B2B marketers need more encouragement to embrace social media

With the explosion of social media in our lives it makes sense for brands to have a big presence on these sites. Yet according to a recent white paper by PR agency WPR, business-to-business brands are rather reluctant to invest in social media activity compared to those marketing to consumers. (Shameless plug: there are still a couple of tickets left for PRmoment's Social in B2B conference on Dec 3rd, where you can hear lots of in house case studies about the use of social in B2B markets.)

The research found that:

Social media accounts for less than 10 per cent of marketing activity with 61 per cent of B2B marketers.

32 per cent of B2B marketers have no social media measurement criteria.

Only 25 per cent of B2B marketing teams have a dedicated in-house social media resource.

46 per cent of companies categorise their social media stance as “cautious, still considering”.

36 per cent of B2B marketers would never try any paid-for form of marketing activity on social media.

However there is some positive news: 91 per cent of respondents say their use of social media will increase in the next five years; yet only 30 per cent of B2B marketers will be allocating more budget to social media in the next year.

Which Social Media do you use personally?

In some ways, B2B marketers are keen adopters of social media, as on a personal level 56 per cent have a Twitter feed, 71 per cent a Facebook page and 77 per cent a LinkedIn profile.

What proportion of your marketing activity is now Social Media related?


One of the most surprising statistics from the research is that social media is usually less than 10 per cent of the total marketing activity. Tom Leatherbarrow, head of business to business at WPR Agency, said there are some positive trends, however: “It is clear that B2B marketers are watching the development of social media closely and are preparing to increase its footprint in their marketing plans. We asked the question: How do you anticipate that your use of social media will change over the next five years? 91 per cent of respondents replied that they expected their use of social media to increase with none expecting their use to decrease.”

How do you monitor your Social Media channels?

Measurement is key for showing the worth of social media marketing, yet many marketers are failing to measure how their work succeeds in the social arena (32 per cent have no social media measurement criteria). Nearly half (48 per cent) measure social media success by visits to the website. Most (64 per cent) measure through conversations and click-through rates. Leatherbarrow concludes from this that marketers are struggling to measure social media.

The monitoring of social media and its policing is another headache for B2B marketers. Leatherbarrow says: “This is a major issue for B2B marketers and a potential barrier to entry for many. 39 per cent of our B2B marketers resounded that social media was monitored manually while 16 per cent paid for online software and 23 per cent tracked click-through rates to the corporate website. Interestingly, 36 per cent of B2B marketers responded that there is no regular monitoring of social media channels.”

Discussing the findings of the report, Leatherbarrow concludes that B2B are facing barriers to taking part in social media, and it is vital that PR agencies encourage, rather than discourage, them from becoming more active socially. He says: The danger for B2B marketers is that these barriers will continue to prevent them taking the opportunity to transfer content from more traditional media channels to new social media channels. In simple terms, a press release can easily become a tweet and a comment for the trade media is easily made into a blog, all of which can help drive people towards the corporate website.”

“Agencies have a role to play in breaking down these barriers, but we must be careful not to turn social media into a black art.”


A combination of online and qualitative research was carried out in the form of extended telephone interviews with 50 B2B marketers. A total of 20 questions were asked in the online survey over a two-week period.

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