Your 2015 B2B Social Media Predictions Are Totally Wrong. Or Maybe They Are Totally Right!

b2b-social-media-predictions-2015It is the time of year when bloggers dust off their crystal balls and try to predict what will happen in B2B social media in the coming year. I have done this for many years myself. Whether these predictions are based on recent data, anecdotal experience or pure conjecture, they are frequently wrong. Or maybe they are right.

But the best part of writing these blog posts is that nobody ever goes back and looks at last year’s post to see what bloggers got right and what they got wrong. It is a content creators dream come true: attractive headline, shareable content, no repercussions.

Anyone can predict the future if they are not accountable for being right.

These opinion pieces are just that. Opinions.

It is very easy to find a survey and say that B2B companies are increasing their social media budgets. The percentage of B2B marketing budgets spent on social media will rise from 9% to 13% in the next 12 months. It will continue to rise to 21% in the next five years. This single data point will let a blogger predict growth in social media budgets for the next five years. And this survey is updated every year, so this one can go on for eternity.

But nobody is checking up on the bloggers to see what really happened. Or the marketers.

Every year the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs release their benchmark report about content marketing. But in this year’s version they changed the definition of content marketing and the number of B2B marketers indicating that they used content marketing went down from the previous year from 93% to 86%. Does this mean that bloggers can use this study to predict the decline of content marketing? Of course they can.

But other parts of the report reveal that B2B marketers are spending more time and money on content marketing. These selective data points support a prediction of increased reliance on content marketing. A blogger can take their pick of the direction, based on their opinion.

And be right either way. Or wrong.

What about making predictions about mobile? Is this really the year that B2B marketers will finally embrace mobile? It’s very easy to predict. Even easier than it’s been for the past five years that bloggers, including me, have been predicting it. 58% of American adults have smartphones. The breakdown of that data is even higher when you look at groups that likely contain your customers. And that data is almost a year old.

Predict away about the impact of mobile, but B2B marketers will prove it wrong once again. B2B websites, white papers, ebooks are still designed and built for desktop computers. This is one of the biggest no-brainers for marketers in years. But bloggers can predict this until they are blue in the face, but it is just not happening.

Other areas that inspire prognosticating for 2015 are marketing automation, social media advertising, scaling of social media across organizations beyond marketing, measurements of success beyond chasing likes and followers and true executive understanding and adoption of social media.

But for every one of these data-supported predictions, there will be many B2B companies that just don’t follow the trend. And prove the predictions wrong yet again.

It is easy to sign up for a Twitter account, but hard for many B2B marketers to embrace the platform and share information that is of value to their customers. It is easy to pull a white paper out of the archives and say you are doing content marketing, but harder to build a content funnel that matches prospects’ interest and timing so it can all lead to sales. And yes, it is easy to look at your own behavior on your mobile device as a rallying cry to go “Mobile First,” but to get all the pieces in place to make this happen at most B2B companies is hugely challenging.

For many B2B companies 2015 will be the year of true social media adoption and success at many levels. Unless I’m wrong.

Photo credit: Flickr

B2B Mobile Tactics If You Still Have a Blackberry Audience

b2b-blackberry-demiseWith the latest news that Blackberry will be taken private and give up the consumer business to focus on the enterprise are signs that Blackberry will never recover their mobile market share, which ComScore reported at 4.3% of the US market as of July 2013. What do these events mean for B2B companies who still have a mobile strategy that is reliant on a Blackberry-using audience?

Many regulated industries like finance, health care and government have stuck with the devices due to compliance issues requiring employers access employees’ communications records. The first question you need to ask is how many of your customers and prospects still use Blackberries. Do your own research of your website with your web analytics program. Google Analytics breaks traffic down by specific devices. Under the audience tab, go to Mobile and choose Devices.
When reviewing this for, there was only one Blackberry model (BlackBerry 9900 Dakota) listed among the top 25 devices. Since most of the traffic comes from Apple devices and a small percentage from Samsung devices, we can choose to ignore the Blackberry. But that is our audience. If you find a large number of Blackberries accessing your web site, here are three things to do to make sure your mobile efforts reach your audience.

