Top B2B brands are ignoring the overwhelming majority of intent-to-purchase social media mentions, meaning they could be missing out on $36 billion of collective annual revenue.
This is according to Brandwatch’s 2015 Social Media Report, which revealed that less than one per cent of 72,756 such mentions are responded to by the company selling the product or service.
Given that the 200 analysed B2B brands in the UK and US are leaders in their fields, the results are certainly surprising – and not just because of the volume of unrealised sales.
"These mentions are invaluable to brands," the Brandwatch report explained. "Sales teams can connect with these conversations and translate intent to purchase into real revenue. Furthermore, intent to purchase can help inform or predict future sales for new releases."
The research indicates that the 200 brands in question each receive more than 360 social media leads, on average, per year – almost a quarter of which, it was revealed, come from company executives.
Because Brandwatch identifies these executives as "accepted sales targets" (or likely prospective customers), it believes B2B brands should implement a "holistic, engaging social presence" to ensure the leads are converted.
The importance of doing so is highlighted by the fact that the average B2B brand (of the leading 200 in the study) is mentioned more than 100,000 times annually on social media.
Despite this, almost 25 per cent of B2B brands do not have a social media presence. Many of those that do, Brandwatch says, have not implemented a thorough social strategy at a time when audiences are becoming more engaged.
While some industries are performing better than others – business software firms are particularly adept at utilising their social networks, for example – the B2B sector as a whole has been urged to view social media as "an opportunity rather than a deterrent".
As evidenced by the rapid progression of B2C brands’ social presence, investing in social before the competition is advantageous in the long run. For industries such as aerospace, where the content is already performing exceptionally well, a strategic social content strategy could prove to be highly beneficial.
The report concluded that B2B companies are facing a "pivotal moment" where social media’s commercial potential, though becoming more acknowledged, is countered by a lack of direction and strategy.