Social Media Examiner released its 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report a few weeks back that contains one of the most comprehensive snapshots of how marketers are using social media and the benefits they're seeing.
It featured some great evidence for using social media marketing: that investing 6 hours a week can improve your sales - while also highlighting some of the challenges: for 3 years running, the question of ROI and measuring the effects of social media efforts has been the top issue for marketers.
Overall, the report contains a lot of compelling data about how marketers are using social media, what's working for them and the tools they rely on. Some of the more compelling statistics are those related to the success B2B firms are having with social media marketing compared to their B2C counterparts.
For starters, we use it almost as much as B2C marketers. More than 93% of B2B marketers use social media to market their businesses. While that’s below the B2C usage level of 95.2%, it's a significant increase since 2010 when only 88% of B2B marketers said they used social media. B2B marketers tend to have more long-term experience using social media, however.
How well is it working? Here's what B2B marketers listed as some of the major benefits of social media marketing:
- More than 56% of B2B marketers acquired new business partnerships through social media (compared to 45% of B2C marketers)
- Nearly 60% of B2B marketers saw improved search rankings from their social efforts (compared to 50% of B2C marketers)
- Almost 70 percent of B2B marketers are more able to gather marketplace insights from their social efforts (vs. 60% of B2C marketers)
- The one area where B2B marketers trail the B2C marketers is in developing a loyal fan base. About 63% of B2C marketers found social media helped them develop loyal fans, compared to only 53% of B2B marketers
Phil Mershon of Social Media Examiner highlighted those finding from the study in a blog post this past Tuesday. What struck me was how our experience at Weidert Group is reflected in those results. We've generated new leads and partnerships using social media marketing and we certainly have used it - specifically LinkedIn - to gather marketplace intelligence.
Speaking of LinkedIn, it's also interesting to note the tools B2B marketers are using and having success with compared to B2C. Many of the tools are the same - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter - but the use is different. B2B marketers prefer LinkedIn and Twitter, and we tend to use blogs more than our B2C counterparts.
What the stats really show, though, is that social media marketing has hit a critical mass stage for B2B marketers. It should now be a part of your everyday toolbox for attracting prospects and converting them into your sales funnel.
If you're not using social media to market your B2B business, you need to start. If you've started but are not using it as a serious tool, you need to revisit or create a social media strategy to supplement your overall marketing plan.
Remember, start simple and do it well. Maybe it's a consistent blog with LinkedIn and Twitter support. As you master it, you can add additional outlets and tools.
We have some pointers that can help you get started:
- Social Media Marketing: A 30 Minute Plan
- LinkedIn: A Vital Part of Any Social Media Plans
- Turn Your LinkedIn Company Page Into A Sales Magnet
- Helpful Tools to Manage Your Social Media Marketing
- Social Media Optimization 101: How To Optimize Your Profiles
To learn more about using LinkedIn as part of a broader social media strategy, download our e-book "How To Use Social Media to Attract More Visitors to Your Website."
Topics: Social Media