Studies on social media use and effectiveness in large firms abound in the literature. However, social media usage for relationship marketing in small and medium enterprises is under-researched. This research examined how social media affordances influence SMEs' relationships with their customers. The Technology Affordance theory was utilized as the theoretical framework. Furthermore, a case study was used as the research design. The study's participants were SME owners/managers operating in Ghana. The thematic analysis technique was used to analyze data. The study identified three affordances of social media in the context of relationship marketing in SMEs: brand visibility, sharing, and relationship. These social media affordances result in customer acquisition. The findings and their implications have been discussed in the paper.
There has been considerable interest in the impact of social media on businesses among researchers, policymakers, and management of corporate organizations in recent years (Suryani et al., 2021). Social media are internet-based programs that allow users to create and share user-generated content (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). Hanafizadeh et al. (2021) identified Social networking sites (example, WhatsApp, Line, Telegram, and WeChat), Content communities (example, YouTube, TikTok, Vimeo), Blogs (Twitter, Blogspot), and Online forums & discussion(TripAdvisor, Yelp, and FourSquare) as the types of social media. Different marketing objectives are achieved by using social media, including creating brand affinity, increasing sales prospects, improving customer service, and driving favorable customer attitudes (Misirlis & Vlachopoulou, 2018; Wood and Khan, 2016).
Furthermore, social media assists firms in improving contact with their customers, increasing the level of trust and relationship building and facilitating the identification of possible business partners (Misirlis & Vlachopoulou, 2018; Meske and Stieglitz, 2013; Kelleher and Sweetser, 2012; Michaelidou et al., 2011).
Although large organizations dominate the use of social media, research has proven that they are crucial tools for small and medium-sized businesses (Meske and Stieglitz, 2013; Rahmawati et al., 2020). Currently, more than 90 million small companies are active on Facebook (Facebook, 2021). In Ghana, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) use popular social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to market their operations and communicate with their clients (Odoom et al., 2017).