PhD Project

What will I doing?

My PhD research project looks at how Australian small business owners and managers are using social media: to promote their business, create and maintain networks with their peers, and communicate with their customers. I’d like to explore the range of different services being used, and the way new technologies are adopted or rejected by business managers. This project is supported by the Smart Services Co-operative Research Centre, and is being conducted through RMIT’s Graduate School of Business and Law.

How will I doing it?

In 2010 and 2011 I will be conducting case studies of 30 Australian small businesses. I’m using business categories defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics: sole traders (no other employees), Micro businesses (1-5 full-time employees, or equivalent), and Small businesses (6-20 full-time employees). The main requirement is for each business to be using at least one form of social media. These might include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, forums, blogs or YouTube.

I’d like to work with businesses from three areas: retail, hospitality, and professional services. Ideally, I need ten businesses from each of these groups.

What’s in it for me?

First and foremost, helping me to get a more accurate picture of how small businesses like yours are operating in a Web2.0 environment. This in turn helps the Smart Services CRC, who work with a range of government and industry partners to develop innovation, foresight and productivity improvements for the services sector. I can also send you copies of any reports and papers generated from my research.

I run a small business. What would I need to do?

Each case study will involve three stages. The first is an interview, where I’ll talk to you about your business, the types of media you’re using, and reasons why you chose to use those particular services. The interviews follow a loose structure (topic areas instead of specific questions), and take around an hour to complete. Over the following year, I’ll keep an eye on the online channels you’re using – looking at what you’re up to on social media sites mentioned in the first interview, and any others that emerge during the year. In the final stage, I’ll arrange a follow-up interview with you one year after the first. This will look at what you’ve done, what changed during the year, and reflect on how successful you think each social media channel has been for your business.

If you would like to become involved in the project, please send me an email at ben@ben-leong.id.au. I’ll send you a copy of the project information pack (including a consent form and plain-language statement), and can answer any questions you might have.

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