I read a lot of blogs these days, especially those pertaining to B2B Marketing. Jeffrey L. Cohen, the managing editor of SocialMediaB2B.com, is one of my personal favorites. His writing is clear-cut, to-the-point, and easy to understand. He also puts lists together – and I truly adore lists.
I recently came across a blog he posted on December 13, 2010, called “11 Predictions for B2B Social Media in 2011.” We are quickly closing in on the final quarter of 2011 so I thought it might be interesting to see how his predictions are holding up. Granted, there are still 3 months left — but it will be 2012 before we know it. By then there will be new predictions, I’m sure.
Just to let you know — I am neither an expert nor a guru. I have worked in the world of B2B since the early 90’s and I consider myself to be a social media student – and I am currently very enamored with blogs, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In the meantime, here are Jeffrey’s 2011 predictions: (http://socialmediab2b.com/2010/12/b2b-social-media-predictions-2011/), along with my commentary (not necessarily the opinions of OnTarget Partners or any other B2B company):
1. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
“With 4.6 billion cell phones in use around the world, this prediction is not too hard to make.”
- Think about QR (Quick Response) codes – they seem to have gone viral this year. You can find them all over the place – from shampoo bottles to airline boarding passes. And Smart Phone applications? There seems to be one for anything imaginable. Yes, there’s an app for that.
2. Open APIs Support Information Portability
“Information will become more portable and the importance of open APIs will become clear to many B2B companies.”
- 2011 has shown increased usage of websites with Open APIs like HootSuite and TweetDeck by companies offering B2B solutions. These sites combine major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, for example) into a single, uniform interface, making it easier to track and respond to posts from their clients. The website sharing is seamless and easy to use.
3. Collect, Analyze and Visualize Data
“Once APIs are in place (see above), companies will start doing a better job collecting and analyzing data from their social platforms.”
- HootSuite and TweetDeck also make it extremely easy to pull data and analytics so you can instantly see who is engaging and how often. This should be more appealing to B2B social media managers who may have only limited knowledge of APIs and the technology behind them.
4. Share Compelling Stories
“2011 will see storytelling come into its own. As more companies adopt social media as a way to connect with customers, they will begin developing compelling stories to share that message.”
- There are still far fewer social media success stories in the B2B realm than B2C. That being said, there has been more focus on social media by B2B companies so the success stories have been more prevalent in 2011 than in previous years. I expect this trend will continue due to the diligence and persistence of B2B bloggers.
5. Continued Growth of Social Search
“The importance of search engines, primarily Google and Bing, is already huge for B2B decision makers, and it’s hard to imagine the expansion of that, but in 2011 search and social will come closer together.”
- Slowly but surely this is becoming reality. Once again, B2B bloggers are making this happen with their use of pertinent long-tail keywords and an increased mastery of the content.
6. Expanded Forums of Social Communications
“While the big three platforms of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will continue to reign supreme for most B2B companies, niche industry sites and forums will become more important this year.”
- Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn still continue to reign supreme in 2011.
7. The Year of Conversions
“If 2010 was the year of social media interest and adoption for many B2B companies, 2011 will be the year that companies refine their approach to social media, provide clear calls to action on their messaging and drive leads and sales as a measure of success.”
- We may see this more in 2012 since B2B companies are still warming up to social media in 2011.
8. Customer Service is More Social Than Marketing
“More than even, customer service reps are the front lines of a company and they need to be socially savvy. Reps will understand that every response can be broadcast to a wider audience.”
- Absolutely this has become increasingly important. B2B clients have Twitter and Facebook accounts, both personal and otherwise – and they are not afraid to use them. As the focus on measuring client engagement has increased in the B2B world, so has the focus on communicating with their clients via social media. And understanding that once a post is made – positive or negative – it’s really out there for the world to see.
9. Daily Deals and Group Buying Change Pricing Models
“While 2010 saw the beginnings of daily deals and group buying benefits in the B2B space, the changes this will cause in 2011 are deeper than many realize.”
- Although even more of these sites have appeared in 2011 – and Groupon has even flirted with an IPO – I haven’t seen that this increase has applied at all to B2B.
10. Social Media will be More Accepted in the Enterprise
“Large enterprise companies represent the biggest dichotomy in social media. Many tech companies are leading the way with social media initiatives and have really incorporated it into many aspects of the business.”
- This has certainly been the case so far in 2011 and does not appear to be falling off.
11. Companies with Limited Results Pull Back from Social Media
“And finally, since it can’t all be positive, there will be B2B companies that prematurely discontinue social media efforts because they are not realizing enough value from them.”
- Unfortunately this may be true. Luckily, most companies are realizing that results aren’t instant – just like the B2B companies themselves, their social media will require time, patience, and understanding.
So what trends do you see continuing into the final quarter of 2011 and into 2012? I invite you to share your thoughts & predictions.
- Social Media: What’s Your Policy? (rosenthallurie.wordpress.com)
- 5 LinkedIn Plugins you should Install in Your Blog (shoutmeloud.com)