11 B2B Social Media Takeaways from BMA14

B2B marketers from across the world gathered together for BMA14, the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference in Chicago from May 28th-30th. During those 3 days, approximately 1,000 business-to-business marketers were exposed to the latest B2B marketing trends, thinking, research, technology, case studies and best practices.

Although the conference covered a wide range of topics, social media was a key theme in many presentations.

What was perhaps most interesting is how many brands were using a variety of techniques and social channels to spread and amplify their message.

Here are some interesting B2B social media insights and takeaways from #BMA14.

1. General Electric’s use of Vine, Instagram and Tumblr

Linda Boff, Executive Director Global Brand Marketing at GE, mentioned that General Electric has found Instagram, Vine and Tumblr as platforms where the GE brand has found its voice by sharing groundbreaking research and simple science experiments.

Creating great content that tells a story is key to attracting an audience that consumes and shares via social networks.  Some examples of GE’s successful social campaigns include #6SecondScience, #SpringBreakIt and #GravityDay on Tumblr and Vine, and their 170,000 follower Instagram account.

2. Social Selling Gets Results

Could “social selling” be the next big thing in marketing? Many attendees of BMA14 believe so. Sales people need to be aware that they can be more influential and effective when using social selling techniques. Jill Rowley presented a powerful case for social selling by sharing how sales people always need to be connecting and curating quality content. 78% of sales professionals using social media outsell their peers that use traditional selling techniques.

Want a bit more info on social selling? Watch Jill’s “Traditional Selling vs. Social Selling” video.

3. Make your presentations tweet-worthy

Jay Baer, author of “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help, Not Hype” is always good for an entertaining and informative presentation, and his BMA14 keynote was no exception. Jay had perhaps the most tweet-worthy presentation at BMA14, largely because he includes tweet-worthy content.

Here are a few examples:
– Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it. (View tweet)
– Youtility comes from the wizard, not the wand. (View tweet)
– Inspiration doesn’t respond to meeting requests. (View tweet)
– Content that is only about your products and services isn’t a Youtility, it’s a brochure. (View tweet)
– We are surrounded by data but starved for insights. (View tweet)

Jay Baer Youtility slide

4. WhatsApp as a business tool

Lisa Abbatiello, CEO of Leo Burnett Business, New York, mentioned that they use WhatsApp for engaging among global groups and Twitter to highlight their team’s point of view on their client’s industries.

5. Market like its 2014. Use the tools available.

Keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk roused the BMA14 attendees with his edgy presentation style. Gary urged marketers to jab first (engage customers) before using a right hook (going for a sale). He urged marketers to use the tools available to them and to stop marketing like they did years ago.

He practiced what he preached by sharing stories about how he used social media to determine a prospect’s interests then used that information to start a conversation. This resulted in several big sales.

6. Use LinkedIn to make C-level connections

Scott Salkin, CEO and founder of IDS Marketing Technology, says LinkedIn is the most effective B2B social media platform. “It’s become a very credible way to connect with people and reach out directly to C-level executives.” Scott has achieved an impressive response rate of around 80 to 90%.

7. Social Media is Mobile

Marketers are aware of how mobile is impacting their business, but they may not be aware how much. Mobile was still one of the big topics at BMA14, and the speakers from the social media focused sessions had a lot of eye-opening mobile takeaways.  Here’s a few:

“Facebook and The Move to Mobile” presented by Gary Briggs, Chief Marketing Officer, Facebook

– Facebook has 1 billion+ monthly actives on mobile, 609m+ people using Facebook on mobile every day. (View tweet)
– Every team has to be mobile. At Facebook, every team is the mobile team. (View tweet)
– 200 million people use Instagram each month. That’s twice the number of books in the Library of Congress. (View tweet)
– 85% of global mobile devices have WhatsApp. (View tweet)

