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The Effect of the Internet and Social Media on Small Businesses: Innovative approaches to business in the UAE

Supervisor: Dr. Luna Santos



Introduction and background




Research Question






Expected Results




Ethical Considerations






The internet has exponentially increased the speed and quantity of communication between people worldwide. A rapid change in communication appeared with the rise of social media. Social media networks are social interaction channels that allow people to share their feelings, ideas, and information with a selected audience and with online communities (public).



However, the use of social media as a marketing tool is a more recent phenomenon and an innovation created by the cyber community of the global village (the human population of with close interaction through internet).

Social media marketing is rapidly gaining popularity in the United Arab Emirates. In this territory, the United Arab Emirates social media networks are popular in all age groups, though the degree of popularity and preference for social media networks differs.

Virtual Brand Community

Virtual brand community is a complex creation of meanings related to the efforts of consumption (Muniz & Sachau, 2007). The consumers form groups of like minded Virtual brand communities are groups of consumers make online platforms for sharing brand information. The virtual brand communities contribute in the image building for the brands. A new form of interaction has been formed that is called electronic consumer to consumer interaction (eCCI). This is used as experience sharing method by the consumers (Georgi &Manik, 2012).

Cha, 2009

Replace traditional marketing

Chi, 2011

A variety of options

Cox, 2010

The success of social media marketing is due to the perception of the customers (Cha, 2009), and it has been the source of the creation of a new type of customer that is known as the virtual brand community (VBC). The virtual brand community is a complex creation related to the efforts of consumption (Muniz & Sachau, 2007). Consumers form groups of like-minded Virtual brand communities, and groups of consumers make online platforms for sharing brand information. The virtual brand communities contribute to the image building of the brands. A new form of interaction has been formed called electronic consumer to consumer interaction (eCCI). This is used as an experience sharing method by the consumers (Georgi &Manik, 2012).

The new trends in marketing strategies adopted by organizations in many countries include social media marketing as a primary method of marketing (Chi, 2011).

Social media marketing has widely replaced traditional marketing methods in many countries including the United Arab Emirates. Use of social media marketing is widely accepted in the United Arab Emirates and has boosted the sales of many products. Social media marketing gave new dimensions to advertising communication and advertising content. Previously, marketing content was controlled solely by companies (Heinonen, 2011) but now the contents are modified according to the motives and attitude of the customers. A new trend of user-generated contents emerged due to the increase in the social media marketing.

There is a relationship between the age and attitude of the social media users and the formats of online advertising such as brand page, brand channel, videos, and blogs (Cox, 2010). Social media marketing depends on the different social media networks to different degrees due to difference in the type of content and format of advertising messages (Chi, 2011). It is easy for social media marketers to reach a maximum number of social media users within short period of time by using appropriate social media advertising strategic planning.

Social media networks like Facebook and YouTube are being used for social media marketing on a massive scale. While other social media networks such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumbler are new in social media marketing, they are quickly gaining popularity among social media users (Di-Pietro & Pantano, 2012). Thus, social media marketers have a range of options for social media marketing, but they need to first identify the right customers and their attitude towards specific social media networks.



Social Media

Promote Business

To analyze the determinant factors of social media for innovative business ideas including the marketing techniques to promote business by the owners and management of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Research Question





Develop a theoretical framework to understand the use of social media networks for marketing purposes by small and medium enterprises of the UAE

• To explore the different tools/applications/networks of social media used by small and medium enterprises, with a focus on food & beverages businesses in the UAE
• To document the benefits and challenges of social media usage for food & beverage SMEs in the UAE
• To analyze the approaches used by food & beverage SMEs of the UAE for the selection of social media networks for marketing
• To recommend suitable approaches for social media marketing for the promotion of food & beverages by small and medium enterprises in the UAE
• To provide some guidelines to overcome barriers for small and medium enterprises in the UAE in their aim of developing a social media plan.


The researcher will adopt a mixed methodology for this study with a combination of a quantitative and qualitative approach.

  • Research design

Qualitative data will come from the case studies collected. Broader challenges and questions will be outlined and presented in descriptive form.

Quantitative data will be gathered from a sample survey conducted with a structured questionnaire and observations recorded with a checklist. The questionnaire will be based on close-ended questions. A likert scale will be used to evaluate the survey responses.

Expected results

Maintain easy communication with customers

Keep up with the digital transformation

Save costs through smart devices and reduction of workers

Businesses who are competent and connected to the internet with social media accounts will be able to:

Have a greater reach of advertising

Provide its services in all branches with the same quality


Ethical Considerations

The researcher will follow international ethical standards applicable to the study from the beginning to the end. All respondents will be informed by the researcher that they have no obligation to participate in the study and that their participation is completely voluntary.


Social media is an emerging marketing platform and is as complex as its use to stay in touch with friends and family. It's considered the innovative marketing hub of the 21st century (Shankar et al., 2011).


Cha, J. (2009) Shopping on Social Networking Websites: Attitudes towards real versus virtual items. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 10(1), 77-93.

Chi, H. (2011) Interactive Digital Advertising VS. Virtual Brand Community: Exploratory Study of User Motivation and Social Media Marketing Responses in Taiwan. Journal of Interactive Advertising 12(1), 44-61.

Cox, S. A. (2010) Online Social Network Member Attitude Toward Online Advertising Formats. MA thesis, The Rochester Institute of Technology.

O'Brien, C. (2016) The Evolution of Digital Marketing: 30 Years in the Past & Future. The Insider. Accessed on 25 February 2018.

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