Social media has allowed marketers to focus on brand relationships with consumers. In the world of business to business (B2B) marketing this way has always been the focus. As a designer for a marketing department in my past life I was very aware of this process when it came to printers. Sales calls, lunch meetings, press checks, and the follow ups…all standard sales practices for a B2B print salesman marketing the brands product or service. These aspects are all based around the flow of product/service information and understanding the needs of the customer. So why is it so hard for B2B brands to see the benefits of integrating social media into their everyday practices?
According to a survey by Business to Community, only 4% of B2B’s promotional budgets go to social media. B2B brands that are using social media tend to lack measurement or engagement. Opportunities for relationship building and lead generation are being missed out on with the lack of marketing and emerging media integration into the old sales routines.
Brands who have actively integrated social media into their efforts have found several areas of success. An article by Phil Mershon for Social Media Examiner provides survey results of the benefits that B2B brands have seen:
- Over 56% of B2B marketers acquired new business partnerships through social media (compared to 45% of B2C marketers)
- Nearly 60% of B2B marketers saw improved search rankings from their social efforts (compared to 50% of B2C marketers)
- B2B marketers are more able to gather marketplace insights from their social efforts (nearly 69% vs. 60% of B2C marketers)
While consumer habits have changed to include social media, so have the employees of the B2B brands. Adapting to trends and customer needs includes communication strategies. Engage these employees through product and industry information, asking about goals or future projects, respond to current customers so others can see how you interact with established clients.
If you have had success with social media in a B2B setting I would love to hear about it! What type of social media measurements do you use for analyzing B2B initiatives?