10 Reasons Why B2B Companies Are Failing With Social Media

Too many B2B companies are flat out failing at social media marketing. It isn’t their fault. This isn’t an attack on the companies. Heck, they are at least brave enough to give it a shot. Instead this is an explanation for why a new marketing channel has been slow to grow in the B2B space. This shouldn’t be news to anyone though. Email marketing has been around for decades and many companies still don’t have that mystery figured out yet.

Instead of placing blame, let’s diagnose the reasons B2B companies aren’t seeing success with social media.

10 Reasons Why B2B Companies Are Failing With Social Media

1. Massively Under Investments In Content
In the old days of B2B marketing, space was the core limiting factor. Marketers needed to work in the size constraints of a direct mail piece to get their message across. On the social web, space is unlimited. Instead, attention is now scarce. To grab the attention of leads online, marketers need more content than ever before. One blog post a month isn’t going to cut it. With the need for multiple blog posts per week and daily social media messages many marketing teams find themselves under-equipped to keep up with the content demands. If you are a B2B executive shift some of your paid advertising budget to content creation resources ASAP.

2. Haven’t Used Paid Social To Bolster Organic Efforts
Advertising shouldn’t be a dirty word in social media marketing. Instead paid social media marketing efforts on platforms like Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook should be used to bolster your organic marketing investment. Use advertising to attract new connections on social networks. They will see the content you are sharing and engage with it to increase your lead generation.

3. Aren’t Focused on Lead Generation
Stop counting followers as your primary metric of social media success. Engagement is not a goal, it is a metric. Put a lead generation and revenue goal on your social media marketing efforts so that you can demonstrate the value in order to get additional budget consideration. Heck, we though this was so important, that we wrote The B2B Social Media Book.

4. Management Support Doesn’t Exist
Social media doesn’t succeed as a rogue one-man or one-woman project. Instead take our advice from #3 and build a model that projects social media lead generation growth over the next year. Share this with your executive team to get the funding and support you need to be successful.

5. Aren’t Looking At The Right Data
Social media is nothing more than another marketing channel. Stop looking at weak metrics like followers and engagement. Instead look at social media as you would any other marketing channel and look at key metrics like visitor-to-lead conversion rate by social channel, as well as visitor-to-customer conversion rates.

6. Customer Personas Aren’t Clear Enough
To win in the world of B2B social media you must clearly understand the daily pain that your target audience is facing. Your customer personas are critical to understanding this important information. If your social media efforts are missing the mark it is likely because you are failing to address your targets’ core pain. Revisit your customer personas with a new round of customer interviews to better understand the challenges they are facing.

7. Failure To Make The Boring Exciting
Your business is exciting. I don’t care what you do, someone in the world thinks it is important and awesome. Brainstorm with your team about some of the awesome, yet unexpected applications of your product. You never know, you might end up like BlendTec.

8. A Terrible Website
You could be rocking social media and sending tons of traffic back to your website but if your website sucks, it won’t do you much good. Conduct user testing on your website to make sure that it properly communicates your company’s products and services. Examine the conversion paths of your website to make sure that when someone arrives from social media, that they actually have a chance to become a lead.

9. The Belief That It Can Replace Everything
Social media isn’t a cure all. Don’t think that it can replace your other marketing channels. Instead, work with your team to get tighter alignment between social media and your other marketing activities.

10. Still Making Too Many Excuses
“Well social media doesn’t work for my industry.” “My business is different.” “We are boring.” “We have a different model. It doesn’t apply to us.” “We tried, but after a few weeks it just wasn’t working for us.” STOP IT!!!!! Quit making excuses. I hear these statements all the time from countless businesses. Never have I said “Wow, you are totally right.” Instead, I simply nod my head and then walk away thinking that this is another business who is condemned to failure because of a “can’t do” attitude. Don’t let this be you. Open your mind and attack big and bold ideas. You just might be inspired by the success you find.

Don’t fall victim to these mistakes and situations. Instead learn from them and crush your competition.

Photo: Flickr


  1. says

    Great post Kipp. You’ve certainly nailed the top objections. I recently spoke at Babson College’s MBA entrepreneur program and most of the questions from the group was related to B2B social media and how it can work. It was great to see the next generation of founders and CEOs thinking about how to make it work rather than throwing out reasons why it won’t.

  2. says

    The executive suite is in ‘denial’ and they don’t know it … All too often, the failure to enlist an executive champion for a social venture will ensure it is doomed before it even gets off the ground. Management support is the starting point or else social will be viewed as nothing more than tactics or noise. The only way to have a fighting chance of not having social outsourced or relegated to a typist-like budget is to get through to executives. Lisa Petrilli (www.lisapetrilli.com)suggests that one of the best approaches is to showcase what it being done in social – ideally with like-minded companies or better yet by your competition. She also suggests that showcasing a few social media blunders and how to respond (or not). In that way, you can illustrate that having “no social plan” is in fact a choice, and a very stupid one at that.

