B2B Social Media – Does it Work?
“How about B2B social media? Is there any value in using it? Does it work?”
This question comes up a lot recently, including in a workshop I sat in on earlier this week. Someone asked about the viability of using social media for their B2B business. You might even have this question yourself when you look at your B2B marketing.
The presenter gave an answer I heard a few times over the past few weeks. People have a belief that social media doesn’t work for B2B. While the presenter went on to explain that it’s not useful because most often the CEO, or other C-level people you’re trying to reach are too busy for social media. But in this case, people had stopped listening. Half the heads had bent over their notes as they wrote, “Cancel all social media” or, “Off the hook for social!”
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Wait! What’s that sound? It’s the sound of shrinking sales pipelines, diminished lead volumes, disappearing referrals, and website traffic dying a slow death.
Am I exaggerating? Possibly, but most likely not. Hear me out.
In 2010, I sat in a meeting with a client and presented the marketing strategy and recommended tactics. Among the list of traditional and digital tactics, it included “Search Engine Optimization”, and “Pay-Per-Click Advertising.” At the client’s request, I explained to her what the tactics were and why they were relevant for reaching her target students – both in the short-term, as well as building traffic over time. She argued that her prospective students – the deaf and hard of hearing community – never use Google or any other search engines. Ever. Her logic was, the community is small and they always know what they want.
Thus, by her logic, her target audience never ever used search engines.
I wonder what that life would be like without search engines. It would be so hard to find things…oh wait, we only have to go back as far as the 1980s to imagine life without search engines. And that life sucked. How would we know when a movie would start, who won the hockey game last night, or answers to important questions?
Whatever her logic, it became quickly apparent that the only marketing ideas she wanted were her own, so I left, she didn’t need me. Incidentally, her program never launched.
The Business Case for B2B Social Media
The thing to remember is that businesses are a collection of people. And people use social media. We’ll look at the numbers today to understand the depth and breadth of the social media landscape as it pertains to B2B organizations. When people make decisions based on their own perceptions, versus those of their target audience, most often, they miss the mark.
There is so much to unpack in this topic, I broke it down into a four-part series that will cover:
- Social media by the numbers
- Benefits of B2B social media
- Goal setting and alignment within the organization and marketing
- Examples/case studies
- ROI – is it worth it?
- Is it right for your audience?
- Tips to make it work for your business
Why wait for next week, let’s get started!
Common B2B Social Media Marketing Objections
In conversations and meetings over the years, these are the most common reasons people have told me they don’t want to use social media for their B2B organization:
- Business people are too busy
- People use social media for personal use, not for professional use
- It doesn’t work for our industry
- None of our competitors use it
- How do we measure it?
- We tried it once and it didn’t work
- We don’t need it, our audience isn’t on social media
The most common questions often center around the assumption that your B2B customers/prospects aren’t on social media, or that they don’t use social media for professional uses. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you’re right, B2B buyers and decision makers don’t use social media.
To do this, we’ll start with the numbers.
Who is using social media, and how are they using it?
Starting at the top, 83% of all online Americans have a social media account. (Hootsuite)
Of all online adults, 79% use Facebook. Based on my story earlier and how the deaf and hard of hearing community doesn’t use Google, I can only assume that the 21% who don’t use Facebook are all business owners and C-level executives.
Oh wait, no, while that could be likely, I’m sure some of them are people like my friend Ben who lurks using his wife’s account but has no desire for his own. So a good percentage of that 21% have other priorities, or they are obstinate, stubborn, and deniers. They’re also probably still using flip-phones and waiting for that “Internet” trend to end.
83% of Americans have a social media account, and even the 79% who are on Facebook – that is a vast majority. But are they active? At the end of this post are quite a few facts and stats about overall social media usage and some profile information as well about who is using it. However, in the interest of not losing you completely, I wanted to keep the focus on B2B facts and figures. There’s no question social media is popular, but what does that mean for you?
B2B social media usage stats:
84% of C-level/vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions (IDC)
Let me repeat that. No? You don’t need me to, because you can still see it? Okay good because 84% is a lot.
And let’s assume for a second that the VPs and C-level people are too busy to do the research and vet solutions themselves. So who then are they turning to for this information?
Nearly half of all the employees conducting research for B2B purchases are millennials. (MediaPost)
Oh, that’s right. Millenials. And they don’t use social media at all, so we’re still good with our assumption that B2B buyers and decision-makers don’t use social media.
Here are some additional facts:
- B2B marketers who use Twitter generate twice as many leads as those who don’t (New Breed Marketing)
- 40% of B2B buyers say LinkedIn is important when researching technologies and services to purchase; 19% say the same for Twitter. (Social Media Today)
- 56% of buyers use LinkedIn when they are searching for potential suppliers (Leadformix)
A few years ago, Forrester published this information:
And then there’s this fun fact because we all like clients with bigger budgets:
Buyers with larger budgets are more likely to use social media (LinkedIn)
So maybe our assumption that business buyers and decision-makers not using social media for business decisions and information doesn’t hold up. As far as the numbers and behavior go, there is a very high probability that B2B marketers are using social media. The question is, why are they using it, what are the benefits, and how can you use those for your own marketing efforts? That’s what we’ll be covering next week.
In the meantime, if you want more info, or just like numbers, below are a few more stats about specific social media platforms.
Social Media by the Numbers
The rest of the stats are from Pew Research Center in case you want to learn more about the usage and demographics of social media platform users. It is a lot of information, but it is important to understand the reach and profile of social media users by each platform.
- In the past two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased 57%. (HubSpot)
- Facebook continues to have the most engaged users — 70% log on daily, including 43% who do so several times a day. (Pew Research Center)
- Half (50%) of online adults with college degrees are on LinkedIn…and 45% of online adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more use LinkedIn.” (Pew Research Center)
- In the past two years, content consumption on LinkedIn has increased 21%. (HubSpot)
- 100 million of LinkedIn’s 450 million members access the site on a monthly basis (Venture Beat)
- Only 17% of US small businesses use LinkedIn (eMarketer)
- Twitter is similar to LinkedIn, while it skews slightly younger, 29% of internet users with college degrees use Twitter. (Pew Research Center)
- 65.8% of US companies with 100+ employees use Twitter for marketing (eMarketer)
- 77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a brand when their Tweet has been replied to (Twitter)
- YouTube is rated the third most effective B2B social media platform, behind only LinkedIn and Twitter (Content Marketing Institute)
Can’t get enough social media stats? Here are some great resources:
- Pew Research Center
- Hubspot Marketing Stats
- Hubspot Stats for Social Media Marketers
- Weidert Blog
Next week we’ll look at the benefits of using social media specifically for B2B companies. There are a lot of reasons not to use it, but there are even more to use it, if/when you do it right.
See you next week!
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