Forrester recently came out with an Interactive Marketing report that gave a breakdown of the planned spending for B2B marketers. As the study indicates, social media spending is predicted to increase by 490%! Overall, internet marketing will raise from $2.3 billion in 2009, to $4.8 billion in 2014, with social media raising from roughly $11 million to $54 million, respectively.
Outwardly, this should come as no surprise. Social media is a phenomenon that seemingly cannot be stopped; rather than slow down on the number of users, buzz, and news surrounding the internet craze, social media’s popularity continues to rise. In February 2010, Facebook reached 400 million users. But the aforementioned statistics are based mostly upon personal use. After all, it is called social media for a reason; it’s people talking to people. Therefore, at first glance, you would expect to find these kinds of statistics more closely aligned to B2C marketers.
So how does this relate to B2B marketers? At LMGPR, we believe heavily in social media as an excellent way to further a business’ PR strategy; and PR and marketing are interrelated. And with the numbers I’ve listed above, this would seem to be an easy way to get attention. After all, reporters, CEOs, and customers are all people, and more than likely they are a part of the social media movement in some way. And yet, I am still asked, mainly by B2B clients: “Do we really need to have social media? How is social media relevant to us?”
I believe that Facebook is a classic example of how social media has made the leap from merely a personal/social tool, to a B2C tool, and finally, a B2B tool. When Facebook first started, it was only available to Ivy League schools. Next, it reached out to universities, then to state schools, and finally all colleges. And following its education trend, it next allowed high school networks. Soon after, businesses entered the realm. And finally, it opened up to everyone on the planet. Soon after, there came an emergence of “business accounts.” As soon as Facebook noticed this phenomenon, fan pages were created, to allow for a more business-aligned Facebook property. And in the instance of fan pages, there exists a perfect opportunity for both B2B and B2C marketing.
Once you are a fan of a page, news feeds evolve from personal status updates to advertisements and announcements. The “about you” section becomes a company profile and marketing collateral. And pictures and videos turn into commercials. Similarly, events become promotions, and so on. This transformation does not only exist within Facebook, but it is a good case study. MySpace followed a similar route, as did the other forms of social media – and the trend will still continue as new forms of social media are created – as PR and marketing professionals have seen the opportunity for client recognition.