John Vrba and his crew over at Nimble and Associates have written a highly relevant look at social media in the B2B universe that needs to be read. As The Page Group has said for years social media is only relevant if you understand how your customer is going to use it otherwise it is an exercise that frankly can hurt your overall marketing efforts. Their analysis takes a look at the whole issue of B2B social media and what can work for you. Check it out and Thanks John for sharing.
Is Social Performing for B2B?
by Nimble and Associates, Inc.
June 12, 2014
Social media has been positioned as a panacea for business to build awareness, recruit brand advocates and increase leads and sales.
While 87% B2B companies report that they have a social media strategy, many still question its ability to deliver a positive Return on Investment. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute shows that only 49% of marketers rank social media as effective or very effective which makes it the least effective marketing tactic just below developing microsites or contributing articles to other websites.
So what are they doing in social media? The most common use for social media among B2B companies is plain and simple: to build awareness. Twitter and LinkedIn are the most-used social networks in the B2B space.
Historically, the C Suite has been skeptical of the ability of social media to impact their business, especially its ability to generate leads. Another study by Marketing Profs shows that 43% of B2B companies admit that their CEOs “never consider” their social media reputation when making decisions. There is a gap in the perceived effectiveness.
A study by LeadForce1 suggests that “Facebook and Twitter do not bring in Leads – these can be used as channels to engage with your existing customers, media, or other stakeholders, or for nurturing existing prospects, but not as a medium for generating leads.”
But, before we write-off using social for B2B, let’s take a deeper look at how they use it and cane use it better. The number one benefit of social media marketing is generating more business exposure (85%), followed by increasing web traffic (69%) and providing marketplace insight (65%) according to 2012 Social Media Examiner study. If B2B companies are failing to accurately set up, measure and work their social they naturally are missing out from their social efforts.
Sporadic updates on LinkedIn or Twitter and promotional updates probably result in negative ROI. For social media to be successful in delivering leads and sales, it must be supported with a sound content marketing strategy. This strategy has to be based on “Pull vs Push” It cannot be based on what your business wants but on what your buyers needs in the form of information. Listening to the challenges of your buyers and understanding their problems and needs will allow B2B companies to offer insights and introduce solutions organized by topics that are most relevant to their prospective buyers.
Marketers should have firm lead goals from their social media efforts. The best way to do this is via a process of firm engagement.
For example, whenever someone retweets an article from a B2B’s blog, the company needs to immediately reach out to that person, thank them for the retweet and then ask if they’re interested in their product. During that outreach, the prospect can be invited to download a white paper or attend a company sponsored webinar. The same process can be used with LinkedIn and Google+. If someone looks at a B2B’s LinkedIn profile or comments on an article they post, a message should be sent asking if they can answer any questions about our product. Measuring the success of social must go beyond Likes or Shares. It has to be focused on using an opening to create a 1-to-1 engagement.
There are short-cuts to using social media for B2B. It is one of many platforms to be exercised to connect with business with their best prospects as a thought leader.