Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs’ new study, B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, is so chock-full of statistics and data for B2B marketers that it could – quite frankly – give you a little working orgasm. While you should read through it yourself, here are some facts that caught me by surprise and possible reasons for why they now appear.
1. B2B content marketers are most challenged with producing enough content, as opposed to early findings in which the greatest challenge was to produce engaging content.
What does this tell us? Content marketers have bought into concept of content marketing: it’s role, function and the value in utilizing this marketing strategy. At the end of 2012, Content marketers understand the necessity of producing engaging content and, compared to a year ago, are more familiar with what is required to facilitate the creation of this type of content.
While they still face the challenge to produce content that engages, the chief problem is now the awareness of just how much they need to create to make this marketing strategy effective.
2. Social media, being used by 87% of content marketers, is now the most popular content marketing tactic, having knocked, “articles on your website” out of the top spot.
Why is this surprising? Content marketers seemed to have found that while the production of content on their own site is essential, the way this – and other innovative content – is consumed by the B2B audience is through social media sites. Readers and viewers (our potential buyers) of this content are not just going to their search engines to look for personal, popular culture or “social” information, they are heading to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Quora (etc) to consume content that will help advances their business needs.
This data shows that content marketers are responding to their audience’s behavior, furthering efforts to reach and engage them in the right medium.
3. The Confidence Gap: While companies are increasing their budgets in B2B Content Marketing, they still have the most confidence (67%) in ‘In-Person’ events.
What gives? How can companies be willing to invest more in a content marketing strategy – and focus this strategy in social media engagement – if the content marketers themselves are not even convinced of the strategy’s effectiveness? The ‘Confidence Gap’ tells us a few things:
One, content marketers recognize that content marketing is multifaceted and thus takes time to create desired results. You can’t go from zero to hero without a hefty amount of content – and acceptance of the time it takes to establish thought leadership and brand awareness. The fact that content marketers recognize the untrustworthy behavior of social media and the time it takes to create an effective content marketing strategy, does not mean they do not believe content marketing is the best stratgy to achieve their overall desired results.
Two, there is a difference between believing that current efforts are effective and believing that these same methods will prove to be effective in the future. While some content marketers may not have much faith in any one of their current methods to achieve recognition by producing whitepapers, ebooks, guest articles – that does not mean they do not believe in their ability to succeed in these areas in the future, with continual investment in energy and talent.
4. LinkedIn, surpassing Twitter, is now the social media channel of choice among B2B marketers for content distribution.
What does this mean? There is no doubt that LinkedIn reigns as the most widely used professional network. It makes sense that it serves as a playground for B2B marketers. What is surprising is that it is also the channel that content marketers have found to be most effective todistribute their thoughtful, engaging, and (often) interactive material. Besides being sometimes hard to locate an active target audience within the countless number of LinkedIn groups, LinkedIn is not built to sharematerial in the same simple fashion, as are Twitter and Facebook.
I don’t think I have ever found an engaging piece of content on Linked and thought: “I am going to copy, paste and share this link on my LinkedIn homepage.” I would rather take it to Twitter, or I use it to write an article of my own.
But maybe that is just the point. Whether or not the content stays within LinkedIn is not of chief importance. B2B professionals are active on LinkedIn, seeking new information to use for business purposes. When they find something to be useful – they trust it – and share it on sites they believe will react in a viral way. LinkedIn then, may not be the exact place to “go viral,” but it is the best place (so far) to make that first and easy point of contact with a B2B audience who can spread your ideas on a much larger scale.
You’ll have to read deeper into the statistics to apply it into your own content marketers ventures, but the most promising thing I takeway is that investment in content marketing is on the rise.
While you may not yet call yourself a ‘content marketer,’ that doesn’t mean your aren’t – or will not become one.