Social Significance: Why B2B Brands Value Social CX & Are Spending More

B2B marketers strategizing around a table image.

B2B marketers strategizing around a table image.

Why are B2B brands placing greater value on social media, and why are they willing to spend more than ever before on social customer experience (CX)?

New digital marketing research reveals why B2B brands are finding a renewed passion for the expanding benefits of social media, and why they are becoming more willing than ever to spend more for the competitive advantages that social CX offers.

Let’s take a look at some of the latest report and survey data, and see how B2B brands are changing their social media strategies and outlook.

1 — Social Helps B2B Brands Meet Customer Expectations

A new report from Sprout Social reveals how customer expectations have evolved for the brands that they follow on social media.

Examining insight from over 1,000 U.S. consumers and the same number of U.S. marketers, along with 782 million public social messages, the recently-released “Sprout Social Index, Edition XVII: Accelerate” report showed that 90 percent of consumers will purchase from brands they follow on social media.

“For marketers, this is an opportunity to demonstrate how social positively influences all parts of the business and why a brand’s competitive advantage lives on social,” the report suggested.

55 percent of marketers said they used social data for understanding their target audience, while 48 percent used it to develop creative content, and 39 percent for supporting other departments, the report showed.

Only 26 percent of marketers said they used social data to foster connections with customers, however, and just 10 percent said they used the data to inform business decisions.

Sprout Social Chart

88 percent of marketers agree their social strategy positively influences their bottom line,” the research concludes.

The value of social data has generally increased over time, and the new Sprout Social study bears this out, revealing that 47 percent of marketers consider social a resource that influences strategy for multiple organizational teams, while 46 still see it as strictly a marketing resource, with eight percent viewing it as an organization-wide resource for business intelligence.

Something as seemingly simple as responding quickly to customer questions can be very important in brand purchase decisions. 47 percent of consumers said that responding to customer service questions in a timely manner was the top way brands could get them to buy and forgo competitors.

Nearly as important among consumers were brands that demonstrate an understanding of what consumers want and need.

“Nine out of 10 consumers will buy from brands they follow on social, while 86% will choose that brand over a competitor,” the Sprout Social report data showed.

Given the importance customers place on speedy response times from brands, it’s easy to see how the new Sprout Social data indicated that “78 percent of consumers agree that social media is the fastest and most direct way to connect with a brand — and consumers want their voices heard.”

When it comes to sharing feedback about a product or service, after social media, consumers turn to e-mail and a brand’s website (18 percent for each), followed closely by review websites, and just 11 percent prefer calling a brand’s customer service phone number, according to the report data.

Even for reaching brands about customer service issues or questions, most consumers (33 percent) prefer social media, followed by customer service (24 percent), e-mail (23 percent), and just nine percent prefer using a company’s website for such questions.

Sprout Social Chart 2

44 percent  of consumers will unfollow a brand on social because of poor service, putting  a damper on brands’ growth goals,” the report warned.

The Sprout Social study surfaces a fascinating distinction between what consumers and marketers believe makes for best-in-class social media performance.

The most important factor among consumers — at 47 percent — was brands that offer strong customer service, while that was only the sixth most important factor to marketers, at 35 percent.

2 — Social Will Drive Post-Pandemic B2B Customer Engagement

According to Ascend2 and Wpromote’s newly-released 2021 State of B2B Digital Marketing report, the number one digital marketing trend B2B brands are prioritizing is the utilization of new social platforms.

42 percent said new social platforms represented their top trend priority, followed by 34 percent who said virtual events, and 30 percent who noted that influencer marketing was a priority trend.

Ascend2 / Wpromote Chart 1

“Brands embraced new social platforms, virtual events, and influencer marketing strategies that can open the door to new opportunities to drive brand awareness and grow new audiences,” the report suggested.

A robust 68 percent of B2B marketers said they expected their digital marketing budgets to increase during the forthcoming year, with 26 percent seeing a significant budget increase ahead, according to the report data.