Facebook mobile team

“Mastering the Moment: the Live Opportunity for B2B Marketers on Twitter” presented by Richard Alfonsi, VP Global Online Sales, Twitter

– 80% of Twitter users access via mobile. (View tweet)
– There are 135,000 new users on Twitter every day. Chances are your customers are among them. (View tweet)
– Wednesday is when the most B2B conversations happen on Twitter. (View tweet)

“Tell Better Stories, Build A Better Business” presented by Nick Besbeas, VP Marketing and Customer Support, LinkedIn

– Over 300M professionals are on LinkedIn. (View tweet)
– LinkedIn is no longer a jobs site, it’s a content site. Users consume content 7x more than job listings. (View tweet)

8. Storytelling has an important role in Social Media Globalization

Social media took center stage during a panel discussion about the impact of social media globalization. While a brand’s logo and mission statement are consistent globally, its social media has to be flexible to address the interests of individual cultures while maintaining a cohesive voice.

For example, social selling is much more popular in Asia, as personal relationships matter to the point where people won’t do business with brands they don’t know. Brands should consider using visual storytelling to break down language barriers.

9. Game mechanics promotes participation and engagement

The attendees at the BMA14 conference were encouraged to use an event application called LiveCube. LiveCube fuses game mechanics and audience participation to promote participation and engagement. When synced to your Twitter account, the application would allow you to tweet, retweet and follow users through their interface, as well as get session information, participate in real-time polls and surveys and much more. And when you did so, you accumulated points for the various activities. In short, it made participation fun.

And the numbers showed it worked. By the end of the conference, the 1,000 attendees had generated 17,269 Twitter mentions which had an overall reach of 63.7 million impressions.

LiveCube Interface

10. Facebook is still relevant in B2B

During the “Understand the DNA of a Growth Marketer” panel session, Mark Rentschler, Head of Marketing at machine tool company Makino, mentioned his shock over the last year regarding Facebook. “Facebook folks are converting at more than double the rate of normal marketing activity, and are spending from 10 to 30 minutes on our website.”

11. People love a good selfie.

When you have a conference that has as much mobile and social media content as BMA14, there’s no better way to wrap it up than with an Ellen-inspired selfie.

BMA14 closing selfie

The Business Marketing Association (BMA) is the premiere marketing organization for B2B marketers. The BMA offers unparalleled access to the knowledge and network you need to be the best B2B marketer possible.  What can the BMA do for you?  Watch the video and find out.

3 Unique Ideas from SXSW B2B Social Media Panel

At this year’s SXSW, one of the strongest B2B social media sessions was the panel “Social Media in the Underground World of B2B.” The panel provided eye-opening insight and touched on some unexpected topics, making it an invaluable learning session for B2B marketers.

SXSW B2B Social Media PanelThe presenters included Duane Schulz from Xerox Corporation (@duaneschulz), Jeanette Gibson from Cisco Systems (@JeanetteG), Shanee Ben-Zur from NVIDIA (@sbenzur), Susan Emerick (@sfemerick) from IBM and Melissa Chanslor from Text 100 (@Chanslor).

The panel opened by covering social strategy and engagement. The panelists agreed that the best place to start B2B social media marketing is where your audience is. Identify areas where key decision makers spend their time. Shape your engagement strategy around where those prospects are. Use listening tools, participate in the conversation, and measure effectiveness.

Unique Idea #1: Use Facebook and OpenID for B2B Website Login
Show the connection from social to sales. Cisco Systems is using Facebook and OpenID for login on their website. It’s led to a 40% reduction in cost and has increased event registration by 20%.

When it comes to participation, find the best social citizens within your organization to enact the social strategy. Enable them to be true representatives of the brand. By recruiting the right subject experts internally, brands can bring value to the conversation. And no one knows your brand better than your employees, so enable them and make sure they reflect your brand properly.

IBM stresses the importance of their people understanding that they represent the brand, and if they do it well, customers will become brand ambassadors too.

