A socio-technical perspective on social media adoption: a case from retail banking

Mark Durkin, Gwyneth Mulholland, Aodheen McCartan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


While technology continues to make a dramatic and profound impact in service industries and radically shapes how services are delivered relatively little is understood about the impact of advancing technology on customers; their expectations, perceptions and behaviours. As banking enters an increasingly digitised world this study reports on the views of 667 e-banking customers with respect to the perceived potential of social media to add value in retail banking relationships. The purpose of this paper is to propose that in order to realise this opportunity requires the case bank to embrace the second-order level changes required within socio-technical theory (STT) in order that such value can be co-created between the relational parties.Design/methodology/approach– Using the lens of STT to interpret the findings drawn from the case bank’s e-banking customer base (n=5,500), it is argued that social media has the potential to fundamentally change customer-bank relationships and to add value to the way in which the parties interact with each other into the future. A survey methodology was adopted.Findings– The findings presented indicate a wide spectrum of customers actively using transactional e-banking solutions in the case bank. The findings showed that those in the 15-30 age group saw “real-time/up-to-date information” as the main gain of their bank being on Facebook while their older colleagues in the 31-60 age group had a desire for different returns (“competitions, events”). That the analysis showed that age was the only significant determinant of Facebook appropriateness for the case bank, and in the context of the age-related preferences outlined above, the issue of segmentation is strongly highlighted.Originality/value– This study contributes to the academic domain through a rare application of STT in a service context, offers implications for practice and highlights important areas for future research, inter alia; the role for new media in banking relationships, the impacts of new media on bank staff roles, where value now accrues in bank-customer communication, where social media fits in the promotional mix and relational strategies of banks and what are the issues emerging at the social-technical interface between both customers and staff and new technology and media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-962
JournalInternational Journal of Bank Marketing
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2015


  • Banking Marketing Socio-technical theory


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