12 Revealing Stats About B2B Social Media Marketing

Articles about B2B social media marketing adoption often paint a rosy picture of the current landscape, but when you dig in deeper, there are many challenges in effectiveness and understanding the results. In a recent survey of 5,000 B2B marketers from all industries, Penton Marketing Services found some pretty revealing statistics. Click the link for the full report (registration form required).

1. 81% of B2B Marketers find online marketing moderately to extremely challenging.
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2. 77% of B2B Marketers said their websites are not that effective at generating leads.
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3. 60% of B2B Marketers have implemented a social media strategy, or will in the next year.
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4. 90% of B2B Companies actively participate on Facebook.
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5. 53% of B2B Companies actively participate on Twitter.
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6. 47% of B2B Companies actively participate on LinkedIn.
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7. 33% of B2B Companies maintain an active blog or blogs.
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8. 63% of B2B Marketers are either vaguely aware or not aware what is being said about their companies online.
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9. 47% of B2B Marketers are satisfied with their social media strategy.
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10. 35% of B2B Marketers don’t think social media is critical for their business.
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11. 26% of B2B Marketers don’t know how to measure their social media success.
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12. 14% of B2B Marketers don’t know if their competitors are active in social media.
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Do any of these stats represent the social media adoption situation at your B2B company?

Only 8% of B2B Companies Heavily Engaged in Social Media

According to a recent study by Accenture, only 8% of B2B companies would describe their social media usage as extensive. This is in contrast to the 65% of respondents who indicated that social media is extremely or very important. And let’s not forget the 26% who are not engaged or slightly engaged in social media.

We keep seeing studies about social media adoption that are wildly different from the reality we see when talking to B2B companies. Many surveys seem to aggregate the data in ways that create screaming headlines that cause people to share them with their social networks. It’s important to look at the data beyond the headlines. This particular study shows a large number of B2B companies are engaged at some level, but that could mean they created a Twitter account and don’t what to do next.

The survey discovered that the cause of the difference between heavy adoption and its perceived importance is due to a lack of resources and confidence. 50% of marketers surveyed felt they needed new tools and technologies to manage their social media efforts and 40% indicated that their team was not properly trained to take advantage of social media. This is compounded by the 20% who were not confident that they had enough information to make the right decisions to move forward.

There’s lots more information in the full report, including the importance of expanding social media beyond marketing and the adoption of a social CRM model, and you are bound to find something that can help your next conversation, presentation or conversation with the boss. Here’s a link to the free report: Making Social Media Pay – Rethinking Social Media’s Potential to Bolster B2B Interactions, Customer Loyalty, Revenues and Brand Reputation.

What else about the report resonates with you?

New Research: 60% of B2B Decision Makers Use Social Media

According to a new report Social Strategy for B2B Marketing 2011 from Global Web Index, B2B decision makers are the most socially engaged in the world when compared to average internet users.

Social Network Use
39% of B2B decision makers had used a micro-blog (like Twitter) in the last month and only 22% of average internet users did. 60% had used a social network compared to 50% for the average internet user.

Influence of Social Media
Social media communication has become the most influential channel for business purchases globally, out-ranking face-to-face meetings, conferences, client entertaining or traditional trade advertising in most markets. Conversations on a social network led the category of what most influenced all decision makers at 15%, while direct mail was second at 13%. It was just a touch higher for senior decision makers at 16%, which was even with sales presentations for these senior leaders.

Global Market Preferences
There a sizable readership of this blog around the world, and our focus is usually on the US, since that is where we are based. So I’m happy to have some global data about the markets where social media matters more. According to the study, social media conversations are valued the most over sales meetings in Australia, Spain, Argentina, the UK and Japan. The countries that are more traditional in their purchase influence, where face-to-face interactions rule the day are Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Mexico and Indonesia.

