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While it’s fairly common for consumer brands to shout about their successes in social media marketing, finding convincing B2B case studies is a far more difficult task.

According to a recent survey, a majority of UK businesses (64%) are using social media as a marketing tool, with the most popular reasons being for brand awareness (83%), encouraging social sharing (56%) and gaining trust and followers (55%).

And social has certainly proved to be an important marketing and sales channel for Econsultancy, even though we do occasionally have difficulties working out the exact ROI.

However it still accounts for only a fraction of the traffic and leads for US B2B websites according to data from Optify. Overall, social accounts for 1.9% of traffic compared to 41% for organic search.

Even so, to try and shed some light on the benefits of social marketing, I've found five examples of B2B companies that have achieved success using social media.

B2B marketing is also one of the categories in #TheDigitals, our new awards that recognise the best in digital marketing and ecommerce. Award entries must be submitted online before the deadline March 13, 2013.

Award categories cover both industry and platform specific areas. There are special categories for best new technology, rising star (free to enter) and the overall Grand Prix winner. Further information on categories and entry requirements is available at thedigitalsawards.com.

But without further ado, here are the five B2B social marketing examples...

Adobe

As part of the launch of its Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 (CS6) products, Adobe came up with a ‘manifesto’ that it called Create Now.

It was to serve as the central theme of its branding and marketing efforts, and would tie together its offline and online efforts.

To promote the launch event in April last year Adobe held a scavenger hunt around San Francisco. Participants had to pick up puzzle pieces from underneath balloons located around the city and return them to Adobe HQ.

Location tips and product information were shared on Foursquare, Twitter and Instragam, with the overall winner collecting $10,000 and a lifetime membership to the Creative Cloud.

Adobe also held a scavenger hunt online, where users had to find clues scattered across its websites and on social networks. Both scavenger hunts attracted more than 600 participants on launch day.

Additionally, Adobe held a ’30 Days of Giveaways’ promotion on Facebook that attracted more than 14,000 new fans and 32m impressions.

Overall, the product launches:

  • Received 83,000 social conversations within the first five days, with 97% positive-neutral sentiment.
  • Incited more than 3,800 #CreateNow Twitter conversations that generated more than 30m impressions.
  • All of this drove 3m+ visits from social media to Adobe.com during the launch, with visitors touched by social accounting for 13% of Creative Cloud subscriptions and as much as 4% for other established Creative Suite products.

Cisco

As the popularity of online video continues to grow, as does YouTube potential as a channel for effective social marketing.

Network provider Cisco might not be an obvious candidate for attracting a massive following on YouTube, but its channel has more than 33,000 subscribers and almost 5m video views.

Part of its success is attributable to the sheer amount of content it uploads, with several videos coming online each day.

There is a wide range of content, including Q&As, products demos and presentations from events. This means that it is a useful resource for customers, as well as a sales tool, which in turns helps to attract more viewers.

Cisco also uses other social channels, such as its blog and Facebook, to promote its thought leadership articles. The aim is to engage and educate corporate audiences across a range of issues, driving buzz and SEO visibility in the process.

American Express

A few years ago American Express launched Open Forum, a site that aims to give advice to small business owners.

The site is frequently updated with new content, including blog posts and videos, but the jewel in the crown is probably the ‘Idea Hub’. The hub is a forum that allows members to network and share ideas with each other and industry experts.

Open Forum achieved massive growth when it first launched, increasing unique visitors from 160,000 in December 2008 to almost 1m in December 2009. 

It now attracts more than 1m unique visitors per month and has more than 18,000 members. Interestingly, social media is currently the most popular topic on the site.

Open Forum is also supported through other social media channels, with its Facebook page attracting more than 300,000 fans.

Kinaxis

Supply chain management company Kinaxis launched an online social video campaign with the lofty aim of doubling leads and web traffic numbers.

To achieve this it created a series called Suitemates – a comedy following two businessmen that get sent to jail following a shady corporate merger.

Featuring two recognisable actors in Kevin Pollack and Ray Wise, it’s safe to say that Kinaxis probably had a fairly sizeable budget backing its campaign.

Suitemates had a dedicated mini-site that featured all the episodes and a competition to win an iPad. Unusually the site appears to be completely free of any links to Kinaxis. While it’s a good idea to avoid being too salesy when running a social campaign, eschewing any references to the brand is probably a step too far.

To help support the campaign Kinaxis also launched a rather cringeworthy series called The Late Night Supply Chain Show and the 21st Century Supply Chain blog.

By using humour to lure customers in and by avoiding any obvious sales messages, Kinaxis achieved the results it was looking for – web traffic increased by 2.7x and there was a 3.2x increase in leads.

TippEx

Though Tipp-Ex possibly blurs the lines between being a B2B and B2C company, this is a great example of using social media to gain massive brand exposure.

TippEx used a branded YouTube channel to create an interactive campaign where viewers could re-write the story onscreen.

In the video called ‘Hunter shoots a bear’ the hunter in question has second thoughts and asks users to come up with a different verb to replace ‘shoots’. The video then shows a new ending depending on what the viewer types into the box.

TippEx achieved great success with the campaign – within 100 days the video had been viewed more than 35m times with an average brand exposure of five minutes. The clip has also been shared more than 380,000 times on Facebook and Twitter.

The brand also achieved a sales uplift of 30% in Europe, though it’s unlikely that this is entirely attributable to a single social campaign. Overall this is another example of how humour can be used to gain exposure for an online ad campaign.

Econsultancy's Funnel B2B event is where marketing meets sales. More than 600 marketers will be at Old Billingsgate, London on October 8 to discover the tools and tactics that are delivering results. This event forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza.

David Moth

Published 26 February, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (4)

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Nick Stamoulis

I think the biggest thing these companies have in common is a sense how "who" they are. A lot of B2B companies forget that they are run by people and cater to people and personality gets lost along the way. It's okay to have a little fun with your brand and inject some life and value into it!

over 3 years ago

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Barbara McKinney

These companies become successful because they think out of the box, they are not following others creation and strategy and they are not salesy in running their social media campaign.

over 3 years ago

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Anthony

These companies are successful because they know their markets and clients intimately. As a result they understand what drives their decisions and what's important to them. And importantly these companies are prepared to invest in their clients business objectives.

over 3 years ago

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jill mills, sales consultant at convergys

Fantastic article , For what it's worth , if your company is searching for a VA 21-526 , We filled a fillable document here <a>https://goo.gl/bM1Kgk</a&gt;.

8 days ago

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