8 Social Lessons from @CMIContent’s 2015 B2B Marketing Report

8 Social Lessons from @CMIContent’s 2015 B2B Marketing Report Lucy Hitz Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

unnamed-1Social media and content marketing are natural counterparts, and new research suggests this trend is only going to continue growing.

Social media marketers can’t just be the delivery medium for content marketers; they need to be true partners throughout the planning, execution, and measurement process in order for each to be successful.

The social media marketer is the yin to the content marketer’s yang, the vanilla ice cream to the content marketer’s apple pie, the Kim to the content marketer’s Kanye.

With that in mind, I looked through the fifth annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report to glean social lessons out of content marketing-related findings. Here’s what I learned. 

icon-stats-figuresOnly 35% of B2B Marketers Have a Documented Content Marketing Strategy 

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.57.26 PMOnly 35% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy — even though a whopping 86% of respondents said they use content marketing.

Your social lesson: You might be creating the best content this earth has ever seen, but if you’re not promoting each piece in an appropriate and informed manner, your content won’t hit the audiences you want it to. For instance, say you measure your Twitter account and see that tweeting photos offers the greatest engagement return for your brand:

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 2.22.48 PMYou’ve been focusing on links and normal Tweets, but folks are paying more attention to your photo content. This is a basic example of all the light that holistic measurement can shed on your content and social marketing efforts as you put together a consistent and well-understood strategy.

icon-stats-figuresBrand Awareness, Lead Generation, and Engagement Lead for Organizational Goals

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 1.04.48 PMA substantial amount of B2B content marketers see their content as being useful for achieving many goals, but brand awareness, lead generation, and engagement are the top three.

Your social lesson: The major content goal categories in the chart above give you a great opportunity to usefully bucket the content you’ve already created, if you haven’t been doing so already, and tag your content going forward.

Not only should the content you’re requesting and/or creating map back to specific goals but the way you’re promoting that content on social should, too. For each blog post written, each video made, each podcast recorded, a specific need must be met, and the method of social dissemination you choose reflects your desire to meet that need.

This might mean that you branch out to new social networks, double down on social networks where you’re seeing a lot of success with certain kinds of content, or discontinue your use of a social network so you can focus your efforts elsewhere.

icon-stats-figures63% of B2B Content Marketers Cite Web Traffic as the Top Success Metric

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 1.06.33 PMWebsite traffic trumped its closest competitor, sales lead quality, by 14% as a success assessment metric.

Your social lesson: If you’re a B2B marketer, chances are you want to increase web traffic to your site, too. But let’s not neglect the #2 metric for success in the chart above: sales lead quality. You don’t want just anybody clicking through to your site — you want the right somebodies. How do you make sure this happens when you’re spreading your content on social media?

  • By knowing your already existing audiences
  • By getting specific about the new audience or augmented audiences you seek

For instance, say you learn that your Facebook fans skew American and female.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 3.26.43 PMKnowing your demographic info — not to mention the engagement patterns of your fans — can go a long way towards telling you which audiences you’re not reaching and how to more substantially involve the people who are already happily ingesting your content.

icon-stats-figuresOnly 21% of B2B Marketers Say Their Organization Is Successful at Tracking ROI

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 1.13.02 PMA major reason that many content marketing orgs don’t track their ROI is that, simply put, they don’t know how.

Your social lesson: If you’re involved in the fresh, exciting field of social marketing, you are a pioneer. This means that there aren’t necessarily standard metrics in your organization or agreed upon by the industry at large about what successful ROI looks like from content marketing efforts.

As a social marketer, you’re in charge of your brand’s most effective content distribution channel. Create your own definition of social ROI around the following metrics:

  • Engagement (ex. 200K engagements per month on Instagram)
  • Follower growth (ex. 1,000 new followers per month)
  • Click-throughs (ex. 45K Bitly clicks per month)

Make sure your social ROI goals reflect your brand’s broader goals. For instance, if your brand’s primary initiative is driving people to specific landing pages, put click-throughs to those pages at the center of your strategy.

icon-stats-figures70% of B2B Marketers Say They’re Creating More Content than They Were Last Year

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 1.14.32 PMAs content creators and content creations multiply each year, social media has found itself flooded with noise and content pieces of quality both good and bad.

Your social lesson: The first step to being heard through all the noise is finding out what already stands out.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 3.48.46 PMFigure out where you’re seeing engagement spikes across all your social channels. Break this information down by post, channel, and individual post on a granular level to find out what your brand has to say that resonates despite all the commotion.

icon-stats-figuresB2B Marketers Target Four Separate Audiences with Four Separate Strategies on Average

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 1.16.25 PMAccording to the poll, the greatest percentage of B2B content marketers targeted 2-3 audiences, but the average between all categories was 4.

Your social lesson: You don’t have just one audience, and smart marketers know this. Make sure that you’re developing different social strategies for each different identifiable target audience.

icon-stats-figuresB2B Marketers Use an Average of 13 Tactics

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 1.19.55 PMTactic usage continues to grow. When it comes to effectiveness, in-person events topped the list, according to the B2B marketers surveyed — for the fifth consecutive year.

Webinars/webcasts were a close second, followed by videos and blogs. A possible reason that in-person events are so successful but aren’t one of the top tactics in use by marketers could have to do with the enormous cost of in-person events. Many brands circumvent this cost by enhancing a few events with a lot of social promotion, or going without in-person events and relying totally on social.

Your social lesson: Social media and the spread of content via that medium are the most important tools at a content marketer’s disposal.

icon-stats-figuresMost B2B Social Marketing Is Happening on LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 1.30.45 PMWhat I find more interesting about the poll’s findings is that the average number of networks used by content marketers was six. That’s a lot of irons to keep hot.

Your social lesson: Your social lessons here are twofold. First, invest most heavily in the network where your audience is most active.

Second, you don’t have to be all things to all people. Consider scaling back on one social network so that you can excel on another. Measure your success rates when you’re mulling this kind of move over.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.04.11 PMDon’t wind up becoming a jack of all trades and master of none.

Speaking of which, here are the effectiveness ratings for B2B social media platforms according to the poll:

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 1.35.56 PM94% of marketers surveyed listed LinkedIn as their most used social network, but only 63% listed LinkedIn as being most effective .

What Do You Think Are the Most Important Findings in the Report?

Let us know in the comments below and, if you’re a B2C marketer, take a look at Simply Measured’s recent study which analyzes the Interbrand Top 50 Retail Brands. Click below to download this report and learn social media best practices from retail brands, including:

  • Tactics retail brands use to engage customers and prospects on social
  • Benchmarks for retail brands so you can see how you compare
  • Lessons you can learn from retail brands’ social media success

…and much more.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 3.42.01 PM

Lucy Hitz

I’m the Content Marketing Manager here at Simply Measured. I manage our blog, produce longform content, head our co-marketing initiatives, and host the Simply Social podcast, among a few other things. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.