Social Media – is it really mainstream in B2B Marketing?

Social Media - is it really mainstream in B2B Marketing?So I ran across some interesting stats last week when I picked up a tweet from Jeff Bullas on the 15 essential social media facts and figures for B2B Marketing.

Seems as if more B2B Marketers are engaged in Social Media then B2C marketers (actually data point from the article – 81 % of B2B companies have accounts on social media sites compared to 67% of B2C) which leads me to think Social Media has gone mainstream in B2B. That’s a good thing yes but I don’t feel like we are there yet.

Let me explain …

I don’t know how you feel but I certainly feel like everything I read about Social Media is the same old thing just a rehash of something else I read before. There doesn’t seem to be anything really new. Sure Facebook changes its platform every Tuesday but I mean something more like groundbreaking ideas using social. Maybe that’s because we are entering a stage where we are all including social in everything we do. It’s no longer a social science experiment by a bunch of early adopters – it’s just part of our everyday approach!

Also I am not seeing anyone really “killing it” with or in social media (sans Mark Zuckerberg of course). There seems to be tons of Social Media consultants and Directors of Social Media but will that party last? (see my post on Fire your Director of Social Media).

Furthermore everyone seems to have a book out on Social Media – heck I have 3 books on social media (2 out there and 1 on the way!) It’s amazing to see so much written on this topic which leads me to believe the party is over.

So where do we go from here?

I guess we head back to the core of what we do as B2B Marketers and take these lessons learned in Social Media back with us and see if we can innovate. I once heard that innovation happens when people get bored with a technology – perhaps we are at that point now in social.

14 comments to Social Media – is it really mainstream in B2B Marketing?

  • Hi

    The problem with social media is that people still think it’s all new shiny and generally the cure for everything.

    It isn’t. Only really good product, really great brand and peerless full-spectrum communications is.

    I think that some people/businesses believe that all they need is a Facebook Page or Twitter feed and they’ll be at the top of the Fortune 500 in the next week.

    Sadly that myth hasn’t yet been debunked!

    (BTW i’m not some grumpy social media hater. Love the stuff!)

  • As with all mediums teh bottom line is Quality. The moment you deviate from it there you start loosing it.You need to take it forward and understand that Social medium is because of people are here and thus you need to value that before anything else.

  • @Neil and Ankit – good points thanks for commenting

  • Max

    Hi Paul,
    The fact that 81% of companies have accounts on social media sites says nothing about how much usage and what level of success companies are having with this channel. I know many companies have set up these accounts to begin testing the social media waters, but SM is not yet part of their “mainstream” strategy, tactics and channels. Now that the party may be over and the new marketing toy called Social Media is losing its luster, we are definitely entering a new SM stage from experimentation to truly mainstream adoption by figuring out how to fully integrate SM into the marketing mix, capitilize on it and God forbid measure ROI. For some, this may be the boring stuff, for others, this is when the real exciting work begins. Time to hire back the SM Director?

  • @Max – good point 81% in itself doesn’t tell you about the efficiency of those sites – they might have opened a Twitter feed and never posted anything! So fair point.

    We are doing the bard work now of embedding social in everything we do which I guess is as you say “where the real work begins”

    Don’t fire that SM director just yet!

  • Paul – great post and even better conversation in the comments. I am sure that 81% of B2B companies have tried something in the social arena. However, to echo your comments, I wonder what the 81% consists of in terms of social participation. A corporate blog that doesn’t elicit discussion? A consumer network (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) that either is just a one way conversation pushing the brand and not engaging their followers? I see this all the time. Social networking/media/marketing is a channel to have a multi level communication with customers and prospects where EVERYONE benefits.

    Beyond this, enterprises need to focus on:
    * Why they are entering the social channel
    * what tools are going to effective
    what the metrics will be to determine success. They also need to find a way to own their data and not have to rebuild a following every time a new social application becomes popular (remember Friendster and MySpace?) B2B companies are seeing success but those have analyzed their core networks and have planned the direction for success. A good Director of Social Strategy may be worth their weight in stock! @pbrannigan

  • Very interesting statistics here! I’m with Max in the opinion that THIS is where the REAL fun begins! Now, that the shiny newness of the Social Media buzz has worn off people are finally recognizing that there is more to it than what meets the eye. Now we can focus on the overall content strategy and how an effective social media strategy can be integrated into the overall marketing mix to garner the best ROI. Now THAT’S Fun!

  • Jamie Stewart

    Nice article. I totally agree with your comment:

    “I certainly feel like everything I read about Social Media is the same old thing just a rehash of something else I read before.”

    I have read countless articles on social media that do not actually provide any insight – but merely describe the obvious benefits that social media can bring. As if people don’t realise that these sites are a cost-effective way of spreading your message to millions of people… What people really want to know is how a company has benefited directly as a result of using these platforms.

  • Paul,

    I have few a thoughts.

    First, how large was the sample size of the survey. 81% doesn’t seem accurate. I know plenty of b2b companies that still have their first generation website up and spend the majority of their marketing dollars advertising in print. I believe we remain very early in the adoption curve. We are no where near mainstream.

    Second, I believe that at this point, most B2B companies that do have a presence in social media, do so because that is what “all the cool kids were doing.” In other words, they saw competitors doing it, read all the hype about it, and jumped to set up their pages so they wouldn’t be seen as “behind” the times. Now that they have a presence, they are probably sitting around looking at each other trying to figure out what to do. Goals weren’t defined, hence no strategies or tactics are being tried.

    Third, as you know running an effective social business requires resources. Over the past two years, (as a result of the recession) most companies eliminated just about every single person they could afford to. Marketing departments right now are generally understaffed. Innovation takes resources.

    It’s my view that we have a long fun road ahead of us for B2B social media.


  • Jeremy

    you raise a lot of really good points

    the 81% is a stat from the Jeff Bullas site – which I think may come from some Forrester work on the Technographics profile but don’t quote me on that – It does seem high

    the 81% was as you said for those B2B firms that “set up a presence on Social” so yes perhaps they are just starring at the competition as to what move to make next

    and boy can I ever relate to your point three – I feel like firms have cut below the bone and I can see evidence of this in the Program to Comp ratios I hear from peers who tell me they have more comp in their budget than program budget!

    great comment – thank you!


  • Keep the great posts coming. I particularly liked the part about “Seems as if more B2B Marketers are engaged in Social Media then B2C marketers (actually data point from the article – 81 % of B2B companies have accounts on social media sites compared to 67% of B2C) which leads me to think Social Media has gone mainstream in B2B”. Here at Vendere Partners, we know a lot of this to be true, firsthand, based on our experience in B2B lead generation. – Garrett

  • Thanks Garrett – I am hearing a lot from Vendere Partners these days – keep up the great comments!

  • Social Media Hits Mainstream; Tried-and-True Still Works Best

    Despite continuing concerns about measuring ROI and effectiveness, two-thirds of marketers have used social media in 2009 and half have used viral videos, making these two formats the fastest-growing tactics in marketing, according to a survey from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), BtoB Magazine and ‘mktg’.

    The 66% who used social media this year represents a a increase over 2007 survey results, which revealed that only 20% of marketers were using social media and 25% were employing viral videos two years ago.
    Among marketers using social networking, the top sites being used:

    * Facebook (74%)
    * YouTube (65%)
    * Twitter (63%)
    * LinkedIn (60%)

    web marketing

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