When it comes to driving revenue, 57 percent of B2B marketers saw social media as the most effective digital marketing channel, followed by content marketing and email, each at 47 percent.

Reinforcing the notion supported by the other research we’ve examined, the Ascend2 and Wpromote data showed that social media was the area of digital customer experience that had the most impact on overall strategic success, according to 57 percent of respondents — ahead of website optimization’s 47 percent and paid advertising’s 42 percent.

“Whatever social platforms you use as a B2B marketer, if you prioritize the time and resources to add new social platforms to your mix, you increase the opportunity to build new audiences and further engage with your existing audience,” Todd Lebo, CEO at Ascend2 told me. “Newer platforms that B2B should consider are TikTok, Clubhouse, and Twitter Spaces,” Lebo added.

We’ve taken a look at how B2B marketers can utilize Twitter Spaces in “On-Target: What’s New With Twitter For B2B Marketers In 2021,” Clubhouse in “How B2B Brands Can Boost Confidence in Livestream Video, Podcast and Clubhouse Marketing,” and other new social platforms in “How B2B Marketing Influencers Are Finding Success On New Social Channels.”

The most successful B2B marketers have also tended to inform their CX strategy by including other departments — a structure that less successful marketers don’t tend to utilize.

Ascend2 / Wpromote Chart 2

Bringing many of these trends and tactics together, account-based marketing (ABM) — or even account based experiences (ABX), as our CEO Lee Odden recently explored in “Is ABX the Next Evolution of B2B Marketing?” — is increasingly used by the most successful B2B marketers.

43 percent of the most successful B2B marketers already have a working ABM strategy in place, and 30 percent are actively implementing one, the Ascend2 and Wpromote data showed.

[bctt tweet=”“To do ABM well, you need to bend the sales odds in your favor. The best way to bend the odds is to utilize customer data you collect over time and deliver a seamless customer experience (CX).” — Ruth Stevens @RuthPSteven” username=”toprank”]

3 — Social Drives B2B Customer Experience Personalization

B2B brands are increasing finding success in delivering more personalized CX through social channels.

The digital experiences customers crave can be crucial for building brand affinity, as some 80 percent of respondents in a survey conducted by Salesforce said that these experiences are every bit as important as a firm’s actual products or services.

Brand storytelling helps build more memorable digital experiences, as Microsoft’s Miri Rodriguez has explored, which I outlined earlier this year in “Microsoft’s Miri Rodriguez on How B2B Marketers Are Embracing Empathy For Better Customer Storytelling.”

[bctt tweet=”“Storytelling isn’t the mere telling of story, it’s the intentional design of story structure, attributes and elements that conjure emotion, drive inclusion and lead with empathy.” — Miri Rodriguez @MiriRod” username=”toprank”]

Some 68 percent of businesses in the Salesforce survey said that they expected brands to demonstrate empathy, but only 37 percent said that they were experiencing it — a sentiment Rodriguez shared when she noted that, “Brands want to transact with people who are showing high levels of empathy.”

Ryan Higginson, vice president and UK/ROI Country Leader at Pitney Bowes, sees a future that includes better customer experiences that go beyond the mere algorithmic.

“B2B decision makers want humanized, personalized, helpful and relevant experiences to reduce complexity and save them time,”Higginson recently noted. “They want businesses to anticipate their requirements beyond the ‘You liked that, now try this’ algorithm. The more B2B organizations get to know their clients at a personal level, the better the relationship becomes and the greater the customer experience,” he added.

A McKinsey study revealed that 97 percent of B2B buyers said that they would use an end-to-end self-serve digital model to make a purchase, with most being comfortable doing so while spending $50K or more.

The pandemic has brought about a shift among B2B buyers, who have grown more comfortable with digital self-service and omni-channel interactions.

McKinsey & Company

LinkedIn’s* State of Sales Report 2021 noted that trust in a brand’s product or service was consistently a top factor in influencing purchases among buyers, and the 2020 version of the report showed that some 75 percent of B2B buyers were particularly influenced by social media, with 84 percent of senior executives utilizing social media to support buying decisions.

