B2B social marketing is growing, but uncertainty prevails
Earlier this week we looked at Eloqua’s infographic documenting the way B2B companies are using social media. The key message? Social can be a useful platform for the B2B industry, but best practice is still unclear.
New research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs supports this idea, but does throw up a few discrepancies to muddy the waters further.
The slideshow B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America shines insightful light on the state of play. On average, B2B marketers are spending 33% of their marketing budget on content marketing, which is encouragingly up from 26% last year, and 54% plan on increasing their spend next year.
The research also shows that B2B marketers are using, on average, five social distribution channels. However, according to these guys, the most popular is LinkedIn. Eloqua, on the other hand, cites Facebook as the most used, indicating that there’s still no clear standard from which to gauge this growing area, perhaps exacerbating some of the challenges B2B marketers are facing.
Nonetheless, the industry is evolving in the right direction. According to the research the biggest challenge for marketers last year was producing engaging content – now it seems the problem is creating enough of it. But as the report rightly states:
“We must say we are pretty sure that throwing more content at customers is not the answer. But it’s all part of the progress we are making as we evolve from marketing departments into what are starting to looks like B2B publishing departments.”
B2B publishing departments are an interesting idea. If this is a notion that can be ingrained in businesses across the board – and their customers – then perhaps a new generation of dialogue can be opened up – one of trust and authenticity – beyond the caution and apprehension usually held when engaging with a marketing department.
But it looks like it might be a long journey to this B2B social sweet spot. As the report indicates, there are a huge variety of social marketing tactics on the table, each producing varying degrees of effectiveness. And once again, an inability to understand social data, and a lack of resources, are proving challenging obstacles for marketers keen to push ahead,