Adoption among employees is key. Engaged employees equals engaged customers. So how do you get employees to adopt social media?  Expose them to it.

Unique Idea #2: Conversation Starters
NVIDIA and Cisco System have large LCD screens that display real-time Twitter streams and other social conversations in high traffic areas of their office (meeting areas, near bathrooms, etc.). Employees routinely stop to see what is being mentioned about their brand online. This tactic leads to employee engagement.

When asked about B2B social media challenges, the panelists pointed to ROI and internal resources being the biggest obstacles.

On the topic of ROI, panelists noted that social media ROI can’t always be measured. They recommended creating benchmarks and showing growth over time.  Show that you changed a trend.

Shanee Ben-Zur from NVIDIA provided additional insight: “Your business objectives should guide you to what you should measure. Tie social back to the original objective and use that as the measurement standard.”

Dwayne Schulz said that Xerox is not worrying about ROI for the next 2 years.  Their goal is to create a literate community within their organization first.

Unique Idea #3: Gamification
Many B2B marketers may feel that gamification is only for consumer marketing, but rewarding people for participation and incentivizing behavior are tactics B2B marketers can employ too.  Integrate game mechanics into an interaction to emotionally engage and empower users.

IBM and Cisco are using gamification now. “IBM is using gamification internally to build leaders through rewards and recognition” mentioned Susan Emerick.  And Jeanette Gibson from Cisco Systems mentioned how they were using it on their blog.  “You can get badges for sign up, reading, commenting, sharing, etc.”

Although the panel covered several other notable points, these topics seemed to generate the most interest from the session attendees.  And with good reason- all are unique concepts that help these notable brands achieve success with their B2B social media marketing.

Are you using any of these unique B2B social media ideas?  Share your thoughts, stories and feedback in the comments.

62% of B2B Marketers’ Biggest Challenge: Lack of Resources

B2B marketers are always facing challenges in their marketing efforts, but in today’s competitive landscape and tough economic climate those challenges are more pronounced than ever before.

In a recent Marketing Sherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, B2B marketers were asked to identify their top challenges in their marketing efforts. The results (click to view larger version):

B2B Marketing Challenges Chart: Marketing Sherpa

The most identified challenge for B2B marketers is the “lack of resources in staffing, budgeting or time.” It was 23% higher than the second biggest challenge, “lack of ability to stop executing and think strategically.”

The report also shows that even the most effective B2B marketing tactics such as website design, SEO and email marketing saw up to a 50% decline in their overall effectiveness from the previous year.

So what does this mean for B2B marketers?  Will B2B marketers embrace solutions that save time or money? Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to make up for lack of resources, time, or budget?

6 Ways To Beat Your B2B Competition Using Social Media

B2B Social Media WinnerB2B companies looking to get a leg up on their competition should consider how social media can help. Through strategic use of the various social media platforms and tools there are several tactics you can implement to help your business position itself ahead of your competitors.

1. Do Your Research
Using social media to thoroughly research your industry and competition will alert you to exactly what is happening in your business space. Setting up the tools and keywords/phrases to monitor your industry is imperative. Cast a wide net of search terms including your business and products, your competitions business and products, industry terms, events, people’s names and Twitter handles within your organization and your competitors, authors and bloggers that cover your industry, twitter hashtags, etc.

2. Identify Opportunities
When you see a topic or trend gain popularity or when you identify a need for a new feature or service, take advantage of the opportunity. Promote your capabilities in that area or get your team working on a solution that you can offer to those that need it.

3. Produce More Educational Content
Realize the decision-makers are doing more research online, and social media is helping facilitate that process. Provide more content to help buyers learn about your products and services, inform them why your solution solves their problems and give them the takeaways they need to educate their colleagues within their organization.

4. Showcase Your Service And Support
B2B customers expect to have their issues resolved when they happen. B2B companies that excel at providing prompt, courteous service and support should highlight this during the customer buying cycle. Because service and support can make or break a B2B purchase decision, demonstrating your competency in this area can put your company at an advantage over another.

