewksbury (2009) posits, “Qualitative methods provide a depth of understanding of issues that is not possible through the use of quantitative, statistically-based investigations” (p. 39). This methodological approach offers more, and rich, data from alternative viewpoints when examining digital content and environmental factors, while providing an increase in depth of understanding.  Pertinent to this premise, Loveleen and Kumari (2018) contend, “social media is considered useful and full of opportunities for business” (p. 11).  They proclaim further research is needed to define small business use of social media to address gaps in access, issues in knowledge, challenges in skill level, and the rate of adoption of social media campaign marketing for entrepreneurs.  Research has found there are specific factors that influence the success of social media campaigns for small businesses (Buratti, Parola, and Satta, 2018).  Furthermore, Thakur and Hale (2017) argue, “attitude and technology apprehension are predictors of technology adoption intention” (p. 2).  Utilizing methods of advanced research is intended to derive in-depth answers, and ultimately help find solutions to complex problems small businesses face in marketing their products and services in the digital age.

Possible Types and Sources of Data

Potential data sources used to address questions about rural business social media campaigns will be derived from in-depth interviews with business owners asking open ended questions about access to bandwidth and determining the skill level of entrepreneurs.  This study will probe more deeply into the how’s and why’s, and identify who implements social marketing for small business located in Newton County, Arkansas.  Personal interviews with business owners as a source for data will allow for the researcher to practice, “immersion in settings to understand the what, how, when and where and how of social structure and action/interaction” ( Tewksbury, 2009, p. 43).  Interviews are to be scheduled with entrepreneurs who are actively engaged in social media campaigns during the period of time the study takes place. Primary sources for information and original data are derived first hand from interviews with participants, while secondary sources include data derived from research articles, reports and conference proceedings that are most often published in peer reviewed journals, and governmental websites.

Possible Analytical Strategies

This methodology will require implementation of content analysis in marketing strategies to determine meta-data regarding analytic understanding, as well as whether rurally-based entrepreneurs are using, or interested in using, the vast array of digital tools available to administrators of business pages on social media platforms. Yang (2018) noted, “incorporating multimedia information in the coding process is another interesting avenue for future research” (p.59). Observation of multimedia and content analysis will be utilized in the proposed study.  A specific plan to analyze the data derived from this case study recognizes small rural businesses that employ social media marketing will be selected due to their unique position, identified as being located in one of the poorest counties in the United States.  It is recommended to approach content analysis with critical and scientific guidelines (Stake,1995; Merriman, 1998), particularly since these entrepreneurs are considered to be a hub in the network of an integrated, or bounded, system, which in this case is digital marketing and small business.   In this study the unit of analysis is the experience of each rural small business owner, which include level of skill and rate of adoption. This work will uncover and further identify problems encountered and potential solutions to issues faced by small businesses struggling to market their products and services in one of the poorest counties in the United States.

 

References

 

Ariff, N. Z. Z. M., Kassim, N. A., Shoid, M. S. M., Abdullah, C. Z., Baharuddin, K., Mansor, M. H. M., Radzi, R. (2018). The Benefits of Using Social Media and the Impact of not filtering the Information. International Journal of Academic Research in Progressive Education and Development, 7(3), 304–313.

Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual Review Psychology, 52, 1–26.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive

Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Buratti, N., Parola, F., Satta, G. (2018). Insights on the adoption of social media marketing in B2B services. The TQM Journal, 30(5), 490-529.

Etlinger, S. (2017). Beyond ROI. Altimeter Group, 2-15.  Retrieved from https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C6&q=beyond+roi++etlinger&btnG=

Fortin, D., Chen, N. (2017) Guest editorial. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 34(6), 469-471. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-07-2017-2268

Gaur, L.,  Anshu, K. (2018). Harnessing Potentials of Social Media in Transforming Businesses. International Journal of Engineering & Technology, 7(2), 9-13.

Huang, H. C., Yang, H. C., & Lee, Y. D. (2017). Global Extension by Online Marketing for SME: Customer-based Brand Equity through Social Media. 2(8), 6-15.

