Are you a B2B Marketer looking for the real truth on how to make practical use of social media for your job? You are most certainly not the only one. And despite any reservations you may have, social media can help you get ahead.
In this post I will review a whitepaper produced last month by Toolbox.com in conjunction with PJA Advertising + Marketing called “Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know“ (registration required) on social media usage. The study included 5-waves with over 3,000 professionals on Toolbox.com.
George Krautzel, co-founder and president of Toolbox.com, summed up the importance of the findings of the study. “As user-generated content becomes a greater part of professional workflow, it is important for B2B marketers to understand not only where their customers are interacting, but also their motivations when they are consuming or participating in these communities. By better understanding their customers’ purpose within each community, marketers can construct the right strategy to both engage and assist.”
As social media usage continues to grow, the big debate in B2B Marketing involves questions like “what is our role?” and “what can we achieve?” While social media is all part of a consumer revolution of peer-to-peer conversations and consumer-generated content, the Toolbox.com report states there is room for marketers to contribute since “online communities are open for participation and welcome the information and insights that their companies can add to the conversation.”
Trend #1: Social media is being used more and more by professionals for decision making. Business pros find value from social media channels in 3 main ways: to “Connect” on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, to “Collaborate” on sites like Toolbox or the SAP Community Network (disclosure: I work for SAP) and to “Share” on sites like Twitter and Slideshare. The white paper also showed that business professionals are using social media more than online editorial and vendor content.
Picture courtesy of Toolbox.com
Trend #2: Social media usage has expanded beyond networking and job search. Many professionals use social media for these purposes but equally important are “staying current” and “sharing content with peers.”
Trend #3: When looking to get ahead, business pros are turning to what Toolbox.com calls “Best Practice Communities.” The report states that sites like Toolbox.com are being utilized for career advancement across a number of different functional roles more often than well known networking sites like LinkedIn. This is an interesting conclusion because it highlights the importance of setting objectives before B2B Marketers get involved in social media planning and before picking which sites to focus on.
Trend #4: Social media participants expect companies to join the conversation. A large majority of participants stated that it was “essential or important for vendors to have a presence in online communities.”
Trend #5: Business professionals expect authenticity in company social media participation. They are looking for companies to be transparent and responsive in their interactions, to provide valuable content and even expecting to be asked for product and service improvement ideas.
In conclusion, the report states that as business professionals increase their use of social media sites to make business decisions, B2B Marketers have an opportunity to join in these conversations as long as they do so with an open and customer-focused approach.
Special thanks to George Krautzel, Co-Founder and President, Toolbox.com for providing us with a copy of the white paper.
by Michael Brenner, July 13, 2010