  3. says

    I couldn’t agree more: “You could be rocking social media and sending tons of traffic back to your website but if your website sucks, it won’t do you much good.” I think it’s an important consideration your website that you’re actively trying to get people to go to be good looking and effective.

  4. says

    You are all right Kipp! They say social media is not for everyone which is in my opinion not true. Success in every platform is measured on how you effectively use such platform and we all know for the fact that social media requires patience and more effort to see the great results. Quite a tricky one but worthy to invest in.

    Thanks Kipp for the post.

  5. says

    Great post, Kipp. In addition to point #8, I would say it’s important to have a good mobile web site. With so many people accessing information from their phones, it’s frustrating to link from a social media channel to a non-mobile site where I have to zoom, pinch and scroll to see the information I need. Most of the time, I don’t stay on a site like this if there are other options I’m searching.

  6. says

    Great points all around, Kipp!

    I’d like to add something to point 4, though. Management support is critical, definitely, but it’s just as important that the entire team buys in. Management can support all it wants, but in the end it’s going to be Joe in the Marketing department who has to push tweets and have conversations with Facebook fans; if he’s not passionate and engaged, the whole strategy may fail.

  7. says

    I agree with all points.

    I especially agree about the metrics.

    The point about the website not sucking is the most pertinent one right now for me as I’m currently working with my client Automation Co. who was a Print Media company now turned into a full-service marketing company (which includes all digital media and social media as part of their solutions provided) and I need to find the best way to help them optimize their site for their b2b prospects. I have some great ideas but respect the opinions of you all so let me know if you guys have any feedback! (http://automation-123.com)

  8. says

    A great post — and let’s hope it’s receiving attention from executives. I would add to the list companies fail to have a social media plan that’s coordinated with their sales and marketing objectives. And you are spot on about “Put a lead generation and revenue goal” in the plan – and get very specific about who to target, where to find them. Now we also know that social media is about demonstrating our capability to develop credibility – but not to sell. Givers – Gain. From a Social Selling perspective check out the Harvard Business Review article Tweet Me, Friend me, Make me buy.

  9. says

    All your reasons are valid and I dont blame management to think the same. Social media tools as they are currently setup are not for B2B. The ROI is too small. B2B especially in international markets (which most B2B are) dont find their customers or suppliers on these tools. You setup a twitter account and those trying to sell you SEO and viral marketing services flood the Followers list.
    I encourage B2B management to view the right tool for their business needs and focus on one or two max. Consider where your customers are if its China then twitter is not for you as twitter is banned in China.
    So use social media but selectively.

  10. says

    Great post, Kipp! Common sense, but not always commonly applied! I’ll keep your post handy, as reminders!
    We’re fairly new to social media over the past year … ever-so-slowly getting the buy-in support to proceed with various social vehicles such as a company blog, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
    B2B capital equipment is a tough venue for social media … product purchases require a significant customer investment ($), the sales channels are more complex and typically involve many people before a PO# is issued, and our products last for many years (as opposed to consumables). But we’re finding our niche with social media … it’s the engagement of existing customers and new prospects, as well as the engagement of our sales force out in the field.
    Thanks again for the great info!

  11. says

    I agree with @LinaArseneault. It’s true the C-suite isn’t as jazzed as we need them to be. Reasonable budgets are necessary to put good content creators/editorial planners on the task. And Christina Milian from The Voice isn’t helping the cause. Our success at STRAND, has been in getting the C-suite to suspend preconceived notions of what social media is, or looks like, and boiling it down into basic public relations strategy with social as just another new tool in the toolbox.

  12. says

    Kipp…this is very good post! At first glance, I thought it sounded like it may carry a negative tone but it didn’t. Your post is a great review of how a continuous improvement mentality can help motivate B2B marketers to take social media to the next level.

    I especially appreciate point #8. A poorly executed web site can stifle lead nurturing. I recommend that folks seriously consider a good CMS (Content Management System) system to keep their web site up to date with fresh content and visuals.

  13. says

    I can identify. There is a huge transformation underway, and most of our executives still believe most in classic advertising, event marketing or sending techniques.

    It’s starting slowly, but in B2B the old way of doing sales & marketing, calling and visiting still rule the field.

    I see social media as being part of an entire bundled strategy with on- and offline combined, with forces of both side. But what I see is isolated, working next to each other instead of together.

    I see at the same time improvement, slowly the new paradigma is sneaking in and getting minds and hearts, even of the classic diehard marketers with oldstyle opinions.

  14. says

    In my experience working with clients, the website and lack of compelling content, or lack of content in general are the main contributors to failure with social media. Thanks!

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