5. Ask For Feedback, Then Use It
Customers are always a great resource when you need to see where you’re doing well and where you’re falling short. Asking for feedback can help you identify new opportunities and correct any negative experiences. There are many ways to use social media to solicit feedback, including your Facebook page, Twitter feed and LinkedIn Groups. You can also set up polls or surveys and use your social media connections to request participation.

Once you have the data, analyzing and acting on it is key. If you can satisfy your existing customers, then you’ll meet the needs of new customers as well.

6. Engage Your Customers
Once you have a customer, use them to your advantage. Make sure they connect with you in as many channels as possible, and try to get them to engage frequently. Studies have shown that customers who follow you on social channels are considerably more apt to promote your brand to others. If you can get your customers speaking on your behalf in your social channels it will help immensely as buyers deeply consider customer reviews and testimonials when making purchasing decisions.

Are you using social media to help you beat your competition?  What other tactics are working for you?

5 Ways To Influence B2B Group Buying Decisions

B2B Decision MakerOne of the biggest differentiators in B2B marketing is that a B2B purchase decision is not usually a solo effort. It is a group decision. In most cases a team of people review the potential purchase, and in many situations there’s a senior level person who has to approve the purchase.

So how can you use social media to influence the group buying decision?  Are there ways to position your business ahead of your competition?

Every situation is different, but thinking about what information the buyer requires and offering the material so it can easily be presented to a team should give your business an advantage.

Here are five things to consider as you create social media content targeted at B2B group buyers:

1. Competitive Information
Your potential buyers are almost always going to perform a competitive analysis early in the purchasing decision process. Instead of making your buyers dig to find out pertinent information, provide them with the details they need to see how you stack up against the competition. By simply providing the information and by highlighting the areas where your organization excels you’ll position yourself ahead of your competitors.

2. Unique Benefits
Let others know why you stand out. Highlight what makes your offerings unique and what will make a difference if they purchase your product or service.

3. Value
Define why your business can save time, money or resources for the potential buyer. Pure monetary savings are sometimes easy to identify, but other valuable savings may not always be as noticeable. If your software is easier to use, if your product requires less training or if it has a higher resale value, make sure you share this information with the buyer.

4. Integration
Show how your product or service will easily fit into the existing framework of the buying organization. Demonstrate how effortless it will be to get started and how it integrates with other products. Buyers want the security of knowing they won’t be stranded with something so proprietary that it will make itself obsolete in the near future.

5. Content to Share
Recognize that the person leading the B2B buying process will need to present your product or service to others in their organization. Provide them with materials they need to accurately represent your offerings. One-sheet takeaways, PowerPoint slides, videos and more may all be beneficial for those making the case on your behalf.

With longer B2B sales cycles and more considered group decisions, it’s important to provide the information your lead purchaser needs to accurately represent your product or service to their internal team. Doing so can likely put you at an advantage, and it could be what helps put your business at the top of the list.

Do you have any other tactics you use to influence B2B group buying decisions?

8 Reasons Why B2B Social Media is Easier than B2C

B2B B2C Easy HardAlthough social media is seldom “easy,” there are some distinct advantages that B2B companies have over B2C brands in the social media space.  Here’s a list of 8 reasons why B2B social media is easier than B2C:

1. It’s driven by relationships
B2C marketing is largely based on a product and its price. It tends to be a more impulsive or emotional buying decision than B2B. B2B purchasing decisions tend to be more involved and relationship driven, and that suits social media.

In a B2B sales cycle, businesses tend to interface directly with potential customers multiple times in order to inform and educate the prospect. Social media can play a big role in this process. Through social media you can interact with the prospect and nurture the relationship, which can ultimately influence the final purchase decision.

