Adam T. Sutton

Social Media Marketing: Why B2B marketers need to care, by the numbers

September 27th, 2011

My reporter antenna was humming during the presentation yesterday from Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert, at the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit in Boston. I could write a blog post everyday for two weeks based on Baer’s advice — and it encompassed only a single hour of the day packed with insights.

Baer methodically destroyed “the seven myths of B2B social media,” the first two of which directly addressed why B2B companies need to care about social media.

Myth #1: “My customers don’t use social media”

Baer presented data illustrating that it is extremely unlikely that B2B customers are not using social media.

“81% of Americans that have an Internet connection use social media in some way. This is not a niche play,” Baer said, citing Forrester Research. Furthermore, 51% of Americans over age 12 have a Facebook account, according to Edison research. Pew Research also has some compelling data.

The real problem, Baer said, is that companies often project their opinions onto their audiences.

“If you don’t use social media, or your CMO doesn’t use social media, or your CEO doesn’t use social media, then you don’t believe that anyone that buys from you could possibly use social media.”


Myth #2. Social media is not worth the trouble for B2B companies

Getting more specific to his audience, Baer said social media use in B2B is “overwhelming.” He noted that 86% of B2B technology buyers use social media for work purposes, according to Forrester.

“Not a cat blog, not ‘the Red Sox are choking again’ Facebook lament. [It’s] for business purposes,” he said.

Also, citing the Forrester chart below, Baer noted that “B2B social media users use social media with a greater frequency and intensity than consumers” across all channels.


Click to enlarge


“The next time your boss freaks out about this, tell him  ‘our buyers use social media more than Lady Gaga.'”

You can also take steps to bolster your argument. Baer mentioned two third-party companies that will provide a “quick and dirty” look at your audience’s social engagement. You can take about 500 names from your email database, send them to a provider, and quickly see their Facebook profiles, Twitter profiles, recent tweets, and other data.

“In like five seconds, for the price of a ham sandwich, it will show you that information,” Baer said.

Even more important for B2B

Baer believes social media is more important for B2B marketers than consumer marketers. First, he said, the number of potential customers is smaller for B2B companies. Therefore, the potential impact of a socially active customer is magnified.

“Every customer has the potential to change the way other customers think about your business in ways that individual B2C consumers do not. Every customer is more important in terms of down-stream perception.”

Businesses are also much more likely to thoroughly research purchases when compared to consumers’, he said. For example, a company does not go to the grocery store to buy enterprise software. Instead, several people research the purchase, several others approve it, and there are many input points. This translates to an increase in the likelihood that social channels (such as online comments and reviews) will be explored before purchase is made.

Related Resources:

MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 – San Francisco

Social Media Companies: 3 non-obvious ways social media will impact big companies

Marketing Optimization: Measuring the potential force of your value proposition

The Business of Social Media: B2B and B2C Engagement by the Numbers

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

Categories: Social Networking Evangelism Community Tags: , , , , , , ,

  1. September 28th, 2011 at 05:57 | #1

    thanks so much Adam. I’m glad you had a lot of takeaways from my session. It was an excellent event, and I’m looking forward to the San Francisco edition in a few weeks.

  2. Adam Sutton
    September 28th, 2011 at 12:24 | #2

    Hi Jay — My pleasure. It was a great session.

We no longer accept comments on the MarketingSherpa blog, but we'd love to hear what you've learned about customer-first marketing. Send us a Letter to the Editor to share your story.