cubes of social media icons formed into a circle

In 2012, B2B marketers took a more active role in social media, increasing usage and participation, and experimenting with new tactics for engagement. From CEO involvement, to online video, to content marketing — B2B marketers understand the importance, effectiveness, and value of social media when it comes to building brand awareness, communicating with key audiences, and being part of the conversation. We can only assume that innovative approaches to social media marketing will continue to evolve in 2013, as marketers continue to experiment with social media in ways that will further their connections with key audiences and positively impact brand perception. Here are some of our own predictions for what to expect from social media as it relates to B2B branding marketing in 2013.

1. Leveraging LinkedIn: In 2013, social media will continue to play a key role in lead generation. LinkedIn in particular has proven to be a powerful platform, helping marketers to share their knowledge and expertise and increase visiblibility, allowing them to gain the attention of target audiences. Some professional services brands have begun to use LinkedIn to achieve this in 2012- we can only urge more B2B marketers to jump on the bandwagon.

2. Engaged Executives: In 2012, a good number of CEOs and top level executives utilized social media as a way of sharing their thoughts on current events and industry trends, which was a great start. However, what more and more CEOs must realize in 2013 is that social media has the ability to showcase a more human side of the ‘man or woman in charge,’ allowing them to share their story, as well as the story of the brand they represent, in a way that key audiences can connect to and engage with.

3. Content is Still King: 2012 proved that B2B content marketing is here to stay, and those marketers who have realized this will only prosper in 2013. Marketers who continue to improve their storytelling tactics, and disseminate their range of content through social media platforms as a way of gaining visibility and building stronger relationships with key audiences will find success. However, those marketers who are still reluctant to join the content marketing trend must realize they are missing out on a key opportunity to showcase their knowledge and interact with prospects and customers who not only appreciate quality content-they now expect it.

4. Visual Engagement: Online video had a big year in 2012, from the prevalence of employee recruitment videos, to the use of video in building CSR efforts, more and more B2B marketers are understanding why video is so effective in providing an intimate look at the people behind a brand. Video creates a unique opportunity to highlight certain aspects of a company that can only be captured visually. Telling your story through film and then sharing it through social media channels not only diversifies your content marketing offerings, it also creates a richer, more interactive experience for key audiences.

5. Big Data Starts to Pay Off: As we’ve mentioned, in 2012, B2B marketers really took advantage of the possibilities for engagement that social media offers. Now that all of this feedback from social media experimentation is trickling in, 2013 is the year for B2B marketers to start to make sense of and utilize this “big data.” By compiling the data, understanding what it means, and leveraging it to improve social media marketing efforts, B2B marketers can build more effective, targeted, and informed campaigns, helping to reach their most ideal audiences.

6. Building a Cohesive Social Brand: Social media can act as a platform for building cohesive brand messaging in that it allows key audiences to gain a clear understanding of a company’s value proposition. By engaging employees, executives and shareholders in a company’s social media strategy, brand ambassadors can be built and therefore, help communicate a consistent brand story that is synchronized across all platforms both internally and externally. More companies who make efforts to empower their employees internally to engage with social media, are more likely to see results that lead to brand loyalty.

7. The Social Newsletter: E-newsletters are an effective and convenient way to share industry insights and knowledge with brand ambassadors, prospects, clients, shareholders, and any other individuals involved in a company’s community. E-newsletters not only offer a way of showcasing thought leadership and staying top of mind, they also make it easy for recipients to share content through social platforms, amplifying the visibility of the content shared.

8. Taking a Different Approach: Often, B2B marketers assume that any content or information shared through corporate social media platforms should be exclusively industry focused—and this just isn’t true! Social media allows for companies to really show a different side of themselves. One financial services firm really took advantage of this in 2012 by using their Facebook page to share articles and book recommendations, news and insights, and general information about company employees. It looks like the Facebook page of an “outgoing and intelligent person,” rather than a financial services firm. In 2013, B2B marketers will reexamine how social media can humanize their brands, whether this means showcasing a less serious side or focusing on topics not entirely related to their products and services. The key for building engagement is creating a unique experience that helps build positive associations with a brand.

9. Optimizing Platform Innovation: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, (and the list continues), are constantly innovating and creating new ways for companies and individuals to build pages, profiles, and channels that allow them to customize the design and layout of their social media experience, and dazzle their followers. The more experienced marketers are with these platforms, the more they will be able to utilize the social media tools offered. Therefore allowing companies to present a more relatable and illustrative representation of their brand– one that includes people, videos, and the exchange of knowledge and ideas. We recently took advantage of the new LinkedIn company page redesign, optimizing our page with photos of our office space, employees, as well as logo design and other brand-related images. Brands who utilize these new features can create a truly engaging experience.

10. The Social Pschye: One of the most overlooked but most valuable aspects of social media participation is the way in which it can help marketers to understand the needs and wants of their prospects and customers. We attended the Journal of Financial Advertising & Marketing Forum, where the most intriguing aspect of the forum focused on “meeting the mindset” of investors today, and a discussed a renewed emphasis on “psychographic marketing” in the coming year. Psychographics help define what customers want, and what better way to gain psychographic insights than through social media? By disseminating content to a certain psychographic segment, and monitoring the reactions to it, marketers can gain a greater understanding of what is on the minds of the audiences they want to reach, therefore providing them with informative data on a specific topic.

These are simply our predictions based on the trends we’ve observed in the last year, however we expect these social marketing practices as well as new and groundbreaking developments to come about in 2013 as both social media platforms and B2B marketers evolve their strategies and tactics.