Get Connected: Social Media Is the Future of B2B Branding

With almost no growth traditional in marketing, 80% of B2B marketers said they will increase digital spending in 2014.

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We’ve talked about how 2014 will be a big year for social media when it comes to SEO. But while this is important, there is an even bigger development underway for social media in 2014 that could impact the marketing game for good — especially for business-to-business (B2B) customers who want better ways to influence their buyers.

I found two pieces of evidence that social will be a big trend for B2B in 2014 — the first one is notable, but the second piece is a real ground-shaker.

First things first …

Digital Spending Could Grow by 13% This Year

AdAge, a global source of marketing intelligence and news, conducted a survey of B2B marketers and asked them about their planned marketing activities in 2014. One big question involved how many marketers planned to increase spending in certain areas (TV, radio, digital, etc.) in 2014 as opposed to 2013.

Not surprisingly, there was almost no growth in TV, radio, outdoor, direct mail or print. Telemarketing and event marketing reported modest growth, but the real winner — by far — was digital. A whopping 80% of B2B marketers said they will increase spending in digital in 2014.

Traditionally, digital has been one of the most mistrusted forms of marketing for B2B companies. B2B companies have been reluctant to tap into digital (SEO marketing, websites, and social media) for their marketing, but that hesitancy seems to be fading away, and 2014 could be the turning point. And 93% of marketers will either spend the same or spend more on social media in 2014.

So B2B companies plan on spending more digitally and socially. Big deal, right? Well, take a look at this …

Social Media Will Be the New Source for Buying Decisions

According to a study by IDG Connect, buyers and decision-makers in the IT industry will place more weight on social media than the major sources of research used today. Within two years, the percentage of IT buyers who think social media is the single most important source of information for their purchases will be, for the first time ever, larger than those who rely on editorial content and white papers.

In other words, people in the IT industry who are about to plop down major bucks on really expensive equipment and services will soon be getting their information about who to buy from and what to buy from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social media platforms instead of the sources they currently trust now.

B2B decision makers know how important white papers are. They know how important other marketing materials created by vendors can be. But social media is expected to become more important than either — and that is a big deal. Internet marketing is about to make a huge splash.

True, this study is just for one industry, but the IT industry is a trendsetter. Plus, if these companies will trust such large budgets to something like Facebook, well, you can bet other industries will follow suit quickly.

The Takeaway

The implications of the shift to social are quite important for B2B marketers looking for ways to get their messages across, make more sales, and grow their bottom lines.

• Your peers are spending more and being more active on social media than ever before. If you aren’t, then you’re being left behind.

• Social media, in 2014, will no longer be viewed as optional: It will be mandatory.

• The people you are trying to sell to and influence will be looking first to social media channels and other digital avenues. If you’re not there, they won’t find you. But take social media as an avenue to increase traffic to your website.

2014 will be a very exciting year for B2B marketing. Is your business ready to take advantage and stay with — or ahead of — the pack?

About Jerry

Jerry is not afraid of a good fight. Not with other people mind you, but with your competition. He loves to help our clients get web traffic and high search engine rankings for terms that are usually dominated by big box retailers and Fortune 500 companies. This doesn't happen overnight, but when it does, it will transform your business. He is one of the pioneers (he hates that term) of Web Marketing in Alabama and is scary good in his understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising, analytics, and online user behavior. You definitely want him in your corner. See more articles from Jerry Brown

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