New York—Social media wears many hats in the b-to-b space: a powerful branding tool, an active internal communications channel and a primary recruitment device, according to presenters at the Business Development Institute's B2B Social Communications Leadership Forum held here Tuesday.
“There's been a huge sea change in the b-to-b world, with nearly 90% involved in social media today compared with just 52% two years ago,” said Bob Felsenthal, publisher of BtoB
, in a presentation on social marketing trends. “Marketers are finally integrating social media marketing, which is probably what they should have been doing all along.”
Felsenthal presented findings from a recent BtoB study
, expressing surprise that Facebook (used by 71% of b-to-b marketers) has reached parity with LinkedIn (used by 72%) as a key marketing channel. However, LinkedIn far outstripped other social channels as a lead-generation tool.
“This is shocking in a way, because people say you don't really do lead-gen in social media marketing,” Felsenthal said. “But lots of people are doing it.”
Citi Global Transactions Services is banking on its social thought-leadership portal—complete with videos and articles, and distributed through other channels—to produce leads as well.
“A social Web environment is extra well-suited to building trust; generating and converting leads; and proving a mechanism for sustained engagement,” said panelist Lori Feldman, director-branded and social media marketing for the b-to-b financial services division of Citigroup Inc.
The unit also has an employee-facing portal that has hosted “jam sessions” drawing 4,000 engaged company employees from 88 countries, and features more than 6,000 posts on ideas to unlock opportunities for growth.
“Even though this was an internal initiative, it sparked ideas for external uses as well,” said Alexandra Tyler, VP-branded and social media marketing at Citi Global Transactions Services, co-presenting with Feldman.
Illustrating how social media can support employee recruitment, Deloitte's John Keller detailed how Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter serve as the consultancy's main college recruitment engine. Facebook serves as a “branding play,” said Keller, senior manager-U.S. brand and image development at Deloitte, while Twitter enables potential recruits to engage with senior Deloitte thought leaders.
“And LinkedIn last year accounted for 1.5% of all our hires,” Keller said. “It's a powerful tool for us, especially effective with employee referrals, and ideal for sourcing "passive' job candidates who already have jobs, and whom many companies are primarily interested in.”