This article, for which Cindy Waxer interviewed me, was originally published in DMNews.com. It provides a good overview of B2B vs. B2C marketing and some insightful social media marketing case studies.
“Today’s B2B marketers are setting new ground rules on how to use social media to grow their businesses. Forget about product-driven, casual Facebook campaigns. B2B marketers have to be more strategic in their use of social media, creating relationship- driven programs that speak to multiple stakeholders rather than to consumers, and focus on corporate pain points, not product features. The result is a growing crop of impressive B2B social marketing programs that are generating awareness, building thought leadership, strengthening a company’s brand, and establishing a new path for social media marketing.
B2B marketers are hardly strangers to social media. In fact, according to the Social Media Examiner’s April 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, some B2B marketers have been using social media longer (18.3% reported 3 years or more) than their B2C counterparts (14% indicated 3 years or longer). And 68% of B2B companies are significantly more likely than B2C (59%) to use social media for intelligence-gathering. Those spending at least six to 10 hours per week are more likely to gain benefit, with 72% of those spending 11 hours a week noting gains.
However, unlike B2C social marketing campaigns, B2B social marketing is a strategic part of the sales funnel. For instance, 93% of B2B buyers start their search for a product or service on a search engine, not a company’s website, according to “The CMO Guide to Inbound Marketing” by marketing automation software provider Marketo.
But despite the need for a more strategic approach than their B2C counterparts, B2B marketers still often suffer from what Natascha Thomson, founder of B2B social media marketing consultancy MarketingXLerator, describes as “shiny object syndrome.”
“They somehow seem to forget the rules that require them to really do their homework: Who are you selling to and where are these people?” she explains. “Social media is a lot more complex in B2B and a lot more serious. It comes down to targeting your audience and understanding who you’re selling to in a completely different buyer cycle.”
Creating relevant content that focuses on customers’ business obstacles; timing campaigns in accordance with lengthier B2B sales cycles; testing and validating campaign results using metrics such as lead generation—they’re only a handful of the new rules B2B marketers must heed to achieve success.”