100 B2B Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2012

We are not the only ones making B2B social media marketing predictions for 2012 this time of year. Plenty of writers are sharing their thoughts on what will happen next year. Below are a variety of predictions related to B2B marketing and marketing in general. See if you can find any common themes. If you have posted your own predictions, please add them in the comments below.

12 B2B Marketing Predictions for 2012 from B2B Digital Marketing blog

Top 3 Predictions for B2B Marketing in 2012 from Marketri blog

10 Predictions for B2B Marketing in 2012 Part 1 and Part 2 from Bliss PR

2012 B2B Marketing Predictions – Will Marketers Leave Sales Behind? from B2B Marketing Insider Blog

8 Tricky B2B Marketing Predictions for 2012 from B2B Appointment Setting Blog

Social Business Predictions for 2012 from the Dachis Group

No Predictions, Just Action from B2B Voices

Top 5 Inbound Marketing Trends for 2012 from Kuno Creative

12 Marketing Predictions for 2012 from MarketingProfs

18 Insightful 2012 Marketing Predictions From the Experts from Hubspot

Five key marketing trends for 2012: Are you being served? from eConsultancy

2012 Social Marketing & New Media Predictions from Brian Solis

Bonus Posts:
How to be great marketer in 2012 – top 10 tips from B2B Marketing Blog

2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends from Content Marketing Institute

12 B2B Social Media Predictions for 2012

2012 is going to be a big year for adoption of social media for B2B companies. We expect that early adopter companies will move even further out in front by becoming social in many areas of their business, while more of the second wave adopters will begin to see value in social media and move forward with planning and execution. This means that there will be a greater spread of B2B social media activities than ever before. More resources are available for B2B marketers, as well as more experienced practitioners, both of which will make the previously steep learning curve more manageable.

The following predictions for 2012 reveal many of the ways B2B companies will leverage social media for their business success.

1. B2B Websites Become the Ultimate Social Destination
In the consumer world, many companies send their visitors directly to Facebook. This strategy seems to be based on the fact that people are already on Facebook and why should companies encourage them to leave the environment. B2B companies will understand this year that it is more productive to drive traffic to their owned property, their website. This is where they control the environment are not subject to the whims of others. Many B2B companies not only need to update their websites, but add social components like Facebook and LinkedIn shares to allow visitors to spread the word about a company’s solutions to industry issues.
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2. Blogging Accepted as Hub of B2B Social Media Success
A blog goes hand in hand with the B2B website as a social destination. Companies that post valuable, educational content to their blogs at least once or twice a week will drive traffic to their blogs (and websites) through a combination of search and social media. Many B2B companies are challenged by the idea of creating content, but there are enough resources and examples of compelling content that marketers running blogs will publish posts that make a difference in their traffic.
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3. Social Media Lead Generation Taken Seriously
Many B2B companies will launch dedicated programs to generate leads through social media, and they will succeed. As more B2B companies take this approach to adding real, measurable results to their social media efforts, the easier it is for C-Suite executive to take social media seriously. This doesn’t just need to apply for direct sales, but companies that have well-established processes for sharing leads in a variety of sales channels can also benefit from social media lead generation. Every stage of the buying process benefits from the kind of better educated customer that results from significant social media content efforts.
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4. Email Grows Despite Its Reported Demise
As the platform that keeps getting called out for its continued expiration is stronger than ever. Email newsletter drive traffic and results and will do more of the same in 2012. Marketers who send email will get better results by sending email more frequently. Email is still a viable content sharing option with your colleagues. And inboxes support growing social networks with both a LinkedIn plug-in for Outlook and one for Gmail by Rapportive.
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5. B2B Marketers Expand Social Media Followers
Traditionally B2B marketers kept their social media follower counts to a minimum, due to their limited customer base and prospect profiles. This coming year they will discover the benefits of building greater reach through their social profiles. Between the benefits of social search, a wider social graph and the necessity of a broader audience in adjacent industries will be apparent.
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6. Social Media Treehuggers Lie Down in Front of Bulldozers
One sign that social media is maturing for B2B companies is that softer social media activities and metrics will no longer be tolerated. Brand awareness through social media is not a sustainable activity. The social media purists, or treehuggers, will lie down in front of the business bulldozers and try to insist on softer approaches to social media execution. Don’t listen to them. Conversation, engagement and sharing are great, but generating leads and sales are okay too. They allow a business to continue to stay in business.
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7. Measurement of ROI Can No Longer Be Ignored
Just because it may be hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Measuring the ROI of social media requires you to adequately bucket the expenses required to drive the results. This also means you need to have results that can be measured in dollars. Leads, which is a proxy for sales, can be used for the return portion. These calculations can be different for every B2B company, and you need access to data that you may not have access to now, but in the end it will demonstrate the success of social media, in business terms, in 2012.
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8. Mobile Strategies Catch Up to Reality
As each mobile device is released, it sells more than its predecessor. This will continue in 2012 and we will get closer and closer to the day the mobile web dominates B2B site traffic. B2B companies are on course to develop their mobile strategies so they can move forward with their customers. If every B2B marketer took their smart phone out of their pocket and suffered through their own website, this really would drive the creation of mobile-friendly sites.
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9. It is the Beginning of the End for Twitter as a Social Network
The role of Twitter will change in 2012. This is the beginning of its reduction of importance for B2B companies and their customers and prospects. Partly driven by its limited adoption (8% of US Adults) and partly driven by its new focus as a discovery platform for new users, Twitter will become more a place to go for news and information and less a social network. It’s minimalistic approach and reluctance to add features will ultimately be its undoing.
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10. Social Media Advertising Gets Results
All social platforms have advertising components that let B2B marketers expand their reach and get their content in front of their prospects and customers. As more B2B companies show success with these methods, these auction style bids will get more expensive. They will still be affordable in 2012, and will gain popularity.
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11. Social Media Adoption No Longer Driven by Hobbyists
A funny thing happened on the way to social media adoption for B2B companies. Marketers who were passionate about social media and had fun keeping up with the latest platforms and over-shared with all the other early adopters have moved on. Many work for agencies, technology companies and startups. The irony is that those currently responsible for managing social media at many B2B companies are those who initially didn’t care about this communication revolution. They got left behind by those that did. And in 2012 these are people who will be most responsible for the broad support of social media in their businesses.
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12. Social Media Supports Offline Activities
As social media becomes a key component in the marketing mix in 2012, it will become an important driver for offline activities like trade shows and direct mail. They will not be competing for the same budget resources, but will be part of a coordinated plan to improve results of these traditional tactics.
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Let us know what you think of our predictions, and if you have any of your own. No matter what happens in 2012, it will be an awesome year for B2B marketers who are expanding their use of social media to provide business value.

