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Toolbox.com Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know
 

Toolbox.com Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know

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B2B marketers have an important role to play in the social media space: online communities are open for participation and welcome the information and insights that their companies can add to the ...

B2B marketers have an important role to play in the social media space: online communities are open for participation and welcome the information and insights that their companies can add to the conversation. This white paper will help to develop a better understanding of the current trends in professional use of social media – who is using it, how it is used, and why. Armed with this information, B2B marketers can make better decisions about how to integrate social media and its related tools into current marketing strategies.

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    Toolbox.com Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know Toolbox.com Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know Document Transcript

    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know White Paper © 2010 Toolbox.com
    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know The value of social media usage in the workplace has been a much debated topic in recent years. Those who malign its usage in professional settings have visions of productivity plummeting among employees making frequent visits to Facebook or MySpace during the workday to chat with friends. Equally concerning are the very real security risks that social media usage may pose through malware attacks or from employees inadvertently, or purposely, revealing proprietary or sensitive company information. However, many of these risks can be minimized through proper security measures and smart social media policies, like those developed by Intel and IBM, that provide employees with clear guidelines on acceptable social media usage. Despite these potential pitfalls, social media usage on the job Three Primary Values of Social Media for Professionals has proven to be a practical addition to the traditional workflow. Communities like Connect Enable members to link up LinkedIn and Facebook and communicate directly help professionals connect and communicate with each other directly. Through sites like Twitter and SlideShare, Collaborate Share professionals can distribute Enable members to generate Enable members to distribute knowledge or best practice information to their connections information through open information and knowledge to their connections or the and the broader community. interaction with their connections and the community community Best practice communities like Toolbox.com help professionals make better decisions by collaborating with peers online. Where previously they would be forced to rely on their own expertise, colleagues, research, or conferences, they can now extend that pool of available knowledge beyond their office walls right from their computer. With a few clicks, today’s professional can be deep inside an online community where they can tap into the experience of like-minded peers to help set strategies or solve problems. The good news for B2B marketers is that they have an important role to play in the social media space: online communities are open for participation and welcome the information and insights that their companies can add to the conversation. However, in order to be Toolbox.com Knowledge Sharing Communities 2 © 2010 Toolbox.com
    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know successful, marketers must first understand the landscape and their customers’ place within it. This white paper will help to develop a better understanding of the current trends in professional use of social media – who is using it, how it is used, and why. The research presented is based on responses from IT, HR, and finance professionals who participated in a survey series with Toolbox.com and PJA Advertising + Marketing. More than 3,000 professionals participated in each of the five waves of the survey. Armed with this information, B2B marketers can make better decisions about how to integrate social media and its related tools into current marketing strategies. Trend #1: Reliance on Social Media for Better Workplace Decision Making Continues to Grow Social media has become an important tool in the workplace, and is relied on frequently during the average week to make decisions and solve problems. In Wave V of the Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index survey, conducted in January 2010, respondents reported using social media 4.59 hours on average during the week. This consumption rate has increased by more than 1 hour per week since the first wave of the survey conducted two years ago. Media Consumption Rates Media Consumption Rates The rate of social media usage June 2007 (W1) to January 2010(W1) to January 2010 (W5) June 2007 (W5) has also consistently outpaced 5.0 4.72 4.59 consumption of online editorial 4.5 content and online vendor 4.0 3.48 3.74 3.54 3.35 content throughout the survey 3.26 3.35 3.5 Hours per week 3.06 3.05 2.88 2.88 2.85 2.79 series. This trend does not 3.0 2.71 2.5 indicate the declining importance 2.0 of these content types, as both 1.5 W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 serve important roles in helping 1.0 professionals identify current 0.5 trends and conduct research. What 0.0 Social media/ user-generated content Online editorial media Online vendor content it does indicate, however, is the (Toolbox.com, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, etc.) (InformationWeek, CNN, WSJ.com, etc.) (vendor-produced white papers, webcasts, etc.) growing reliance that professionals Source: Toolbox.com/PJA SocialPJA SocialIndex, Wave VV Source: Toolbox.com/ Media Media Index, Wave place on social media for specific purposes like networking, sharing knowledge, staying current, and advancing their careers, which will be examined in more detail in Trend #2. Toolbox.com Knowledge Sharing Communities 3 © 2010 Toolbox.com