Jumin, J., Ijab, M. T., & Zaman, H. B. (2017). An Integrated Social Media Trading Platform for B40 Social Media Entrepreneurship. In International Visual Informatics Conference. Springer, Cham.112-119.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014). Anatomy of eLearning: Conceptual framework. [Interactive media]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. (2nd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Park, J. Y., Sung, C. S., & Im, I. (2017). Does Social Media Use Influence Entrepreneurial Opportunity? A Review of its Moderating Role. Sustainability, 9, (9).

Richmond, W., Rader, S., Lanier, C. (2017).  “The “Digital Divide” for rural small businesses”, Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1108/JRME-02-2017-0006

Sharma, M. A., & Singla, R. (2017). Impact of Digital Marketing on Public Relations in Emerging Market Scenario. Catalyst, 2(2).

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers [ITForum discussion post]. Message posted to http://itforum.coe.uga.edu/Paper105/Siemens.pdf

Stake, R.E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

 

Tewksbury, R. (2009). Qualitative versus Quantitative Methods: Understanding Why Qualitative Methods are Superior for Criminology and Criminal Justice. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, 1(1), 39.

Thakur, R., & Hale, D. (2017). Special Issue Editors Introduction: Impact of Social Media on Business. The Journal of Business Inquiry, 17(1), 1-3.

United States Census Bureau. (2017). 2016 Poverty and Median Household Income

Estimates – Counties, States, and National. U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) Program, 100 counties with lowest per capita income.  Retrieved from  https://www.census.gov/programssurveys/saipe/data/datasets.2016.html

Yang, M. (2018). Toward a Comprehensive Understanding of User-Generated Content and Engagement Behavior on Facebook Business Pages. 59.

 

Link to MindMap: 

https://mm.tt/1206362443?t=SvNqaKUne4

The Ripple Effects of Change

Leadership theory is helpful to meet the challenges of change management plans.  Mitchell (2013) speculates, “careful consideration of change theory can simplify the process for change agents and help those affected by change to be more receptive to it” (p. 37). Does this lead you to believe it is more important to bring about social change by focusing on change management approaches in lieu of leadership styles?

After taking the survey this time my results showed I was an ultra-committed change agent, which made more sense because I have been highly involved in a the television and video industry that are highly technology-driven, requiring an ability to readily adopt innovations; followed by curriculum development, diffusion, and roll-out.  Social change intended to come about as a result of my PIP, involves better understanding and methods for creating and executing successful digital marketing campaigns for rural small businesses.  Most believe the gap or ‘digital divide’ for this demographic refers to the lack in having access to technology.  However, this project intends to discover whether there might be a gap in digital literacy that needs attention and intervention to increase knowledge and digital marketing skills of rural small business owners. (Richmond, Rader, & Lanier, 2017)

In the past I have considered myself a transformational leader.  It is encouraging to find out this leadership approach is a proven and creative way to impact positive social change. Allen, Smith, & Da Silva’s (2013) study found, “church members’ perception of the pastor’s transformational leadership is positively related to their perceptions of the organization’s psychological climate for change readiness and psychological climate for organizational creativity” (p. 35).  This leadership style tends to set the pace and create momentum for innovative change.

That notion may have answered my own inquiry; however, I still wonder if it might be possible for any one of the various leadership approaches to be able to accomplish positive social change efforts better than any of the others?  Learning about the situational leadership approach leads me to believe, perhaps modifying leadership approaches to match level of readiness might be more appropriate to context and individual behaviors. “The key to Situational Leadership is learning to accurately determine readiness and then matching the follower’s readiness level with the appropriate leadership style” (Bedford & Gehlert, 2013, p. 58).  Thus, Mitchell (2013) may be correct in assuming, “Understanding and using a change theory framework can help managers or other change agents to increase the likelihood of success” (p. 32).

 

References

 

Allen, S. L., Smith, J. E., & Da Silva, N. (2013). Leadership style in relation to organizational change and organizational creativity: Perceptions from nonprofit organizational members. Nonprofit Management & Leadership, 24(1), p. 35.

Bedford, C., & Gehlert, K. M. (2013). Situational supervision: Applying situational leadership to clinical supervision. The Clinical Supervisor, 32(1), p. 58.

