B2C companies are not the only brands to be engaged in social media. Social media is an important part of the B2B enterprise marketing mix as well.
It may be possible that social media marketing is in fact more important for B2B enterprises than their B2C counterparts, and here is why…
Why is social media so important for B2B enterprises?
Most B2B enterprises have a smaller customer base but larger price point than B2C companies. Additionally, the sales lead time is longer on average for B2B than B2C businesses. B2B customers need more information, nurturing, support and trust-factors to encourage a single sale. B2B customers and prospects use multiple channels for research: websites, forums, Linkedin, seminars, conferences, whitepapers, surveys, Twitter, third-party data, customer feedback, their own peers, etc., to make decisions.
The B2B social engagements and buyer journeys are more complex than most B2C contexts. Social media for B2B enterprise marketing is a remarkable opportunity, and the purpose of this article is to show why.
How B2B decision-makers are using social media:
Today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete. B2B marketing statistics for 2014
Social media marketing benefits for B2B enterprises
Social media marketing is focused on nurturing relationships to build loyalty and brand advocacy. Although social media may not directly drive sales for B2B enterprises, the value rests in building a buyer’s interest in a brand over time. Social media is a soft tool that supports hard metrics, such as sales or customer retention.
- Social media builds brand awareness and visibility
- Social media acts as an established distribution channel for an enterprise’s content, ideas and offers
- B2B social media marketing can be used to build an individual’s or enterprise’s reputation as a thought leader within an industry
- By building brand advocates, which can create PR opportunities, positive web mentions, SEO and brand loyalty
- Social media can improve SEO by increasing third-party links, mentions and interest in a brand’s content
- Social media marketing can drive new leads into the funnel when coupled with content offers, such as whitepapers, eBooks, factsheets or other items of interest
- Social media can be used as a B2B customer feedback program in order to better understand the needs of prospects, leads, customers and advocates
- Social media can be used to educate buyers and help them better understand the factors playing a role in their decisions. This education process builds trust and brand trust.
- Social media can be used for B2B customer care and loyalty programs
Once B2B enterprises understand the role of social media in their marketing mix and customer lifecycle, it can be used to build better performance for campaigns.
87% of B2B companies view social media (other than blogs) as a highly successful element of their marketing mix. 83% say the same for articles on websites, 78% eNewsletters, and 77% blogs. (MyCustomer.com)
Another interesting study by __ shows that social media plays a significant role in the B2B IT sales process:
86% of B2B IT buyers are currently using social media networks in their purchase decision process. (IDG Connect)
Challenges that block the potential of social media for B2B enterprises
Yet, many B2B CMOs and marketing managers struggle with planning, integrating and measuring social media efforts within their marketing campaigns. “Just 38% of b2b marketers say they have a defined social media strategy,” (Marketing Pilgrim, 2013).
Besides the struggle some B2B enterprises have with social media, many organizations miss out on ‘low hanging fruit’ opportunities, such as creating content to nurture prospects and leads throughout their buying process. “More than 90% of B2B marketers consider webinars/webcasts, e-books, white papers, and published articles to be either “very” or “somewhat” effective in achieving SEO and marketing objectives. Yet less half utilize webcasts and just 20% create e-books,” (MarketingSherpa, 2013).
Chief executive officers may not fully understand the roles that social media plays in their industry. Helping CEOs embrace and understand social media marketing is yet another challenge for CMOs and enterprise marketing teams. “68% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence whatsoever. Among the rest, 26% are on LinkedIn, but less than 10% are on Facebook and just 1% – five CEOs – are on Google+,” (Quartz).
B2B CMOs must contend with new ways that prospects and customers interact with the marketplace. CMOs must develop methods to communicate their tactics, understand the must appropriate channels and measure results from social marketing.
Social media for B2B enterprise marketing
There are some clear industry trends for the use of social media for B2B marketing, for example:
The top five social networks used by B2B marketers to distribute content are LinkedIn (83%), Twitter (80%), Facebook (80%), YouTube (61%) and Google+ (39%). (Social Media Today)
- Hewlett-Packard, Leveraging Social Media to Drive B2B Influence, https://www.slideshare.net/alexflagg/leveraging-social-media-to-drive-b2b-influence
- Business-2-Community, https://www.business2community.com/social-media/103-compelling-social-media-marketing-statistics-2013-2014-0679246#!bvlkwK
- Netline.com, Content Distribution Channels [infographic]
- Marketing Pilgrim, B2B Marketers Say Twitter is Now but Google+ Is the Future [Infographic], https://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2013/04/b2b-marketers-say-twitter-is-now-but-google-is-the-future-infographic.html
- MarketingSherpa, 2013, Marketing Research Chart: Webinars, webpages, e-books among most effective places to create content, https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/webinars-webpages-ebooks-content
- MyCustomer.com, Infographic: Social media marketing in B2B, https://www.mycustomer.com/news/infographic-b2b-social-media-marketing
- Social Media Today, B2B Marketing Strategies for 2013 and Beyond [INFOGRAPHIC], https://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/b2b-marketing-strategies-2013-and-beyond-infographic
- Quartz, 68% of CEOs still aren’t on any social networks whatsoever, https://qz.com/112891/68-of-ceos-still-arent-on-any-social-networks-whatsoever/
- IDG Connect, Connecting Conversations to Content, https://info.idgconnectmarketers.com/social-media-2014