11 B2B Social Media Predictions For 2010

Social media gained consistent traction in 2009 with conversation ranging from the wonders of Twitter, measuring return on investment, as well as corporate and consumer adoption. For B2B companies 2009 served as the beginning of real adoption of social media in the marketing and communications mix.

Looking toward 2010 the changes likely to happen will be far less sexy and shiny than the trends and tactics that were the focus of 2009. For B2B companies 2010 will be about more clearly connecting social media to business objectives and better understanding how to measure the direct and indirect return on investment of social media.

From a B2B perspective integrating social media into the sales funnel to support lead generation and transactions will be a top priority. B2B companies are likely also to shift more budgets to inbound marketing strategies, which are likely to include social media. Social CRM systems and integrating social data for sales team decision-making will also begin to happen on a broader scale in 2010.

Here are my 11 B2B Social Media Predictions for 2010.

1. Sales Staff Get Social Media Savvy – Next year social media is getting out of the B2B marketing department and starts creeping into other business functions. One of the departments that is going to begin to realize social media’s impact on its objectives is the sales team. With customers changing their habits and getting information differently, sales professionals will have to adapt. Once they learn about the added edge that social media gives them in terms of client and industry knowledge, they will start to slowly change their habits. This will be a slow process but it starts in 2010.

2. Inbound Marketing Gets Cash - In looking at the marketing mix and budgeting for 2010, forms of inbound marketing like social media and search engine marketing are likely to receive an increase in their share of the budget. While numbers may still remain much smaller than traditional advertising and direct mail, these budget upgrades will give inbound marketers the support they need to demonstrate ROI and increase investment in following years.

3. Location-Based Fills In The Gaps – Right now we live in two worlds: offline and online. The bridge between these two for B2B companies is leveraging devices with GPS functions to make location an important component of business information. Location will be a more important component of CRM data, B2B social networks, as well as other business applications. Knowing when and WHERE leads and clients are will improve relationships. Location is a game changer.

4. Social Media Lead Generation Becomes Common Place – Experimentation comes to an end in 2010. Social media, while being about conversations and great content, is going to get down to directly supporting lead generation. B2B companies realize that social platforms can generate leads, which directly create sales and transactions. Connecting leads from social media to CRM platforms and then closing sales cycle is what will happen in 2010.

5. Social Media Publishing Gets More Multi-Media – Recently I have been talking about video content in the B2B space. Next year will continue a trend that has seen diverse types of media used in B2B. Video both recorded and livestreamed will see an increase in use, but it is likely that B2B companies will start using more images as well, to help better tell their story. While text and audio have been the staples of B2B social media content up to this point, that will change in 2010.

6. Influencer Marketing Gets Even More Important – In the first quarter of 2009, 30 percent of B2B trade magazines closed. Historically, it has been these magazine relationships that B2B companies have leveraged to reach important industry influencers. In 2010 industry influencers are going to take a more active role in social media because of its low cost of entry and declining competition from print publications. As industry influencers use social media to build influence, companies will follow to engage with them and realize the importance of building credibility online.

7. Mobile Can No Longer Be Ignored
- B2B companies on the digital front have focused heavily on their Web sites in recent years, but they have focused less on how their Web site works on mobile devices, or more importantly, how their lead generation processes work on mobile. The popularity of devices from RIM and Apple are causing a rising of the tide. These devices are giving users the expectations that all things should work on their mobile device and work as easily as their favorite applications. It is the companies that realize this and focus on simplifying the user experience that will be successful.

8. Corporate Web Sites Get Social
– Corporate Web sites that are stagnant, are becoming useless. The next generation of B2B corporate web sites is going to be much more social. As lead generation and branding efforts transition to online, businesses will realize that engagement, relevance, and dynamic content on their corporate Web site is the best way to support these efforts. Things like product reviews, blogs, and content aggregation will begin to become common place as companies fight to be the “portal” for their industry.

9. Social and Real-Time Search Drive B2B Social Media Adoption
– Search engines are an important source of inbound marketing leads for many B2B companies. In 2009 the major search engines made a lot of changes. Google’s shift to real-time search was one of the most important. Now that search engines have begun to include data from social networks and have started using online relationships to prioritize results it will become more important than ever that B2B companies participate on the social web in 2010. It is likely that those that don’t will begin to see a drop in online inbound marketing results.

