Social networks may serve as online communities, but the characteristics specific to each platform provide unique strengths that should be considered when choosing where to invest your marketing dollars.
The best B2B social networks offer real engagement opportunities, provide inbound marketing advantages and reach a large and diverse market.
If you and your marketing team are examining options for social marketing, carefully consider the following:
- Largest audience—It is no surprise that Facebook is the social media platform with the largest number of users- more than one billion. If your company is marketing to a number of market segments with varied characteristics, then Facebook is the ideal choice because your B2B consumers are probably on this network. Twitter offers a fairly large section of the B2B market with 554 million registered users. If you are looking for the B2B social networks with the fastest growth, especially among enterprises, Google+ has more than 343 million users. LinkedIn has 225 million active users, but the vast majority of these are professionals or companies as opposed to the other major social sites.
- Most commercial activity—You may be surprised to learn that the most popular of the B2B social networks is Twitter with 85 percent of business respondents to a B2B marketing study stating they were active on this site. This was followed closely by LinkedIn with 82 percent of respondents engaged on this network. Google+ users comprised only 36 percent of respondents, but once again Google+ proved to be the most dynamic of the B2B social networks.
- Lead generation—The B2B social networks that provided the greatest number of leads were Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Almost 80 percent of social B2B marketers favored Facebook, while 78 percent utilized Twitter, and 51 percent emphasized LinkedIn. However, the most effective social media site for lead generation was LinkedIn, which produced three times as many leads as Facebook and Twitter.
- Inbound marketing benefits—In terms of SEO and search rankings, Google+ clearly outperforms its competitors. The relationship between Google+ and the parent search engine is fueling the enormous migration as more companies recognize that Google+ is a social marketing and SEO tool. The Hangout feature on Google+ is an important tool for B2B video conferencing and is quickly becoming a competitor to Skype, further fueling enterprise utilization of this network. The only drawback to Google+ is the lack of constant engagement on this platform; the majority of users only check in every few days or weekly.
No single social media network is going to be the perfect fit for your social marketing strategy.
Some have enormous populations but are lacking in commercial usefulness; while other B2B social networks offer numerous business friendly features, but aren’t growing quickly enough.
Choosing the right social networks to market on can be tricky. Pick a few and start small. Concentrate heavily on utilizing those platforms to the best of their ability and analyze to see if you are meeting your social media marketing objectives.