Social Media has evolved as one of the main components of our current lifestyle. Businesses across all industries have already identified the power of interactions and public conversations online. Hence, these businesses have already invested hugely on Social Media in order to promote their brand online. Today, almost every business whether small, medium or large is trying to establish its online presence through popular social media channels such as Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) etc.
In spite of being reluctant initially, B2B companies have finally started accepting the power of social media and the influence it could have on the buyer’s intent. BrandWatch – a Social Media Listening and Analytics Engine has created an excellent report after examining the online activity of 200 B2B companies in order to assess the growth and influence of various social networks in B2B industry.
The B2B market has always been less public facing when compared with B2C corporations which is the main reason why these markets have always discredited the role of social media for marketing. Basically, the leaders of B2B markets were not convinced about the volume of social data on topics such as heavy manufacturing or automated sales software and the social could provide.
However, the report suggests a completely different point of view. There’s a remarkable amount of social data that most of the B2B brands are aiming to take better-informed decisions. As per the analysis by BrandWatch, 200 B2B brands have generated over 5 million online conversations in the span of mere 2 months.
Here’s a quick overview on the performance of the social activity of these 200 B2B companies online:
- 5,299,383 Mentions
- 3,960 thousand posts per hour
- 1 new post every second
- Over 31 Million mentions per year
The above data is just a trailer while the whole picture is even more fruitful for these B2B brands. Every conversation on any social media channel has the power to influence depending on the follower base. Hence, each post among these 5 million online conversations have the potential to multiply their influence even further by instigating a number of ensuing replies, likes or discussions, thereby reaching a wider audience group.
Today, almost 76% of B2B brands globally own at least one social media account on either Twitter or Facebook. The impact of these brands can be assessed by the fact that on an average, leading B2B brands with a Twitter account have made 47,023 followers whereas those with a Facebook account have generated 211,872 likes.
Social Insights for B2B Market
B2B market is divided into different industries and each industry has its own social media presence online. While the business software industry is leading the pack comprising of 54% of overall discussion, the aerospace and the medical and energy sectors follow with 14% and 8% mentions respectively.
The higher influence of the business software industry over Social B2B market is driven by popular brands like Intel, IBM, Cisco and Oracle who use these social networks intelligently to improve their brand presence, fuel lead generation and champion customer service.
As per the report, it is clear that not all B2B companies are active on social media. Only few selective brands are highly influential on social networks while most industries are still trying to improve their brand presence online. The online presence of these brands is not limited to social networks alone. While Twitter is the most favorite social network for these B2B companies with a majority of mentions, a large volume of discussion about these brands is witnessed on news sites, forums, and blogs.
A breakdown of such earned conversations vs owned content highlights new areas which these brands can explore while communicating with their consumers. By analyzing the way the target audience communicates, B2B companies can focus on developing content that resonates with their audience setting their language and tone as per their customers.
According to the report, B2B brands are using similar methods to communicate as their audience. They use the same amount of hashtags and videos while slightly differ for images by 2%, replies by 6% and links by 7%. However, the scenario changes for each industry. For example, the medical industry relies on hashtags more while its audience use @replies. Further analysis showed that most of the audience’s @replies came from lengthy and in-depth discussions from influential users within the medical audience. The brands though stayed away from such discussions.
Also, a large number of re-sellers post images of industry goods intended to sell online on social media while the B2B companies shy away from such conversations online. The report by BrandWatch also shows that the business software industry publishes more often which eventually creates more buzz online than any other B2B industry. However, it doesn’t imply that the business software industry is highly successful than other industries in the B2B market at their social media campaigns.
While assessing the ratio of earned mentions against owned post, it is revealed that aerospace industry performs the best with 250 mentions for each owned post whereas in spite of having more earned mentions than any other sector, business software industry encourage fewer earned mentions with each post. It can be concluded that the aerospace industry can easily surpass business software industry in terms of total earned mentions if they start publishing more engaging content on a regular basis.
Social Media Factors Effecting B2B Brands
One of the basic factors that determine the success of any social media campaign is posting at the right time. Although most of the B2B brands produce mentions and audience activity when they post their content, they seldom target the highly engaged days of the week. Regardless of the fact that the B2B brands tweet more during the week days than on weekends, audience engagement boosts during the weekend with twice as many retweets and mentions per post. B2B brands can leverage on such user engagement by being active more on Twitter during the weekend.
Audience demographics of those mentions can help B2B brands determine the interests of the audience which eventually can be useful to generate sales or leads. According to the report, 65% of B2B conversation came from males while 35% was from females. Business, technology and sports were the top interests for the audience while their top professions include Executive, Software Developer and Sales/Marketing.
The location of the audience varied for each sector in the B2B market. IBM stands out as the most mentioned brand in over 100 countries which is clear because of the widespread use of their products, yet their strategic and planned social media efforts can’t be overlooked. The distribution of mentions also vary according to the culture, geography and socio-economic state of a country.
The report also analyzes the performance of brands based in US and UK respectively. While US based brands were the clear winner outweighing the volume of mentions from brands based in UK. The reason is quite clear as an average American B2B Company owns 2.4 Twitter accounts with around 82,411 followers on their main account in comparison to 1.2 Twitter accounts owned by brands based in UK with a following of 11,600 on their primary account on an average.
Hence, it is evident that if UK based brands want to compete with the US based brands then they will need to build a strong social presence with dedicated customer service accounts supported by a constantly evolving social media policy.
The social market for B2B industry is evolving with regular engagement, mentions, conversations and discussions by the audience but it is yet to reach its maturity. B2B brands must address the social signals that express concerns such as consumer grievance, an intent to purchase or an influential opinion, in order to build their brand and add value to the same.