Does B2B Need Social? The Growing Importance of Social Media Analytics to B2B

May 2, 2012
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It seems like most discussions surrounding social media are related to how consumers are impacting retailers and influencing media delivery. There are plenty of examples of the social customer leveraging social media to affect change to a logo (Gap), respond negatively to a campaign (Kenneth Cole) or inspire social activism (Kony 2012).

It seems like most discussions surrounding social media are related to how consumers are impacting retailers and influencing media delivery. There are plenty of examples of the social customer leveraging social media to affect change to a logo (Gap), respond negatively to a campaign (Kenneth Cole) or inspire social activism (Kony 2012).

But what about B2B? Can a B2B derive anything useful from social media analytics? Or is social media listening better suited for companies that sell to individual consumers? There’s definitely a greater level of activity around B2C but we are seeing an emerging trend reflected in both the requests from some of our new clients and new projects from our existing customers.  Our experience here at CI, along with the proliferation of articles about B2B and social, suggests that social is only becoming more important to this sector.

How is Social Media Analytics Different for B2B?

One of the more significant features of the work we do with B2B clients is their emphasis on analyzing their internal data or specific consumer discussions related to purchasing intent.

For example, one of our clients wanted to analyze social media conversations for internships and recruitment purposes. Their strategy was two-fold. They wanted to narrow their analysis to a specific demographic: recent graduates; and then find out what this specific demographic thought of the posted internship programs. They used the resulting insights for not only hiring purpose but to fine-tune their internship program.

Another example and one that further illustrates the predictive nature of social media analytics  involved a client that wanted to

  • categorize and analyze consumers expressing affinity or loyalty and who also had an existing transactional relationship with the company.
  • consumers expressing and intention to purchase

Both audience segments represent consumers at different stages in the life cycle and therefore require  messaging more specific to their current status.  In this case, the client used the resulting intelligence to strengthen their content strategy for different audiences.

Social Media Analytics for B2B or B2C? Not So Different After All

Where a company begins to emphasize social media analytics in their business, whether in the B2B or B2C space,  their goals and requirement are not so different. Both approaches should place importance on tying social media listening to a business priority and ensure that there is feedback mechanism not only for marketing but other areas of the business. The application of social media analytics isn’t solely a marketing function within a B2C organization but one that can benefit unexpected areas of the business.

I remember when I first got involved with social media analytics and I came across Lora Cecere’s blog post called the Rise of Social Commerce about social media and the supply chain. I was surprised at how pervasive the impact of social media had become and although supply chain changes are not as exciting as selling the next cool widget, social media’s impact on supply chain may have farther reaching ramifications on the economy as a whole.  I recommend you read her post because many of the associated results from social media adoption: the transfer of power to the shopper, need for transparency, and the rising use of mobile are also being played out in how products are delivered, manufactured and sold and the supply chain is absorbing many of those changes.

Yes, uncovering B2B social media analytics use cases are harder to find but often changes that are occurring in this section of the economy will have a far greater impact on how we do business than you might expect.