2. Your practices can lead to sales
Your social media practices can demonstrate your business value which can lead to purchases. Users can see that you are reliable, responsive, intelligent, etc. via your social media practices.

3. You have more control
B2B companies tend to have less people talking about their brand than B2C companies. In most cases that means less content, and B2B typically generates less negative sentiment than B2C. That means B2B companies have less content to control and less negative content to deal with. Therefore B2B companies can maintain more control over their social content which makes it easier to get their message through to the right audience.

4. B2B purchase decisions are more rational
B2B sales cycles can span months or even years. Buyers research products, educate themselves, review competition, seek opinions via referrals or recommendations and in many cases, interact with brands before making a purchase decision. B2B buyers also need the approval of one or more colleagues to make the purchase. Compared to B2C, the B2B buying decision is a much more considered process and it’s based largely on business value.

5. It’s easier to build long-term relationships
The goal for most B2B marketers is to convert prospects into customers. Because the sales cycle is longer, B2B companies need to focus on relationships as part of that process. Communication with prospects, engaging them, educating them and leading them towards purchase creates the foundation for a long term relationship. And in many situations, the social media relationship continues past the sale through support, updates and continuing education.

6. The B2B market is smaller than the B2C market
Compared to B2C, B2B is a smaller, more focused target market. Using social media to identify prospects, connect with them and start building a relationship is faster and easier in the B2B market.

7. B2B buyers trust recommendations and feedback
Because B2B purchases are typically more considered decisions, B2B buyers tend to value the recommendations and feedback they receive from colleagues and other industry professionals. Social media provides a great opportunity to solicit product feedback, which can help influence the purchasing decision of the buyer.

8. B2B content has a long tail
B2B products tend to change less frequently than their B2C counterparts, so the social content you produce for your marketing efforts will create value for a longer period of time. That can make B2B social marketing more effective (and likely less expensive) than B2C.

Do you agree that B2B social media is easier than B2C? Are there any other ways that you feel B2B social media has an advantage over B2C?

7 Ways to Take Your B2B Marketing Mobile

Plan for Mobile MarketingWithin the last few years, the use of mobile technology in the workplace has risen dramatically. In the B2B space, professionals accessing business information and content on smartphones and tablets is impacting business operations, workflow, communications and marketing.

B2B mobile marketing spending will quadruple over the next five years, rising from $26 million in 2009 to $106 million in 2014, according to Forrester Research.

So how should your business plan for the impact of mobile on B2B marketing?

1. Provide mobile-friendly marketing content
Optimization of your web site, emails, blog and other marketing content for mobile devices should be a top priority for your development team. Don’t simply re-purpose existing content. Design and create specifically for the mobile environment.

2. Consider mobile users when creating content
As the use of mobile increases, short form marketing content may generate more impact than long form content. Blog posts and short videos may provide more long-term B2B marketing value than not-so-mobile-friendly content like whitepapers and webinars.

3. Centralize content
You may need to re-consider the source of your business marketing content. Instead of publishing it in a specific channel, you may want to put it in a central location (web site, database, etc.) and then point your channels to that content or broadcast it from that content source. That way you can announce or display the content in your various marketing channels such as email campaigns, social networks, mobile apps, blogs, text messages, etc. Recipients will either access the content directly or pull it through the interface or channel of their choice.

4. Choose mobile-friendly technologies
When creating content, consider the channel or service you’ll be using and determine if it’ll work well in the mobile environment. Certain tools and services will work better for videos, animations, blogs, etc.

5. Mobile app vs. mobile site
With the abundance of apps proliferating the app stores, many marketers are considering if the time and expense of creating apps is worth the effort. Can a mobile site offer a better experience and broader reach? Is there additional branding and marketing value in having an app available in an app store? Consider the short term and long term value of both options to see which may be a better fit for your intended audience.

