Four reasons B2B companies may be slow to adopt social media

When you read marketing blogs today, nine out of every ten articles seem to be written about some aspect of social media. White Horse, a digital media company, has released an interesting publication titled “B2B Marketing Goes Social: A White Horse Survey Report” (registration required). White Horse surveyed 104 corporate marketers in March of 2010. This report yields some valuable insight into B2B marketers and their use of social media, which falls

Social media? Bah! Humbug!

behind that of their B2C colleagues, according to the report.

For example, 60 percent of B2B marketers have no one on staff dedicated full-time to social media, compared to just 46 percent of B2C marketers. Only 10 percent of B2B marketers had engaged an outside agency for social media marketing, compared to 28 percent of B2C marketers. Most revealing was the level of acceptance of social media among executives: 36 percent of B2B marketers reported low executive interest in social media, compared to just 9 percent among B2C marketers.

This begs the question, why? Here are a few reasons that B2B marketers haven’t fully embraced social media marketing:

  • B2B marketers are ROI-driven. A B2B sale can be literally years in the making, involving strategic organizational decisions and budgeting on the part of the buyer, as well as significant investment of the part of the marketer. The stakes are too high to gamble in a field where ROI has proven especially hard to determine.
  • Likewise, B2C decisions are emotional, while B2B are logical. A tweet may drive thousands of consumers to impulsively download the latest hit pop song from iTunes, but it’s unlikely to sell an enterprise solution to a major manufacturing company.
  • It’s generational. Social media is still largely a youth-driven phenomenon. As more top executives retire and are replaced by marketers who have long embraced social media as a part of their lives, you may see B2B marketers embrace social media more consistently.
  • B2B marketing isn’t brand-driven. B2B companies are often entrenched in a niche in which there may be relatively few players, compared to a typical B2C industry. Therefore, social media’s role as an effective brand promoter is not as effective.

White Horse provides a spot-on summary of the state of B2B and social media by stating that the end result for B2B and social media will be a happy marriage of new and traditional marketing methods:

We believe strongly that the ultimate evolutionary stage of social media marketing is its integration with traditional tactics, and B2B marketers are uniquely well-positioned to make this leap. Social tactics align more naturally with highly relationship-driven B2B tactics than they do with awareness-centered B2C tactics.”

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