What Does B2B Social Media Success Look Like?

May 23, 2011

Until recently, most social media case studies have focused on consumer brands. It’s not that B2B companies aren’t finding success in social media marketing, but more (in my experience at least) that they are less willing to publicly reveal their strategies for competitive reasons. Recently, that’s begun to change a bit as blogs like TopRank and Marketo have highlighted b2b social media success stories.

B2B Social Media SuccessDigging into the results publicized in these case studies, what does B2B success look like? How are B2B companies evaluating the results of social media marketing efforts? Based on analysis of a number of published B2B social media case studies (in addition to my own client experience), here are some of the criteria used to judge success.

Objectives

Common objectives for B2B social media marketing efforts include:

  • • Increased brand awareness (e.g., measured by increases in direct web traffic and branded search visits)
  • • Increased overall website traffic (particularly from branded search or visits referred directly from social media and social networking sites)
  • • Enhanced brand image and credibility as an industry thought leader or category expert
  • • Expanded social media following (e.g., number of blog subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans)
  • • Increased engagement (number, depth and quality of interactions with customers and prospects)
  • • Leads and new business

Those last two are of the course the ultimate purpose of any marketing activity, though they can be challenging to measure in social media for a couple of reasons. First, social media activities more often influence a sale (by helping with awareness and branding objectives, for example) than lead directly to one in the B2B world. Second, it’s crucial to consider that a B2B firm’s social network isn’t made up only of customers and prospects, but includes industry journalists, partners and often analysts as well. While these other connections will never buy from you directly, they can certainly influence the marketing and direct business your way.

Tactics (Primary)

  • • Blogging (a corporate blog is the center of most successful B2B social media programs)
  • • LinkedIn (much more important in the B2B world than in B2C, particularly in light of recent marketing enhancements to the platform)
  • • Twitter (used by more than 40% of B2B marketers, and that figure continues to grow)

Tactics (Secondary)

  • • Video / YouTube
  • • Facebook (more popular among B2C marketers than in B2B firms, although a few success stories have popped up)
  • • CRM integration (this will a key to success for B2B social media efforts, though few firms have reached this level of sophistication to date)

Results

Common success metrics reported from B2B social media efforts include increases in:

  • • Website traffic
  • • Blog visits and subscribers
  • • Twitter followers
  • • Organic search traffic
  • • Views of company videos
  • • White paper downloads
  • • Landing page conversion rates
  • • External blog posts written about the company
  • • Leads
  • • New customers

Again, the last two items are the most important but often the most elusive. While social media typically doesn’t produce a high volume of leads, website visitors referred from social networks frequently convert at a higher rate than those from other traffic sources, and the leads are frequently highly qualified. As understanding of what to realistically expect from B2B social media marketing programs—and how to measure those results—increases, B2B social media use will continue to expand. Published success stories may well remain rare, at least for now, however, as companies remain reluctant to tip off competitors about what’s working.

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5 Responses

  1. New leads and sales are critical. I think successful B2B marketing of any flavor consists of your consultant or employee generating more revenue than it costs to pay their salaries.

  2. How does a person generating new leads generate revenue? I mean, doesn’t sales generate revenue? Unless you are talking page conversions which makes sense.


  3. Tom 

    Tom-A-to, tom-ah-to, whatever. Marketing produces conversions, some of which turn into leads, which it is then the job of sales to turn into revenue. You’re mis-using Occam’s razor to split hairs my friend.

  4. no I’m not, I’m saying that in our effort to make things black and white, Mr. Brandon is discounting the gray. A bunch of leads turned over to inattentive sales people is an issue.

    The point I’m making OccamSan is your post covers a comprehensive program with many points which contribute to revenue. It’s not as easy as revenue – salary = value.

    But it’s easier to use that equation and throw people under the bus. Now if you want to reply to that I will not be able to respond until after my root canal. I’m not sure which is more painful, root canal or justifying comprehensive marketing content. : ) all the best to you and your readers.

  5. I am agree as you said most social media case studies have focused on consumer brands.As social media may boost your business so it is important to follow social networking and its applications for your online business.

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