An Exploratory Study on the use of Social Networks in Building Customer Relationships

Thelma Valéria Rocha, Caroline Louise Stedefeldt Jansen, Eduardo Lofti, Rodrigo Ribeiro Fraga


This study analyzes how large Brazilian companies use social networks to build customer relationships. Our theoretical references include: social networks and sociabilities; the social networks Twitter, Facebook and Orkut; and relationship marketing. Empirically, we carried out a multiple, qualitative case study in three different companies belonging to different sectors: Company A (Health and Beauty), Company B (Technology), and Company C (Publishing). Eight semi-structured in-depth interviews were carried out between April and September 2010. As a result, we observed that the referred companies are using social networks as a channel to offer clients information and services. Organizational structures vary in name and format. At the Health Care company, the Public Relations department is responsible and hires an external Public Relations Agency to take care of social networks. At the Technology company, the responsible department is called Online Media Management, and also deals with social networks through an external Communications Agency. At the Publishing House, strategy and implementation are carried out internally, by journalists, but with little interaction with the two departments (Database Marketing and Signatures) responsible for customer relationships. We conclude that there are opportunities for improving online services in all three companies, through implementation of custom actions. This study innovates by exploring the use of social networks and relationship marketing, and discusses the structures through which they are being implemented in Brazil.


Marketing strategy. Social networks. Relationship marketing.


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