    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know Finance and HR professionals report similar consumption trends, using social media in the workplace at rates of 3.64 hours/week and 3.77 hours/week respectively. Similar to their IT counterparts, both finance and HR respondents use social media more frequently than online editorial and vendor content. Media Consumption Rates Media Consumption Rates Finance Audience HR Audience Social media/user-generated content Social media/user-generated content (Toolbox.com, Wikipedia, Twitter, 3.64 (Toolbox.com, Wikipedia, Twitter, 3.77 Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) Editorial media Editorial media (Information Week, 3.25 (Information Week, 2.77 CNN, WSJ.com, etc.) CNN, WSJ.com, etc.) Vendor content Vendor content (vendor-produced white papers, 2.40 (vendor-produced white papers, 2.13 webcasts, etc.) webcasts, etc.) 0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 Average Hours Average Hours Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave V Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave V 351 Responses 925 Responses Trend #2: The Value of Social Media to Professionals Has Expanded Beyond Networking IT professionals use social media Social Media for Professional Use for a variety of reasons on the job, IT Audience including: Sharing content with peers 54.7% • Staying current (70.9%) Networking with other professionals 68.6% • Networking with other 70.9% Staying current professionals (68.6%) Searching for jobs 32.7% • Advancing their career (58.1%) Advancing your career 58.1% • Sharing content with peers (building skills and expertise) Managing your reputation (demonstrating 24.5% (54.7%) expertise/building personal brand) Other (please specify) 6.2% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% While many of these same Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave V functions can be performed offline 3,088 Responses or online through an editorial or vendor resource, social media offers professionals several distinct opportunities. The content they are consuming through social media is created by their peers. In this way, they gain a unique perspective on the latest trends, one based on direct experience from Toolbox.com Knowledge Sharing Communities 4 © 2010 Toolbox.com
    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know like-minded professionals. It also provides a much larger knowledge base to tap into when solving a problem or developing a strategy. Social Media for Professional Use Finance Audience Sharing content with peers 46.2% Networking with other professionals 62.4% Staying current 72.6% Searching for jobs 29.6% Advancing your career (building skills and expertise) 55.0% Managing your reputation (demonstrating 21.9% expertise/building personal brand) Other (please specify) 5.1% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave V 351 Responses Social Media for Professional Use HR Audience Sharing content with peers 57.2% Networking with other professionals 70.7% Staying current 78.2% Searching for jobs 29.5% Advancing your career 56.2% (building skills and expertise) Managing your reputation (demonstrating 24.6% expertise/building personal brand) Other (please specify) 6.8% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave V 925 Responses Similar trends in social media usage are emerging among finance and HR professionals, where staying current, networking and sharing content with peers, and career advancement are the top uses of social media. Trend #3: Best Practice Communities Have Emerged as Key Resources for Career Advancement The adage of “using the right tool for the job” applies to how professionals use social media. Not every social media site offers the appropriate venue for achieving a specific Toolbox.com Knowledge Sharing Communities 5 © 2010 Toolbox.com
    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know goal in the workplace, just as not every tool – such as blogs, discussion groups, or profiles – found within those social media sites will offer the appropriate way to communicate. For career advancement, which Types of Social Media for Career Advancement includes searching for new job IT Audience opportunities, filling knowledge Best practice communities (Toolbox.com, StackOverflow) 59.7% gaps by networking with peers, Vendor-run communities (Oracle Technology 34.7% and training, IT professionals Network, IBM Developerworks) Professional networks (LinkedIn, Ryze) 54.1% rely first on best practice communities like Toolbox.com Social networks (Facebook, MySpace) 36.7% and StackOverflow (59.7%), Microblogging (Twitter, Tumblr) 13.7% followed by professional Sharing networks (SlideShare, Digg) 10.3% networks like Linkedin and 20.3% Blogs (Blogger, LiveJournal) Ryze (54.1%). Conversely, for I don't use social media 18.9% building brand reputation online, for career advancement professional networks outpace Other (please specify) 3.3% best practice communities by 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% a margin of 51.3% to 45.9% Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave V 3,088 Responses respectively. Social Media Impact on Career According to survey IT Audience respondents, social media’s Created new job opportunities for me 21.6% most significant impact on career Increased my responsibilities 21.4% in my current position advancement was to help them Resulted in a promotion 6.9% increase the level of experience Resulted in new business/project 21.3% in their current position (56.7%), opportunities Increased my level of expertise 56.7% followed closely by providing in my current position Increased confidence with a support 38.4% a support structure to increase structure through professional networking Benchmarked my skills against peers 25.9% confidence in decision making Participation in social media has 27.2% (38.4%). not impacted my career Other (please specify) 3.7% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Among HR professionals, best Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave V practice communities (66.7%) 3,088 Responses and professional networks (66.9%) were used at nearly the same frequency for career advancement. Finance professionals used best practice communities (55.3%) slightly more than professional Toolbox.com Knowledge Sharing Communities 6 © 2010 Toolbox.com
