The Social Media Landscape for B2B Marketing
As super model Heidi Klum routinely said on the show Project Runway, “One day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.” The same could be said of social media networks.
The social media landscape is a transient place. New networks pop up all the time, and it’s hard to keep track of who’s “in” and who’s “out,” what works and what doesn’t. To help gather my thoughts, I created a two-by-two infographic to reflect the current social media landscape for B2B companies – as I see it (as of November 12, 2014).
Each network is assessed on two metrics: hipness (How shiny is the social media network in the eyes of marketers?) and effectiveness (How effective is the social media network for B2B marketers?).
Bearing that in mind, check out the infographic:
What’s My Rationale?
Here’s a breakdown of why I placed each network where I did (From L to R-ish):
Talk about a flash-in-the-pan network. Between June and August of this year, Yo was the hot topic. Since then, the messaging app has sizzled out. To be sure, there have been some positive use cases for Yo. (For instance, it can be used to warn of missile strikes.) But it has not gained traction in the B2B world. Lame.
Unlike Yo, Snapchat continues to pop up in the news, and thus, it refuses to fall in the lame category. In October, they launched their first video advertisements. But since the demographic skews extremely young, Snapchat has not become an effective channel for B2B marketers.
Ah, the latest media darling of the bunch! Do we know enough about Ello to really determine its effectiveness? Will it be the next Yo? Only time will tell.
Pinterest was super shiny in 2012. Since then, it has lost some of its luster. That said, since 2014 has been the year of visual content, marketers love to talk about Pinterest. For the B2B crowd, it is more difficult to build a substantial following – unless you write about topics like food, fashion, home and kitchen, or you produce a significant amount of high-quality photos and infographics.
For examples of successful companies, see GE’s board or Marketo’s board.
I keep expecting to hear about a B2B company that has taken Tumblr by storm. It’s easy to share content on the site. The site’s users are educated and affluent. But a strong B2B presence has yet to emerge.
In order to stand out on Vine, you have to post hip videos. For instance, Adobe posted this video with the youthful #yolo hashtag:
Vine’s cool. It’s hip. It can help you craft a young, fresh image for your business. But it won’t directly translate into new leads, which is the bread and butter of many a B2B marketer.
As Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio instruct in their book, The Power of Visual Storytelling, “Don’t be ‘salesy’ or use blatant product placement. Users of Instagram are media savvy, and they don’t appreciate the community being used as a commercial.”
This does not, however, preclude B2B users from using Instagram. It can be a powerful way of showing off your community and culture.
Face-to-face events produce the highest quality of leads for B2B marketers. While Meetup is not necessarily a trade show, the social network offers neighbors the opportunity to “learn something, do something, share something…” In certain urban hubs, these face-to-face meetings have become popular forums for informal networking based on topics of interest – like content marketing or coding.
In the Silicon Valley, Meetup.com is seeing a resurgence, even though it is somewhat older – by social media standards. I’m curious to see if it takes off and how B2B marketers will try to take it over.
Medium is a blogging network – started by Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone. The site has not experienced the crash-and-burn stardom that Yo has experienced. Instead, it coasts along, receiving the occasional marketing article that toots the site’s horn.
Given that the site has a built-in readership, some writers may attract a larger audience than they would on a corporate blog. But be warned: You’re blogging on someone else’s platform, and all your carefully crafted prose can disappear in the blink of an eye.
When’s the last time that you went on Vimeo to find a video? Yeah, I can’t either.
Vimeo doesn’t have the same clout that YouTube has. Nevertheless, the image quality on Vimeo is better, and if you’re looking for more artistic videos, chances are good that it will be on Vimeo. Recently, I noticed a trend of B2B marketers posting webinar recaps to Vimeo.
In July of this year, marketers announced that YouTube took over Facebook as the web’s biggest social network. More than 1 billion unique users visit the website every month. To say the least, the site provides plenty of opportunities for companies to reach their potential buyers.
Some companies like Microsoft have opted to create commercials:
But YouTube provides you with opportunities to incorporate more traditional B2B content – like customer testimonials:
According to Uberflip’s research, only 41% of B2B content marketers use SlideShare, a site that allows professionals to showcase their slide decks. But it’s a platform on the rise, and it has been adopted by other social networks. Twitter allows you to showcase your slide decks, and in May, LinkedIn acquired SlideShare, making it one of the networks to keep an eye on in 2015.
Many marketers have a fraught relationship with Google+. They believe that they need to be on the site in order to help their search engine ranking. But they struggle to build an audience. What is more, tech pundits have declared that Plus is on death watch. In late April, Vic Gunotra, the platform’s top champion, left the company, and much of the staff was redistributed.
All that said, I don’t know if marketers dislike Google+ as much as they dislike Facebook right now…
B2B marketers continue to use Facebook – largely because Zuckerberg’s creation has such a massive audience. But it wasn’t a good year for Facebook. Reachpocalypse happened, as company pages experienced a dramatic decrease in organic reach. Then, there was the whole emotion experiment. And some marketers – like the venerated folks at Copyblogger – have decided to give up on Facebook.
We will have to see if Facebook can rebound in 2015.
Side note: In a stroke of irony, Copyblogger’s “Goodbye, Facebook” article was shared the most on Facebook of all places:
Twitter continues to be an industry standard for B2B companies. Sure, compared to newer sites, it has lost its sheen, but it’s still a reliable outlet for marketers. It’s like the Lexus or Toyota of social media.
It comes as no surprise that LinkedIn is the top social media network with B2B marketers. While it may not be as sexy as a site like Ello, it is quite effective. Sponsored updates make it easy for companies to target the companies and demographics of their choice. Business professionals can connect with other business professionals without feeling awkward about it. And the Pulse network makes it easy for marketers to blog and capture the attention of their potential buyers.
That’s My Take!
It’s a subjective and imperfect view of the social media landscape, and it will change over time. I plan to revisit it from time to time, so expect periodical updates.
In the meantime, I’d like to hear how you see the B2B social media marketing space. Feel free to leave a comment below. Or if you are feeling extremely ambitious, create your own infographic and share it with me by tagging Trapit on Twitter.