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BtoB

Delving deeper into social data

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In a study released earlier this year, BtoB found that 32% of b-to-b marketers consider themselves to be “very” or “fully” engaged with social media marketing. That was up from just 21% a year earlier. Better still, the study, “Social Media Marketing: A Surge in Adoption,” projected that 53% of marketers will be very engaged next year. Those are great numbers, certainly. But while b-to-b marketers are flocking to social media marketing in ever-increasing droves, the question remains: Are they making the most of these channels? A recently released report from Forrester Research, “Uncovering the Value of Social Intelligence for B2B Companies,” indicates they have much room for improvement, especially compared with their b-to-c counterparts. The report was based on an online survey of companies with social media listening platforms. Among the findings: 26% of b-to-b companies spend less than $500 per month on listening platform technology, compared with just 11% of b-to-c marketers. B-to-b companies also tend to have fewer dashboard seats. “Simply put, social intelligence is not a priority for many b-to-b companies, requiring fewer employees to have access to social data,” Forrester said in the report. Forrester recommends that b-to-b companies step up their listening initiatives by adopting what it calls the four P's of social intelligence: “Turning social data into actionable business insights takes the right people, a clear and measurable purpose, a fine-tuned listening platform, and a repeatable business process. But many b-to-b brands find themselves behind the curve of b-to-c brands' maturity because they overlook one or more of those facets.” Among Forrester's specific recommendations:
  • B-to-b companies should look beyond brand tracking in their use of social data. “While that's a great start, they may miss the bigger value of social media by only monitoring it reactively,” Forrester said. “B-to-b companies should evaluate their existing goals to find ones that social data can support.”
  • They should also be more focused in how they use their social listening platforms. Forrester found that 18% of b-to-b marketers track “a staggering 200 or more topics”—more than twice the percentage of b-to-c companies that take such a wide approach.
  • “B-to-b companies' unfocused listening platform tactics and the small amount of dashboard seats b-to-b companies staff mean that there are too few people tracking too many things,” Forrester said in conclusion. “Although simplifying the dashboard use and bringing in outside help will make the job easier, b-to-b companies must plan their social intelligence strategy around scalable processes. Look within the organization for existing decision trees and work flows, then determine where social intelligence fits before blindly collecting insights.” So there you have it. While getting into the social media marketing game is great, it's what you do once you're there that really counts. John Obrecht is editor of BtoB and Media Business. He can be reached at jobrecht@crain.com.
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