About the Dissertation

1 Jul 2010 by Randall Helms, 3 Comments »

Update, October 14, 2010: The final dissertation is now available here.

The final project that I have to complete for the MBA is a 15,000 word dissertation, and I have chosen to write mine on how FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) brands can best use social media to reach out to and engage with their core customers.

I’ve been very interested in social media as a marketing channel for some time now, so it was a natural choice as a subject when it came time to decide my topic for the dissertation. I’ve specifically chosen to focus on consumer goods brands because I think that the task of marketing such brands through social media is a particularly interesting and challenging one. My focus on core customers comes from my working hypothesis that social media is better suited to interacting with existing customers than it is for reaching out to new ones; this is just a hypothesis, though, and may be discarded by submission at the end of August. If you are interested in reading a longer explanation of my reasoning, please have a look at a post I wrote in May entitled “Sharpening the focus”.

I’m particularly interested in seeing if there is any consensus yet as to how brands can best engage with consumers through social media, or whether we are still in a strictly experimental phase.

Within the dissertation itself I am looking to touch on a number of different topics, such as the following:

  • How do you determine who is a core customer?
  • Having identified this core customer, how do you engage them?
  • Are core customers influencers, or something else?
  • Is social networking just another marketing channel, or is it something else entirely?
  • For marketing purposes, should social networks like Facebook and MySpace be considered separate entities from other social media like blogs and message boards?
  • What are the points of similarity and difference between traditional product marketing and social media marketing?
  • When is it best to use social media for marketing purposes, and when is it counter-productive?
  • What social media tactics are most effective?
  • Are FMCG brands typical in their social media needs when compared to other businesses, or are they exceptional?

This is obviously a rather long list, so it may be the case that the final paper will not cover some of these areas; until I have completed the research and analysis I can’t say for sure what my conclusions will be.

The research itself is being conducted using a mix of primary and secondary sources. For primary sources I will be conducting interviews with relevant professionals, from in-house marketing practitioners to consultants to agency workers to academics, while for secondary sources I will be using a range of sources, such as books, academic journals, blogs, analyst reports, and articles from both generalist and specialist news media. The final result will be posted in PDF format under a Creative Commons license for anyone who is interested.



  1. […] MBA at the University of Edinburgh Business School, and the last stage of this process is writing a dissertation. I am looking at how consumer goods (or FMCG) brands can best use social media to engage with […]

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