Social Strategy for B2B Marketing
Tom Smith, founder of Trendstream, the company behind the GlobalWebIndex, exclusively talks us through the findings of their Social Strategy for B2B Marketing reasearch.
Media coverage of the impact of social media could make you believe that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are just for spotty teens and young adults on the pull.
The facts are very different. Our first look at how senior decision makers and decision makers in the business to business area reveals that these tools have become an essential part of the communications landscape even in what has traditionally been regarded as a very traditional area.
B2B decision makers are the most socially active consumers for all markets and demographics. This underlines how fundamental social media has become to B2B marketing. And GlobalWebIndex trend data shows that activities such as profile updating and microblogging is now even more extensive than it was in July 2009 when we first started monitoring the area.
This difference is most marked in developed markets. B2B decision makers stand out from consumer behaviour in developed markets. In fast growing markets such as China they are still more active than the norm but the gap is significantly smaller.
For businesses that operate and sell in the US, UK, Germany or any other high penetration internet market the need to focus marketing and sales through social media is even more vital.
Globally, social media communications has the most influential channel for business purchases globally, out ranking even face-to-face meetings, conferences, client entertaining or traditional trade advertising in most markets.
In June 2011, global decision makers said “Conversations with people from a company/organisation on a social network” was their leading influence scoring 15%, the second ranked motivation was “direct mails”, scoring 13%. Among senior decision makers – those at senior manager level and above – conversations were level with “sales presentations”, both scoring 16%.
Conversations online now outrank advertising, direct mailings, webinars, conferences and corporate events while “Branded communities created by the company/organisation” are seen as more influential than Corporate events / entertainment. Company blogs, rank last, although are seen as more influential by junior decision makers
We believe “conversations online” represents something broader than conversations on a social network. Buyers are saying they want to interact and converse online and seller companies need to create structures that enable this. This shows that the true value of social media lies in people, not the technologies.
To succeed in this new era of socially enabled B2B communication, firms will have to empower staff to act on a company’s behalf and give them the platform to build a profile, content and relationships in this space.