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eMarketer Releases New Report on B2B Use of Social Platforms

Presence is there, but their expertise lags

February 23, 2017

Business-to-business (B2B) companies need to research and understand buyer behavior on social media before executing a social content marketing plan, which can be done through social insights.

“Knowing that buyers are using social networks is only the beginning,” said Jillian Ryan, an analyst at eMarketer and author of the latest report, “B2B Social Media 2017: Tying Efforts Back to Larger Business Goals.” (The full report is available only to eMarketer PRO subscribers).

“B2Bs still need to do research to understand audience behaviors on social platforms to deliver targeted content to the right person, on the right network, at the right time in the buyer journey,” she added. “These sort of audience insights can be extracted through social data mining and listening.”

Companies that skip this step tend to be unsuccessful in their social marketing.

Chief evangelist and startup advisor Jill Rowley explained that mining social networks for signals is the backbone of understanding buyers. “Do the research to be relevant to your buyer and the entire buying committee. B2Bs should use social networks to find buyers,” she said. “Insights allow you to listen to your buyers so you can relate, connect and engage them.”

For marketers, this is a big shift in behavior, since social media is often thought of as a downstream method to share content with customers. However, using it with an upstream approach for persona analysis is valuable, explained Tim Barker, CEO at DataSift, a tech company that recently announced that it would be partnering with LinkedIn to bring engagement and audience insights to LinkedIn’s advertisers. “If marketers have a pulse on their audience, they are better informed before they start to spend their effort building communities and sharing content,” he said.

This means understanding buyer usage habits, channel preferences and content consumption patterns, according to Amber Long, vice president of engagement, PR, content and social media at B2B agency gyro. “When a B2B maps out its whole social ecosystem and framework according to the needs, desires and preferences of their buyers, it means the strategy is all aligned to the buyer journey,” she said. “This is the epitome of audience-centric.”

However, Long also noted that many B2B brands that she works with are “still a little skeptical about leveraging social insights and intel.” An August 2016 survey of US B2B marketers by Demand Metric and Socedo showed that the majority of respondents aren’t taking advantage of social media monitoring tools: only 39% used them.

Business-to-government defense technology contractor Raytheon, however, is sold on the power of social intelligence. “We set up dashboards so that we can understand where the target audience is and listen to what they’re saying or what they’re talking about within these channels,” said Pam Wickham, Raytheon’s vice president of corporate affairs and communications.

eMarketer analyst Jillian Ryan discusses B2B’s use (and misuse) of social in the latest episode of “Behind the Numbers,” eMarketer’s podcast.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “B2B Social Media 2017: Tying Efforts Back to Larger Business Goals.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer PRO customers.


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