Lead Gen, Market Perception Rank Low On B2B Social Media Use

b2b social media useB2B companies are catching on to the potential power of social media marketing—but when it comes to how they actually use various social channels, the results might just surprise you.

After all, social media is widely recognized as an effective way to boost brand awareness, for example. But what about other B2B marketing goals like lead generation or market perception? According to an Eloqua survey of more than 500 UK B2B marketers, less than a third (32%) said they use social media for lead generation—and only 16% use it to assess market perception of their brand.

An Eloqua infographic outlines the survey findings. Some of the stats we found most intriguing include:

  • Nearly 40% of companies aren’t yet tapping into the full marketing potential of social media.
  • The top three reasons for social media use include creating awareness (83%), encouraging social sharing (56%) and gaining trust and followers (55%).
  • Reasons that contribute to a lack of demand generation strategy in social media use include no strategy in place (43%), the company is unclear of the value (33%), it’s not applicable (25%) or not having tools available (18%).
  • Companies plan to use social media in the future for several strategic goals, including better understanding market perception (17%), creating an outbound channel for demand generation (16%), creating company/brand awareness (14%), segmenting or scoring leads through social activities and demographics (13%) and broadening reach by encouraging social sharing (11%).

b2b social media use infographic

Not only does the Eloqua report provide a deeper look at how B2B companies use social media (and the challenges they face)—it also recommends several actionable takeaways that B2B companies should not only consider, but implement. And as we looked through the list, we couldn’t agree more—they’re all things we discuss with and recommend to our clients on a daily basis.

Most importantly? Don’t confine your social media strategy to one department. No matter your company’s individual digital marketing goals, your social media marketing strategy should be a part of your overall integrated marketing strategy. And that means more than the marketing or PR team being involved in social media. It means that social includes your sales teams, your customer service teams and your product development teams. After all, every department and every employee contributes to a company’s overall success—so doesn’t it only make sense that they’re aware of (and better yet, invested in) your company’s social media presence and contributing in some way strategically? Employees can be some of your biggest brand advocates and also be a powerful source of content and ideas, so don’t hesitate to break your social media strategy out of its silo and make it a company-wide initiative.

Another important tip? As you implement your strategy across various channels, keep a close eye on your analytics. We talk about the importance of data a lot—and it’s something that can’t be discussed enough. Data shows you exactly what’s working (and what’s not) and can help you better understand your audience, too. With the wealth of analytics and marketing reports available, there’s no reason not to put these tools to work for you so you can not only measure the efficacy of your strategy, but also refine it so that it’s even more successful.

What are your thoughts on Eloqua’s report? Do the statistics mirror your own experience with B2B social media use?

Image by jeff_w_brooktree via Creative Commons

  • http://www.m2sys.com/ John Trader

    Great post, thanks Shelly. I didn’t see any mention of using social media platforms for customer service – listening, responding and engaging to resolve issues, or any general customer service initiatives. Am I missing something or do you feel this is lumped into another category?

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    A couple of weekends ago I was watching a speech that Guy Kawasaki did at Stanford and one thing he pointed out was how he favored hiring raving fans of the product or the service over hiring someone based on a shiny resume.

    I like that! It makes complete sense to me. Especially in the start up phase when it pays to be naive and not have to be “de-programmed” out of what is possible – everything is impossible until it isn’t – cars, flying, cell phones, etc.

    I think that when some lean and mean company adheres to Guy’s advice and really figure outs how to maximize the potential within what you said here about, ” Employees can be some of your biggest brand advocates and also be a powerful source of content and ideas,” and they truly harness the premise of “Sell it by zealot” in social streams a way that feels genuine because it is, that they’ll be off to the races.

  • ShellyKramer

    I agree with Guy, Lewis. Employees who aren’t passionate about the success of your business aren’t really all that valuable, are they? Personally, I also look for people who can get to the “yes” instead of people who immediately throw up roadblocks when a new idea or goal is presented, and come to the table with all the reasons you can’t make something successful. I like starting with “yes” and the challenge of making it happen.

  • ShellyKramer

    Isn’t it amazing that that’s not something brands are doing? We use social for listening (for B2B and B2C clients) on a daily basis. And according to this Eloqua research, that’s not even on the radar screen. Methinks its because businesses today are still more focused on pushing their message out than anything. Great observation and really something I should have called out here.

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  • rob macadam

    Interesting thoughts, Shelly, thanks. In my experience, particularly in small PSF’s there’s increasingly a feeling that social media is something a business ‘should be doing’, but a reluctance to clearly define the purpose. With a lack of clarity about the editorial voice (seniors often being reluctant to take a lead), employees get nervous about contributing anything other than anodyne material for fear of offending either the directors, or worse for PSF’s their business’ ethical guidelines or regulators. This results in dull material and, sadly, an ineffective channel.
    http://socialmedia4psf.wordpress.com

  • ShellyKramer

    Hi Rob,

    My experience is not too dissimilar – in both small to medium sized businesses and in very large ones. To my way of thinking, that presents a huge opportunity. Our job as an agency partner is regularly working across the enterprise and across the business in general to educate, teach and share best practices. We also help our clients drive content strategy and teach people to be comfortable with social as well as how to create a strategy that integrates social with other marketing and comms initiatives.
    Bottom line, it can be very effective, as long as you have a strategy, goals that are definitive and outlined and clearly shared, and if you not only invest in your people, but also take a leap of faith and trust them.

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