Wednesday, January 11, 2017

10 Mind-blowing B2B Social Media Stats and What Those Mean for B2B Companies


A few years ago, when I started Midas Touch, I found myself explaining to companies and business leaders what social media is and what is its relevance for businesses. Fast forward a few years, today, businesses come to us saying that they want to do social media but not really sure how to do it and what exactly to expect from it.

I know that all of us keep on reading a lot of stats and quotes around social media and get impressed, confused, overwhelmed, or worried by those – because sometimes, we don’t understand what those mean to us or to our business.

At Midas Touch, we specialize in B2B social media. We work with B2B companies to help them with their social media, digital and content marketing strategy and execution. I, therefore, very curiously and enthusiastically read various stats and quotes around #B2BSocialMedia.

Here I have picked up 10 such stats and let me take this opportunity to talk through each of these and what these mean for B2B businesses.

1.    80% of all B2B social media leads come from LinkedIn (Source)
Well, this does not surprise me. LinkedIn is one of the largest professional social media networks. Most of the business decision makers at least have a presence on LinkedIn and they use it for professional networking. LinkedIn offers interesting options in the form on LinkedIn Pulse and LinkedIn Groups, which, when used properly, can immensely help in building thought leadership, connecting with the relevant audience, forming a positive impression about you/ your company in front of your target audience, and also driving traffic to your website. We have ourselves seen some phenomenal results through interactions in LinkedIn groups for our clients. As a B2B company, LinkedIn is a must-have for your B2B social media strategy – and mind you, it is not limited to creating a LinkedIn company page.

2. 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product (Source)
Surprised? Don’t be. Think about it. As B2C buyers, we all do a lot of online research before any product purchase. Why should it be any different for B2B? Today, the B2B buyers are very clear about their requirements and what they are looking for. They are doing research online to find answers to their questions. If during their research, you appear in front of them and are able to create a positive impression, then your chances of appearing in their shortlist are much higher. This can very well be achieved through a strong content strategy and social media marketing on the platforms which are relevant for B2B companies.

3.  Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. (Source)
A lot has been written about why and how of content marketing. Adopting content marketing is no more optional. It has become almost mandatory for B2B businesses to have a strong content marketing strategy and a solid execution in place. You need to, however, remember that B2B content writing is fundamentally different that B2C content writing. Therefore, look for B2B content writer specific traits in the writers whom you hire for writing the content. More about the traits, here.

4.    55% of B2B buyers say they search for product/vendor information on social media (Source)
Yes, social media is no more a channel just for networking or fun. People are doing some serious research and connections on social media. As a B2B business, therefore, it is not only important for you to have an active presence on social media (on channels like Twitter, LinkedIn or SlideShare) but it is also important that you create the right impression and connect with the right people through the social channels. The theme, tone, quality and quantity of social updates need to be carefully defined and executed.

5.  80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (Source)
As the old saying goes “No one likes to be sold; everyone likes to buy.” Today, B2B buyers want to make an informed decision. So rather than going by what is simply “told” to them, they like to read up and get “convinced” before making the decision. This further reinforces the need for content marketing for B2B enterprises. A note of caution here, though – writing a blog about your product features and benefits is also a form of advertising J You need to focus on answering the questions of your buyers rather than focusing on selling your products and services.

6.  75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions (Source)
Another myth is busted! If you thought that the top level executives are not on social media, you are wrong. They are extremely active on social platforms, seeking information, connecting with the relevant people and engaging in interesting conversations. You just need to find them and engage with them in a right way.

7. 57% of purchase decisions are made before a customer ever talks to a supplier, and (Source)
Yes, gone are the days when the sales person could drive the conversation and the decision making. Today, the B2B buyers want to be well-informed even before they contact the vendor. As a B2B vendor, it is, therefore, your responsibility to appear as a knowledge partner to the buyer, be available and active on social platforms, listen to the needs and problems of the potential buyers, and connect with them in a non-intrusive way.

8.  By 2020, 80% of the buying process is expected to occur without any direct human-to-human interaction. (Source)
This means that the buyer is going to expect all the touch-points to be online. In a way, it is a good news and challenging as well. Good news because you get a level playing field. Your chances of being in front of the buyer are as good as any other vendor. Challenging because the onus lies completely on you to create the right online impression in front of the buyers and be able to connect with them through online medium.

