If you think social media is the best way to reach B2B buyers, then you’re going to be disappointed.
Here’s why: B2B buyers like social media but communicate mainly by e-mail.
A recent survey of B2B buyers done by research firm eMarketer found that 97% of respondents listed e-mail as their main way sharing content on product research with their colleagues.
It’s not that B2B buyers are afraid of using social media
The survey found that 78% of them use LinkedIn as their main social media channel, followed by Twitter at 59%, Facebook at 40%, Google+ with 36%, Slideshare had 32% and Pinterest at 20%.
How B2B buyers view key business content also is changing. “A good deal of content consumption has shifted to mobile and video,” the report says, citing data from IDG Global Solutions. “More than half of B2B buyers now use mobile devices to make purchase decision research.”
67% of survey respondents use their web-enabled smartphone to visit a vendor site for product information compared with 65% to compare prices and products. Additionally, 57% use their smartphone to read feature articles about trends and strategies, 48% to watch videos, 47% to browse and participate in forums and social networks, 41% to read case studies and 34% to read white papers.
“Buyers vastly prefer sharing via e-mail, but have shown preference for LinkedIn and Twitter for social media sharing purposes,” the report says. “Blog posts, infographics and videos were the most popular formats of content for sharing.”
B2B buyers may not be embracing social media but B2B marketers are
On the other hand, B2B marketers love social media. They tell stories of introducing new products via social, saving money when questions about their products are answered by followers from other companies and earning credibility when influencers tout their brand. All this, they believe, will help them capture viable leads.
“Social media marketing is no longer a nice to have—it’s a must have,” said Mark Yolton, senior vice president of digital, social and communities at business software and services purveyor SAP. “Our customers expect it. Our competitors are all doing it. And unless we embrace and excel at social media marketing integrated into the full marketing mix, we’ll be at a competitive disadvantage.”
There are plenty of challenges, however. B2B marketers complain that it is nearly impossible to track leads captured through social through to sales. Nevertheless, through trial and error they have learned that social media’s value for top-of-funnel engagement and for nurturing targeted leads makes it a vital marketing tactic.
Don’t waste your marketing money with the wrong tools aimed at the wrong audience
It’s clear that social media plays a role for both B2B marketers and B2B buyers. But as you consider your marketing mix, keep your eyes on the tools – like email – that your customers are using. Too many companies waste money on marketing. They spend a lot of money on the wrong message with the wrong tool aimed at the wrong audience.
Don’t be so caught up in the latest new tactics that you lose sight of the goal: making the sale.