1. Test Your Mobile Site on a Blackberry Simulator

As more and more people access your website, blog and landing pages on mobile devices, you need to know how they look on those devices. It is never hard to come up with an iPhone, iPad or even the latest Android phones from your co-workers to view your site. Blackberries are harder to come by. But if you have determined that you need to test your site on a Blackberry and you don’t have access to a real device, install a Blackberry simulator to make sure you see what your visitors see. If you have never paid attention to these devices and your site uses incompatible technology, your response depends on how big the audience is and how broken the site is. Also see #3 below before expending significant resources in fixing these problems.

2. Avoid Building Native Blackberry Apps

If you were planning on developing a Blackberry app, no matter how large your Blackberry audience, you need to stop. This audience is shrinking, and for many reasons these people will be switching to other devices. The best option now is to focus on building a mobile web-based app that takes advantage of the latest technology that is compatible with multiple devices. Blackberry provides tools to make sure HTML5 apps are compatible with their devices too.

3. Start Planning for a Move to iOS

As Blackberry stops selling devices to consumers, fewer people will have Blackberries. As more IT departments let people bring in their own devices (iPhones) or provide iPhones to them, there will be fewer Blackberries. Unless you work in an industry where the Blackberry provides something that no other device can provide, which only seems to be a physical keyboard and a blinking red notification light, the majority of your customers and prospects will no longer be using Blackberries. That means it is time to begin optimizing your mobile experience for the iOS. This doesn’t mean create an iPhone app, but test your website, blog and landing pages on an iPhone and iPad. Make sure visitors can do what you expect them to do.

Are you still paying attention to Blackberries in your B2B mobile marketing or has your audience moved on to other devices?

Even B2B Marketers Need to Follow these Internet Trends

Many B2B marketers don’t view themselves as cutting edge in the marketing world. They don’t always keep up with the latest trends in digital marketing and social media. And even when they do, there is a sense that they can’t implement the latest approaches to marketing in their organizations. B2B sales are often viewed as heavily dependent on relationships where sales people understand the prospect’s business at a deep level. Marketing must follow suit and support that approach.

But things like social media and digital marketing are not fads. These are things that have changed the way people live their lives. And conduct their business. Even buyers at B2B companies.

Mary Meeker, partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer, presents a report every year that collects a series of datapoints to show how the internet is growing. The current report (embedded below) has over 1.8 million views on Slideshare and has been the talk of the internet.

Here are some key insights from the report that are relevant to B2B marketers.

1. Internet Growth

There is not a question that internet continues to grow. The report highlights 8% year over year growth. More people spend more time looking for information on the internet. They are not just looking for restaurant reviews, but they are looking for answers to their business questions. What do they find when they come across your B2B company? Do they even come across your company? Enter your company into a search engine box? What comes up? What if you enter your most common product categories? Are you helping your prospects find their way to you with your internet presence? Compare what you are doing to what your competitors are doing for a good benchmark.

2. Social Media Growth

More people are spending time on social networks than any other activity on the internet except email. Are your prospects part of this trend? Ask your current customers. What are the sites that provide the most value in your industry? For some B2B companies the answer is LinkedIn. For others, forums still hold sway over the audience. And there are even B2B companies that are driving business from Facebook. Your audience is there. You just need to get in front of them with something that matters to them. Nearly all respondents to the survey shared in the report use Facebook.

3. Smart Phones

Penetration of smart phones continues to grow and people are using these devices for so much more than phone calls. They are still trying to solve those business problems while they wait in line, while they commute and even while they are walking through the hallways of their office to the next meeting. This means they are conducting searches, asking questions on social networks and reading blog posts. Conduct an audit of your B2B company’s mobile presences including website, blog and the things you are posting on social networks. Are you trying to capture leads with gated content? Have you tried to fill out the form on a smart phone? And if you have a cookie-based system that identifies people and automatically fills out the form or categorizes visitors as new or returning, how does that work as more and more traffic comes through smart phones?

