The Truth About B2B Social Media Adoption

While we've been sharing examples of creative content strategy executions for a couple of years here, it's easy to forget that the rest of the business world may still be wrestling with different issues.

The truth about social media adoption, according to the results of a survey conducted by Penton Marketing Services* is that many B2B (business to business) marketers are frustrated and less than satisfied with the performance of their website, social, search marketing and sales conversion efforts.

This is especially true in small and mid-sized companies where marketing professional might wear multiple hats—sometimes even a sales hat—and might work with limited budgets and resources in highly vertical, niche industry sectors.

Website goals and performance

The core of a company online presence is its Website. As detailed in the report, budget allocations for Websites are set aside to achieve (goals):

  • 62% want the site to provide product/service information
  • 59% want the site to increase customer awareness
  • 58% want the site to generate sales leads
  • 56% want the site to educate/inform existing customers

On the performance side of things:

  • 77% say their site is not that effective in generating sales leads
  • 67% says it’s not that effective driving retail sales
  • 64% say it’s not that effective selling products or services
  • 58% say it’s not that effective improving customer service
  • 56% say it’s not that effective increasing customer awareness
  • 52% say it’s not that effective educating and informing existing customers
  • 50% say it’s not that effective as a web presence

Websites are not being optimized. Only 29 percent of respondents have employed meta tags and 27 percent have a link building strategy.

Social media adoption

Among those who have social media outposts, Facebook, at 90 percent, is by far the most widely used networks, followed by Twitter at 53 percent, and LinkedIn at 47 percent.

The reasons for not doing more or better are outlined in the chart above:

  • 37% say there isn't enough time to dedicate to it
  • 35% don't think it is critical for the business
  • 26% lack resources
  • 26% don't know how to measure its effectiveness, aren't sure it would be valuable
  • 19% are uncertain about how to begin
  • 13% are concerned about customer privacy issues

Plus, a combined 63 percent are still not aware of what is being said about their company. While 6 percent said they're extremely satisfied with their current social media strategy, 10 percent said they're dissatisfied and the great majority falls in the middle, either neutral or just "satisfied".

There are also gaps in integration. More information and charts in the report (requires form fill out to download).

Demand creation and lead nurturing

Having spent many years of my corporate career in B2B organizations, I'm keenly aware of the longer sales cycles due to higher cost structures for products and services and that many marketers are tight with resources and budgets.

Where to start?

My strategy was looking to shorten the sales cycle and help support referrals. Which is why I employed inbound marketing to create demand by attraction into lead nurturing programs. This is a chart I used at Confab2011 when talking about content is a business asset:


[data courtesy of Hubspot]

In this interview I did with Kristina Halvorson, CEO Brain Traffic, we talked about content strategy. What makes it tick, quoting from the post, is the nitty gritty and details of why and how:

What’s difficult—and what regularly derails even the most well-intentioned content marketing initiatives—is actually figuring out the answers to far more complicated (and, oftentimes, less sexy!) questions that take into consideration workflow and governance: the parts that will make our content marketing plans achievable, effective, and sustainable:

  • Why are we creating this content? Is it just so we can have more content, or are our efforts tied to specific business objectives and user goals?
  • What content do we have to work with? Is it any good?
  • Who is the content for? What do they want and need? Do we know this for sure, or are we making assumptions? (Assumptions are the enemy of all marketing strategies!)
  • Who will create the content? What are the required skill sets?
  • How much time will it take to create and maintain the content? Do we have it?
  • By what standards and metrics will we measure the content’s success?
  • Who is empowered to say “no” to requests for new or different content?
  • What happens to the content once it’s published? (This speaks to the “launch it and leave it” mentality that results in bloated websites, dead microsites, and abandoned social media campaigns.)

It’s these questions that really get at the heart of content strategy: the questions that address not just the product (or content) components, but really dig into the people components that are required to make any sustainable content initiative a success.

B2B content strategy is sexy.

It's about the people

Because they are the places where engineers, scientists, and many more specialists and subject matter experts reside, B2B organizations stand to benefit the most from the smart use of content to attract buyers in like mind and profession categories.

In this post I made the case for social media in B2B.

Humans have a fundamental need to be consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before [the web] has been able to tap into that as effectively. [Paul Ford]


[hat tip Anna Barcelos for the Penton Media study]

*Penton Marketing Services’ B2B Marketing Needs Survey, Spring 2011 to 229,240 executive-level subscribers across 27 Penton Media trade publications. About 5,000 people completed, with 3,835 indicating direct involvement in their corporate marketing strategies.


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