Study: 93% of B2B Marketers Use Social Media Marketing

According to a recent study by BtoB Magazine, 93% of all B2B marketers are engaged in some form of social media marketing, with most putting their focus on the most popular channels (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter).

The Big Three

B2B marketers overwhelmingly favor “the big 3″ social media channels, with LinkedIn being the most-used channel (72%). Facebook (71%) and Twitter (67%) are close behind, with those three channels forming the core of most B2B social media marketing efforts. Other channels used by B2B marketers include YouTube (48%), blogging (44%) and online communities (22%).

When asked to cite their single most important channel, LinkedIn again rose to the top with 26% favoring it. Most respondents identified lead-generation as the most valuable result of LinkedIn marketing. Facebook was the most important channel for 20%, while blogging (19%), online communities (14%) and Twitter (13%) rounded out the top tools. Facebook was cited as being a channel where users “pay attention”, while blogs and communities were cited for their customer feedback and engagement.

Despite being used by 67% of B2B marketers, Twitter was only the top channel for 13%, perhaps showing that Twitter is an important piece of the overall social marketing picture but not the best channel for B2B marketers to find value. According to survey participants, many marketers only see Twitter as a way to support website traffic and product/event promotions.

Challenges:

When B2B marketers were asked to identify their top three obstacles to adopting social media marketing, 70% identified a lack of resources as being the biggest obstacle. Other challenges faced by marketers include: poorly defined success metrics and key performance indicators (57%), lack of knowledge about social media (44%) and management resistance (22%).

Measurement:

One of the most interesting statistic to come out of the report is the lack of measurement by B2B marketers. About 75% of B2B marketers who conduct social marketing say they do not measure the ROI of their social marketing programs.

The Study:

This results of BtoB’s exclusive research study Emerging Trends in B-to-B Social Media Marketing: Insights From the Field focuses on how B2B marketers are leveraging social media. Conducted in March 2011 and based on the responses of 577 B2B marketers, this study not only looks at the demand for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter but how marketers are using the unique applications to their best advantage across all marketing functions.

Does this data match your social media experience for your B2B company?

Comments

  1. Mark Cianciosa says

    I’ve been in B2B sales over 20 years. Some were big and some small. Some were high tech and some were not. And these companies and industries are just now starting. Your 93% figure is way too high.

  2. says

    I can’t help but wonder if the relatively low percentage of B2B marketers who are finding value in Twitter is because of the way they are using it. Not to say that Twitter is automatically a high-value channel, but there’s a lot of half-assed “participation” that primarily encompasses press release links or fake engagement efforts like “Hey, have you heard of our [insert new product, webcast, promotion here]?” Looking forward to checking out the survey.

  3. Doug Coleman says

    I maintain that there is a relatively low percentage of B2B marketers who find value in Twitter (and other social media outlets) because companies are using these tools wrong and for then wrong reasons.

    Instead of trying to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. to promote their products, gain leads and increase sales, companies need to understand that the businesses they are trying to connect with are probably NOT looking to social media outlets to buy products for their company. Simply pimping your product on these channels does NOT work. The real value in using social media for B2B companies is in relationship management, engagement, intelligence about your product/industry and promoting thought leadership.

    Show me one B2B company that has successfully used social media to increase leads and sales.

  4. says

    I am also doing marketing for a B2B company. I have noticed that the b2b rely much on the number of good relationships you have instead of good rankings in search engines because search engines are not trust worthy referrer and people will not trust on the robot but if you have good relationships and if they refer you than their are very good chances that you are going to get one more customer. For building good relationships social networks provides ideal platform and that’s the reasons almost all the b2b marketers are using social media marketing.

  5. says

    Great statistics. Its quite surprising that 75% of B2B marketers do not measure the ROI of their social marketing programs. Social Media marketing itself is a strategy which when aligned with the company strategy can help them achieve their goals and objectives. Its really important to measure its effectiveness to make sure we are not putting any effort in the wrong direction. Social Media Marketing is time consuming. So, not having sufficient return out of our efforts can be a great loss of time. For that, ROI monitoring is a must which helps us determine whether we need any corrective actions or not.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of information.

    http://www.facebook.com/vizzmedia

  6. says

    An interesting read – thank you for sharing.

    The use of video marketing is clearly under utilized by companies in a big way. This fits with “lack of knowledge about social media (44%)” stated in your article.

    In my experience most companies lack the knowledge of how to use video effectively. When used correctly the results can be amazing.

    Whilst Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter are good when used correctly I believe that video is the missing link here.

  7. says

    Carmen-

    I’d agree that some B2B companies take a broadcasting approach to Twitter, which may dilute their potential to find value there. The study asked users to pick their single most important channel, of which many chose LinkedIn or Facebook. Just because Twitter wasn’t the most important channel it doesn’t mean that it lacks value, but it does seem that taking a more engaging approach (like LI and FB) may increase the value of Twitter vs. other channels. I’d also be interested to see how those companies who didn’t choose Twitter handle their messaging there. Thanks for your comment.

