By Ryan Malone

2010 has become a pivotal year for many social media platforms. We are always stunned out how often B2B marketers forget the power of LinkedIn to build relationships with their next customers and partners. The business social network is a great tool for reaching decision makers, establishing thought leadership and generating leads.
Social media marketing can also bolster a healthy content marketing strategy. If your business is producing blog content and educational content like white papers and case studies, LinkedIn is a perfect forum to share those resources with your target audience.

Here’s a recap of some of the best data from 2010 that shows by B2B marketers should have a LinkedIn strategy:

THE STATS: 43% of employees at the largest companies in the US (think Gap, Microsoft and Google) report using LinkedIn for professional reasons. Only 11% say the same about Facebook and only 3% say the same about Twitter. (Sourcemarketingprofs.com)

THE TAKEAWAY: Professionals are conducting business on LinkedIn, much more than on other social networks. Professionals on LinkedIn are receptive to learning about new products and solutions.

THE STATS: 100% of Fortune 500 Company’s have executives using LinkedIn. 50% of LinkedIn’s users are decision makers in their company. 41%people using LinkedIn for marketing have generated business with it. (Source: Hubspot.com)

THE TAKEAWAY: Members of the business social network have a lot of buying power and a lot of clout. These are the people you want to be interacting with in discussions and have clicking through to your blog and educational content. This study also shows, that most LinkedIn marketers are already bringing in new business from their on site activity.

THE STAT: 65% of journalists use social media sites like LinkedIn to conduct research for stories. (Source: Cision.com)

THE TAKEAWAY: Journalists are using LinkedIn to research topics and companies. Use a presence on LinkedIn, especially the new company page feature, as another branch of your public relations. Provide links to press releases, white papers, case studies and any other educational content. Gain better visibility and better control over what’s said about your company in the press and give journalists a channel to get in touch with you directly.

THE STATS: 20% of C-level executives network professionally in an online community daily, and an additional 39% of C-level executives network online weekly. (Source: Forbes.com)

THE TAKEAWAY: That’s a total of 59% of C-level executives using social media every week for business purposes. How many of these decision-makers and influencers might be interested in your company’s white paper or latest blog post? LinkedIn is a great forum for reaching these users and generating connections, leads and influence.

THE STATS: More than 58% of small businesses that used social media marketing on sites like LinkedIn,were satisfied with their results. Some of the areas they were most satisfited with, were identifying and attracting new business and gaining visibility within their target market. (Source: study growsmartbusiness.com; imagewww.socialmediatoday.com)

THE TAKEAWAY: For finding and converting new business leads and establishing thought leadership, small business marketers are already seeing results from networking on sites like LinkedIn.

All these trends point to the power of LinkedIn for B-to-B marketing. Business buyers and decisions makers are on the site, ready to interact and find new ideas and solutions. If you’ve seen any other compelling LinkedIn and B-to-B social media marketing statistics, or have your own success stories, please share them in the comments.

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Ryan Malone

About the author

Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several venture-backed technology companies. When he's not leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps! Read more articles by Ryan Malone.