Which Social Media Sites do B2B Companies Prefer?

Business to business companies still lag behind business to consumer companies when it comes to social media use. In fact, 68% of B2B companies reportedly use social media compared to 79% of B2C companies (King, 2013).

What’s the reason for the gap? Ramos (2013) attributes it to the fact that “you just don’t see the big reach, eye-popping creative or exuberant engagement with B2B social marketing that you do with programs focused on consumers. Money and resources are clear limiting factors, B2C outspends B2B by leaps and bounds…the specificity of B2B audiences and differences in social behavior and expectations while on the job will likely cause this gap to remain for longer than B2B marketers would like to admit.”

In terms of social media platform preference, Stelzner notes in his 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, that B2C companies are using Facebook more, whereas B2B companies are focusing more on LinkedIn and Blogging. In fact, 78% of B2B companies plan on increasing their use of LinkedIn as compared to only 54% of B2C. Additionally, 71% of B2B marketers plan on increasing their blogging activities vs. 62% B2C (p. 30-31). The report goes on to say that “B2C marketers are more interested in learning about Facebook (64% B2C vs. 52% B2B), Twitter (54% B2C vs. 50% B2B), and Pinterest (52% B2C vs. 43% B2B) than their B2B counterparts, who are far more interested in learning about LinkedIn (63% B2B vs. 51% B2C)” (p. 37).

B2B vs. B2C Social Media Use

Comparison of B2B vs. B2C Social Media Platform Use

Marketingcharts.com reports that LinkedIn was the most effective channel for B2B companies with 65% indicating they had found new customers through the platform as compared to B2C companies at only 51%. Furthermore, 77% of B2C companies indicated that they had acquired new customers through Facebook vs. only 43% reported by B2B companies.

New Customer Acquistion

B2B and B2C New Customer Acquisition through LinkedIn and Facebook

Linked is one of the most popular global social media sites for B2B companies. It is available in 19 languages with 225 million members. Users can create detailed profiles complete with work history and education.  They can upload videos and presentations as well as recommend each other for skills and expertise. LinkedIn has evolved into more than a recruiting site, and is now a powerful business tool. In fact, LinkedIn is now focusing on the mobile market and offers apps like Cardmunch, a tool that allows you to scan business cards to upload contact information, and Contacts which merges all of your contacts into a single data base making organization easy. The company is also reinventing itself as a publishing platform with the introduction of its daily digital newspaper, LinkedIn Today, which has become a source of referrals for business periodicals like the Wall Street Journal (Hempel, 2013).

Businesses can create groups where they can leverage key content such as white papers, articles, and videos to encourage conversations around relevant topics. These conversations originate with the users, thus enabling businesses to become thought leaders at the forefront of key topics.  The critical point here is that the individuals involved in these discussions generally have similar profiles creating an entire ecosystem. LinkedIn is a great tool for businesses to interact with people on a professional level, and in many ways, the platform has replaced “cold calls’ since chances are, someone in your network is connected to the person you are targeting (Howells, 2013).

Watch this video on how B2B companies can use LinkedIn to generate leads with Wayne Breitbarth.

Blogs are also used frequently by B2B companies with 60% reporting new customer acquisition through blogging according to Marketingcharts.com. Blogging is a great way for businesses to publish compelling content that readers will find valuable and want to share. Meaningful content helps businesses become thought leaders and trusted resources for industry related information. Keyword-rich content will improve search engine optimization, resulting in high organic rankings on search results pages.  Other social media channels can be used to drive readers to a blog post, because that’s where the deep content is. An effective way to generate leads is to offer a call to action that refers readers to a landing page to retrieve something of value such as a white paper, article, e-book, or free pass; or to a website to make a purchase.  Blogs can also be used for customer support, thus eliminating phone calls. In addition follow buttons can be added to the blog as well as Like, Tweet, and +1 buttons for readers to endorse and share the content (Bodner & Cohen, 2012).

What does the future hold for B2B social media marketing? The Social Media Examiner predicts big gains this year in social media spending, a focus on the basics of ROI, customers, leads and sales, as well as gains in both content and visual marketing. Keep an eye on Instagram, Google+, Slideshare, and podcasts.

