B2Bs are jumping on social media, but they're not always seeing results because they aren't adopting strategies appropriately.

In the 2015 B2B Trends report from the Content Marketing Institute, 92 percent of marketers say social media is one of the content marketing tactics they use. In fact, it grew from last year when 87 percent said they had adopted it.

However, companies aren’t all seeing the same upward swing when it comes to results. The CMI asked which tactics they considered to be effective, and social media didn’t even make the list of the top 10 channels.

So why does it look like companies are moving forward with strategies that aren’t providing ROI?

Social media use and effectiveness 2015

The loose definition of ‘using social media’

The answer may be in the fact that marketers say they’re doing social media, but their strategies are under-developed if existent at all. According to our social media team, a lot of the B2Bs they find online have campaigns that actually look something more like this:

  1. The company created an account on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. and stopped there.  
  2. The company created an account on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. but hasn’t updated it in weeks or months.
  3. The company created an account on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. but never made a clear plan outlining the goal and strategy.

Part of the problem may be that marketers are ticking off the social media box after doing one of the above, but then failing to treat it like a channel that deserves a full-fledged strategy and daily attention. We’ve seen that documented strategies that start with goals and end with results.

Spray-and-pray social doesn’t drive results

Some B2B marketers have a tendency to adopt multiple networks in an effort to find their active audiences and drive ROI. According to the CMI, B2B marketers say they use nine different channels, while B2Cs use seven (and social ranks 4th on the list of 10 tactics where they’re most effective).

There might be something to B2Cs’ more targeted approach to social media. Even though their audience is presumably active on a wider range of channels, they cast a smaller net on a group of core networks and it appears to be paying off. About 58 percent of B2Cs say their social media use is effective.

B2B vs. B2C social media use

B2Bs can and do replicate these results when they give social media the attention it deserves:

  • Picking the networks that make sense for your company and using the appropriate tone
  • Updating the accounts every day with new and interesting content
  • Interacting with other users to foster conversations

Check out these 15 B2B companies doing social right and seeing impressive results, and this case study to see how a finely tuned strategy can be the difference between a campaign that’s flatlining and one that’s contributing heavily to the business’ bottom line.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.