Why You Can’t Keep Ignoring Social Media

Social media is here to stay. And B2B and B2C companies that currently rely on only traditional marketing tactics can’t afford to ignore social media any longer. Consumers and B2B buyers alike are spending more and more time online to research potential solutions and services, seeking decision-making information and recommendations through user-generated content and reviews, microblogging platforms such as Twitter and social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn.

And like it or not, in the coming years social media will play an ever-increasing role in the way your business must reach out to attract and nurture prospective buyers and turn one-time purchasers into loyal customers who return time and again—and bring along their friends.

Do you need to make the case for social media marketing within your organization? Do you still need convincing yourself? Here’s a roundup of the latest facts and figures about the impact of social media on business—and why it’s so important you get started today.

Isn’t Social Media Just for B2C Companies?

Not so, reports digital marketing agency White Horse. B2B companies are participating in the social space but just aren’t as engaged as their B2C counterparts yet—and they face greater internal obstacles:

  • Overall engagement is comparable: 82% of B2B companies and 86% of B2C companies engage in social media activity at some level
  • More than 95% of marketers across both B2B and B2C indicate they have a social network presence (e.g., a Facebook or Twitter account) or plan to have one in the near term
  • 40% of B2B—and 54% of B2C—companies devote one or more fulltime marketers to social media marketing
  • More than 33% of B2B marketers report low executive support for social media, compared with only 9% for B2C marketers
  • Top 5 internal obstacles to social media marketing projects—
    • B2B: Insufficient personnel to maintain presence, lack of organizational knowledge, preference for traditional marketing, perceived irrelevance to field, need to prove ROI
    • B2C: Insufficient personnel to maintain presence, concerns over negative feedback, need to prove ROI, lack of organizational knowledge, concern over loss of brand control

How Are Your Customers Using Social Media?

According to a recent Harris Interactive report,

  • 64% of online adults use social media, including
    • 78% of 18- to 34-year-olds
    • 71% of 35- to 44-year-olds
    • 59% of 45- to 54-year-olds
    • 43% of adults 55 and older
  • 84% reveal important information about themselves through social media
  • 23% talk about companies, brands or products they like
  • 19% provide product reviews and recommendations
  • 26% reveal their dissatisfaction with companies, brands or products
  • 34% of all online adults (and 44% of 18- to 34-year-olds) use social media as an outlet to rant or rave about a particular company, brand or product
  • 45% of online adults say reviews from friends or people they follow on social networking sites influence their decision to use—or not—a particular company, brand or product; 33% are influenced by reviews that appear on blogs and message boards
  • eMarketer estimates that in 2010, 57.5% of Internet users (127 million people) will use a social network at least once a month; by 2014, nearly 67% of all Internet users (164.9 million people) will be regular users of social networks
  • From The Nielsen Company, more unique users (20% growth) spent far more time (45% growth) on social networks in March 2010 than in March 2009:
    • Unique audience grew from 261.7 million to 313.7 million
    • Total global minutes spent on social networks more than doubled
    • Average time spent per user grew from 3.5 hours to just over 6 hours

What Are Your Competitors Doing About Social Media?

According to MarketingSherpa, 56% of organizations think social media is a promising marketing tactic that produces or will eventually produce measurable ROI and, perhaps most surprising, recommend increasing budget for it.

  • Forrester Research predicts that B2B marketing firms will spend $54 million on social media marketing in 2014—up from just $11 million in 2009
  • Outsell estimates that marketing on social networks will grow 43.3% in 2010
  • eMarketer reports that B2B marketing participation in social media marketing is steadily increasing, and marketers are beginning to see opportunities to generate quality leads and position themselves as thought leaders in their industries
  • 61% of businesses implement a social media marketing strategy to increase lead generation; 27% monitor the conversation about their brand, says R2integrated
  • Onesource reports that B2B marketing salespeople prospect on LinkedIn
  • Unisfair declares that social media is the top emerging channel for lead generation among technology marketers
  • eMarketer reports that when companies budget for social media marketing this year and beyond, a substantial portion of their expenses will go toward creating and maintaining a branded profile page, managing promotions or public-relations outreach within a social network and measuring the effect of a social network presence on brand health and sales

Stop Hiding Out—Join the Conversation

The fact is social media marketing will play a significant and increasing role in your marketing strategy for years to come. And that means you need to start participating now—in addition to using the tried-and-true traditional tactics that have worked so well for your business in the past. You’ve just been handed a fresh new set of marketing opportunities that are capturing the interest and actions of customers and prospects, so make the most of it! Toss your hat in the ring and join the conversation. Contact us today and don’t miss out on making more.