    Adam

  8. says

    Doug-

    B2B companies using social media can definitely find value in using it for relationship management, engagement, industry knowledge and thought leadership. But I disagree that it is not effective to promote products, gain leads and increase sales. A successful B2B social media program can achieve value throughout the sales cycle, from identifying prospects to closing sales. Not many companies do this successfully, but there are many out there that do. Take a look at the Top B2B Companies on Twitter (http://socialmediab2b.com/2011/01/b2b-top-10-companies-twitter-list/) or 10 Examples of B2B Facebook Fan Pages (http://socialmediab2b.com/2009/12/10-examples-of-b2b-facebook-fan-pages/). Those companies are using social media to increase leads and sales.

  9. says

    Liam-

    Video can definitely play a bigger role in many B2B social media programs. As more marketers become comfortable with “the big 3″ channels, it’ll be interesting to see if they start to incorporate video as part of their marketing campaigns. If you have any video success stories you can share please contact us- that would make a great post.

    Adam

  10. says

    Thanks for sharing this data, Adam. Guess I’m not too surprised that LinkedIn was ranked highly by fellow B2B marketers. The only difference I’ve seen is that Twitter has also served as a lead generation machine for our brand (INgage Networks, http://www.ingagenetworks.com). At its high point, Twitter accounted for almost half of all net new leads in a given week. So yes, microblogging optimizes Web traffic and is great for event marketing and promotions, but it also flexes a fair share of the lead gen muscle.

  11. Doug Coleman says

    Thank you Adam, those are great examples. I talk with so many companies that just want to use social media as a way to advertise their products and increase sales. They don’t understand that it takes a great deal of planning, effort and a budget to achieve results like the companies you mention.

  12. says

    Hello Adam

    I guess it depends on your definition of success. Recently we have helped some mid size Korean companies (we are based in Korea) gain page one status on Google in less than 12 hours. This was achieved by using social media primarily.

    For the companies that we helped page one on Google can be regarded as a success considering they couldn’t be found on Google previously. It can also give them credibility when people use the active keywords in their search.

    This can be achieved for most companies if the social media consultant knows what they are doing.

    We would be happy to participate in a post if you want.

    Thank you for your interest in my comments.

    Liam

  13. says

    Courtney-

    Wow- glad to hear that INgage Networks is using Twitter to generate so many leads. Nice work! Care to share any tips or tactics you are using to find so much success with Twitter lead generation? We’d love to hear what’s working for you. Thanks for your comment!

    Adam

  14. says

    Doug-

    That’s definitely true. Effort and attention are definitely required to see measurable results. Those companies likely have more resources and budget for social media than most businesses, but paying attention to those brands can provide insight and ideas that may be able to help businesses with smaller budgets and less resources. Thanks for your comments.

    Adam

  15. says

    I think the overall figure of usage is still pretty high. Many marketers may use social media marketing, but I believe that few are actually certain about the value that it can bring.

    I’m still pretty new to the B2B context of social media. When I look at the social landscape I see engagement that involves traditional pushing rather than pull.

    I agree that resources are a challenge for truly engaging in social media. I’ve been advocating Social Media as a company culture endeavor that includes members from production teams as well as administrative. I call it the Social Media Advocates program.

    Members voluntarily join the program and make contributions. The marketing team and leadership feed in topic to be discussed and the team responds. It seems to be picking up in adoption, Especially in the China social media (Weibo)
    Cool stuff.

  16. says

    Hi Adam,

    I know that there are numerous examples in London of B2B companies winning business and getting other business results via online social interaction and I see them literally daily.

    I think that the main problem with people believing the social media successes in B2B has to do with the word ‘media’ in social media. If you told a CEO his staff could not interact online next week then in many instances he’d tell you they probably couldn’t do business properly for that week. However if you told him they couldn’t use social media next week he’d probably shrug his shoulders and say ‘ok’.

    Teaching B2B employees how to interact online with each other and with external third parties is now incredibly important for companies but telling them that social ‘media’ is important isn’t the language that will cause change in behaviour or get recognition for associated business results.

    For the non believers I think that three of the main benefits for B2B companies using social media are:

    1. Online listening – allows companies to understand their market and competitors better and pick up easy win leads.
    2. Relevant online content creates credibility and awareness that validates buying decisions.
    3. Online interactions can lead to meetings (phone meetings or face to face) if done properly

    Well done on the blog and I really like what you guys are doing here.

    Colm

  17. says

    Very interesting article! However, I can’t help but feel that Google+ is going to have a massive effect on the social media world before the end of 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>