Richmond, W., Rader, S., Lanier, C. (2017).  “The “Digital Divide” for rural small businesses”, Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1108/JRME-02-2017-0006

Mitchell, G. (2013). Selecting the best theory to implement planned change. Nursing Management, 20(1), p. 37.

Wellness Wheel YogaMOOC

Course Goal Assessment:

Everything about this class has been extremely rewarding. The lectures, on and off mat exercises, and guest lectures were informed and helped me to reach further in my practice and understanding of yoga, breathing, and meditation techniques. I believe I will be able to accomplish my goal of completing verification for the course with no problems.  I have much more than 2 artifacts from each week, and so much rich information and visuals to refer back to and continue sharing with my friends.

I was just exchanging notes about the Yin poses we practiced this week, and naturally set a goal for myself to attempt holding the poses for longer periods of time.  Yes, the practice in goal setting became second nature, as I have identified other areas of my life where I can break down the larger, more overwhelming tasks, and create little things that will ripple out into my life, making larger more complex processes and outcomes possible. 

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 7.23.25 PM

One thing that worked well in this goal process was reporting each week, which made me feel more accountable in achieving my goal.  One thing I might change about the goal setting process, would be to clearly state each week my intentions for what needs to be accomplished, and giving it a deadline for completion.  (maybe that would make it more measurable)

 

 

Observation of Interpersonal Interactions

 

Off-the-mat practice for this final week involved an exercise in listening:

I was asked to reflect on how well I am listening, which has been a major issue in my life.  I am always thinking about what I am going to say, but have made an effort to be more present and really listen to others who are talking to me.  As I listen more intently, I am able to notice bodily sensations, my posture, breathing, and try to allow for eye contact and proper acknowledgement that I am hearing and understanding what I am being told.  I am learning to enjoy the silent pauses more.  This is really hard for me, but as I grow older I am making it a point to slow down conversations, and allow for those pauses, and a chance to just be present in the moment or situation.  I have gotten better at appreciating, and really seeing the person who is talking to me.  But, I still need practice, and this exercise was the perfect reminder to get me thinking about how to be a better listener in the future.

 listen1

 

Discussion and Activities

In the #YogaMOOC I learned:  Proper Yoga positions and form, breathing and meditation techniques, all about the concept of mindfulness and how to practice compassion.

So much of this information will be used on a daily basis.  I intend to implement breathing, meditation, and yoga practice 1 to 3 times per week.  This will be a good habit I have developed from this class that will stay with me for a lifetime.

Going forward, I am creating new goals for my personal practice and looking into joining classes and communities to further my knowledge and extend my understanding of mental and physical training to achieve well-being in my life.

I have met so many people here and I expect to see more of their work on social media outlets.  I am also going to pursue more yoga retreats and a local class in my hometown, to have that face-to-face and community-building experience.

till we meet again

Yes….Tears.   😦

I really don’t want this to end.  I have been excited from the beginning to learn more than I ever imagined possible about my past, current, and future yoga practice.  This grounded my practice in real research, and history from throughout the ages, that is going to make a difference for the better in my life, and those I come in contact with.  I learned mostly about relationships.  How important they are.  And, that connecting is vital to our thriving and surviving well.

Thanks so much to my instructors and coursemates, for this Amazing, Life Changing, Experience.  During this course I was able to center and ground myself enough to begin work toward a huge goal and below is the outcome of that goal, so far.  A Premise!

  Infinite Love & GratitudeNamaste.   Sky

 

As far as my goal for this course, I believe I am on track with this #YogaMOOC.  Spent a little time gathering artifacts for submission at course completion.  It has been a fun and engaging experience in creating different visual elements to add to our learning activity.  I am totally enjoying this opportunity to expand so much in the way of knowledge and physical capacity to grow well after this MOOC is complete.

 

This has been a busy week of learning more about the mind and body connection in yoga from Dr. Catherine Spann, with guest lecturers, as well as practicing many breathing techniques that enhance one’s experience in so many ways.  Really appreciate getting to do these early in the week, because it was refreshing…especially followed up with the various poses we were practicing for the week, and the mini yoga session.