4. Mobile

We tend to think about smart phones as the most important mobile trend, but for huge parts of the world, mobile will never mean smart phones. There are 3-4 times the number of mobile phone users compared to smartphone users worldwide. People use standard mobile phones as their connection to their families, to the world, to their money and to their business activities. Does your B2B company serve parts of the developing world where this opportunity exists? You may need to consider who your customers sell to when examining these mobile phone trends.

5. China

With the rapid technology growth in China it is hard to ignore this huge market. There are already more active Apple and Android mobile devices in China than there are in the US. The Chinese also spend more time using the internet (33% of time vs 26%) and on mobile devices (22% vs 12%), while Americans spend more time watching television (42% vs 29%). And two of the top ten technology companies in the world are based in China (Tencent and Baidu). None of this means that you should change your marketing approach and suddenly add China to the mix, but if you are a global company, or one that could serve customers in China, start exploring your options. Many Chinese social and technology platforms continue to experience significant growth.

What are other trends you see in the report below that your B2B company can respond to?

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 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?

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.


  • 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)


  • 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)


  • 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)


  • 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%


  • 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)


  • 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.

BlackBerry Apps for B2B Marketing

Sometimes, it feels like iPhones get all the app lovin’ – especially when you’re one of the 21 million people using a BlackBerry smartphone for work and/or play.

As the top mobile phone for businesses, it makes sense B2B marketers would be on the hunt for apps that make their jobs – and lives – easier. Unfortunately, as this blogger puts it, the BlackBerry App store can seem like a pawn shop that only sells used 8-track players, as app development for the BlackBerry hasn’t experienced the same fast and furious push as the iPhone.

Still, the BlackBerry was made with businesses in mind, and its applications can make B2B marketers’ jobs more efficient on the go. Here are a few that touch the platforms marketers are already – or should be – using to connect with customers:

1. Twitter

Twitter has changed the way companies market themselves, 140 characters at a time. There are many great examples of savvy B2B marketing campaigns set to the tune of Twitter, but not nearly as many useful apps to help marketers use the microblogging service on the go. Last week’s announcement of an official Twitter for BlackBerry app may change that, but it is not in full release yet. The app many BlackBerry users are familiar with is TwitterBerry, which was recently rebranded as OpenBeak. Despite the rebrand, the service’s clunky features have placed it behind newcomers with more features.

UberTwitter has become the Twitter client of choice for most BlackBerry users, including myself. This client lets you switch between multiple accounts (a plus for those juggling personal and professional accounts), see Twitter users near you and navigate through a clean, uncluttered interface. TwiXtreme earns points for its colorful layout (tagline: The first BlackBerry Twitter client that makes you happy) and Seesmic for BlackBerry is a good choice for users familiar with the Seesmic desktop version.

TweetGenius ($7.99) comes with a hefty price tag, and even heftier features (including a URL shortener, extensive options menu and built-in themes) many users have deemed worthy of its cost.

2. Offline to Online Networking

Much has been made about the importance of online to offline networking, but what about taking “real life” encounters and sustaining them online?

After a day’s (or night’s, weekend’s or week’s) worth of meetings, conferences, trade shows and social events, business cards of potential customers can start to add up. CardSnap ($4.99) takes photos of these cards using your phone’s camera and converts them into contacts stored in your phone.

3. Blogging

Whether you write an in-house B2B blog for your business or contribute case studies, commentary and best-practices to a B2B industry blog, there are BlackBerry apps available for many of the most popular blogging platforms.

WordPress for Blackberry allows users to write posts, upload photos and videos, edit pages and manage comments from its mobile interface. Both and self-hosted WordPress (2.7 or higher) sites are supported. TypePad users can blog on its mobile BlackBerry application, while Blogger users are stuck with posting via email or text messages (SMS and MMS).

