Social Media: B2C vs. B2B

The use of social media channels continues to grow. With over one-third of the world’s population on social media, all signs point to further growth. But companies are falling short in their efforts to harness social media.

Last year, The CMO Survey found that almost half of firms (44.1%) say they haven’t been able to show the impact of their social media spending. Further, the ability to integrate customer information across social media, other communications, and purchasing channels is weak and not increasing, and only 4.6% say social media contributes very highly to company performance.

What must companies do to improve their performance on social media? We decided to dig a little deeper using a joint-survey with The Marketing Journal and Javed Matin and Associates. Just under 500 North American marketing executives were surveyed, roughly equally divided into B2B and B2C industry segments.

Our goal? To find out what works in B2B vs B2C.

We asked the following questions:

  • What are the most used social media platforms?

  • Which social media platforms are the most effective?

  • What engagement tactics had the best results and how were they used on social media?

  • What was the most important factors in the success of their social media initiatives?

Social Media Usage

The first part of 2017 shows us robust participation across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube for both B2B and B2C participants. Instagram usage, however, showed a marked difference: 71% of B2C marketers used Instagram versus 31% for B2B.

We were surprised by two other insights: (1) that 85% of B2B marketers were using Facebook, and (2) that LinkedIn was being used by 83% of B2C marketers.

Social Media Impact

Not unlike The CMO Survey, we too found a large difference between usage and impact or performance. B2B marketers were disappointed with the results from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. B2C marketers, predictably, fared worse on LinkedIn, but were reasonably satisfied with their Facebook and Twitter results.

Another surprise? Both B2B and B2C marketers told us that YouTube was making a significant impact on lead generation and brand awareness. For B2B marketers, the lead generation impact was of particular importance.

Social Engagement Tactics

Next, we decided to examine the actual tactics that delivered the best results. To our surprise it was events (B2B) and email (B2C). Both camps revealed that they were using social media to promote their events and email offers. B2C marketers emphasized the use of special offers and codes to sign-up prospective buyers to their weekly, even daily newsletters.

B2B marketers tended to view webinars as their most powerful demand-generation tool, and were using social media to promote participation.

Social Media Success Factors

Finally, and this was an open-ended question, we asked both B2B and B2C marketers what factors contributed most to their success.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Talent: The social media staff was top on the list. Almost half of survey respondents said they used an agency to help them with social media strategy and a third said they used an agency for day-to-day social media campaigns. Almost all respondents said they worked as a social media team across the company.

  • Training: Over 75% of respondents in B2B and 52% in B2C said they were still trying to “get staff up to speed” with social media. Less that 5% said they had mastered social media.

  • Advertising: Of the companies that indicated they were seeing results, over 80% indicated that they spent 50% or more of their content budget for advertising on social media.

  • The Role of Video: Over 50% of the best companies in both B2B and B2C embraced video (YouTube) as their most important online tool for demand generation.

  • Responsiveness: A vast majority of respondents indicated they were working to change their policies to increase responsiveness on social media.

  • Customer Support: Almost 75% of respondents in B2C said they were investing in social media teams for customer support and complaints.

  • Metrics: Only 35% of B2B respondents said they were satisfied with how they measured social media performance. Landing pages were used most often to measure “opt-ins” for B2B, and “online-sales” for B2C.

Originally published June 10, 2017 on

#B2C #B2B #SocialMedia

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