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Social Media Marketing Evaluation Decision Making Processes and the Agency-Client Relationship

Keegan, Brendan James (2018) Social Media Marketing Evaluation Decision Making Processes and the Agency-Client Relationship. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Evaluation of social media marketing is central to its success. This thesis seeks to contribute to our understanding of social media marketing evaluation processes and outcomes, together with an exploration of the dynamics of agency-client relationships. It contributes to knowledge across three major themes: strategy development, evaluation, and agency-client relationships and is one of the first studies to consider the role of the agency-client relationship in social media marketing. In particular, the study addresses a gap in current knowledge by revealing the significant influence of agency-client relationships on the processes and outcomes of social media marketing strategy development and evaluation. Adopting the ontological and epistemological position that reality is socially constructed, a qualitative study of twenty social media marketers provided a specialist digital agency perspective of social media campaigns. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with key practitioners, supported by a cognitive-mapping elicitation technique. The findings generate knowledge of the first two major themes: strategy and evaluation through the development of two process models: the ‘Cycle of Social Media Marketing’ for strategy, and the ‘Cycle of Social Media Marketing Evaluation’ for evaluation. Findings for the second theme reject the traditional view of agency-client relationships, and instead offers a fresh perspective on these relationships in social media marketing, identifying three sub-themes: context, conflict and co-creation. The findings reveal key techniques for enhancing client relationships, including client account management strategies; the impact of conflict on trust between both parties; the crucial role of mutual participation in strategy development of strategy and evaluation; and the importance of co-creation, largely facilitated through collaborative learning workshops. This study has implications for scholars as it contributes to our understanding of evaluation in relation to strategy development in a rapidly developing area of modern marketing practice, affirming the importance of social media data analysis to decision-making. This study has implications for practice as it extends knowledge through conceptualisations of processes and offering insights into the influence and dynamics of agency-client interactions in social media marketing. Finally, a key contribution to knowledge is the development of two conceptual frameworks: The Contextualised Conceptual Framework of Social Media Marketing Evaluation in Strategy Development, and The Conceptual Framework of Agency-Client Dynamics in Social Media Marketing which encapsulate the multi-layered nature of this study and the vital importance of evaluation in social media marketing.

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