Part of my curious nature lies in the fact that I always enjoy an oxymoron. I can hear my friends now “Yeah, especially the ‘moron’ part, right Steve?” But it is true, anytime I read something from the world of marketing, advertising, social media and branding that is at the very least oxymoron-ish in nature, I am instantly intrigued.

Such was the case after reading the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs fourth annual B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report, sponsored by Brightcove. Being that it came from the CMI, there are plenty of great stats to peruse re: the use of content marketing among B2B companies:

  • Forty-four percent of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy
  • B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy are far more likely to consider themselves effective (66 percent vs. 11 percent).
  • B2B content marketers use an average of 13 tactics

That’s just the tip of the iceberg re: content marketing stats and I highly recommend downloading the full report.

However, in addition to the great insights and stats on B2B content marketing usage and the like, the report also touches on the preferred social media channels for B2B marketing folks to share all their fabulous content.

And this is where the oxymoron enters the picture.

On one hand you have this chart/result which highlights the list of social media channels and the corresponding percentages of B2B marketers who use them.

On the other hand, however, there is chart/result which reveals a gap in the confidence among B2B marketers for the same social media channels, with the notable exception of one: LinkedIn. The only social media network to come in under the 50% line when it comes to B2B marketers belief in its effectiveness, or lack thereof, LinkedIn remains the #1 leader among B2B marketers when it comes to social media.

Why is it LinkedIn and everything else?

So why does it continue? Why the reticence among B2B marketers to put faith in the effectiveness of a social media channel other than LinkedIn?

To me, this comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever – the fact that other social media networks don’t get the same level of warm and fuzzy effectiveness that LinkedIn gets among B2B marketers.

This is also nothing new, either as a few years ago I penned piece entitled Even Though It’s Called B2B, There’s Still A “C” On The Other End in which I essentially reminded B2B folks that they were still dealing with and working with and engaging with a real, live person.

Schalk Viljoen, a senior director of business development for SAP Cloud Social Media thinks B2B companies need to change their way of thinking.

“B2B companies are used to talking to their audience in their business personas,” he says. “However, when a person is active on social media, regardless of the channel – whether it be Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn – they are engaging as an individual first, and then an employee second. So on social media, B2B companies should be pitching more blatantly the benefit for the individual, and then only for their company.”

I think there is an inherent belief among B2B marketers that social media networks other than LinkedIn are more on the “personal” side, AKA the consumer side of the marketing aisle and as such are best left to the B2C folks. Yes, I realize based on the first chart above that overall usage is growing among those other social media channels for B2B folks but there is still that belief, that thought that those other networks are simply not as effective as their beloved LinkedIn.

However, whereas I was not surprised to see the gap in confidence, others were. Wacarra Yeomans, Director of Creative Services at Responsys (full disclosure: my employer) in fact told me she was in fact surprised to learn B2B companies are still a bit shy about using social channels, or have confidence in them that is, other than LinkedIn.

To her it comes down to the bottom line and establishing a game plan around those other social media networks.

“I think there is still a huge perception that the ‘softer’ networks don’t have as great of an ROI,” she said. “I think it’s harder to build a strategy around Facebook and Twitter. Being present on those channels is totally dependent on having important and relevant things to say on a regular basis and a lot of B2B companies don’t feel they have the content repository or a way to reuse that content in way that requires little effort.”

As far as I am concerned it all comes back to the fact that too many B2B marketers hold true to a belief that LinkedIn is for them and their audience and the other social  media channels, while nice to be active on them, simply do not provide the same ROI and interaction and engagement.

Source: Content Marketing Institute

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