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According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, B2B marketers are not only using social media; they are succeeding with it. This report contains a snapshot of how B2B marketers are using social media and the benefits they’re gaining from it. The report suggests that devoting 6 hours a week to social media marketing can build your brand and help improve sales.

According to the study, over 93 percent of B2B marketers use social media to market their business. That is slightly below B2C usage (95.2 percent); however, it shows a big increase since 2010 when only 88 percent of B2B marketers were using social media. In the last two years, social media has increased in importance and savvy B2B marketers have followed that trend.

How Well Does Social Media Marketing Work?

While there are challenges in measuring ROI, this report provides data about how B2B marketers are using social media, what’s working and what tools you can rely on. Below are some of the things B2B marketers listed as the major benefits of social media marketing:

  • Over 56 percent acquired new business partnerships through social media (vs. 45 percent of B2C marketers)
  • Almost 60 percent saw improved search rankings from their social efforts (vs. 50 percent of B2C marketers)
  • Almost 70 percent are more able to gather marketplace insights from their social efforts (vs. 60 percent of B2C marketers)

Social Media Tools Used by B2B Marketers

The study found that almost all B2C marketers (over 96 percent) use Facebook as a marketing tool. However, only 87 percent of B2B brands use Facebook. B2B marketers’ adoption of LinkedIn is similar (86.6 percent) as is Twitter (84 percent). As shown below, B2B marketers are more likely to use blogs (65 percent vs. 57 percent) and Google+ (44 percent vs. 36 percent).

It is interesting to note the tools B2B marketers are using and finding successful compared to B2C marketers. Many of the tools are the same, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, but the percentage of use is different. B2B marketers prefer LinkedIn and Twitter and tend to use blogs more than their B2C counterparts.

While B2B marketers seem to prefer LinkedIn, the challenge is to understand which features of other popular social media sites can be used for B2B networking and then to capitalize on that. You need to familiarize yourself with each forum’s activities and build a strategy to fit the audience and the community activity.

A recent eMarketer article said that 52 percent of U.S. small businesses don’t feel they are marketed to effectively by other businesses. Additionally, 46 percent feel they’re being “sold” to instead of “spoken” to. A good solution for this is to use social media because that’s where you socialize with people rather than shilling. Social media is all about trust and building relationships in the social world.

The above stats show that social media marketing has hit critical mass for B2B marketers. In other words, manufacturers and wholesalers should get on the social media bandwagon now to successfully attract and convert more prospects.

If you’re not using social media to market your wholesale or manufacturing business, you need to start. If you’ve started but are not using social media in a systematic manner, you should consider creating a social media strategy to support your overall marketing plan.

You can start small by launching a blog and a business page on LinkedIn and Twitter. Next, you can create a Facebook business page. Devote six hours a week to it and you will eventually master the art of social media marketing to build your brand. Conversions will follow.

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 Posted on : May 16, 2012