Marketing research firm Regalix Research surveyed 342 worldwide business-to-business (B2B) marketers from a variety of industries about their social media marketing objectives. They found that among the B2B companies participating in the survey, slightly more than half indicated that social media marketing was very important to their business. 48% said it was somewhat important. When asked what they hoped to achieve the most through their social media marketing efforts, marketers predominantly settled for ‘increasing brand awareness’ as their key objective. Actually, nearly 9 in 10 marketers cited increasing brand awareness as the main goal of their social media marketing efforts, followed by boosting customer engagement (59%). Post-sale engagement with customers is particularly important for cross-selling and building referrals, according to Regalix. Gathering meaningful insight in consumer behavior from social media data was only important to 26% of the survey participants.
Social Media Platforms
Almost 9 in 10 (89%) B2B marketers participating in the survey rated LinkedIn as the most effective social media platform to meet their marketing objectives, followed by Twitter with 78%. Although only 11% of survey participants considered Instagram to be an effective social media platform, Instagram was showing much higher levels of engagement than legacy sites like LinkedIn. Regalix recommended that B2B marketers start considering making Instagram part of their social media marketing campaigns. Full infographic at the end of the post.
Social Media Content
Overall, blog posts, infographics, and videos were rated the most popular content types among B2B marketers. Given their contextual relevance, it isn’t surprising that videos have worked well on Facebook and blogs on LinkedIn. LinkedIn also appeared to be the B2B marketing channel of choice when it comes to serious business content, such as research reports, whitepapers, case studies, but also quality blog posts/articles and infographics.
When participants in a recent Ascend2 survey were asked to assess the relative effectiveness of different content types nearly half (46%) revealed that research reports were the most effective content. Also at the top of the list were blog posts (45%) ‒ but only when their content was relevant and of high quality ‒ and videos and podcasts (40%).
Two-thirds of participants in another survey by the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs ‒ “2016 B2B Content Marketing Trend – North America” ‒ rated webinars/webcasts the most effective content, followed by case studies (65%) and white papers (63%). Videos (62%) and research reports (61%) did not make it in the top-3 of most effective content tactics.
65% of B2B marketers participating in the Regalix Research survey said they shared coverage of their brand, in the form of blog posts, articles, videos and other content, on other websites to drive traffic to their websites.
Social Media Marketing Budgets and Investments
86% of the B2B companies participating in the Regalix Research survey revealed they are currently investing in social media marketing. 14 said they did not. The primary reasons cited for not investing in social media marketing were “lack of clear proof of ROI” and the “inability to gather actionable insights” from social data. A third of survey participants, however, felt their organizations would invest in social media marketing in the next 12 months.
More than two-thirds (68%) of B2B marketers investing in social media marketing said they spent less than 10% of their marketing budget on social media marketing. Only 2% of B2B marketers spent more than half of their digital marketing budget on social media marketing.
Social Media Advertising
More than two-thirds of B2B marketers worldwide devoted dollars to social media advertising, according to a September research report. And among those who invested in social media advertising, platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn appeared to have delivered the best ROI.
According to the data collected through the Regalix Research survey slightly more than two-thirds (67%) of B2B marketers allocated budget to social media advertising. And of those who said their company bought paid placements on social media, the majority (58%) pointed to Facebook and LinkedIn as the platforms that gave them the best return on those dollars, followed by Twitter and YouTube with 39% and 14%, respectively.
Social Media Marketing Metrics
Regalix reported that slightly more than 8 in 10 B2B marketers use website traffic generated from social media campaigns as a success metric, while two-thirds (63%) use lead generation/conversions and click rates as a measure of success. More than half (52%) of B2B marketers use user engagement to determine success, but user engagement is currently playing a secondary role to revenue metrics. Especially in social media, which allows B2B marketers to engage with the customer as never before, the limited use of engagement metrics is surprising.
Although 83% of B2B marketers use website traffic as a success metric, nearly half of companies participating in the Regalix survey generated only 10% of their website traffic from social media marketing campaigns.
In another study from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, released in August of 2016, almost half of US CMOs in the B2B sector said they haven’t been able to show the impact of social media on their business. And due to this, many were ramping up investment in marketing analytics.
Social Media Marketing Challenges
The biggest challenge B2B marketers face, according to Regalix, is in “assessing the effectiveness of their social media activities” and in “generating actionable insights” from social data. It is, therefore, no surprise that most B2B marketers participating in the survey said they were struggling with the implementation and integration of their social media campaigns in the overall marketing activities. 71% cited that “assessing the effectiveness of social media activities” was a challenge. Half of the marketers said they are having difficulty “generating actionable insights” from social data. The latter isn’t a surprise. Generating actionable insights will require digging deeper into the data to understand the consumer’s social behavior which requires special social analytics tools and skills.