b2b marketing social media review

The concept of social media for business is gaining traction, with 56% of B2B marketers planning to increase their spending on social media in 2013 (eMarketer).

But doing social media properly (ie. enough to generate lots of traffic and leads) takes time, and time is something you’re already running short of. Not to mention most of these social networks are more geared towards a B2C audience rather than B2B.

So which social networks are actually worth investing in?

1. LinkedIn

Verdict: Definitely worth it!

It takes a while, but it’s a great way to reach the prospects that matter to you. In fact, it’s the reason that social media is now our #1 source of traffic and leads (and yes, a percentage of those leads have become customers).

You might argue that our success is only because we’re in marketing, but we hear the “social media doesn’t really work for our industry” excuse way too often. Your prospects are probably on LinkedIn somewhere, in a designated niche group around a topic you can add value to.

LinkedIn Groups are the keys to your success because they’re local in geography, so you can target a country, state or city. Also, the good ones are heavily moderated to battle spam, so users check back often.

Some LinkedIn stats:

  • LinkedIn is the number one social network for professionals, with over 200 million members in 200 countries
  • In a survey of 1,900 LinkedIn members, 87% of respondents said they trust LinkedIn as a source of information affecting decision making, and 49% find LinkedIn to be a good source of word of mouth information on brand experiences
  • The largest industries on LinkedIn: information and technology services, financial services, higher education, computer software, and telecommunications

Faced with this information, why wouldn’t you invest in it?

2. Facebook

Verdict: Results may vary.

Many B2B companies say that Facebook works, and many don’t. Personally, we haven’t found Facebook to be a great generator of traffic and leads.

It seems that for the most part, when people are on Facebook, they’re in their Personal Life Zone which cannot be tainted by work-related posts. B2C marketing fits in fine, but we have yet to see it impact revenue for B2B.

You should probably create a Company Page just to claim your stake (rather than have someone pretend to be you), but as far as spending lots of time on it goes, it’s not worth it.

3. Twitter

Verdict: Tweet! #Seriously

An Optify survey found that Twitter was the strongest B2B channel for driving leads compared to LinkedIn and Facebook. For us, Twitter pulls in 2nd to LinkedIn as our greatest social network lead generator. Again, you might argue that it’s because we’re in marketing, but there are plenty of B2B companies and their employees using monitoring tools like Hootsuite to look for tweets that are relevant to their industry.

In fact, according to a recent study of more than 6,000 Twitter users,

  • 11% of Twitter users who saw a tweet from a B2B tech brand completed a sign-up form on the company’s website, compared to 4% of average internet users
  • Twitter users visit B2B tech brand sites at a higher rate (59%) compared to average internet users (40%)
  • Twitter users search for B2B tech brands at a higher rate (30%) than average internet users (12%)

Twitter is great because it’s a fast moving stream, meaning you can post small updates with links back to conversion pages or blog posts over and over again, and often. Also, since it’s more of a mix of personal and professional, you can find out more about your prospects’ lives, like their interests and what their personality is like. This gives your sales team more ammo for conversation.

4. Pinterest

Verdict: Do it…ish.

If you publish tons of visual content like videos and infographics, it might be worth it. Many businesses have found that it successfully drives traffic to their site:

  • Pinterest had the largest increase in unique visitors and time spent on-site over any other social network in 2012
  • Pinterest drove more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined

However, these stats don’t separate B2C from B2B. So even though you can be creative and make any industry Pinteresting, in my opinion Pinterest is more of a branding tool than a lead generator for B2B marketers. Like Facebook, you might want to claim your Business Page, but don’t overthink it.

So when should you post to your Pinterest page? Each time you publish a blog post or new content piece, see an interesting research chart or thought provoking video that you want to share. It’s a very visual platform.

5. Google+

Verdict: Do it (for Google benefits).

Google+ now has 343 million active users, more than any other social network besides Facebook. Google is working hard at making it a social destination that integrates with its other applications (Mail, Maps, Chrome, Search, Adwords, Calendar, YouTube, etc).

But as far as traffic and leads go, we haven’t found Google+ to be very useful. It’s great for search purposes because you can make it one with your Google Maps Listing, and attribute an authorship tag to yourself. Also, Google’s Communities act like LinkedIn groups and are equally hard to spam.

At the bare minimum, get employees who are blogging to create personal profiles so you can take advantage of that author tag. Then create a Company Page and update it with posts as you would your other pages. Test it out for a quarter or two to see how successful it is for you, then you can think about how much time you want to invest in it.

What other social networks should you use?

A big one that I haven’t included in here is YouTube, because you might not have video content to work with (if so, read this blog post on how awesome video is for lead generation). But if you have videos, then you should definitely be using YouTube to broadcast them.

There will always be a shiny new toy to play with in social media. For example, Twitter’s new baby, Vine. Although Vine is very cool, when I’m on it I’m more interested in seeing amazingly crafted loop videos than learning about B2B marketing.

As a B2B marketer, it’s your responsibility to dip your feet in the water so to speak. Don’t get your whole company on board, but be quick on the uptake – check it out with a personal profile and gauge its capabilities.

Did your results differ from ours? Which social networks do you find useful and not so useful? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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