Identifying Mental Patterns of B2B Business Engagement on LinkedIn by the Q Method

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Prof., Department of Management, Faculty of Economics, Management and Administrative Sciences, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran.

2 Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economics, Management and Administrative Sciences, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran.


In the past, digital marketing and content creation in the B2B were less studied compared to the B2C field. According to the conducted small number of pieces of research, it is clear that the two concepts are completely different and that B2B digital marketing as a whole should be investigated in more depth. All B2B companies have the potential for social media marketing and digital content creation. Yet these B2B companies are not putting their efforts into that. Over the past few years, LinkedIn has been an important professional social media platform for B2B scholars to use in several ways and B2B researchers can be members of LinkedIn groups. B2B businesses need to market to the right audience, they need to make sure that they are placing their money and efforts into the right platforms. To increase their engagement and sales, it is important for these companies not to waste their time and money and to start making the right marketing decisions. It is essential for these B2B businesses to build their credibility online and create trust with their customers. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to identify the mental patterns of business-to-business interaction on LinkedIn by the Q method.
This paper is aimed to explore key philosophical underpinnings of fundamental research paradigms with reference to Positivism and Interpretivism (Q method). The statistical population of this study includes B2B business managers, active on LinkedIn. The discourse of the present research was collected from various sources (theoretical literature and semi-structured interviews with experts). 30 samples of Q phrases were selected after a survey of experts. The theme analysis technique was used to extract the factors in the interview section. In this section, the identified indicators were written on a card called Q, using the coding process. Then these cards were given to the participants. The data obtained from sorting the participants were analyzed by the Q factor analysis in SPSS software to identify the business interaction pattern. To measure validity of Q-method, the researcher needed to ask himself whether the collected statements had the required comprehensiveness to reflect different mentalities. Therefore, the validity of the content could be checked based on participants’ ratings of the phrase and its adjacent phrase. The test-retest method was used to calculate the reliability coefficient of Q sorting. The test-retest was re-run for 20% of the sample. The correlation coefficient was 73%, which indicated a high level of reliability.
The researchers determined the Q expressions, after conducting semi-structured interviews and library studies. These expressions were approved by experts. A total of 30 Q expressions were extracted. Accordingly, three mental models were identified from the perspective of the participants. The first mentality was called the professional content mentality. The second one was the lead mentality, and the third was called the tracking mentality.
The results showed three mental models of B2B business interaction on LinkedIn: "Professional content", "Tracking" and "Lead". The mentality of professional content refers to the production of suitable content for a company on LinkedIn. Lead mentality refers to activities that lead to creating leads to create interactions and communication between companies. The third mentality, called tracking, refers to a set of activities that place the company in a position to have better and more access to the relevant audience. The constant participation of consumers in the social media space requires companies to develop and maintain a strong media presence. This research could accurately identify the influential components in each mentality to provide a clearer view of better interaction on LinkedIn and to help managers adopt practical strategies based on customer needs. According to the obtained results, B2B companies can use social media and platforms to facilitate their relationships with customers, identify their company and brand just like a living entity and introduce the products, services and value they provide to the customer.


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