What’s Wrong With Social Media For B2B Marketing
Business-to-business (B2B) marketing is too often the ugly stepchild in the marketing family, especially when compared to the golden child that is business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing. B2C marketing gets all the glory, so much so that when people talk about marketing without a modifier, it’s usually assumed they mean consumer marketing, never business marketing.
This is despite that fact that B2B marketing makes up a significant portion of overall marketing activity. Roughly one-third of all commercial searches on Google are B2B in nature, more than 50 percent of Google’s target advertisers are B2B, and almost 38 percent of Yahoo’s target advertisers are B2B.
Nowhere is the discrimination against B2B marketing more apparent than in the social media space. Not one blog on The Viral Garden’s Top 25 Marketing Blogs is focused on B2B marketing, and only two blogs on Todd And’s Power 150 list of top marketing blogs focus on B2B: Brian Carroll’s B2B Lead Generation Blog is #46 and Douglass Karr’s The Marketing Technology Blog is at #54. There are a few other blogs that focus on tech PR, but that’s it.
In total, there are 38,486 blogs about “marketing” listed on Technorati but only 329 blogs about “b2b marketing.” In reality, many of those are not really focused on business marketing. In fact, I keep a Big List of B2B Marketing Blogs and it has only 89 blogs. Sure, I may be missing a few (let me know via the comments on my blog) but nonetheless the discrepancy is dramatic. B2C marketing gets all the glory and coverage, while B2B marketing is left wondering where all the links went.
How Social Media Fails B2B Marketing
I believe one of the key reasons for this is that social media has an inherent bias against the realities of B2B marketing.
There’s no topic that bloggers like to write about and link to more than blogging itself. On my blog, Modern B2B Marketing, anytime I write about blogging I’m sure to get more comments and links than if I write about marketing accountability or lead generation best practices. Because links are what people (and search engines) use to rank blogs, this creates the perverse incentive to write about social media more than other marketing topics.
More broadly, since social media rewards popularity, not quality or accuracy, there is an inherent push to write about trendy topics that will get links, not the time-proven tactics that B2B marketers use on a day to day basis.
I’m not saying that social media doesn’t play a role in B2B marketing, since it clearly has a big role to play in driving traffic, building thought leadership, and facilitating word of mouth referrals. My fellow Strictly Business columnist Robert Murray wrote just last week about the value of B2B social networking, citing its importance in traffic generation, brand awareness, and direct selling.
But to B2B marketers, social media is just one tactic in a portfolio of techniques that best practice companies use to generate awareness, drive leads, and nurture relationships. Robert reports that only 26% of B2B marketers have used social networking as a marketing channel, which proves it is certainly not yet mainstream. The reality of B2B marketing today is that more prosaic methods such as PPC advertising, lead nurturing, customer case studies, and good old-fashioned PR still matter more than social media techniques.
The result is that there are fewer pundits and though leaders writing about B2B marketing, resulting in fewer links to those early adopters who do write about business marketing techniques. And since links mean leadership on the web, the result is that the less-trendy subjects in B2B marketing—like marketing accountability and lead management—get left behind.
There’s something wrong about this, don’t you think? Please leave a comment.
Jon Miller is VP of Marketing for Marketo, a provider of marketing automation software that helps B2B marketing professionals drive revenue and improve accountability. Jon’s blog, Modern B2B Marketing, explores best practices in business marketing, ranging from pay-per-click management to lead nurturing to marketing accountability. The Strictly Business column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
Sign up for weekly recaps of the ever-changing search marketing landscape.