Companies monitor, track and respond to mentions in social media – that was the headline from a recent study eMarketer published.

It sounds good, but one finding in the study really stood out:  “Almost half of B2B [business-to-business] companies (47%) did not track or follow up on brand mentions on social media.”

In other words, in aggregate, B2B companies are the social media laggards, which is ironic given so many of their business models center on cutting edge technology.  I find this astonishing and it suggests to me many B2B companies are not even cognizant of social mentions, let alone respond to them.

It leads us to ask why?

A common refrain is that social media only works for consumer-focused companies, but this is misguided at best – and irrational at worst.  B2B companies are made of people – people that engage in social media, develop relationships and make business decisions. More importantly, social media is proven to be an effective investment for this sector.

Consider the following from a Social Media Examiner study (infograhic) which found that of B2B companies that are engaged in social media:

  • 69% gathered marketplace insights
  • 60% saw improved search rankings
  • 56% acquired new business partnerships
  • 53% found social media helped develop loyal fans

That’s quantitative evidence but there is also an overwhelming amount of qualitative evidence as well:  1.3 million results in Google for example.  What sort of results?

Bluewolf, a managed service and IT resourcing consultancy, increased Web traffic by 100% with Pinterest. Holger Schulze, a B2B marketer, found his LinkedIn Group, which started as an experiment, produced leads for his company. Hinda Incentives, which develops employee rewards programs, saw its blog traffic soar, its Web site traffic increased by 15% and in one week earned “a few hundred thousand dollars in sales opportunities.”

Clearly there’s a pretty compelling case for B2B companies to engage in social media, and while this post may seem like a downer, the fact is social media represents an enormous opportunity for the adopters.