We dug into the shift to executive influence in B2B marketing in “Brandfluence – Why Growing Executive Influence is Essential for B2B Marketing,” and also shared 20 tips for driving executive credibility efforts in “20 Ways to Build B2B Executive Credibility and Thought Leadership.”

[bctt tweet=”Social engagement with prospects along with publishing credible thought leadership content warms prospects for conversations that lead to conversion.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Reach New B2B Marketing Heights With A Social & CX Mix

via GIPHY

There’s no need to make a leap of faith when you have data-backed research informing your digital marketing strategy.

By using social media to drive customer experience personalization and to help B2B brands meet rising customer expectations, B2B marketers will achieve greater levels of post-pandemic B2B customer engagement.

We hope that our look at recent report and survey data will help inform your own B2B marketing efforts as we move ahead towards 2022.

Crafting award-winning B2B marketing with a creative mixture of social media, influence, and memorable digital customer experiences takes considerable time and effort, which is why many firms choose to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us today and let us know how we can help, as we’ve done for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.

* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Social Significance: Why B2B Brands Value Social CX & Are Spending More appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Best Of Social Media Marketing: Fuel Your 2021 With Our Top 10 SMM Posts

Business professionals around table from above image.

Business professionals around table from above image.

In 2020 B2B marketers continued to find new and creative uses of social media marketing during a pandemic year unlike any other, and we’ve been fortunate to feature many excellent articles on our blog over the year that explore how marketers are pushing social media marketing to fuel new levels of success.

We’re lucky to have a wealth of talented B2B marketing professionals contributing to the TopRank Marketing blog — which will celebrate its 18th year in 2021 — including our CEO Lee Odden, Joshua Nite, Elizabeth Williams, Anne Leuman, Nick Nelson, Debbie Friez, Birdie Zepeda, the author of this post, and Alexis Hall, among others.

The insight and expertise our team has acquired helping some of the top brands in the world including 3M, Adobe, SAP, LinkedIn, and Oracle plan, implement and measure a variety of marketing programs has often made it here to our blog. To help our blog community grow their social media marketing knowledge, we’re delighted to offer our annual list of the most popular social media marketing posts of 2020.

The social media marketing posts that proved to be our most popular of 2020 based on web analytics and social media data are listed below. We hope that they will help you ask the right questions and provide best-answer solutions to some of the most important challenges we’ll all be facing anew in 2021.

We give many thanks to all of our blog authors for their work in advocating social media marketing best practices, and especially to our dedicated readers for continuing to make the TopRank Marketing blog a go-to B2B marketing resource.

Our Most Popular Social Media Marketing Posts in 2020:

1. Social Media Polls For Marketers: 6 B2B Brands Winning With LinkedIn Polls Lane R. Ellis

Smiling business-woman at computer image.

Data from social media polls shows what customers are thinking about when it comes to a variety of important subjects, and in the most popular social media marketing post of 2020 on our blog, I took a look at how B2B brands Microsoft, Olive Communications UK, Redis Labs, LinkedIn News, Dell, and RateLinx are winning with LinkedIn polls.

Polls offer a unique two-for-one value for B2B marketers, providing quality feedback on what customers want while also offering brands a powerful interactive social media marketing element.

This post examines the year’s changes in online polls, and gives examines of how B2B marketers and brands are using social media polls in innovative ways, including six B2B brands winning with LinkedIn polls.

You can check out all of my posts here, and follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet=”“Poll data shows what marketers are thinking about when it comes to a variety of important subjects, ranging from everyday tasks to far-reaching future trends.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

2. Get Ready For Video In 2021: Watch 5 Creative Examples of B2B Marketing on YouTube — Lane R. Ellis

Smiling man against a creative colorful background image.

In our second most popular social media marketing post of the year, I share the latest from YouTube, and how B2B marketers are using the video platform to power creative and engaging campaigns.