6. Review your analytics
Understand if mobile is impacting your marketing and make decisions based on analytics. Make sure you are set up to be able to determine the mobile audience for your web site, blogs, email campaigns and social channels wherever it is possible to do so. Use that information to make the decision on the importance of preparing a mobile strategy for that channel.

7. Test emerging marketing strategies
Because many businesses are still determining the potential of mobile marketing, testing and refining their mobile marketing process and choices are an ongoing process. But by doing so, marketers will identify the mobile opportunities that will create business value. Testing now can lead to significant long term mobile marketing success.

If you remember to keep your target in mind and consider the impact of mobile marketing on near and long term goals, you’ll likely find a way to use mobile to create value for your customer and your business.

For more great B2B mobile information, be sure to check our our previous post The B2B Mobile Revolution is Here and download The Mobile Revolution & B2B (PDF) by CK.

Another 18 Awesome B2B Social Media Statistics

B2B Social Media StatisticsWith the popularity of our 28 Awesome B2B Social Media Statistics post last year, we wanted to make sure we kept our readers up to date on the latest statistics coming out of various B2B social media reports and studies. Here’s a list of 18 additional stats from a variety of sources to curb your stat-hungry appetite.

Usage:

  • More than nine out of ten B2B marketers (93%) say they conduct social media marketing to some extent. (Source)
  • More than two-thirds of B2B marketers already used social media marketing as of December 2010, where the main focus of marketing efforts was brand building. Despite customer acquisition being B2B’s top goal for the year, less than half of respondents were using social media for lead generation. (Source)
  • More B2B companies have been using social media longer (52.6% reported 1 year or more) than their B2C counterparts (46.2% indicated 1 year or longer). (Source PDF)

Budget:

  • This year 78.5% of B2B marketers plan to increase their online budgets. (Source)
  • 69% of B2B organizations are increasing marketing budgets for inbound marketing tactics including social media. (Source)
  • Social media has become an integral part of marketing for B2B companies, with 62.6% of marketers planning to increase their spending this year. (Source)
  • 51% of B2B marketers said they will increase their content marketing budgets this year, and content marketing will make up 26% of overall B2B marketing budgets.  (Source)
  • In 2010, social media, websites and email each received a median of 10% of B2Bs’ online marketing budgets. (Source)

Channels:

  • Among surveyed B2B marketers who conduct social marketing, 26% cite LinkedIn as their single most important social tool, 20% cite Facebook, 19% cite blogging, and 14% cite a customer community as their top tool. (Source)
  • B2C are more focused on Facebook and B2B are more focused on LinkedIn and video. Also note that B2B companies are utilizing blogs more. (Source PDF)
  • B2B companies are significantly more likely to plan on increasing their use of LinkedIn (71% of B2B versus 51% of B2C). (Source PDF)
  • 39% of B2B companies plan on increasing their forum use (versus 34% of B2C). (Source PDF)
  • B2C companies are more interested in learning about Facebook (74%) and blogging (72%) versus B2B (Facebook and blogging: 65%). (Source PDF)
  • 100% of Fortune 500 Company’s have executives using LinkedIn. 50% of LinkedIn’s users are decision makers in their company. 41% people using LinkedIn for marketing have generated business with it. (Source)

Challenges:

  • Asked to identify the top 3 major obstacles to adopting social media marketing, 70% of B2B marketers cite a lack of resources. Such marketers are faced with other obstacles as well, citing the following:
    –  Poorly defined success metrics and key performance indicators: 57%
    –  Lack of knowledge about social media: 44%
    –  Management resistance: 22%
    (Source)

Mobile:

  • B2B mobile marketing spending will quadruple over the next five years, rising from $26 million in 2009 to $106 million in 2014. (Source)
  • 64% of B2B decision makers currently read their email via mobile devices. (Source)

Measurement:

  • Some 75% of B2B marketers who conduct social marketing say they do not measure the ROI of social initiatives. (Source)

If you know of any other B2B social media statistics please leave the stat and source in the comments below.

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?