Review of 2011 B2B Social Media Predictions

Before we publish our 2012 B2B Social Media Predictions, we wanted to review of predictions for 2011, and see how the year turned out for B2B marketers and their adoption for social media. In general it seems that some B2B companies started moving forward with social media initiatives, but many of these conservative-minded companies did not embrace it with the gusto of their B2C cousins. Read on for the details.

1. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
Mobile continued to grow, as expected, and some B2B companies began experimenting with different mobile tactics, including QR codes, but B2B companies did not focus on making their websites mobile friendly.

2. Open APIs Support Information Portability
Some applications provided API access for their customers to use their data in more powerful ways, but this was not fully utilized by B2B companies for better reporting and analysis.

3. Collect, Analyze and Visualize Data
With the explosion of infographics as content both on the web and in mainstream publications, you could almost call 2011 the Year of the Infographic. But B2B companies did not take this to heart and incorporate data visualization principles into their business reporting. We still saw lots of line graphs and pie charts on people’s desks.

4. Share Compelling Stories
Successful B2B companies who understood the value of storytelling made a bigger connection with their customers, although many companies are still trying to break out of their product-based shells.

5. Continued Growth of Social Search
The growth of social search was huge in 2011 and B2B marketers learned the value of incorporating their social graph into business networks. Google+ is an important part of this growth, but leveraging the large number of connections on Facebook and LinkedIn is key as well.

6. Expanded Forums of Social Communications
It is hard to determine the success of these forums, but some like Focus.com certainly increased their prominence in 2011. This expertise site features more than 1 million members and over 5,000 business and technology experts asking and answering questions.

7. The Year of Conversions
2011 was the very early stages of social media conversions for B2B companies. Some began laying the ground work for this to happen in the coming year.

8. Customer Service is More Social Than Marketing
This was one of the huge advances in social media for B2B companies. Many companies understood that they needed to listen for and respond to customer service requests on social channels.

9. Daily Deals and Group Buying Change Pricing Models
With so much upheaval in the daily deals space, including sustainability questions about Groupon’s business model and copycat offers in the B2B space, it remains to be seen if daily deals will have any effect long term. It did not in 2011.

10. Social Media will be More Accepted in the Enterprise
Some of the most social B2B enterprise companies, like Dell, Cisco and Intel, continued to make social media an important component of the way they do business, but for many large organizations, there is still some reluctance to “go social.”

11. Companies with Limited Results Pull Back from Social Media
For some companies that did not see huge wins with social media, they re-focused their marketing efforts on tactics that have been successful in the past, like pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising and trade shows.

What are your thoughts on how these predictions came to pass for B2B companies and social media in 2011?