How many social media platforms do you belong to? And as a technical professional, how many of these platforms do you use for work-related activities?
Social media marketing is one of the fastest growing and in many ways most innovative fields of online advertising and marketing today.
But as B2B marketers, our interest is in the potential of social media marketing in a business to business and industrial environment: Is there a place for B2B marketing content on social media platforms? What should our marketing goals be? How should we understand, measure and evaluate success and strategy? What social channels are best for each strategic objective, and what content marketing needs to be generated?
To gain more insight into these questions, let's look at how social media is actually being used by professional people working in industry / engineering / technical fields.
How long do you typically spend on social media per week for work-related activities?
IIf your answer is less than an hour per week, you form part of the majority of technical professionals out there! According to a recent study by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solution, just over 60% of professionals use social media not more than an hour per week for work-related activities, and only about 15% use it for more than 3.
Among those users, the most common uses of social media include:
Contrast these results with those in our discussion in Article 1 of this newsletter, where we saw that media in the work environment is valued mostly in enabling technical professionals to find and look for information about suppliers; source components, equipment and services; obtain product specifications; and find technical standards.
What we see with social media is that it's not yet among the primary, go-to resources for researching work-related topics and potential suppliers, with most buyers using search engines, supplier websites and online catalogues as their channels of choice across the sales cycle.
Most professionals find social media to be an inefficient platform for finding quality, relevant work-related information. 55% of professionals say social media has too much 'noise' and not enough 'substance' when compared to search engines, websites and online catalogues (ibid.). As it stands today, there isn't a social platform that can offer a comparable level of content richness and information usability as these more favoured media channels.
And until that changes, social media, as a siloed marketing activity, will continue to have only limited potential as a lead generation channel in industrial marketing.
So bear this in mind if you're considering whether social media can play a role in your business or not. Industrial marketers should recognise that social media use in their market segments is less transactional in nature, and more about remaining aware of more general conversations surrounding your brand, industry and solutions.
Marketing content on social media should therefore be tailored around constantly driving brand awareness, engagement and thought and leadership positioning prior to the sales cycle even beginning. That's where social media demonstrates value as an industrial marketing tool.
Remember how in Article 1, we discussed how companies with holistic, targeted content marketing strategies that can routinely influence top-of-mind brand awareness already have the inside lane before a potential customer is ready to engage with vendors?
It's in this light that social media makes its most valuable contributions within an industrial marketing context. By increasing brand awareness and visibility, you can amplify your downstream marketing activities that will ultimately increase your lead generation potential.
Social media can be an important pillar amidst a more integrated communications campaign using a variety of online and offline channels - increasing reach at relatively low cost and effort - but it should never be a primary driver of any lead generation effort in industrial marketing.
IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. 2016. Engineering360 Research Report: 2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector. http://www.globalspec.com/advertising/wp/2016_SocialMediaUse