Social media and digital platforms

Track 2 Social media and digital platforms


This track focuses on a particular and innovative business model, namely social media and digital platforms, which generate value by establishing activities than can bring together important segments of Internet users, as well as their use and the effects that social media and digital platforms have on different businesses and consumers. Indeed, it has become common practice to use social media as a tool to connect, build and develop relationships and share information in every area of activity, whether for personal applications, for commercial applications and even in the public sector. The rapid success of social media is linked to many factors including ease of use and adaptability to different devices. At the same time, these instruments pose certain challenges and problems that need to be addressed. Digital platforms are overturning traditional industries. Some of the world’s most capitalised companies, such as Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook, have managed to dominate the market precisely because of their technology-based digital platforms. Such platforms have intrinsic characteristics that allow them to attract, retain and develop ecosystems of stakeholders from the world of enterprise, including users, developers and businesses. With proper governance, these platforms are able to increase the volume of opportunities to achieve success in their business.

This track is therefore intended as an opportunity for scholars, professionals and those interested in various business disciplines to exchange ideas, particularly for those interested in issues related to social media and digital platforms, and specifically the different contexts of their application (private companies, public companies, services, etc.).

The objective of this track is thus to analyse the contribution made by social media and digital platforms to business management, its organisation, to control and accounting systems, and interactions with consumers and all stakeholders. Specifically, the changes taking place concerning the way people communicate, express their opinions, and evaluate products and services have led to a greater focus on the role of these tools in certain areas such as consumer behaviour, value chain management and communication within and outside an organisation.

Theoretical, methodological, qualitative and quantitative contributions are appreciated that embrace a multidisciplinary approach, contribute to a better understanding of future research trends on these important issues and have cross-cutting perspective of the theme.

The track is structured according to the following themes:

  • The value generation model of social media and digital platforms: this theme invites contributions that analyse the business model underlying social media and digital platforms. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, etc. boast millions of users and they are valued at billions of dollars. This extraordinary development is found in no other business sector and demonstrates shows the power of networks, where the usefulness of individual users depends on the presence and use of the network by other users. How do they generate value? What is the secret behind their organisation and business model? Are they sustainable over time? Contributions that can answer these questions within the various disciplinary areas and with a qualitative and/or quantitative approach are particularly appreciated.
  • Social media and consumer behaviour: this theme includes contributions dealing with the relationship between social media and consumer/user behaviour. The objective is to understand how social media have transformed the role of consumers/users, by giving them increasingly importance, which enables them to share opinions and feedback, offer suggestions and even be co-creators of the purchased good/service. At the same time, increasingly interconnected consumers recognise social media as a marketing tool that can influence opinions and expectations. Special attention is reserved for the management of the relationships with consumers through social media, the effects of social media on consumer purchasing decisions and the active contribution that consumers can make through these tools to the creation of the product/service.
  • The use of social media in the management of the value chain: this theme includes contributions analysing the role of social networking in the management of the value chain. Social networking allows people to stay connected, in real time, with the entire value chain, so they can manage it more efficiently, saving time and increasing productivity. Studies have shown that increased use of social media by participants of the supply chain translates into better performance on the value chain itself. Through social networking it is possible to keep track of logistical updates, share data and knowledge, build or improve relationships between participants and monitor the progress of the entire supply chain. The objective is therefore to stimulate original, rigorous and significant contributions on the role of social media in operations and in the value chain, with theoretical perspectives from different disciplines (communications, psychology, strategy, marketing, organisation, accounting and control systems, information systems) or on new theoretical topics, through different methodological approaches (case studies, surveys, experiments, etc.).
  • Social media, digital platforms and organisation: the adoption of Social Networking Sites (SNS) by individuals and organisations has become ever more pervasive in the last decade. Technological progress, socio-economic changes, the rapid spread of ubiquitous technologies and the spread of new digital platforms have driven organisations to the adoption of new organisational forms and models of work which, compared to previous ones, require more flexibility and openness, but also different coordination and communication methods. There has also been a widening of corporate borders, which has facilitated the adoption of streamlined organisational and inter-organisational models that are more geared towards interaction and collaboration between workers and organisations. Virtual teams and virtual practice communities are examples of this. Hence, social media is important not only for communication between the company and its customers, but also within the organisation and in networks between companies. In recent years, organisations have also focused more on Enterprise Social Network Sites (ESNSs), which facilitate the sharing of information and collaboration between the workers of one or more organisations. Recent socio-psychological contributions have also highlighted that the use of social media for defining collective action also involves the construction of social and organisational identity. Similarly, the creation and sharing of organisational identity also stems from the use of SNSs by organisations that encourage their members and leverage their relational network to pursue common goals. Empirical and theoretical contributions are welcome in the following research topics: social media and organisational identity; SNS and knowledge production and sharing; the implications of SNS adoption on workers and organisations; digital platforms and new organisational forms; digital platforms, work organisation and human resource management.
  • Quality, innovation and sustainability in the era of digital platforms and the sharing economy: thenew business models based on digital platforms have changed the traditional organisational and management paradigms and require a reinterpretation of the innovation cycles of products and services and access to them. The rapid spread of services offered on digital platforms (Airbnb, Uber, Flixbus, etc.) requires a review of the models for monitoring and managing the quality of processes. Innovative solutions, including the introduction of gamification, are gradually gaining ground. Even the concept of customer is changing and requires monitoring of the expectations and perceptions which can also be assessed through SNSs. As regards sustainability, several studies have shown a correlation between the advent of digital platforms and user behaviours more oriented to sustainability. However, in the context of the sharing economy, many authors are also beginning to highlight a number of critical issues related to new forms of excessive and out-of-control exploitation of resources.

Publication of contributions

The best contributions presented at the conference may be fast-tracked to the following journals, subject to the ordinary refereeing process:

  • Mercati & Competitività – The Journal of The Italian Marketing Association (Editor in Chief: Daniele Dalli)
  • Micro & Macro Marketing (Editor in Chief: Giuseppe Grossi)
  • Prospettive in organizzazione(Editor in Chief: Marcello Martinez)
  • Other journals pending confirmation