Eloqua recently published the above infographic to highlight certain key elements of a study they conducted with B2B companies in regards to social media. We gloss through our share of data and infographics here at Tickr, but this one caught our eye for several reasons. The first is that it focuses on B2B, and that is always a plus in our book. Most of the studies being done on social business focus on B2C organizations, and folks who work in B2B tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to running into solid case studies and informative data about social business in B2B. So before we go any further, let’s give Eloqua a hand for doing this. (And doing it well.)

Second, the study doesn’t stick to just asking the usual questions. It manages to dig a little further than most and get to actionable insights. That’s what we like to see. (data is nice, but if you can’t really use it to do something better, faster, cheaper or smarter, what’s the point?) The first thing that caught our eye wasn’t that 34% of B2B companies STILL don’t use social media or that 83% of social media use is aimed at “increasing awareness.” (We’ll come back to that.) No, what first caught our attention was this: 26% of respondents said PR/communications owned social and 11% said the web team owned it. Remove that 37% of PR/Communications/Web, and you’re left with 63% of something else. Though the report states that only 23% of companies surveyed stated that social is being shared by departments, our hunch is that the number is far higher than that. This is good news.

Even if that 23% number is accurate, it means that the trend towards operationalizing social media usage across the organization is moving in the right direction. The days of social business really meaning “social marketing” are coming to an end. Organizations are learning and adapting to the reality of social business: Since it can be used for lead generation, business development, market research, PR, Marketing, user community management, etc., the management of the company’s social accounts has to be shared across departments. This is indicative of a natural evolution in the B2B social business space. Organizations are learning and adapting to these new channels and technologies. That is a very good sign.

The second thing that caught our eye was the fact that only 35% of organizations are currently using social media for lead/demand generation. 12% responded that they don’t know. That leaves 53% of companies not using social media for lead generation. Given the connective nature of social channels (and for B2B, we want to stress the importance of channels like LinkedIn), we found that surprising. Eloqua looked a little closer at this issue and found that 43% of B2B companies do not currently have a social media-friendly demand generation strategy in place.

43%.

33% of these same companies seemed to be unsure that social media can even be used for demand generation, and 25% responded that social media is simply not applicable to a demand generation funnel. 18% went as far as to say that they don’t have the tools.

These numbers surprised us. Why? Because 100% of B2B companies that currently use social media should be focusing their social media efforts on demand generation. And the 34% of companies that don’t should be looking into figuring out how to incorporate social channels into a demand generation model. So why is this not happening?

The clue might come from one of the first things we talked about today: 83% of the focus from B2B companies in social media is to “raise awareness” for the company or brand. In the same vein, 56% drive social sharing (to further grow that awareness). 55% focus on growing followers and likes, believing that this will increase trust in their brand.

Only 32% are using social channels as demand generation channels (although 35% responded that they are using social media for demand generation).

This tells us that when it comes to social media, B2B organizations are a) still focusing on the wrong things, and b) not leveraging social channels properly. If awareness is the focus of their activity but demand generation isn’t, they are still mostly doing marketing and PR on social channels. They are not truly engaged in building social business practices yet.

Another hint might come from the Top 3 channels part of the graphic, which tells us that 80% use Facebook and 78% use Twitter, but only 51% use LinkedIn. (Eloqua reminds us that LinkedIn has been shown to be 3x more effective at lead generation than Facebook or Twitter, so the impact of this slow adoption rate is compounded by that difference in effectiveness between channels.)

We will revisit the topic of lead/demand generation in a more “how to” format, but for now, here are a few quick takeaways:

1. If you have not yet incorporated social activity into your organization’s lead/demand generation mechanisms, you need to change that right away. Especially if you expect to be able to have a legitimate ROI discussion with the CFO or your sales managers at some point.

2. Use monitoring tools to listen for mentions of your brand, your competitors’ brands, your products, their products, and any keyword that is relevant to your category. Do this on as many social channels as possible. Listening for these mentions will open up a world of opportunities for you, ranging from market intelligence to (yes, you guessed it…) lead generation. This is how you will discover user communities, associations and discussion groups made up of people you need to be engaging with, and leave you open to product feature ideas you had not yet considered (to gain a market advantage) and possible partnerships that were not until then on your radar. (Distributors, manufacturers, service providers, OEM partners, new resellers, etc.)

3. Focus less on marketing and building awareness on social channels, and more on identifying opportunities to make meaningful connections with people and organizations whom you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with. Again, these may be new customers, sure, (though advertising and marketing may be more effective means of increasing your reach than social activity) but don’t underestimate the impact of connecting with existing distribution, manufacturing, reseller, technical and user communities. Find them and join them. Then use these communities to further connect people to each other (and your products). That is where the true value of your social activities lie, and where the seeds of true demand generation will take root.

4. Whether or not a B2B organization ends up using tools like the ones offered by Eloqua (by the way, how would you rate their use of social sharing to drive awareness and demand generation? See what they did there?), the opportunity to build a digital mission control center around a digital monitoring + brand awareness + demand generation + sales & conversion measurement practice might serve a B2B organization far better than… just having a Facebook and Twitter “awareness” strategy.

 Focus on the right things. Rethink your use of social media channels. Look beyond awareness. What is that awareness supposed to drive? Business. What kind of business? New business and existing business. Is your content driving demand? Are your interactions with people on social channels driving demand? Are your monitoring, response and engagement activities focused on driving business? If the answers to the last 3 questions aren’t “yes,” it’s time for a quick reboot of your social media program and get it back on the right track.

We’ll be back with more. In the meantime, why not check out the free version of our Tickr monitoring tool? If you weren’t yet monitoring with purpose, or if your monitoring tools left you a little confused, ours might make things easier and clearer for you. Let us know what you think.

Cheers,

The Tickr team.