9.   90% of B2B buyers say when they are ready they will find you. (Source
It has become extremely important for B2B companies to understand the buyers’ journey and align their marketing and sales efforts on those lines. Today, the buyers’ journey is digital. They are already aware and in some cases, they are already in the consideration phase and ready to make the purchase decision. They are developing their vendor list, doing a social media analysis, engaging with possible vendors, and exactly know what questions to ask. Are you ready to be found?

10. There may be 7-20 people involved in any given B2B purchasing decision. (Source
Not surprising, right? B2B purchase decisions are more complex, affect a larger set of individuals, and have a bigger business impact. It is obvious that multiple people will be involved in the overall decision-making. What the vendors need to know is that they should be able to talk to all these people – of course, online. They should be able to provide answers to the questions of all the decision makers and should be able to connect and engage with all of them. This means that you will need to rely on a variety of content types such as blog articles, whitepapers, case studies and also depend on a wider variety of channels such as social media, emails for connection and engagement.


Have you come across any such compelling stats? Do share as comments and I will include all the relevant ones in the article – of course, with due credits to you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

B2B Social Media Marketing 101

Of course branding and awareness are also roles that can be played effectively by B2B marketing, but from my point of view these are only supporting roles—secondary to the primary objective of helping drive sales.” -- Mac Macintosh

If you ask how is B2B social media different from B2C social media, I believe this quote summarizes it all. In B2B social media, influence matters over popularity. Relevance matters over numbers. More than the features and functions of the products, businesses want to do business with trusted advisors.

Gone are the days when the sales person of the vendor could dictate and decide the flow of information for the potential buyer. Today, buyers have become much more informed and aware of what they want. They are doing their own research online, searching for the answers to their questions – it is important for you, as the vendor, to ensure that through your content marketing and social media, you are found and are in front of them when they are looking for the information. As per SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buying process in a complex sale is already complete before the prospects even engage with a salesperson.

Let’s understand the various aspects of B2B social media – any B2B business wanting to start with their social media initiatives should consider all these factors 

Objectives
The first and foremost thing, like all strategic initiatives, is to identify and finalize the goals and objectives. “Getting more leads” is a good and obvious objective but remember that it is a long-term objective. Do note that social media offers many great opportunities and you should not miss on those – aim for things like “establishing thought leadership”, “getting in front of more audience”, “engaging with prospects and customers”, “driving more traffic to the website”. As Chris Brogan has very aptly said: "Marketers need to build digital relationships and REPUTATION before closing a sale."

Content Marketing
Yes, any conversation about B2B social media is incomplete with the mention of content marketing. You have heard stats like “88% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy”. But content marketing is a lethal weapon and needs to be used accurately. B2B content marketing is a different ball game altogether. It is about telling stories. It is about not about you or your products. It is about your buyers, their problems, and solutions to their problems. It is about telling stories where the potential buyer is the hero. B2B content marketers need to have specific traits. Apart from being skillful writers, they are process oriented, they are storytellers, they understand social media, and much more. (You can read more on this here).

The importance of choosing a right channel
You might be very comfortable using Facebook, but does it make it the best social channel for your business? You don’t know of many success stories with Twitter, does it make it an irrelevant channel? How can you leverage LinkedIn? There are 700+ social channels and putting your energy in leveraging the right channel is very important. Our experience at Midas Touch has been that Twitter and LinkedIn are very effective channels for B2B social media. Twitter is a great medium to connect with prospects, customers, and influencers. It is a wonderful medium to share the content which is relevant to your industry, show your interest areas and also share your own content. LinkedIn, of course, is undoubtedly the number one professional network and, therefore, very relevant when it comes to B2B social media. LinkedIn company page and LinkedIn groups can be very well leveraged for engaging with the prospects and opinion makers in the industry.

What to expect?
Of course, the end objective is to get more leads to the business and that’s where social media is going to help. But if you expect that people are going to read your content and are going to fill out the contact form on your website immediately, then, that’s not how it works in the B2B space. Social media and quality content will help you establish your thought leadership, be in front of the right audience when they are looking for answers to their questions, and help the vendors form a positive opinion about you. The key is being patient with the efforts. At the same time, constantly measure and monitor the results and the impact in terms of visits to your website, engagement with your content, social connection etc. Remember, social media is a strategy and not a campaign. 

Keep your customer at the center of the social media strategy is – leverage the best channels, have a strong content strategy and use an integrated approach. You are sure to benefit from it!


Share

Widgets