B2B Social Media Marketing
B2B Social Media Marketing is about the various avenues of the social web (blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, social networks, wikis, etc.) as they refer to business-to-business communications and interactions. Prospects, customers and businesses use the social web to research, listen, communicate and engage with each. While the expression "social media" refers to an assortment of online communities, B2B social media focuses specifically on using the social web to drive engagement and revenues in the B2B sectors. In 2009, B2B Social Media Marketing began to gain acceptance by many businesses that market to other businesses.
"New research: B2B buyers have very high social participation." ~ The Social Technographics of Business Buyers, Forrester Research, 2009.
One important reason why B2B Social Media Marketing saw gains, was because B2B C-Level Executives began to venture in greater numbers into the social media venues. Social media is no longer the exclusive domain of teenagers, college students and young consumers. Mature professionals are participating in social media more and more, as is proven by the following statistics:
"U.S. Internet users aged 50 and over have dramatically increased their use of social networking services over the past year." ~ Pew Research Center, 2010.
"In addition, older users appear to be making more regular use of such services, with 20 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 claiming to use social networking sites on a typical day, up from just 10 percent the previous year. 42 percent of users in that age group claimed to make use of services such as Facebook and Twitter." ~ Pew Research Center, 2010.
Because of the word "social", some are unsure about the importance of social media to their companies and the amount of value that it could bring to their marketing efforts. The reality is, B2B Social Media Marketing can enhance your marketing strategy by developing a more focused audience that is interested in your company's offerings.
B2B Social Media Marketing is having a real impact on the B2B sectors. The business-to-business selling/buying process has fundamentally changed. Prospects spend more time doing independent research on the web, gathering information from their peers via social media. Traditional marketing no longer applies, and today's sales teams should seriously consider engaging in social selling, or use Web 2.0 technologies to better listen to and interact with prospects.
Citing a recovering economy and increasing marketer interest in the space, research company eMarketer recently raised its 2010 spending forecast for advertising on social networks by nearly 30% to $1.68 billion domestically.
Within the social media world, however, a number of trends are dictating how, why and where money gets spent — trends that will push the industry past the $2 billion mark in 2011, according to eMarketer’s projections.
Business.com evaluated where companies were focusing their attention and resources. The study surfaced that not only are a greater number of B2B companies experimenting with social media, they are also extending their presence across multiple networks.
B2B companies cannot afford to keep themselves out of the conversation while their competitors engage in it. B2B companies should seriously consider taking advantage of B2B SMM (B2B Social Media Marketing) as an important part of an integrated marketing communications strategy and connect with prospects and clients in a methodology that proves advantageous.
"Social media marketing is the area where companies are most likely to be spending more money during 2010, but areas such as search engine marketing and email marketing will remain buoyant." ~ Econsultancy, 2010.
"A study of 1,000-plus marketers shows more than 70% are boosting spending on so-called "off-site" social media offerings such as Facebook and Twitter, and about 65% in "on-site" areas such as "blogs or ratings and reviews." ~ Econsultancy, 2010.
More and more B2B prospects are relying on the content they find in social media channels to educate themselves about a company's products and services. Thus, social media plays a highly influential role in the B2B decision-making processes. Therefore, smart B2B companies should use social media to monitor what prospects are saying about their company, capture interest from prospects looking for their products and services, and synchronize the marketing and sales follow-ups to social media interactions.
B2B Social Media Marketing helps support a B2B company's search marketing efforts as well:
"Users exposed to both a brand’s social media and paid search programs are 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand’s product compared to those only exposed to paid search." ~ “The Influenced: Social Media, Search and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption” ~ Comscore/GroupM/M80, 2009.
B2B companies benefit most from B2B Social Media Marketing when they don’t try to emulate the engagement strategies of their B2C counterparts. Certainly they should interact with prospects and clients in social media venues, but the degree and style of engagement will likely differ, depending on the products or services promoted by the company.
B2B businesses can also leverage the improvements in company-client interactions brought by social media. This includes user experience, real-time customer service discussions, and the integration of social media with existing business practices to create new product or service offerings.
Businesses have business goals in mind when using B2B Social Media Marketing. They are putting time or money into it, and they need to get some form of business growth out of it. B2B SMM goals include lead generation, promotions, sales, branding, buzz, product launches ...the list goes on.
Social Media is easier to link to true ROI in the B2B space, than it is for B2C. A B2B target audience is typically narrower in scope than a B2C audience. Therefore, a B2B company's use of B2B Social Media Marketing needs to be narrower and more focused. Ask “who are we trying to reach with social media and why?” Answering these questions will help to develop a roadmap: Which social sites does your company need a presence on; which ones should be monitored; and how to use the social media sites that are chosen. Net Site Marketing can answer all of these questions for you.
"lf you're a B2B marketer and you're not using social technologies in your marketing, it means you're late." ~ Josh Bernoff, Forrester Research, 2010.
We will be happy to examine your niche markets to discover whether there are opportunities for your business in B2B Social Media Marketing. Contact us today!