A new report from Regalix – State of B2B Social Media Marketing 2015 – has found that 93% of companies cite Twitter as their favoured social media marketing platform, with LinkedIn coming in at a close second with 91%.
The report also found that a huge 95% of B2B companies used social media in 2015 to increase brand awareness. And 79% of companies cited blogging as their primary marketing tactic this year.
The research was based on a survey carried out in June 2015, which questioned 422 marketing executives from a cross section of industries. Whilst the figures above are encouraging for social agencies working with B2B companies, the report also found that businesses could further refine social media marketing practices.
“Given the stickiness of the medium and its power to engage, we would like to see organizations using the social platform more to engage with their customers and prospective buyers, and building a relationship with them,” the report said.
“We also see a need for analytics to measure and monitor social media activities more rigorously, so companies can focus on channels that are working for them.”
The study found that whilst most B2B marketing preferred Twitter and LinkedIn, other social networks were used, with 68% of companies using Facebook, 57% YouTube and 23% G+.
Most Businesses Prefer Blogging
When it came to how companies feed and promote their social, it was found that 79% preferred blogging or microblogging, whilst 74% preferred to share content across multiple social platforms.
Other activities included:
- Webinars (68%)
- Social advertising (66%)
- Sharing buttons (57%)
- Social competitions (18%)
All of this indicates that we’ve now reached a stage where B2B businesses recognise the power and usefulness of social media, but it does seem that many still struggle with proving ROI. The idea that companies could do more to build relationships on social also indicates that many hard-pushed B2B marketers simply don’t have the time to spend engaging on social platforms.
When asked what their objectives for using social marketing were, respondents overwhelmingly voted for increasing brand awareness, with 94% stating this as their number one objective.
Further to this:
- 69% use social for lead generation
- 67% use it for engaging with customers and prospects on a constant basis
- 59% use social for keeping followers in the loop about the company and its products
- 57% use it to promote products
Again, this is encouraging. Many businesses still make the mistake of sending out constant self-promotional messages on social media. However, social media users are now somewhat blind to the constant advertising that they’re subjected to and have the ability of ‘tuning out’ to what they don’t want to see. The fact that social is used primarily for brand awareness means that companies understand that consumers want to interact with a brand they trust.
Trust, in turn, increases how open to receiving product and company updates consumers are.
Pre-Sales vs. Post-Sales
Twitter and LinkedIn were found to be the favourite B2B platforms for customer engagement during the pre and post-sale stage of the buying cycle, the report said. However, interestingly, it was found that Facebook is growing in popularity as a post-sales channel, with 30% of marketers favouring the platform. It’s often said that Facebook is a poor platform for B2B companies and to some extent, I would agree with that.
Given the survey results though, it’s clear that some marketers find success on Facebook, even if that’s predominantly in customer service. As organic reach on Facebook is now so difficult to achieve, this suggests that the site is a good platform for reaching established customers.
Since Facebook is the most used social network of them all, this makes sense. Many people – even those in the world of B2B business – use Facebook on a daily basis. For B2C companies, this makes it worthwhile spending on advertising, as there’s a ready-made market waiting to be exploited. Facebook targeting allows B2C companies to tap into the market that they want. It’s not quite as simple for B2B companies within certain specialist niches, so it’s encouraging to see that these are using the site for purposes other than sales.
When it came to the kind of content that are used in pre and post-sales, 69% of respondents said that case studies were preferred in the pre-sale stage. Blog posts followed up at 62% and whitepapers at 59%. For post-sales, blogs were the most popular at 59%, articles at 55% and case studies at 48%. So in the pre-sales stage, it seems that businesses are trying to educate potential customers whilst promoting their services using case studies. Since these work to demonstrate how a product or service can solve a problem for a client, this is not surprising.
Other types of content work to educate clients in other ways. For example, blog posts generally cover industry news and actionable advice that readers will find valuable, whereas whitepapers are a type of report that comments on the industry and the overall market, it will usually contain some information about a company product too.
Future Social Activity
When it came to the future, 52% of businesses said that they expected to see social media marketing budgets increase in the next year. Of those that currently don’t spend out on social, it was found that 57% expected to invest in social platforms in the coming year. It seems that social is considered to be powerful by those that use it too, as 99% of marketers who use social media as a marketing outlet believe it to be important to the business.
Overall, the report suggests that social media marketing is now considered extremely useful to business and that marketers know exactly what they should be doing on social platforms. It’s no surprise that many cite Twitter and LinkedIn as preferred platforms, as these are traditionally seen to be more B2B than Facebook and Pinterest.
However, it was found that social media marketers tend to rely on simple metrics – retweets, likes and shares – to measure the success of their campaigns. Indeed, 71% of those asked said that they were unable to measure social ROI because they were unsure how to. 57% said that assessing the effectiveness of campaigns was the most difficult aspect of the job, whilst 53% said that they found it hard to generate actionable insights from social data.
With this in mind, it seems that there’s still work to be done in the social marketing industry to better get to grips with social metrics and learn how to prove ROI.