Social Media Affordances to Engage Clients During the Sales Process: Sequential versus Multiplex Media Use

Matthew S. Weber and Müge Haseki
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 25, Number 1, 2021, pp. 73-98.


Social media have changed the way salespeople communicate with and build relationships with clients. This study explores how social media are integrated into the communication strategies of sellers in a business-to-business e-commerce context using an affordances approach to analysis. Seller strategies used to build and develop relationships with clients were analyzed based on data collected from a large multinational corporation. Data were collected through a series of interviews and ethnographic observations and were analyzed as part of a multimethod case study. The findings show that employees strategically select media to build stronger client relationships. Contrasting prior work on the topic, we find that sellers are more likely to use media sequentially than simultaneously, and sellers often leverage social media because of the searchability and immediacy of the platform compared with other tools. The concluding section outlines practical implications for managers and illustrates how the process of social media use in sales aligns with key stages of the sales process.