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 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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  • 1.Top 5 Trends in B2BSocial Media Usage:What Every MarketerShould KnowWhite Paper 2010 Toolbox.com

2. 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 generateEnable members to distribute knowledge or best practice information to their connections information through openinformation and knowledge totheir connections or the and the broader community. interaction with their connectionsand the community communityBest 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, todays 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 beToolbox.comKnowledge Sharing Communities2 2010 Toolbox.com 3. 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 GrowSocial 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 usageJune 2007 (W1) to January 2010(W1) to January 2010 (W5)June 2007 (W5) has also consistently outpaced5.0 4.724.59 consumption of online editorial 4.5content and online vendor 4.03.483.743.54 3.35 content throughout the survey 3.26 3.35 3.5 Hours per week3.063.05 2.882.88 2.85 2.79 series. This trend does not 3.02.712.5 indicate the declining importance 2.0 of these content types, as both 1.5W1 W2 W3 W4 W5W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W1 W2 W3 W4 W5serve important roles in helping1.0professionals identify current0.5trends and conduct research. What 0.0 Social media/ user-generated content Online editorial media Online vendor contentit 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, Waveplace 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.comKnowledge Sharing Communities3 2010 Toolbox.com 4. 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 RatesFinance AudienceHR Audience Social media/user-generated contentSocial 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 1.02.03.04.00.0 1.0 2.03.0 4.0Average Hours Average HoursSource: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave VSource: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave V 351 Responses 925 ResponsesTrend #2: The Value of Social Media to Professionals Has Expanded Beyond NetworkingIT professionals use social mediaSocial 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 other70.9% Staying current professionals (68.6%) Searching for jobs32.7% Advancing their career (58.1%) Advancing your career58.1% Sharing content with peers(building skills and expertise)Managing your reputation (demonstrating24.5% (54.7%)expertise/building personal brand) Other (please specify)6.2% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% While many of these sameSource: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave V functions can be performed offline3,088 Responsesor 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.comKnowledge Sharing Communities 4 2010 Toolbox.com 5. 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 UseFinance AudienceSharing content with peers 46.2%Networking with other professionals62.4% Staying current 72.6%Searching for jobs29.6% Advancing your career(building skills and expertise)55.0% Managing your reputation (demonstrating21.9%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 V351 ResponsesSocial Media for Professional UseHR Audience Sharing content with peers57.2%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 (demonstrating24.6%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 V925 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 AdvancementThe 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 specificToolbox.comKnowledge Sharing Communities5 2010 Toolbox.com 6. 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, whichTypes of Social Media for Career Advancement includes searching for new job IT Audience opportunities, filling knowledgeBest practice communities (Toolbox.com, StackOverflow)59.7%gaps by networking with peers,Vendor-run communities (Oracle Technology34.7% and training, IT professionalsNetwork, 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 professionalSharing networks (SlideShare, Digg)10.3%networks like Linkedin and20.3% 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 outpaceOther (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 medias Created new job opportunities for me 21.6%most significant impact on careerIncreased my responsibilities21.4%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 expertise56.7% followed closely by providingin my current positionIncreased confidence with a support38.4% a support structure to increase structure through professional networkingBenchmarked my skills against peers 25.9% confidence in decision making Participation in social media has27.2% (38.4%). not impacted my careerOther (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 Responsesand 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.comKnowledge Sharing Communities 6 2010 Toolbox.com 7. 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 medias 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 MediaIn 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 considerVendors 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 listen42.0% to their audience and engage in conversation more than 76% of respondents I am skeptical about vendor engagement reported that it is essential orin online communities 19.7% important for vendors to have aI would not want to be part of a community3.5%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 Responsesreported on which social media venues were the most appropriate Relevant Social Media Venues for Vendors for vendor participation. By anIT Audience overwhelming majority (90.5%), Professional networking IT professionals saw best practice communities(LinkedIn) 57.6% communities as the most relevantSocial networking communities 16.9% forum for B2B marketers to(Facebook, MySpace) communicate with their customers,Topic-based/knowledge sharingcommunities (Toolbox for IT)90.5%followed by professional networks (57.6%), social networkingTwitter 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 ResponsesProfessionals 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 inToolbox.comKnowledge Sharing Communities 7 2010 Toolbox.com 8. 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 MediaAlthough B2B marketers are invited to participate in social media by their customers and prospects, they do not have carte blanche to carry outSocial Media Requirements for Vendors that participation accordingIT Audience to their own preferences. ITTransparency and openness about their 4.2 professionals have very specific involvement in the communityInteresting and relevant content that4.0 requirements about what they is updated regularlyResponsiveness to member questions, expect from marketers whotips, and troublshooting4.2 choose to participate. Improvement of products/services based on feedback and input from community members 4.1 Free samples / give-aways2.7When asked to rank the qualitiesExclusive member-only content and events2.4that were most important to them 0.01.0 2.0 3.0 4.05.0from vendors who participateRank 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 vendors 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.comKnowledge Sharing Communities 8 2010 Toolbox.com 9. 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 themwhere they gather and listen to their conversations to learn how to communicate withthem 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 socialmedia in the workplace. Providing these audiences with content or advice that supportstheir specific needs can help build better relationships with target audience members. Marketers can further relationships with potential customers as they seek to advancetheir careers within niche best practice communities. Since increasing knowledge andexpertise is paramount to these audiences, marketers should look for opportunitiesto support these activities by sharing IP assets like white papers and webcasts, or byoffering advice and expertise in discussion forums. B2B marketers have an open invitation from their customers to participate with themin social media settings, especially in best practice communities. Since professionalsare researching and gathering information to support purchasing decisions or to solveproblems in the workplace, they welcome information from marketers that providerelevant solutions. Professionals have strong feelings about how marketers should communicate withthem in communities. By honoring these preferences including transparency,responsiveness, and regular updates and improvements marketers can garner trustwith these audiences.Toolbox.comKnowledge Sharing Communities9 2010 Toolbox.com 10. Top 5 Trends in B2B Social Media Usage: What Every Marketer Should Know About the AuthorsBill Conn, Brand Manager/Senior PR Specialist, Toolbox.com Toolbox.com Profile: http://it.toolbox.com/people/bconn1 Twitter: http://twitter.com/bconnGeorge Krautzel, Co-Founder and President, Toolbox.com Toolbox.com Profile: http://it.toolbox.com/people/george_krautzel Twitter: http://twitter.com/GeorgeKrautzelAbout 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/toolboxdotcomToolbox.comKnowledge Sharing Communities10 2010 Toolbox.com