Monday, January 28, 2008

Are B2B Marketers Getting More Social?

A few days ago I complained about the difficulty of finding data about B2B use of podcasting. Maybe it was just because I was paying more attention (isn’t that a known psychological mechanism?), but I soon ran across some data suggesting that B2B marketers are making use of social media.

Studies by the ANA/BtoB Magazine and Direct Impact Marketing/Buzz Marketing for Technology agree that blogs and RSS are among the most used of the Web 2.0 tools. Add to that Web 1.0—websites, email, SEM and webinars. It suggests a rich menu of tools on which B2B marketers can spend the increasing proportion of their budgets that are going online (both eMarketer charts, newsletter, Jan 14, 2008).

According to Marketing Charts:

B2B marketers have adopted blogs and RSS more than other Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, according to the report; moreover, smaller marketers - the Davids among the Goliaths - are at the forefront: [emphasis mine] Some three-quarters of surveyed marketers that have deployed Web 2.0 tools are in companies of 10,000 or fewer people.

In the B2B arena where marketers usually know who their customers are and how to contact them, most companies still have a long way to go in establishing meaningful online dialog with their customers. There’s little doubt that B2B marketers are afflicted by the same concerns about new media as their B2C counterparts—lack of understanding of new media and desire to maintain control over their message in particular. The same arguments apply—marketers need to engage with their customers in as personal and relevant way as possible, and they must understand what is being said about their brands on all platforms.

The trend is in the right direction, but marketers in large corporations seem to be behind the curve. They need to reexamine the policies that inhibit employees from freely engaging with customers and provide incentives for meaningful use of new media to encourage relevant dialog. They’ll not only have happier customers, they’ll be making better use of those marketing budgets.
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