Analysis of Top 7 Social Media Channels for B2B

I was invited to speak at the Social Media Intelligence 2012 conference put on by the Altamont group. This is my third time speaking at this event and it’s always a rewarding experience.

Here’s a copy of my preso.

One area I often think about in Social Media Marketing is how to use each social media channel to its fullest potential. All of our resources are constrained and social media channels have a relentless hunger for content updates and time. In your social media strategy plan, it’s critical to pick the channels that are most appropriate for your audience and your communication objectives.

In the B2B space especially, not all social media channels are suitable for the type of content we publish. For example, I’ve seen B2B technology marketers post their IT whitepapers on Pinterest – a channel which features beautiful photography and reaches mostly a female consumer audience. Can you do it for extra syndication? Sure, it’s free, why not? But, it’s actually not free. It took 5 minutes of someone’s time to post it. Multiply that by the number of content pieces and the number of channels and it adds up fast. So, it’s critical to understand which channels your audiences use and how they use them.

The most useful discussion on this topic was from Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe, Social Espionage. Below, I’ve captured some of Dorothea’s presentation and added my own colored commentary based on my own experience in social media marketing.

Top 7 Social Media Channels

 Google +

Strength: Great opportunity for follower growth, segmentation starting, creating nuanced messaging, highly search engine optimized.

Weakness (IMHO): Make sure your audience is there. There’s been a lot of hype about G+, but make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin, especially if you only have a few SoMe folks on your team. Test and compare it to your Facebook presence.

LinkedIn

Strengths: Huge audience, 161M people, 2 new members every second, Members did nearly 4.2 billion searches on the platform. There’s a lot of targeted advertising opportunities which can be highly successful. Ideal for Job openings, big announcements (at the company level). Extremely useful for appending information to your contact database.

Weakness (IMHO): Advertising opportunities are available on LinkedIn, but social media opportunities (earned) are elusive for marketers. I.e., it’s a private network; people have complete control over your ability to reach out them. Try creating a “Group” as a way to get started.

Twitter

Strengths: Also huge audience, 500 million active users, 340 M tweets daily, 55% of all Twitter users user the service to share links to new stories, 53% retweet, 182% Increase in number of mobile users, 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter, 20% have closed deals.

From personal experience, Twitter is a fantastic way to promote, amplify and syndicate other content such as blogs as well as build an audience. Great way to reach an audience fast.

  • Scott Monty, example of an executive who loves social media and understands the brand
    • @scottmonty

Weaknesses (IMHO): Lots of spam, sales folks and other marketers following your account which doesn’t really count as audience reach. Difficult to segment, you don’t have a lot of information about who is actually following you.

Pinterest

Strengths: Enormous growth, 1.36M daily users – grew 4733% since May 2011, 3rd most popular, April 2012 Board “Covers” were launched. If your audience is female, Pinterest is the place to be. Great opportunity if your products have a visual appeal.

Weaknesses (IMHO): Not ideal if your audience is male and /or you have non-visual products. I’ve seen marketers post whitepapers on Pinterest, but it seems a bit out of place. Consider Slideshare (the anti-Pinterest) for this.

YouTube

Strengths: 106.7M UVM – over 3B hours uploaded, 60+ hours of new videos are uploaded to the site every minute, 70% of YT traffic outside US, more than 1 trillion views in 2011. THE place to be if you have video content. Good data on metrics (thanks Google).

Weaknesses (IMHO): If you’ve got video content, it’s ideal. But don’t try to pin your hopes on creating a “viral” video. I’ve tried viral videos in the past when it was trendy. It’s really hit or miss and has the potential of going WAY off if your brand doesn’t naturally lend itself to the stuff that people like on YouTube (funny, raunchy, or entertaining). Just do what you do and make it useful.

Facebook

Strengths: Huge reach 955 M monthly active users in June. Over ½ of these users are active on a daily basis. (based on TechCrunch, 2012 stats), Facebook is ideal for engaging directly with your audience, allowing them to share their experiences, content. There is a wide range of applications including contests, customer service, and promotions. Facebook also offers strong advertising opportunities and targeting (as you may have heard in the news).

Intuit does a nice job on their Facebook page for quick books. It’s a combination of product updates, helpful tips and Q&A. They’re very responsive to customer questions as well.

http://www.facebook.com/IntuitQuickBooks

Weaknesses: In the B2B space, you may have audiences that are not inclined to share their activities (eg Governments, financial services). Therefore, isn’t ideal for every B2B use case.

Slideshare

Although this was not covered in Dorothea’s talk, I thought I’d throw it in because it’s highly effective for B2B.

Strengths: In B2B, many companies think in PowerPoint presentations. SlideShare has proven itself not only as a home for your slideware, but an effective way to drive leads.

  • You can “gate” your content so that people need to register to download your slides, thus driving leads.
  • Great way to syndicate your customer presentations.
  • In SlideShare, you can also do a voice over and slideshow mode.

Here are some more stats from Slideshare courtesy of TechCrunch.

  • Women use fewer slides on average (22 per slideshow) than men (26).
  • Popular presentations contain more images (37, on average) than other presentations (which contain 21).
  • The most popular tech companies mentioned in presentations are Facebook (39.9%), Twitter (28.6%), Google (19.1%), Microsoft (5.7%), and Apple (3.8%)
  • Only 1.7% of all presentations are done in Apple’s Keynote software, but Keynote makes up 8.2% of the most popular presentations.
  • The Japanese and Chinese use more slides on average than slideshows in any other language.

Source: “TechCrunch Readers Love Slides (And Other Stats From SlideShare)”, January 17, 2012

Weaknesses: I can’t think of any. Send me comments if you have ideas of Weaknesses.

Social media can be such a huge time investment, it’s critical that you carefully evaluate and measure effectiveness of each of these channels for your business before spreading yourself too thin.

What’s worked for you? Tell me what you think.

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