Strategic use of social media on companies’ e-commerce sites


  • Jensen Zhao Ball State University
  • Allen Truell Ball State University
  • Melody Alexander Ball State University
  • Sushil Sharma Ball State University
  • Sheila Smith Ball State University


Technology, Social media, e-commerce


Objective: This study assessed the Fortune 500 largest U.S. companies’ strategic use of social media for e-commerce and industry  differences. Background: Social media have changed the traditional communication landscape and empowered consumers to play active roles in economic activities as they are no longer merely passive recipients in the business transactions. While the importance of using social media for business becomes obvious, no nation-wide study has been identified in the literature on how companies use social media strategically. Therefore, an empirical study is needed. Method: The study used the web content analysis for data collection and analysis of a sample of 217 Fortune 500 e-commerce sites. Results: The findings showed that seven popular social media tools were available only on around 50% of the 217 sites for consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-company online interaction, communication, networking, and collaboration. Less than 50% of the consumers were actively engaged in using social media tools for posting ideas and comments. Conclusions: E-commerce administrators need to consider offering more social media tools and motivate consumers to actively communicate with the companies via social media. The study also recommended topics for further research.


Berthon, P. R., Pitt, L. F., McCarthy, I., & Kates, S. (2007). When customers get clever: Managerial approaches to dealing with creative consumers. Business Horizons, 50(1), 39-48.

Boggs, R. A., & Walters, D. (2006). A longitudinal look at e-government in practice. Issues in Information Systems, 7(2), 161-164.

Campbell, D. & Beck, A. C. (2004). Answering allegations: The use of the corporate website for restorative ethical and social disclosure. Business Ethics, 13(2), 100.

Cavaliere, V. (2012, December 18). Hasbro Easy-Bake Oven to be marketed to girls and boys in 2012 following petition for change by 13-year-old girl. New York Daily News, Retrieved from

Cochran, W. G. (1977). Sampling techniques (3rd ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Fortune. (2011). The Fortune 500 Largest U.S. Corporations. Fortune. Retrieved from

Gillette, F. (2010, July 15). Twitter, Twitter, little stars. Business Week. Retrieved from

Kietzmann, J. H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I. P., & Silvestre, B. S. (2011). Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Business Horizons, 54(3), 241-251.

King, R. (2011, March 1). Sentiment analysis gives companies insight into consumer opinion. Business Week. Retrieved from

Mullaney, T. (2012, May 16). Social media is reinventing how business is done. USA Today. Retrieved from

Porterfield, A. (2011, April 12). Nine companies doing social media right and why. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from

Steelcase, (2012). 100 Dreams. 100 Minds. 100 Years. Retrieved from

Walmsley, A. (2010). New media needs new PR. Retrieved from

Wilkinson, V. O. & Cappel, J. J. (2005). Impact of economic prosperity and population on e-government involvement. Issues in Information Systems, 6(1), 204-209.

Zhao, J. J., Truell, A. D., & Alexander, M. W. (2006). User-interface design characteristics of Fortune 500 B2C e-commerce sites and industry differences. The Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, 48(1), 43-55.

Zhao, J. J. & Zhao, S. Y. (2004). Internet technologies used by Inc. 500 corporate Web sites. Issues in Information Systems, 5(1), 366-372.




How to Cite

Zhao, J., Truell, A., Alexander, M., Sharma, S., & Smith, S. (2013). Strategic use of social media on companies’ e-commerce sites. Journal of Research In Business Education, 55(2), 50-68.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 32

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.