Social media is time consuming. The average B2B marketing department spends 17% of their time on it. And if you believe in the wisdom of crowds (or self-fulfilling prophecies) then the latest B2B Social Media Benchmark report reveals where you’re likely to get the best return on this effort.

It seems that social media, in B2B at least, is a two horse race.

In 2013 Twitter had the lead by a nose. Back then 85% of B2B marketers using social media to promote their business, used Twitter to do so. This has risen to 89% in 2014, but that’s not been enough to hold off a strong push from LinkedIn which has galloped from behind and is now used by 94% (in 2013 it was 82%).

Importantly, it looks as if LinkedIn is set to hold this lead as the B2B marketer’s favourite. When asked which one social network is most effective in supporting their marketing goals, almost half (45%) pick LinkedIn. Just 20% choose Twitter.

But hold on, who’s this coming from behind? It’s Google+. The young foal derided by some in its early days as fit only for the knacker’s yard, has found its second wind. In 2013 just 36% of B2B marketers used Google+, but in 2014 this has doubled to 61%.

Race goers should also be aware that the ground has changed.

In 2013 the going was relatively soft, with marketers using social media primarily to drive web traffic (56% name as a primary goal) and build their brand position (55%). Only 17% could demonstrate ROI from their activity more than half of the time. But in 2014 the focus is on hard returns. 47% now name ‘lead generation’ as a primary goal for social media (up from 36% in 2013) – this is now the second most common goal behind only brand positioning (50% in 2014). And in 2014, 29% report that they can measure ROI more often than not.

Who’s your money on?

The full report, published by B2B Marketing Magazine in partnership with Circle Research can be found here.