The 4-7-8 breath exercise with Stacy Dockins  was a good way to regulate the amount of air intake, and how long to hold it in before exhaling.  Then having an opportunity to practice Coherent Breathing with Dr. Patricia Gerbarg guiding the process was so healing for me.  I learned a great deal from Dr. Gerbarg’s lecture, and will be returning to that video interview again to take notes for future reference.

The key concept I learned this week was exhibited in my idea map below, which shows the process of the Vargus Nerve as the Master Regulator of our system, using breath to self-regulate many body systems, such as circulation.  Here it is:Vagus Nerve

It was so interesting to learn the Anatomy of Breath.  I have always believed our state of mind influences the body, and physical affects the mental.  It helped me to visualize my lungs and diaphragm while breathing and learning about musculoskeletal wellness from Stacy Dockins.  You’ve got to see this!

Breathing mechanism animation

And finally, the following quote pretty much sums up this #YogaMOOC experience:

“Dr. Kevin Tracey was one of the first to research this mind-body connector and led the way regarding research on how the vagus nerve impacts the immune system and fights inflammation. Dr. Tracey was also interested in how yoga could potentially excite the vagus nerve, discussing this with the Dalai Lama in 2006. Dr. Tracey said, “the literature shows that for centuries, doctors, monks, shamans, priests, acupuncturists and even laymen believed that individuals’ state of mind influenced their health. But nobody could explain how, until now.”

 

 

Well, it was not possible for me to journal EVERY day.  However, this week from my participation in the #YogaMOOC I learned a new Life Practice.  Applying my attention to be awake in moments of stress (staying in my body mentally, emotionally, and physically).  I have learned to use the off-switch protocol whenever necessary, and as often as I need to be open to feelings of centeredness, and well-being.

Common Occurrences that invoke stress:

This week I monitored these events from the perspective of my observer-self.  Most notably, I recollected my breathing patterns and how using the off-switch allowed for me to regulate not only breathing from shallow to deep breaths, but also I distinctly recall feeling my heart rate decrease ever so slowly during the process.  Bumpf bumpf, bumpf bumpf…… bumpf bumpf…..so nice.

I noticed when I drive long distances my hands and feet have a tingling/numb sensation.  This reminded me to wiggle my toes, and do some finger stretches, in an effort to allow for circulation.  It worked.

When cold and shivering, I was able to employ the off-switch and regulate my breathing.  I was at a park and waiting for a locksmith (yes, stress due to absent-mindedness and locking my keys in the car), so while waiting I created an opportunity to use all that I have learned this week.  First, I sat in the sunshine and practiced meditation and breathing exercises.  After observing several young people playing a ballgame, I was prompted to take a walk to get grounded and allow for better circulation.  What a reset!  The off-switch is functioning well.

It was especially revealing to find myself in situations during the week where I had to just sit and wait.  Instead of repeatedly monitoring my mobile device, I made it a point to practice breathing and meditation techniques.  This week I also put my intention on making more time to take walks, appreciate nature, being more present and observing animals and children, and finally what I call “going to the mount oft”…I have a special place where I go for this.

IMG_3747

Lastly, I have decided to set an intention when I have feelings of depression and fatigue. The self-compassion information and resources I received this week in the #YogaMOOC converged with an outside resource I obtained, in which President Dieter F. Uchtdorf offered two suggestions in his inspiring book, “The Remarkable Soul of a Woman”.  He recommended we create in small and large ways to make a difference in the world.  And, we give compassionate care to those in need.  This is how I may give back and in the process, get my mind off of my own problems.

To put this week’s resources into practice, I commit to noticing any body sensations that relate to stress, and to memorize the statement suggested in Stacey Dockins off-mat assignment, which is.

Personal Statement of Intention:

“I commit to tuning in to the sensations of my body so that I can be aware of ANY moment of stress response within me.  I am taking full responsibility for my well-being by using my off-switch to return to balance and clarity.”

