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This is a guest post from Amplify Interactive’s partner at Business.com.

This is the first guest post we’ve put up on our site. We plan to bring more good content onto our blog from partners, colleagues, and experts. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Does Your B2B Marketing Plan for 2012 Involve More or Less Social Media?

With 2012 kicking off, it is important for B2B marketers to have a fix on whether or not social media will play an important role in their marketing efforts over the next 12 months.

For some marketers, social media has already paid major dividends in leading their businesses to more exposure and sales for that matter. Others, however, have been slow to adapt social media into their marketing plans, be it to lack of planning, shortage of faith or a combination of both.

When you stop to look at the various studies on social media and its importance to B2B marketers, the numbers are quite frankly randomly scattered.

According to a survey from email and social media marketer StrongMail, more than 50 percent of B2B marketers report they will be adding to their marketing budgets over the next 12 months, while just eight percent plan to decrease their efforts.

For those planning on additional marketing, 55 percent said increases will go towards social media efforts, i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, while 68 percent report they will do more to integrate social media with their email marketing plans. Lastly, 64 percent state that awareness building proved the most important feature when it came to social media.

Meantime, a BtoB Magazine report claims that 93 percent of all B2B marketers are currently using some means of social media marketing, with the majority utilizing the best-known sites, i.e. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The exact numbers broke down to the following:

  • 72 percent use LinkedIn;
  • 71 percent use Facebook;
  • 67 percent use Twitter;
  • 48 percent use YouTube;
  • 44 percent blog;
  • 22 percent participate in online communities.

So, such numbers would seem to indicate many B2B marketers are using social media, but don’t let the data fool you. As it turns out, many marketing pros still report a number of obstacles when it comes to integrating social media into their marketing efforts.

According to the survey, 70 percent of B2B marketers named a shortage of resources as the biggest stumbling block to properly implementing a social media plan. Among the other challenges was:

  • 57 percent reporting badly defined success metrics and critical performance measurements;
  • 44 percent noting a shortage of knowledge when it comes to social media;
  • 22 percent stating management resistance.

While the survey did not break down the reasoning for the 22 percent showing resistance to using social media in their marketing plans, it is safe to say that some older marketers, those who have not been exposed as much to SM as younger professionals, may feel it is not worth their time and effort.

In the event you want your 2012 marketing efforts to include more emphasis on social media, keep these factors in mind:

  • Become engaged – In the event your company’s marketing efforts presently do not include sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ then make those priorities in January. On Facebook, set up a fan page. With Twitter, you can share industry links with articles on trends and more. LinkedIn works as a great business resource, while Google+ allows you to construct a circle of friends, exposing them to your marketing efforts;
  • Construct your brand – With a strong emphasis on social media, you can increase your company’s B2B brand awareness, better your rank among search engines, and provide both present and potential clients with added reason to want to visit your company’s Web site;
  • Measure your results – It is certainly not unheard of to come across B2B marketers who are not effectively measuring their social media efforts. So, why employ a social media strategy if you’re not going to measure the results? You want to see who is engaging in your social media efforts, where they are coming from, what specifically is of interest to them and more. Recording such analytics will help you better focus your social media efforts, letting you know where there needs to be more effort and improvement.

While social media is not the end all of your marketing efforts, it can and should play a major role in your plans for 2012. If it doesn’t, you’re simply being anti-social.

About the Author: Dave Thomas, who covers among other items starting a business, writes extensively for Business.com, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.

Get Amplify Interactive’s SEM Secrets whitepaper, which covers the topic of integrating  SEO & Social Media Marketing.

Ben Lloyd

About Ben Lloyd

Ben Lloyd serves as Principal at Add3 and manages the agency’s Portland office.  Ben got his start in SEM way back in 1999 – when there was like, 15 search engines and Google was barely a thing. Prior to Add3, Ben had founded Amplify Interactive in 2003 (which was acquired by Add3 in 2013), and hasn’t looked back since. Ben likes lots of stuff like golf, pinball, food(ie), booze/beer/wine – in that order, etc. Mostly – he likes doing that stuff with his friends. Ben is also co-founder of SEMpdx. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn

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