How B2B Marketers Are Finding Value in Social Media [Interview]

social media, marketing, social marketingSocial media marketing continues to play a critical role in how marketers connect with their target audience.

The “2016 Social Commerce Survey” from SUMO Heavy found that, last year, 72 percent of buyers used social media on a daily basis, but we wanted to know more.

We spoke to Bart Mroz, co-founder and CEO of SUMO Heavy, for additional insight into the survey results.

Did you see any differences in how B2B marketers were using social media, compared to their B2C counterparts?

“From this survey, no, we did not. The survey respondents were targeted because they’re consumers. So it’s best to look at these findings as being reflective of the B2C sphere.”

How can marketers better leverage platforms aside from Facebook? (e.g., Twitter, Instagram)

“I won’t comment on specific strategies, because those are going to vary from brand to brand.

But what our social commerce survey makes clear is that, across platforms, brands should develop social strategies that incentivize sharing content, because that’s what gets the most traction with consumers — seeing content shared by their peers and family members.”

Should there be a more even distribution in the use of social channels?

“Not necessarily. Remember, different social channels resonate with different demographics.

For example, if you’re seeking to market to teens or college students, Snapchat is a highly potent marketing channel, if you can afford it. If your product is for women, Pinterest could be a good way to go.

Every brand should appraise the demographics of its target audience and focus marketing efforts toward the social channels where they spend time. That said, a little experimentation is beneficial. You very well might discover groups of fans in places that you didn’t expect.”

How can B2B marketers resonate with their target audience in new ways on social in 2017?

“It’s hard to say for sure, because this survey dealt with consumers. But I would assume that the principle of people being highly influenced by what their peers — colleagues, clients, business partners, etc. — applies to the business world.

Considering the high dollar amounts that are at stake, a business leader would likely have much more peace of mind in choosing an enterprise software product, for example, if he or she noticed that a former colleague made positive comments about it on LinkedIn.”

Why do you think Facebook leads the way in terms of customer influence? Do you see this changing in 2017?

“Among the social networks we looked at, Facebook is the most widely adopted to date. It has amassed the most users and reached mainstream popularity among all demographics of consumers, so I’m not surprised to see it at the top of the list in terms of influence.

Its influence is due to the incredible number of people — more than 1 billion, or one out of every seven humans on earth — who use it regularly. While I don’t see this changing anytime soon, different social platforms have different use cases and target audiences, so they can be equally effective if used correctly.”

What did you find to be the most interesting finding in the results?

“It depends on how you define ‘interesting.’ There are some things that surprised us and other things that validated what we previously believed. Everything was interesting, in different ways.

But one discovery that I believe is very important is that consumers have an aversion to sponsored posts. Their ubiquity can work against marketers’ efforts to get consumers’ attention.

Although sponsored posts tend to feel less intrusive, be more targeted (and hence more relevant to an individual), and blend better with their environment, they’re still advertisements, and consumers know it. And so the tendency isn’t to tune in — it’s to tune out.

What consumers do care about, according to these survey results, is what their friends and family think, say, and do.

So if and when an individual’s real-life “influencers” talk about a brand — perhaps a product that they bought and really liked — that’s when the door really opens up for brands to make a lasting impact.

Put another way, a brand’s marketing department isn’t its best advertiser — its consumers are.”

Visit the SUMO Heavy website for your free download of the survey results.

marketing, b2b marketing, sumo heavyABOUT BART MROZ

Bart Mroz is the co-founder and CEO of SUMO Heavy, a digital commerce consulting and strategy firm. He is a serial entrepreneur with over a decade of business management and technology experience. Mroz was a founding partner of multiple consulting companies and a thought leader who has been published in top eCommerce publications including Internet Retailer and AdExchanger. Prior to founding SUMO Heavy, Mroz was a partner at round3 media, a creative e-commerce agency, as well as owner and managing director of SimplyHelp, an IT firm based in Philadelphia.

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