Taking a look at YouTube Shorts and other features adding in 2020, we also share five creative examples of successful B2B marketing on the platform from:

  • HP
  • Adobe*
  • Constant Contact
  • Deloitte
  • Ernst & Young

[bctt tweet=”“YouTube’s orbit casts a wide swath in the B2B marketing universe, and 64 percent of B2B buyers have increased their use of online video during the pandemic.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

3. 32 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers To Follow — Lane R. Ellis

32 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers To Follow

With a powerful group of 32 top social media marketing professionals to follow and learn from, our third most popular social media marketing article highlights how the SMM industry is bursting with innovative B2B marketing professionals — people who push the boundaries of existing social platforms, embrace new ones, and ditch low-performers.

We’ve put together a list of 32 top social media marketers that includes a number of fantastic folks who may not already be on your Twitter “following” list, in addition to some industry stalwarts who those new to social media marketing would be wise to follow and learn from.

We’ve also added a quote, tip, or short lesson from each of these 32 subject matter experts, to help inspire your own social media marketing efforts.

[bctt tweet=”“With unprecedented targeting via the social media platforms, it is essential brands and media companies not take a one size fits all approach with their social video strategy.” — Caitlin Angeloff @caitlinangeloff” username=”toprank”]

4. 5 Things to Know About Building Trust in the Age of Social Media — Nick Nelson

Man Looking at Tablet Amid Storm

In the fourth most popular social media marketing post of 2020, our content marketing manager Nick Nelson shares five items to help build trust in the age of social media.

Nick also explores the roles that trust and transparency play in developing an effective B2B social media strategy during this unprecedented time, along with examining how brands can best reach the crucial objective of trust-building using social media today.

You can check out all of Nick’s posts here, and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet=”“The worst stand any brand can take is standing still.” @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing #PurposeDriven #B2B” username=”toprank”]

5. Active Social Media Listening: Tips for a New Era of COVID-19 — Debbie Friez

Active social media listening

Now is the time to listen beyond your basic brand searches, and in our fifth most popular social media marketing post of the year, our influencer marketing strategist Debbie Friez helps you dive into the many insights B2B marketers can gain from social media listening, along with tips for better social marketing during times of crisis.

Debbie shares insight from Meltwater’s Lance Concannon, Brandwatch’s Joshua Boyd, Sprout Social’s Kristin Johnson, Sprinklr’s Ragy Thomas, and other subject matter experts.

Social media listening requires marketers to move beyond monitoring to analyzing the full situation, which can often be a moving target, and Debbie takes a close look in this insightful piece.

You can check out all of Debbie’s posts here, and follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet=”“Social listening tools move beyond the top level of monitoring and help hone your strategy with deeper insights into the sentiment, regional differences, and understanding of the conversation.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez” username=”toprank”]

6. 10 Fresh Social Media Marketing Tools To Boost Brand Storytelling — Lane R. Ellis

Man’s hands working with tools.

Have you tried all 10 of these fresh social media marketing tools? In our sixth most popular post of the year, I show how to refine and expand your brand storytelling with 10 of the year’s latest social media tools.

Sifting through tens of thousands of available tools can be a hit and miss proposition, but these 10 fresh marketing tools let you skip most of the research queue and get right into useful tools for helping you tell marketing stories in new ways through social media.

Learn from our collection of 10 fresh tools to boost your social media marketing experiences, including image and video manipulation tools, headline analysis utilities, social media monitoring apps, and more.

[bctt tweet=”“Sifting through thousands of available tools can be a hit and miss proposition, making reviews and vetted lists of truly useful utilities more useful than ever for helping you tell marketing stories in new ways.” @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

7. 8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021 — Lane R. Ellis

Professional business-woman smiling image.

In our seventh most popular social media marketing post of the year, I take a look at whether B2B marketers should be using Reddit, and share eight things B2B marketers need to know, including how businesses are using it, the latest news from the social media platform, and why more firms than ever will be using it in 2021 and beyond.

