Some B2B companies don't believe social has impacted their buying decisions, but they're not seeing the whole picture.

It’s easy to understand how a network like Facebook would help B2C companies. Products and promotions can be shared with followers and friends, and the way individual consumers use the site makes blending commercial activity with personal content seamless. B2B interactions, on the other hand, aren’t quite so casual.

A recent study by KoMarketing Associates highlights the difficulty B2B companies experience (or think they experience) using social media. While 62 percent of B2B buyers claim social networks help to some extent, 37 percent said they weren’t a factor at all in their purchasing decisions. This data might give pause to B2B companies interested in promoting their products and services through social media marketing, but it really should be taken as an indication of how effective the tactic is.

Social isn’t all about Likes and Retweets

One of the most important roles social plays in overall web marketing strategies is that it has an unspoken effect on search. Google might not crawl Facebook Posts and Tweets, but there’s an important link between how frequently something is seen on social platforms and how quickly it gets a bump on SERPs. Social media is the canary in the coal mine, in that it serves as a good indication of content’s strength and value. The more it’s shared, the better it must be, and the more likely Google will deem it valuable for users

Existing customers hang onto social

It’s also important to distinguish between existing customers and new prospects. KoMarketing didn’t separate these two groups for the purposes of its survey, but doing so would have been enlightening. As Brafton has reported, the best tool for finding new business isn’t social – it’s email.

Email can keep leads engaged, and social media will keep the existing customers companies need to survive and grow. 

B2B marketers should understand the difference between these tools: Email can keep leads engaged, and social media will keep the existing customers companies need to survive and grow. Recently, Brafton discussed how much easier it is to close a deal with a past client rather than a new prospect, and social platforms are essential for the customer care that keeps existing customers in the loop.

Not all social platforms are equal

Finally, remember there are major differences between social services. LinkedIn, for example, has basically been designed for interactions between companies in a professional manner. That makes it much more useful for B2B marketing and customer acquisition than Snapchat or Instagram. When businesses remember their social marketing goals, their current customer targets and the types of media they’re trying to share, they can find web marketing success in the B2B sphere.

Want to learn more? Check out some of these related Brafton posts:

LinkedIn conversations drive referral traffic & social conversions
Existing customers should never be “out of site, out of mind” online
Think inside the inbox: 3 steps for acquiring new business with email

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.