4. Location-based apps

They’re still a work in progress, but location-based apps and services are poised to be the next must-add to a business’ marketing mix. According to this article, there are now more than 6,000 location-based iPhone apps, 900 Android apps and 300 BlackBerry apps, putting BlackBerry users in the minority when it comes to becoming familiar with the platforms their clients and potential customers may be using. In addition, nearly half of the location-based service apps in the BlackBerry app store are paid clients, keeping adoption rates even lower.

Foursquare, a leader in the location-based app world that was called “the next Twitter” by Mashable, just introduced a free beta version for BlackBerry 8000 and 9000 series users. The service combines location updates with a user point system, and it has attracted the attention of businesses looking to reward and connect with loyal customers.

Loopt, a similar service minus the gaming aspect, also has a BlackBerry mobile version, and, while not an “official” in-house app, myKite for BlackBerry (previously known as BrightBerry) takes Brightkite on the road.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at other BlackBerry apps that help public relations pros and sales teams better compete in the B2B space. What BlackBerry apps have you found helpful when it comes to managing your marketing mix, engaging on social sites or keeping up with the industry and competitors?

3 B2B Mobile Trends To Watch In 2010

Recently Gartner, the respected analyst organization, released their predictions about Mobile Consumer Applications In 2012. While I agree with most of Gartner’s consumer predictions, I wanted to talk about the impact of mobile on B2B organizations in the next year. Planning for 2012 is great, but it is important to understand what is actionable this year.

The difficult issue when discussing mobile is that it really addresses a wide variety of communication methods including: people finders, schedule organizers, text alerts, wake-up calls, mobile web sites, mobile coupons, voting, and Bluetooth. Another issue to keep in mind is that BlackBerry is still out selling Apple’s iPhone at a rate of more than 2 to 1. However, looking at application downloads and activity on both platforms shows that the iPhone has a higher level of user engagement and a more mature application store.

The important thing to remember is that most of the business world is still on BlackBerry devices, while the iPhone is currently a more consumer focused device. This is changing but when planning mobile strategies for 2010 it is critical to have a clear picture of the device adoption rate within your current and potential customer base.

B2B Mobile trends To Watch

1. Location-Based Integration With All Mobile Applications
– Integrating location-based functionality into B2B mobile applications in 2010 will begin to set a trend that will become standard in years to follow. I will be writing a more in depth post solely about the implications of location-based applications soon. Meanwhile, in the B2B space we continue to hear about consumer location-based applications like Foursquare and Brightkite. While these applications clearly add a valuable layer of experience to social networking, the true power of location-based applications sits with B2B.

Social media connects people online, but adding location-based applications to mobile devices helps to foster online relationships offline. On this blog we have talked a lot about the power of relationships for B2B. If your organization values relationships, then location-based is a logical step in cultivating digital customer relationships.

Location-based functionality will become common place in CRM applications, B2B social networks and other applications. I don’t think wide adoption will occur in 2010 but it will certainly be the start.

2. Multifaceted Customer Service Applications
– For years now B2B customer service, a critical customer retention and acquisition tool has been relegated to a 1-800 number and an e-mail address. Recently things like real-time chat and user groups have surfaced as an extension of customer service. In 2010 B2B customer service will begin to go mobile in a significant way.

Not only will customer service begin to go mobile, but it will also create new customer touch points in the form of mobile applications, text messaging, mobile chat and more. In the coming year it will not be uncommon to have a distributor use a mobile application, not just to check on the status of his order from the manufacturer, but to get push notifications about shipping or production delays, to ask a customer service rep a question via mobile chat, or see the top questions about a product in a user-forum.

3. Integrating Mobile Into Tradeshows – Industry tradeshows are not going away anytime soon in the B2B space. They are a staple cost in most annual budgets for B2B organizations. However, what has already started to change is the increased focused on maximizing cost of event sponsorships and employee travel, while at tradeshow events. Mobile is a major catalyst in helping to boot this ROI. In 2010 B2B organizations will begin to use mobile communications tools, like text messaging to spread word-of-mouth about tradeshow parties and events while building new opt-in databases for mobile marketing.

Do you agree? How is your organization handling the opportunity of mobile?