Home > Magazine > Issue 5 >

Critical Success Factors and the Impact of New Media

By Dr. Steve White
Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth

One of the hidden gems of the marketing research community is the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). With a tagline of "Tomorrow's Research Today," SSRN serves as a repository for academic research in progress and is "devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of social science research."

Top business schools, economic departments, law schools, and entrepreneurship research and policy centers are represented on SSRN. Registration for full access to SSRN is free, as are many of the articles and abstracts available on the site (some access to research is fee-based).

As an advocate of all things open source, in my opinion, this repository represents the best option for the rapid diffusion of knowledge globally. If interested, you can follow SSRN on Twitter.

The two academic marketing research articles reviewed in this issue of Social Media Marketing Magazine are:

Implementing Effective Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Heckadon does a good job of documenting and describing ten critical success factors (CSFs) for creating and implementing effective social media marketing campaigns. Don't let the fact that this is a master of arts thesis discourage you from downloading this research—it is easy to read. The research may best be characterized as a descriptive analysis of social media marketing best practices.

After an extensive review of the literature, Heckadon proposes and justifies these ten CSFs:

  • Having a social media marketing strategy
  • Integrating the social media marketing strategy into the broader marketing strategy
  • Social media optimization
  • Creating a community
  • Encouraging user content creation and feedback
  • Being open and honest
  • Keeping content fresh and relevant
  • Making the user feel special
  • Identifying with a cause
  • Measuring social media marketing performance

The results of the research are neither earth shattering nor unknown. The value of this thesis is the extensive literature review and justification provided for each of the ten CSFs.

The Impact of New Media on Customer Relationships

Hennig-Thurau et al. contend that the rise of new media is disruptive enough to warrant a shift in marketing thinking. The authors offer a new conceptual framework for explaining the changing relationship between companies and consumers. The real value in the article, however, lies in the key research implications. Hennig-Thurau et al. provide a logical and pragmatic "roadmap" of the important research questions yet to be answered.

The authors identify ten new media phenomena (new multimedia services, digital consumer articulation, consumers as retailers, online social communities, shopping bots, search bots, mobile technologies, recommendation systems, peer-to-peer networks and piracy, and online auctions), summarize the existing literature, and provide multiple research questions for each.

Although some of the new media phenomena identified are hardly new, the article offers an interesting perspective wrapped in a new framework, using a pinball analogy. If for nothing else, the authors should be commended for using old school gaming to describe new school media and its impact on customer relationships.


Both articles provide social media marketers with in-depth literature reviews and though-provoking CSFs for operating in a rapidly changing marketing environment. And both identify ten "game changers," albeit from different perspectives.

As marketing researchers, our job is to turn these literature reviews into actionable research and to disseminate the results via SSRN or this column. Can we count on you?

Steve White

Dr. D. Steven (Steve) White is a Professor of Marketing and International Business at the Charlton College of Business at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He is also the Director of the university's Sustainability Studies Program. An award-winning researcher and classroom instructor, Steve's passion is learning new technologies and exploring their marketing applications and potential. His research interests include social media marketing, mobile marketing, international marketing, services marketing, international business, global e-commerce, open source applications, and international business education. Steve earned his Doctor of Business Administration in Marketing and Information Systems from Cleveland State University.