The value of social media in the B2C market space, not to mention people’s personal lives, is well documented. However, the use of social platforms by B2B companies is still an emerging and evolving trend. A recent webinar by eMarketer, explored how and why B2B companies are using social networks to promote their services or brands. The number one reason? They’ve realized their customers and prospects are there. I’ve chosen to highlight some key findings from the webinar that illustrate the current state of social media in the B2B marketplace.
Finding #1: Social Media Channels are Firmly in the B2B Online Marketing Mix
A February 2012 study by B2B Magazine of US B2B agencies and marketers found that although email marketing still ranks as the number one online marketing channel, a total of 80% are using social media channels to promote their brand. This is 30% higher than paid search.
Finding #2: B2B Decision Makers Use a Variety of Online Resources to Gather Purchase Information
Decision makers in the B2B market space are using a variety of online sources to gather information about services and products before they make a purchase. These sources include discussion forums linked to their industry, LinkedIn, blogs that are linked to their industry, and podcasts.
Finding #3: LinkedIn is Still the Most Powerful Social Channel for B2B Marketing
LinkedIn, known as the social media channel for professionals, has proven itself to be the most effective for B2B marketing and sales, according to a study completed by MarketingSherpa. It exceeds Facebook by nearly 20%. A close second? A company blog. This should come as no surprise since illustrating a company’s knowledge, expertise and thought leadership is a clear method to increasing inquiries and sales. HubSpot found that the conversion rate for B2B companies in North America was the highest when using LinkedIn compared to Twitter and Facebook.
Finding #4: Build Relationships to Convert Sales
B2B companies are primarily using social channels to build relationships with existing and potential customers, and create awareness about their services and/or products with a goal of converting to sales down the road. In addition, they are using social media to drive these same people to their website, so customers can find more in-depth information.
Finding #5: Obstacles for B2B Companies in the Social Media Realm
According to a March 2012 report by Chief Marketer, B2B marketers primary obstacle when it comes to lead generation by social media is that social requires more content and resources that traditional lead generation techniques. There is also concern that ROI cannot be measured effectively and that there are too many platforms to understand and evaluate.
It’s clear that B2B companies need to be in the social media marketplace but the social media channels they use and how definitely differs from their B2C counterparts.