We also take a look at just how effective Reddit is for advertising and organic marketing communication, and dig in to some of the top tips and advice for B2B marketers new to Reddit or those looking to expand their presence on the social media platform.

While Reddit may no longer be the wild west for B2B marketers, incorporating it into your strategy doesn’t have to be a shootout at high noon if you take to heart the information explored in this article.

[bctt tweet=”“Reddit has also been a popular platform for hosting ask-me-anything (AMA) events, which can be a good way for B2B firms to begin utilizing the service if the interviewee is especially relevant to a particular topic.” @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

8. Our 10 Top Social Media Marketing Posts of 2019 — Lane R. Ellis

Top Social Media Marketing Posts of 2019 Image

In our eighth most popular social media marketing article of the year, I examine some of the writing that resonated with B2B marketers over the year, offering a variety of approaches to social media marketing success.

From top-notch B2B marketers to follow lists, under-the-radar LinkedIn* features, social media statistics to the subtleties of Twitter lists and B2B social video, these practical and helpful posts offer a glimpse at many aspects of successful social strategy.

[bctt tweet=”“It’s clear that B2B social media marketing is strong and growing stronger, and it’s also apparent that direction and guidance in where to focus your B2B social efforts is needed now more than ever.” @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

9. 5 Ways to Make Brand Social Media Profiles More Compelling — Joshua Nite

Optimize Brand Social Media Profiles

In our ninth most-popular B2B social media marketing post of the year, our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite shares five ways to make brand social media profiles more compelling.

“Brands have never had such rich opportunities to interact with customers and potential customers. They’ve never been able to so easily display what the brand is about, what it stands for, and how it can bring value to people,” Josh noted in this insightful and popular piece, in which he shows how savvy B2B marketers can:

  • Ditch the Corporate-Speak
  • Eliminate Problematic Language
  • Say Why You’re Here
  • Focus on What You Do for Your Audience
  • Include a Call to Action

You can check out all of Josh’s posts here, and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet=”“There’s still a real possibility to engage with your audience on social, start conversations, and build relationships. And it all starts with making sure your profile invites people in and gives them a next step to take.” @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

10. 5 Case Studies on How to Optimize B2B Influencer Engagement on LinkedIn — Lee Odden

LinkedIn Influencer Engagement

How are B2B brands successfully working with influencers to achieve marketing goals using professional social media platform LinkedIn? In the tenth most popular social media marketing article of the year, our CEO Lee Odden shares five helpful case studies showing how to successfully engage B2B influencers on LinkedIn.

“While there are robust opportunities to connect with potential customers on LinkedIn, the platform is busier than ever, making it hard to stand out,” Lee noted. “There are also challenges in terms of reduced organic visibility and the trend towards distrust of sales outreach and what brands publish directly. With so much information, many buyers are suffering what I call Content Attention Deficit,” Lee explained — a deficit he explores in detail in this insight-filled article.

You can check out all of Lee’s 2,600+ posts here, and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet=”“Before you get started with B2B influencer engagement on LinkedIn, it’s essential that you have a documented influencer marketing strategy.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Thanks TopRank Marketing Writers & Readers

There you have it — an especially strong array of our 10 most popular social media marketing posts from the particularly unusual year of 2020.

Additionally, we publish several social media influencer lists every year, and we wanted to share them here as a helpful way to find and follow some of the leading digital marketing influencers:

Another helpful resource for B2B marketers to learn about crafting a successful B2B influencer marketing program is our recently-launched Inside Influence series, featuring interviews with top industry experts such as the latest episode with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Sprinklr.

We published dozens of posts this year specifically about social media marketing, a tradition we’ll continue in 2021, so stay tuned.

Please let us know which social media marketing topics and ideas you’d like to see us focus on for 2021 — we’d love to hear your suggestions.

Many thanks to each of you who read our blog regularly, and to all of you who comment on and share our posts on the TopRank Marketing social media channels at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

*Dell, RateLinx, Adobe, and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post Best Of Social Media Marketing: Fuel Your 2021 With Our Top 10 SMM Posts appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.