The role of social media in B2B buying and selling is dubious, but for companies that do use social platforms, LinkedIn reigns supreme. While new research from Outsell found that indeed, LinkedIn is still considered the most effective social media platform for B2B commerce, Facebook is surprisingly not far behind.
Outsell’s study, released Thursday (May 21), found that 55 percent of B2B sellers considered LinkedIn an effective way to generate sales leads. That number, however, compares with 53 percent who agreed that Facebook is an effective tool, too.
What’s more, smaller social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are also climbing the ranks as new vessels for sellers to reach potential corporate buyers.
“This study not only indicates that B2B marketers are kicking the tires with Instagram and Pinterest, it shows that there is a noticeable difference in where younger marketers are headed, with those under 40 turning into greater numbers to Facebook over LinkedIn,” said Outsell analyst Randy Giusto, adding that this year is the first in a decade that Outsell has included social media networks in its research of B2B lead generation tools.
These sites may not seem like likely methods for B2B sellers, but as corporate buyers shift online to research products and make actual purchases, it’s unsurprising that marketers are looking to reach customers in new, digital ways. There is a lot of money in the effort, too. According to Outsell, companies will spend nearly $154 billion on B2B marketing and advertising efforts this year.
Increasingly, Giusto said, these marketers are getting younger, which is causing this shift towards Facebook and other, more niche platforms.
Reports note that Facebook has looked to increase its presence in the workplace through Facebook at Work, an effort to boost employee productivity while kicking the site’s notoriety as a way to waste time at the office. Last month, Facebook reported 40 million active small business pages on its site, with 10 million new businesses starting their pages in the last year.
Separate studies released earlier this month revealed that Twitter is becoming a more valuable tool for B2B marketers, too, and exposed billions of dollars in missed sales potential due to suppliers and manufacturers not responding to mentions of their company by corporate buyers through social media platforms.