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Social Media for Identifying Lead Users? Insights into Lead Users’ Social Media Habits

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  • Markus Ernst

    (#x2020;Mittlere Kanalstraße 9a, 90429 Nuremberg, Germany)

  • Alexander Brem

    (#x2021;University of Southern Denmark, Mads Clausen Institute, Alsion 2, 6400 Sønderborg, Denmark)

Abstract

An important and frequently researched concept in the field of open innovation is the integration of lead users into the process for developing innovative product concepts. Social media has offered promising new possibilities for companies in terms of supporting lead user integration. This paper provides an overview of relevant aspects of lead user research, as well as the identification of lead users. Furthermore, we connect lead user theory with social media and discuss possible ways to identify lead users. Based on the conclusion that existing research does not yet sufficiently provide a detailed understanding on identifying lead users in social media, we conducted an empirical study to gain deeper insights in the social media habits of lead users; this involved a case study comprising 20 interviews.This study’s findings present a rather ambivalent picture, concluding that identifying lead users via social media may work with some limitations. Social media can contribute complementary with established approaches like pyramiding to the identification of lead users, but it is not a standalone solution. It strongly depends on the content of the project and on the group of individuals where lead users should be originated. Based on these findings, we derive theoretical and managerial implications and show how companies can utilize social media in addition to established methods for identifying lead users. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of study limitations and recommendations for areas of further research.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus Ernst & Alexander Brem, 2017. "Social Media for Identifying Lead Users? Insights into Lead Users’ Social Media Habits," International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 14(04), pages 1-21, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:wsi:ijitmx:v:14:y:2017:i:04:n:s0219877017500225
    DOI: 10.1142/S0219877017500225
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Brem, Alexander & Bilgram, Volker & Marchuk, Anna, 2019. "How crowdfunding platforms change the nature of user innovation – from problem solving to entrepreneurship," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 348-360.
    2. Globocnik, Dietfried & Faullant, Rita, 2021. "Do lead users cooperate with manufacturers in innovation? Investigating the missing link between lead userness and cooperation initiation with manufacturers," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 100(C).
    3. Alexander Brem & Volker Bilgram & Adele Gutstein, 2018. "Involving Lead Users in Innovation: A Structured Summary of Research on the Lead User Method," International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 15(03), pages 1-27, June.

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