Creative Lewisham blog

Brand Strategy, Creative Thinking, Digital Evolution and more...

What have we learned from the B2B Social Media Debate?

November 05 2013 10:14 AM

The publication of the 2013 Buyersphere Report has rekindled the debate over the value of social media in B2B. The statistic that is getting people going came from the 2013 Buyersphere Report – a survey into the actions and beliefs of 500 B2B buyers – which showed that 47% of B2B buyers saw no value in social media when they last made a major B2B purchase.

On the face of it, this sounds like confirmation that social media is overhyped and of little value to marketers. But there are subtler arguments coming out of this debate, as we can see from opinions posted online over the last few weeks. Here is a selection (including discussion on LinkedIn here):

Social media doesn’t have to be measurable…

One of the problems seems to be the measurability factor as spoken about by Charles Sander (via LinkedIn) “A big mistake is that people look to social media in terms of ROI.  If your purpose is solely to monetize social media you will be disappointed and likely think social media "isn't working". Social media is all about engagement, networking, creating brand loyalty.”

It’s about relationships...

Elizabeth Allen (via LinkedIn) thinks social media has a role to play because of the relationship factor – she commented “The first rule of business? People do business with people they like and trust”.

It’s too soon…

Tariq Khawaja thinks social media’s day will come – but it’s not here yet: “Social media is becoming increasingly important, but in B2B marketing it’s not yet the silver bullet many pundits would have you believe.”

It’s about social proof...

Lawrence Mitchell suggests today’s buyers need more than just a good product. “B2B buyers need more; whether it involves procuring consultancy services, telecoms contracts or manufacturing equipment, they demand higher levels of information, reassurance, social proof and support from their suppliers.”  This can come from social media, but will the 47% ever engage across social channels?

It’s about training your audience…

Jeff Simmons (via LinkedIn) thinks they will eventually learn the value of social media: “The main reason buyers avoid SM is because they don't see the value. Give them value and they will come”.

Sift Media supported this idea – and suggested that marketers should use social media because some of their target audience expect it. “Marketers must be prepared that their prospects will expect to find them via these channels and those not using social tools to engage, create thought leadership (and direct to the corporate website) run the risk of losing out.

It is the future…

Steve Rayson concludes that our social networks can only increase in importance. “Friends and networks are the most influential source of information in B2B buying decisions. Thus building your social networks and relationships must be an essential part of your strategy.”

It’s impossible to tell…

Gifford Morley-Fletcher summarised the problem with a couple of examples – showing that social media can sometimes be enormously useful to marketers – and sometimes it can be a waste of time and money. “I met only today with a client (from a very large, multi-national IT corporation) who claims that social media influences over $1.5 billion of revenue in Europe alone for his business. On the other side of the coin, however, I met last week with another - a total social media convert - who has totally given up, having tried everything possible and seen no returns.”

There are many different opinions out there – and there is no single strategy that is right for every business audience. And it’s only by listening to your customers that you will be able to plan the right course…

Take a look at the report again and let us know your thoughts.

No Comments

October 21 2024 2:23 PM

Reply