What are your social media predictions for 2013/2014?

References:

Bodner, K., Cohen, J. (2012). Why you are already a business blogging expert. In The B2B social media book. (p. 77 – 96). Hoboken: NJ. John Wiley & Sons.

Hempel, Jesse. “LinkedIn: How it’s changing business”. Fortune, 01 July, 2013: 69-74. Print.

Howells, C. (2013). Social media in B2B marketing: Publish or perish! Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/insead/2013/06/21/social-media-in-b2b-marketing-publish-or-perish/

King, C. (2013). 21 Social media predictions for 2013 from the pros. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-predictions-2013/

King, R. (2013). Manufacturers sign on to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2013/01/05/manufacturers-sign-on-to-facebook-linkedin-and-twitter/

Marketingcharts.com (2102). Frequency of blogging makes a difference for customer acquisition. Retrieved from http://www.marketingcharts.com/direct/frequency-of-blogging-makes-a-difference-for-customer-acquisition-21276/

Ramos, L. (2013). Live from B2B magazine digital edge live. Retrieved from http://blogs.forrester.com/laura_ramos/13-03-21-live_from_btob_magazine_digital_edge_live

Stelzner, M. (2013).  2013 Social media marketing report [pdf file]. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/SocialMediaMarketingIndustryReport2013.pdf

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4 Responses to Which Social Media Sites do B2B Companies Prefer?

  1. Anna Seacat says:

    Hi Judith,

    Thank you for sharing your insights about how businesses that work within the B2B market participate in social media. On the same topic, Mark Schaefer (2013), author of The Tao of Twitter, recently published a blog post claiming, “Twitter leads Fortune 500 social media surge.” Within the post, Schaefer illustrated how businesses are using Twitter and Facebook at much higher rates than it is Google+. It seems that your research also found this to be somewhat true of businesses in the B2B marketplace.

    Nevertheless, as a way to answer to your question, “What are your social media predictions for 2013/ 2014;” I would like to propose that more businesses, including those conducting B2B, will become increasingly active on Google+. I predict this move among businesses for to reasons. First, search engine marketers speculate that participating in Google+ can help achieve a strong non-paid presence on SERPs for critical keywords and improve local findability (Brogan, C. p. 20). Moreover, Trendstream released its Global Web Index during the first quarter of this year and showed that Google+ has more users on a global scale than Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn (Kosner, 2013). For these two reasons, enhanced SEO and increased global usage, I see the need for businesses to increase their activities on Google+ in the next twelve months.

    Anna Seacat
    @AnnaSeacat
    SociallyMindedMarketing.com

    References

    Brogan, C. (2013). Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes

    Everything. (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing.

    Kosner, A. (2013). Watch Out Facebook, With Google+ at #2 and YouTube at #3, Google, Inc.

    Could Catch Up. Forbes. Retrieved from

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2013/01/26/watch-out-facebook-with-

    google-at-2-and-youtube-at-3-google-inc-could-catch-up/

    Schaefer, M. (2013). Twitter leads Fortune 500 social media surge. Grow. Retrieved from

    http://www.businessesgrow.com/2013/07/11/twitter-leads-fortune-500-social-media-

    surge/

    • JA Silva says:

      Anna,

      Thanks for the great feedback. I agree that Google+ is another site to watch over the next year. Speaking to your point about SEO, King (2013) mentions “Google is also rolling out Author Rank which promises to make a connection between content and the author of that content. Authors will then be given a greater or lesser weighting score depending on where their content appears and how they’re connected with other relevant individuals in the social graph. This is yet another example of how a person’s or organization’s participation on Google+ will have an impact on their findability in search.”

      King, C. (2013). 21 Social media predictions for 2013 from the pros. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-predictions-2013/

  2. Thank you Judith for the information you provided here, it is good to know that LinkdIn is commonly used in B2B more than other social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest, I also enjoy listening to Wayne Breitbarth, very useful informative post. I like it.

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