I commit to employing my own Off-switch protocol to:

  1. Notice body sensations of stress
  2. Take 5 long deep breaths, and
  3. Tune in to my surroundings

These are new habits I am developing and a New Life Practice; being awake to all moments of stress and putting that off-switch into practice as often as necessary.  Dr. Shaun House relieved a ton of stress when he declared, we have already won if we merely attempt a yoga pose!  And finally, in the Science Behind Yoga video, Dr. Bruce Lipton also noted that even just twelve minutes average per day of practice is doable.  This video offered compelling evidence for using a yoga practice to get down to really knowing the truth of who you are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 2.16.42 PM

The premise, “society’s interests are maximized when intellectual property is shared freely, with proper attribution, for noncommercial purposes” (Wiley, Bliss, & McEwen, 2014, p. 782) depends on the model in which copyright standards are based. As Siemens noted (Laureate Education, 2015), there are two ways to look at the way intellectual property is shared.  If the copyright model is too loose, creators may not be protected, so tend to keep their information in secrecy, which has a chilling effect, drying up original creative ideas; when copyright was intended to protect ownership and respect creators or original content.  However, if copyright requirements are too strict, there is no way to build on existing knowledge that is not known, or accessible, because it is being held in secret by the creator, then there is a drying up of collaboration and building on the work of others. (Laureate Education, 2014)

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 2.43.40 AM

It is apparent that there is still much work to do in the domain of copyright in the future.  Kaufman (2006) looked at this from a mega perspective and proclaimed, “the practice of educational technology should first begin by determining and justifying what the ultimate desirable impacts of our actions are on society and using that as a guide for the design process” (p. 115).  As designers of learning tools, we will be able to better use open source material, with the intention of building on the work of others.

The members of AECT has worked collaboratively to create and update ethical standards.  In a recent webinar Reigeluth  (2017) challenged participants with the charge of improving upon the practice of design theory, rather than our attempting to prove advanced theories ourselves.  This made my work in creating research that will be more meaningful to my field of practice.

This question was real for me upon completion of my multimedia presentation on the topic of MOOC’s, when posting it in my blog within the MOOC Activity Board and on my Twitter page. It occurred to me that the theorist and scholar who researched and reported on most of what my presentation was about, would be looking at my work.  This notion became very important to me, prior to my being exposed to this week’s resources on the fair and proper use of intellectual property.  (gulp! …am learning much)

download

References

 

Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). (2015). Code of professional ethics. Retrieved from http://aect.site-ym.com/members/group_content_view.asp?group=91131&id=309963

Kaufman, R. (2006). Change, choices, and consequences: A guide to mega thinking and planning. Amherst, MA: HRD Press.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014). Anatomy of eLearning: Conceptual framework [Interactive media]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Moore, S. L., & Ellsworth, J. B. (2014). Ethics of educational technology. In J. M. Spector, M. D. Merrill, J. Elen, & M. J. Bishop (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (4th ed.). New York, NY: Springer. p. 115.

Reigeluth, C. (2017). Research to Make a Difference. AECT Web Conference. Retrieved from https://cc.readytalk.com/partlogin/s0zyudekydiw&eom

edutechafrica

...grooming great generations

thornburgthoughts

Semi-random rants and raves from David Thornburg

Dee The "G" Girl

The Rise & Fall of the G Girl

VoicesNow.com

Cast It, Book It, Record It

On Blogging and Social Media

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Social Media

Just another WordPress.com site

Data Import/Export

"Exploring the Ins & Outs of The Digital Ecosystem."

Martin Gilbraith

Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF | Master), Trainer & Consultant

Learning the World

Explorations in Instructional Design and Technology

Experiencing E-Learning

Building Engaging Learning Experiences through Instructional Design and E-Learning

jenniferyadav

Instructional Design and Technology Site

Joe Kaus's IDT Blog

"Exploring the Ins & Outs of The Digital Ecosystem."

Gordon's Designs

Thoughts and Insight on Instructional Design

It's All About ID

"Exploring the Ins & Outs of The Digital Ecosystem."

Distance Learning

"Exploring the Ins & Outs of The Digital Ecosystem."

Rósa's blog page - Instructional Design

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand” –Chinese Proverb–

Instructional Design and Education Resources

"Exploring the Ins & Outs of The Digital Ecosystem."

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.