    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know networks (54.7%) for career advancement. Like their IT counterparts, both HR and finance respondents reported that social media’s biggest impact on career advancement was to help them increase their level of expertise in their current positions. Trend #4: Professionals Are Looking for Companies to Participate in Social Media In Wave IV of the Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index survey, IT professionals were asked to share their attitudes on vendor participation in online communities. Vendor Participation in Social Media According to the survey results, IT Audience B2B marketers should consider Vendors must have a presence in 34.7% themselves to be an integral part online communities of the social media experience: It is important, but not essential, that vendors listen 42.0% to their audience and engage in conversation more than 76% of respondents I am skeptical about vendor engagement reported that it is essential or in online communities 19.7% important for vendors to have a I would not want to be part of a community 3.5% that had vendor participation presence in online communities. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave IV These survey respondents also 2,798 Responses reported on which social media venues were the most appropriate Relevant Social Media Venues for Vendors for vendor participation. By an IT Audience overwhelming majority (90.5%), Professional networking IT professionals saw best practice communities(LinkedIn) 57.6% communities as the most relevant Social networking communities 16.9% forum for B2B marketers to (Facebook, MySpace) communicate with their customers, Topic-based/knowledge sharing communities (Toolbox for IT) 90.5% followed by professional networks (57.6%), social networking Twitter 17.0% communities like Twitter (17.0%), 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% and Facebook (16.9%). Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave IV 2,798 Responses Professionals turn to social media in information-seeking mode, such as when they have a question that cannot be answered with the resources available in the workplace. In these instances, vendor participation in Toolbox.com Knowledge Sharing Communities 7 © 2010 Toolbox.com
    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know social media becomes important and valuable; professionals will readily accept answers from vendors as well as from their peers. Trend #5: Professionals Place the Most Value on Transparency and Responsiveness from Companies Participating in Social Media Although B2B marketers are invited to participate in social media by their customers and prospects, they do not have carte blanche to carry out Social Media Requirements for Vendors that participation according IT Audience to their own preferences. IT Transparency and openness about their 4.2 professionals have very specific involvement in the community Interesting and relevant content that 4.0 requirements about what they is updated regularly Responsiveness to member questions, expect from marketers who tips, and troublshooting 4.2 choose to participate. Improvement of products/services based on feedback and input from community members 4.1 Free samples / give-aways 2.7 When asked to rank the qualities Exclusive member-only content and events 2.4 that were most important to them 0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 from vendors who participate Rank Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave IV 2,798 Responses in social media on a scale from 1 (least important) to 5 (most important), respondents cited the ability to provide transparency about their involvement (4.2) and responsiveness to questions (4.2) as their top priorities. These requirements were followed closely by the vendor’s ability to implement product improvements based on feedback (4.1) and regular updates of relevant content (4.0). Free give-aways and exclusive offers were less important (2.7 and 2.4 respectively). Professionals are using social media with specific objectives in mind – from researching purchasing decisions and staying current to advancing careers and finding answers to questions. Since vendors can provide the insights and advice that professionals seek through social media, they find themselves on an equal playing field within online communities. By being transparent about participation, providing experience-based answers to questions, background to support research, and news to help professionals stay current, vendors will play a key role in the social media space. Toolbox.com Knowledge Sharing Communities 8 © 2010 Toolbox.com
    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know Conclusion: 5 Tips for B2B Marketers Based on Current Trends in Social Media Usage • Professionals are using social media in the workplace to do their jobs better. Find them where they gather and listen to their conversations to learn how to communicate with them on their terms. This approach will lead to more targeted exposure of promotions, better quality leads, and better conversions. • Marketers can support many of the priorities that prompt professionals to use social media in the workplace. Providing these audiences with content or advice that supports their specific needs can help build better relationships with target audience members. • Marketers can further relationships with potential customers as they seek to advance their careers within niche best practice communities. Since increasing knowledge and expertise is paramount to these audiences, marketers should look for opportunities to support these activities by sharing IP assets like white papers and webcasts, or by offering advice and expertise in discussion forums. • B2B marketers have an open invitation from their customers to participate with them in social media settings, especially in best practice communities. Since professionals are researching and gathering information to support purchasing decisions or to solve problems in the workplace, they welcome information from marketers that provide relevant solutions. • Professionals have strong feelings about how marketers should communicate with them in communities. By honoring these preferences – including transparency, responsiveness, and regular updates and improvements – marketers can garner trust with these audiences. Toolbox.com Knowledge Sharing Communities 9 © 2010 Toolbox.com
    • Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know About the Authors Bill Conn, Brand Manager/Senior PR Specialist, Toolbox.com • Toolbox.com Profile: http://it.toolbox.com/people/bconn1 • Twitter: http://twitter.com/bconn George Krautzel, Co-Founder and President, Toolbox.com • Toolbox.com Profile: http://it.toolbox.com/people/george_krautzel • Twitter: http://twitter.com/GeorgeKrautzel About Toolbox.com Toolbox.com helps professionals do their jobs better by enabling them to easily share knowledge with experienced peers. The online communities at Toolbox.com include professional networking, blogs, discussion groups, wikis, and a vendor research directory through which executives and professionals collaborate to solve problems, make decisions, and increase workplace efficiency. Through the community, advertising partners can engage prospects and customers either directly or by integrating their message through a proprietary contextual matching engine. This combination of community and advertising value has made Toolbox.com a leading destination for professionals and a leader in online advertising. Toolbox.com is a division of Corporate Executive Board (NASDAQ: EXBD). For more information, visit www.Toolbox.com. Follow Toolbox.com on Twitter: http://twitter.com/toolboxdotcom Toolbox.com Knowledge Sharing Communities 10 © 2010 Toolbox.com