2014 is right around the corner. Whether you have developed your annual social media strategy and budget yet or not, don’t miss out on these four trends and predictions for smart B2B social media planning.
B2B brands will integrate social media (and social analytics) with their overall marketing program.
This year, 88 percent of brands are predicted to participate in social media. Predictions that claim “2014 will be the year social media is a necessity” bear an eerie resemblance to 2013 predictions (or 2012 predictions, to be totally honest).
Brands that are going to participate in social media did so in 2013. This recent study from eMarketer is only forecasting a one percent increase between 2013 and 2014 and the total percentage increase between 2012 and 2015 is only four percent. In my opinion, we have to stop saying, “this is the year for social to be required …” because it already is.
It is time, however, for B2B brands to integrate social media with the overall marketing function — taking social “out of the silo,” as I’m sure you’ve heard. Most importantly, it’s time for social to be held accountable for the same metrics as other marketing programs. Okay, so your engagement and influence scores are on the rise? Brand sentiment is up? Who cares? Social media needs to be accountable for impressions, reach, clicks, conversions, and ROI just like every other digital marketing function and 2014 is the first year I think we’ll see brands doing it right.
B2B brands will focus on creating efficient cycles for content generation.
Content marketing isn’t new. Neither is brand journalism. In fact, 93 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing, according to the recently published 2014 report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
In the same study, only 36 percent of B2B marketers said they were effective at content marketing. And you get it, right? Content marketing is tough. Creating enough original content to have a constant funnel of leads and interest … having it look good … getting that content in the hands of the right readers … it can be daunting to think about how content marketing giants like Hubspot or Salesforce are creating all of that content.
2014 will be the year that marketers find more efficient processes for creating original content on behalf of their organizations. We’ll see socialized ebooks (example), infographics (example), andpresentation-style content (example) supplementing long-form content like white papers and research reports, which will be published with less frequency this year.
B2B brands will create platform-specific, differentiated content to get the most out of each social network.
According to Social Media Examiner, when forced to select only one platform, 49 percent of marketers said Facebook, followed by LinkedIn at 16 percent. Yet, only 37 percent of marketers think that their Facebook efforts are effective (source).
While the B2B giants may be getting platform-specific strategy right already, your everyday B2B brand is still creating one strategy for social media, developing content for all platforms, and promoting each of those marketing assets across all of the platforms, like a megaphone.
Most B2B marketers say they get the most out of LinkedIn in terms of social ROI — meaning that LinkedIn might not get the highest number of clicks or impressions, but will get the highest number of conversions (especially when B2B brands are leveraging LinkedIn Groups as part of their LinkedIn strategy). And while the perception for Twitter and Facebook is lower in terms of ROI for B2B marketers, I believe 2014 will bring the start of platform-specific content to get the most out of each network instead of blasting the same asset across the three primary networks and wondering why they aren’t performing as high on two of the three.
Google+ will become an integral part of owned media strategy — from SEO, content and social perspectives.
70 percent of brands have a presence on Google+. While Google+ claims approximately 1.2 billionvisits per month (that’s more than Facebook with 809 million monthly), that number reflects visits to allGoogle services (Gmail included). So that doesn’t help, does it? That doesn’t really tell you anything about the success of Google+, does it?
And that’s how most B2B marketers that I encounter personally feel about Google+. They don’t really understand how Google+ plays into their strategy. They don’t see results (clicks, visits, etc.) from Google+. They don’t know how to use it. They don’t feel like people are actually engaging with any brands on Google+ (don’t you feel the same way?), but rather that everyone is just using Google+ as a megaphone.
In fact, in a recent eMarketer study, U.S. marketers ranked Google+ as the platform they feel is least important. Ouch.
But B2B marketers cannot deny the importance Google has placed on Google+ … they will not allow Google+ to fail. That is clear. Google+ is increasingly becoming part of Google’s SEO and personalized search platform (think Google Authorship). B2B brands who peg search and social as important pieces to their marketing puzzle can’t afford to ignore Google+ in 2014.