10. B2B Gets Smart About Social Data
– The light bulb is going to go off in the heads of many executives across major B2B industries. They are not only going to realize that “social media is here to stay.” Most already know that. The major revelation is going to be that the user generated content created every second on the social web can help them make better and more informed business decisions. Leadership will begin looking for ways to collect and analyze this data and then use it to improve product development, customer service, marketing and other aspects of business.

11. The Firewalls Start To Come Down – Currently the major road block for business to business social media marketing success is the blocking of social content and platforms in the workplace. Many employees and decision makers are restricted from accessing major social platforms and user generated content. This will see a major change in 2010 because organizations will realize that this interaction is important to their bottom line and that employees need to access information to make better choices for the business. The younger generation will help with this by advocating for this type of communication, but leadership will ultimately realize that business communications methods have fundamentally changed.

I am sure that many other changes will occur in 2010, but these are the items I feel are the most important and are likely to change. Do you agree? Have you seen things in your business to suggest otherwise? What did I leave off this list that should be on it?

Comments

  1. says

    It’s amazing the change which has taken place in just the past two years with social media marketing. The evolution of reaching the world is becoming quite a reality.

  2. says

    I love these posts, it’s great to see how we have come along in one year and then predict the next. I would just like to add to point #8, Corporate Web Sites Get Social. I absolutely agree with this point (along with your other points), but I think we will really see a rise in interactive corporate website, I see B2B sites becoming more engaging and I see the implementation of social networking technology as a way to interact with clients.

  3. says

    I think your list gets it right. Where I see a sticking point for certain industries– in our case banking and financial services– is on your point 11. I actually see the firewalls getting tighter in these spaces due to increased security policies and regulatory requirements even for marketing and research related efforts. I think this will work itself out but it will dampen adoption and use compared to some other industries not subject to the security constraints of banks and fin svcs.

  4. says

    Great post and you hit the nail on the head. One thing I would add is the growth of company-generated B2B content and content curation. A lot of B2B companies have been scattershot in their content creation — a white paper here, a case study there, but singularly lacking a coordinated effort. This is going to become especially important in light of your Point 6 about the dearth of b2b magazines.

    Thanks for a great post.

  5. says

    Kipp – great post.

    One thing I think is still to be determined: whether real time search will stay visible as part of “Universal Search” on Google’s home page.

    It seems like a pretty bad feature in terms of usability right now, and probably belongs more in News, or perhaps its own Real Time link.

  6. says

    As always Kipp you’re on point. The Social CRM systems and integrating social data for sales team concept, I think is going to be one of the most challenging but key items for B2B businesses in 2010, along with measuring goals and analyzing data.

  7. says

    It was really interesting seeing the degree of agreement between your and Paul’s lists of social media SEO predictions.

    Point 8 about Corporate sites going social seems to cause a lot of companies a lot of pain. It can be very hard to enable the paradigm shift in thinking that is required for this, and the change in culture that this entails.

    This is all hugely challenging, but potentially massively rewarding.

  8. says

    Hi Kipp, excellent compilation. As the awareness and impact of Social media grows across organizations, it’s becomg apprent where the Sales and marketing dollars would be funnelled. SM can no longer be ignored, and not tapped in to by Sales organizations too. Especially B2B. B2C marketers already have a headstart in the race and have logn been addressing focussed demographics using SM.

    As blogging, uploading videos, updating Facebook status, or Twitter updates become more common, it’s easier than ever to find the right topics, read the latest updates, and connect bettwe with people who think alike. This has also fuelled the salespeople to understand their prospects better, and connect with them at a whole new level than before.

    I draw up some of my own personal ideas on how SM is helping organizations connect better, and how it’s revolutionizing the Social CRM space in these two posts: http://bit.ly/c8lvma and http://bit.ly/cLwKjZ

  9. says

    Spot on! The best post on B2B Social Media I’ve found this year. It’s amazing to discover how many small to medium businesses have static HTML sites and are years away from understanding how drastically the Internet has changed.

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