2012: The Year of B2B Social Media Marketing

13 Feb

For B2B marketers to be competitive and grow in 2012, it’s essential that they not only realize the value of social media, but make a commitment to improved execution. An e Marketer article recently reported on a new Accenture study, which saw a huge gap between “knowing” and “doing” when it comes to social media in the B2B Marketers survey group. The report found that almost two-thirds of B2B marketing executives view social media as an “important” channel to interact with customers, partners, and stakeholders. The problem is that only 7 percent of the survey group felt that their organization was leveraging social media very heavily. Even more telling, the survey found that 9 percent – nearly a tenth – of B2B marketers were not using social media at all.

It’s pretty well known that B2B companies have been comparatively slow to adopt social media strategies. They certainly have lagged their B2C counterparts in terms of jumping into the social media marketing space over the last few years. But now more than ever, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal. Why? Revenue. Simply put, the saying “he who hesitates is lost” couldn’t be truer right now – and the loss can be measured in cold, hard cash.

There are a number of reasons for B2B companies’ seeming reluctance to employ social media in their marketing. First, companies that sell to other companies tend to be more conservative and bottom-line focused overall, and measuring the impact and results of social media strategies is still a work in progress. Relatedly, many B2B companies have believed that the social media phenomenon is mainly about networking and sharing likes and photos with friends on sites like Facebook – not about driving inbound interest and improving demand generation. For example, think about Facebook’s IPO and its potential $100-billion valuation. The darling social network behemoth is going to be under more pressure to increase profits to match that price tag, which means they will need to up the ante in regards to its own advertising options…and that includes catering more features towards the nascent B2B social media marketing market.

Also, as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn inevitably become better at capturing leads, B2B marketers are going to be forced to spend more time and money on them. The unveiling of Facebook’s data regarding its customer growth, for example, could be the nudge that makes B2B marketers take notice and beef up their Facebook marketing strategies. Indeed, more than 800 million users listing professional-related preferences is no lead pool to scoff at!

Social has been creeping into the overall shifts taking place in B2B marketing for the past few years, and early-adopting companies have seen success – as panels at forward-thinking conferences like SXSW Interactive and Enterprise 2.0 to online publications dedicated to the practice like BtoB Online can testify. But 2012 should be the year – has to be the year – that social becomes standard operating procedure. There’s too much money being left on the table otherwise.

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