An exploratory study on the use of social media as a business networking tool : the case of four female-owned fashion retail businesses in the Stellenbosch area, Cape Town
One major contribution to entrepreneurship in the past decade is the introduction of social media, which has changed the way in which businesses are operated. It is argued that using social media has signalled a departure for many businesses from the tradition of word-of- mouth advertising of products and services. Furthermore, it has been suggested that social media has become a crucial mechanism of promoting products owing to its potential of reaching many people as well as being cost effective. Following this line of thought, it can be argued that social media platforms can revolutionize communication among individuals and businesses by increasing their networking circle. This study aimed to establish how female- owned Small Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) in the fashion retail sector in Cape Town use social media for both business and social networking purposes. The study used a qualitative research design where data were collected through semi-structured interviews and unobtrusive methods. These techniques were preferred because they allowed for an in-depth understanding of social media networking strategies. The findings highlight that social media contributes towards enhancing the existing business networks and the working activities of the female entrepreneurs; with both weak and strong ties playing a vital role towards cementing these connections.