Use Social Media Statistics to Find Your B2B Audience

B2B marketers often use statistics for their social media presentations. Whether these are educational decks for internal or external audiences, or slides to prove the need for an investment in social media, this is a very limited use for all the statistics that are available online. Why not use these stats to understand more about our target audiences and gain some insight into their online behaviors. The Pew Internet and American Life Project has conducted an ongoing series of surveys about social media adoption of US internet users. The latest version of the survey was just released, so let’s look at some other ways to use this survey.

We have a tendency to focus only on B2B related surveys, but a general audience survey can be helpful in providing guidance and discovering your audience on social media channels. To paraphrase a line from the funny Tim Washer, all B2B prospects and customers are people, so their general internet usage is something to consider.

Let’s look at some of the survey results with a bit of thought around each stat and how it applies to a B2B audience.

67% of US Internet users use social networking sites

That’s two-thirds of all internet users, so when someone says that your prospects and customers are not on social networks, they are wrong. They probably are. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are looking for business-related information on social networks, but if you can connect with them and provide value (through content), you can build and nurture these relationships.

71% of women surveyed use social networking sites

If your target personas are women, or even skew more towards woman, take another look at how you are using social media to drive lead generation. Women are more likely to use social networking sites than men, so a better understanding of how they use it and the kinds of content that appeals to women will attract more prospects. I don’t mean make all your ebooks pink, but think about the differences in the way women and men solve problems, gather information and share information on social networks when developing your content strategy.

83% of 18-29 year olds use social networking

We all know that a greater percentage of younger people use social networking sites than older people, but the next age group of 30-49 is still at 77% usage. It slides all the way down to 32% when you get over 65. If your goal is to reach older executives on social networking sites, that will be a challenge. They are just not there yet. But as prospects are researching online for business solutions, social networking can play a part for anyone. If an intern or a junior employee is the one who seeks out information about your products, or fills out lead forms, what kinds of things are they searching for? These would be less technical results than what an engineer would look for.

16% of US Internet users use Twitter

With the overemphasis on Twitter in marketing and media, it is hard to accept that only 16% of US internet users are on Twitter. And the demographic data shows that is skews younger and more urban, so that does not necessarily provide much guidance for finding and reaching a B2B audience. Many B2B companies start with Twitter because they think it is easy to tweet, but they quickly run out of things to tweet without a plan. Twitter’s best use is to help amplify your own short and long-form content. It is also worthwhile to ask your customers if they are using Twitter, and what value they get from it. This can help guide you in connecting with prospects on the social network.

20% of US Internet users use LinkedIn

While the study mentioned above did not report LinkedIn usage, a previous Pew study did. And I can’t write a B2B article without talking about LinkedIn. This is a surprising result in certain business circles. It seems that every business person is on LinkedIn. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn. But with usage at only 20%, there are certainly B2B prospects are not on it. Use this information to dig more into your customers’ behavior to understand how to maximize your LinkedIn efforts.

67% of US Internet users use Facebook

The percentage of Facebook users matches the overall social networking usage numbers. While it is not an exact one for one match, you can interpret this to mean that your audience is on Facebook. It is possible to use Facebook grow your audience, build connections and drive leads, but it requires content creation, compelling images and sponsored posts to increase the reach of those posts. It is work, and it takes times, but you can get results from Facebook.

How else would you look at these statistics to find your B2B audience on social media sites?

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A Baker’s Dozen of B2B Social Media Statistics for 2013

One of the challenges for any B2B company that adopts social media is to benchmark their success against other B2B companies. Statistics, like those collected below, are one way to spot trends in overall activity and spending. When you look at all the stats below in aggregate, you see that B2B companies are spending more on digital marketing and social media, they are dedicating resources to content marketing, but they are not driving traffic to their websites with social media.

If your first tendency is to shout that they are doing it wrong, you are not alone. But we don’t know what specific tactics these companies are using and what their goals are. If they are not creating compelling content or they’re not driving prospects back to their websites, then social media traffic will be small. If they are focused on lead generation, and the social traffic converts at a higher level than general traffic, they might be fine with how much traffic social drives. Start with trends that you may find in these statistics, but make sure you review your own social media metrics against your goals and other tactics.

Changes in Spending

49% of B2B marketers plan to increase their marketing budget in 2013. (Source)

9.5% of B2B marketers plan to decrease their marketing budget in 2013. (Source)

67% of B2B marketers plan to increase their digital marketing budget in 2013. (Source)

70% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spending on website development in 2013. (Source)

56% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spending on social media in 2013. (Source)

Content Marketing

93% of B2B marketers using content marketing use their website. (Source)

65% of B2B marketers using content marketing use social media. (Source)

58% of B2B marketers create their content internally. (Source)

35% of B2B marketers use personas to guide their content creation. (Source)

A B2B buyer will find three pieces of content about a vendor for every one that the company provides. (Source)

Traffic Sources

41% of B2B website traffic is driven by organic search. (Source)

40% of B2B website traffic is direct. (Source)

Only 2% of B2B website traffic is driven by social media. (Source)

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