We’re all aware of the power social media holds in the B2C world, but executing successful B2B campaigns has proved to be more of a challenge. Why is it that B2B marketers are still struggling to use social media to generate revenue for their businesses?
When B2B lead generation is the primary focus, marketers have historically allocated very little time or resources towards engaging their audience through social media and have therefore overlooked its potential to generate higher quality leads at a lower cost. The recent shift toward a focus on content marketing has B2B marketers reevaluating its potential, and in the next five years B2B social marketing budgets are projected to double.
The growing percentage of B2B companies adopting B2C strategies has been described as the consumerization of B2B marketing. Online and self-service transactions have risen 57 percent, and utilization of B2C best practices to improve the customer experience is up 44 percent. Investing in tools, such as marketing automation software from companies like CallidusCloud, have traditional B2B marketing firms aligning their efforts to maximize the quality of their leads. B2B customers have already taken themselves through 70-90 percent of the buying cycle before they even begin to engage with a sales representative, so it’s more important than ever that marketers are paying attention to the image they portray on social media.
To gain some perspective on how your business’s efforts stack up against your competition, consider these statistics. The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs reported in their fourth annual B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends that there are six main categories which separate the most and least effective B2B marketing companies. The most effective companies are using at least seven social media platforms on average, as opposed to the least effective businesses using only four. Those businesses also incorporate an average of 15 social media tactics within their marketing strategy, compared to 10 tactics on average for the least effective.
The most used social media platforms for B2B companies are LinkedIn (91 percent), Twitter (85 percent), and Facebook (81 percent). Slideshare, Google+, and Instagram have seen a large increase and will likely continue growing in popularity as B2B strategists become more proactive in their choice of platforms. At this point in the game, marketers are still more worried about being left out than they are about optimizing their most effective outlets. For instance, although LinkedIn is the most popular tool to date, only 62 percent of marketers say that it is effective. 50 percent say the same for Twitter and merely 30 percent view Facebook as effective for B2B marketing. And while Facebook is the more popular choice, Google+ ranks higher in number of visits per month with 1.2 billion, versus Facebook’s 809 million visits per month.
So how can your B2B business start using social media more effectively? The first step is to embed social media into your overall marketing strategy by compiling a specific “content strategy” and designating someone to oversee it. Being clear about your social media objectives will help identify your target audience and give them opportunities to become engaged. A documented strategy will empower your employees to contribute to the company’s overall social media success by encouraging them to share information across relevant channels. A designated team member to oversee social media strategy will ensure that you stay ahead of the curve and optimize opportunities to expand your reach.
Unfortunately, many familiar barriers still exist. Social media began as a B2C tool, so B2B marketing and business decisions can come across as technical and boring in comparison. Investing in social media doesn’t mean that your company will automatically see a return on that investment – at least not easily. B2B marketers need to understand their customer’s conversion cycle and will need to apply that knowledge to the social media strategy they employ. What is your audience interested in and how are they already getting that information? Research and outreach will reveal who is currently engaging your target market and how, so you can develop strategies to compete for their attention.
How has your business attempted to incorporate social media into its overall strategy? What challenges and benefits have you experienced?
Staff Writer, TechnologyAdvice
Charlotte Ritter is a staff writer at TechnologyAdvice. She covers a variety of business technology topics, including business intelligence, gamification, and project management software. She has also written about startups, office culture, company growth, professional development, and talent management. Connect with her on LinkedIn.