Increase in Social Media Use
Social network usage among decision makers increased from 41% to 60% from July 2009 to July 2011, while micro-blogging grew from 21% to 39% in the same period. And breaking this down from a country perspective, the results in China for social media growth is most compelling. Chinese B2B decision makers have increased their usage of social media from 31% to 60% over the past two years.

“Social media has become an essential tool for business to business marketers and in some markets participation in these platforms could be the difference between getting your foot in the door and making the sale. Our research highlights the need for B2B marketers to have a sophisticated strategy for leveraging the right platforms, empowering their staff to participate and making contact with client decision makers,” said Brett Petersen, Senior Strategy Consultant at GlobalWebIndex.

Have you seen this kind of social media adoption in your B2B company or in your customers?

More Ways To Know If Your B2B Company is Social Media-Ready

Last week I wrote a post about how to know if customer service reps at a B2B company are ready for social media. I want to continue that idea and start to understand social media adoption or acceptance in other functions of the business.

Marketing Staff
Many readers are marketing professionals who started using social media profiles on their own to learn how it applies to their company. There is usually one strong advocate for social media (dear reader) in a marketing department, maybe even an evangelist. Everyone in marketing should know by now that social media is no longer a fad and can drive business, but there is a large education gap. It is your job as the evangelist to determine what that education gap is. Help others in the organization get more out of their social profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn. Recommend some Facebook Pages to follow. Share your favorite SocialMediaB2B articles with them. That’s why there’s an email share button at the bottom of every post.

PR / Corporate Communications
PR professionals have been trained to control the company message. That is just not possible anymore. PR pros who are ready for social media have learned that they can take their skills and apply them in new ways. Creating content requires a commitment of resources, and as much of it is written, that task can be managed by a PR team who is used to cranking out releases. They may need to lighten up on some of the approval processes, though. Relationship building skills also translate to reaching out to online influencers, but the PR pros need to understand that an email press release to bloggers doesn’t build a relationship. Asking the intern to send individual emails doesn’t do it either.

Sales Force
Many sale people are willing to accept social media ideas, but they are concerned that it will take too much time. Tools and workflows that bring social conversations into their normal routine or CRM systems will help them see the value of having more context for communicating with customers and prospectives. Sales people are results-oriented and need to be shown successes of their efforts. This means it is important to track sources of everything, so social media approaches can get the proper credit for driving business. Talk to other companies who are doing this, and see if you can connect your sales manager with their sales manager.

Executive Team
Every executive has smart phone. They understand the change that mobile is bringing to B2B companies. This makes it easier to sell the idea of using social media to drive business as another coming change. People who have risen to this level in an organization understand networking, relationships and connections, which are parts of social media. They also want to see results. Intellectually they are ready to see social media succeed. And emotionally, they want the same thing. “My B2B company is doing a fantastic job using social media,” are words that executives want to utter. But there is a fear that it will fail. The best way to overcome the fear is to set up a pilot project with regular updates to an executive contact. Set realistic goals that can be met, but know that it can take some time. These are things that should run parallel to other communications efforts.

Legal Department
The legal department will never really be ready for social media at a large B2B company. One way to help them understand what social media can do, and its place in a corporate communications environment is to point to other large companies who are using social media. If more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 100 are using social media, there are ways legal departments have become comfortable with the various aspects of the approach. Another thing to try is to find other attorneys who advise companies on social media, or even someone from a corporate legal department willing to speak to your company’s attorneys. Search for legal blogs and attorneys speaking at conferences to find those adept at social media.

Ad Agency
Many traditional ad agencies are used to campaign-driven plans based around big ideas. While big ideas have a place in social media, it is much more about the setting processes in place that will help a company succeed over the long term. Every tweet and every Facebook update does not need to be carefully wordsmithed, but they do need to have an appropriate tone and be part of the larger story. Look to ad agency partners to leverage their strengths like strategy, branding and design. Many agencies are still catching up with the execution of social media, and make sure their approach matches yours.

What are your biggest challenges with other functions’ social media acceptance or adoption in your B2B organization?