Social Media and Its Importance for B2B Marketers

With the New Year arriving in just a few weeks, many companies are exploring their options of how to make 2012 a better business year than these last 12 months.

One area that B2B marketers need to look at is social media and how it can play a large role in moving their company forward and bringing back a greater return on investment (ROI) through the Internet.

According to a recent survey, however, it seems a large number of B2B marketers are spending large sums of money yearly for SM, only to fail and track what if any positive results they are receiving from it.

Cloud marketing automation software vendor Pardot reported recently that while many B2B marketers are throwing a lot of money at SM programs, close to three out of 10 surveyed indicated they are not tracking the effects of their social media programs for lead generation and sales.

Among those surveyed, 95 percent reported they utilize sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and/or corporate blogs to reach out to potential clients.  Meantime, only seven in 10 are tracking the return on investment (ROI) for such efforts. Even more interesting, just over 40 percent indicated that zero or an unknown amount of sales lead came as a result of such social media efforts.

The survey goes on to note:

  • Eleven percent of marketers indicated their businesses have a formal SM policy in place;
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents indicated reaching out to a SM-generated sales lead via phone or email is appropriate, even when the prospect had not invited the vendor to do such;
  • Forty-eight percent indicated it is okay to get back to a prospect through social media, if the prospect reached out first to the vendor through phone or email;
  • One-hundred percent of those surveyed reported it is acceptable to invite a prospect to become a part of a marketer’s online social networks
  • Just over three in 10 surveyed said it was okay to critique a rival through social media;
  • More than 64 percent stated they use “internal, free tools” simply to oversee social media campaigns

So, how can B2B marketers better utilize social media going forward in 2012?

Among the ways to do this is:

  • Cover the basics – If you do not have company Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages already set up and in action, get to it. With Facebook, set up a fan page and interact with those who befriend your company. Twitter is a great tool to share industry links with articles on trends, etc. LinkedIn serves as a great business resource, while Google+ is the latest rage, allowing your company to build a circle of friends;
  • Monitor the discussion - The key here is to monitor the chit-chat on the sites, especially when your company’s name comes up. By doing so, you are tuned-in to any questions, concerns and even complaints regarding your product and/or services. You may even be pleasantly surprised at times to see positive comments regarding your company’s efforts;
  • Be up front with current and potential customers – Many consumers use social media to vent about products and/or services, so there is always a chance your company’s name is going to surface in such discussions. If it does, be as professional as possible due to the fact responses from your company page can be seen by countless people, sent via links, copied and more. Customer service in today’s technological age comes at you 24/7. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring negative comments, but handle them with the idea that millions and millions of people are waiting to see what you say;
  • Build your brand – Being engaged in social media gives you’re the company the ability to increase its B2B brand awareness, improve your positioning among search engines, and give both current and potential customers more reason to want to come to your company’s Web site.

With the right approach to social media, your B2B marketing efforts can take off in 2012 or sink, you make the call. Tell us how you’re monitoring your social media efforts and what success you’re seeing.

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Dave Thomas writes about B2B marketing insights and trends. When he isn’t writing, you can find him on Twitter or watching sports.

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