There seems to be a growing consensus that unless senior managers pick up their sales and marketing VPs by the lapels and tell them to aggressively pursue a social-marketing strategy that can tie back to goals and objectives, companies will continue to experiment in social media without any solid ROI.
Now we’ve got some evidence.
More than one-third of b-to-b marketers said there was low executive interest in social media in their company, compared with 9% of b-to-c marketers who said the same, according to a recent survey from digital marketing agency White Horse (per eMarketer).
Indeed, despite the ongoing surge in social networks – and prognostications by media observers that social media will eventually become “like air” – b-to-b managers, in particular, remain skeptical about the wisdom of using social media as a sales-and-marketing vehicle.
Overall, about one-quarter of corporate marketers told White Horse they needed to learn more about social media to justify investment in the space, but the issue was more pressing for b-to-b respondents, the survey said.
According to the survey, 46% of b-to-b respondents said social media was perceived as irrelevant to their company, while only 12% of consumer-oriented marketers had the same problem. And in a reflection that old habits die hard, b-to-b execs also reported a much greater preference for traditional marketing tactics.
A separate survey from eMarketer said that the biggest “advantage” b-to-b companies have in the social-media arena is that they tend to focus on outcomes that actually mean something to their bottom line. They are more apt to hone in on leads than softer metrics such as brand awareness.
Forrester Research forecasts that b-to-b social media marketing spending will grow from just $11 million last year to $54 million in 2014. That’s still tiny compared to the total $2.3 billion Forrester said b-to-b companies spent on interactive marketing last year and the $4.8 billion they are expected to spend in 2014.