Business to Business Social Networks Generating Leads‘Social networking…that’s just for the likes of Coca Cola and Nike isn’t it? We’re mainly focused on B2B communications so it doesn’t really apply to us.’

If you’ve heard that before then read on.

A Global Survey of Business Social Networking“, commissioned by Regus has revealed that 40% of companies globally have successfully used social networks to find new customers, dispelling the ideas promoted by social media critics that such online channels fail to generate leads or new business.

As a result of the success of online strategies, 27% of businesses worldwide actively devote marketing budget to social media activity in order to reach and retain customers according to the report.

Apparently size does matter when it comes to leveraging the power of social media to benefit your business…but only slightly. Smaller companies (44%) seem to have more success in acquiring new customers through online networks, as compared to medium companies (36%) and large firms (28%). This is probably due to the fact that smaller companies are more focused on retaining existing business, spending more time maintaining their network of contacts online. The fact that, for a small firm with limited budget, networking online costs nothing but time probably also plays a role in their increased success as smaller firms turn to the web to cost-effectively supplement their traditional marketing strategies.

So how are firms using these online networks?

  • To stay in touch with business contacts(58%)
  • Getting together with special interest groups (54%)
  • Finding out useful business information (54%)
  • Organising/connecting/managing customer groups (51%)
  • To find a new job (22%)

Who are using business social networks most?

Perhaps unsurprisingly the ICT, Retail, Media & Marketing and Consultancy sectors were above average in their use of business social networks. Those communications-savvy businesses realise that they can’t afford not to have as strong a network online as they do offline.

Who are lagging behind?

Those businesses who are traditionally focussed on B2B communications and are heavily regulated – Manufacturing, Financial Services and Healthcare – were below average in the use of business social networks.

All that said, social media sceptics still exist. Of the 15,000 respondents across 75 countries, 34% did not believe social networks will ever be a significant method of reaching customers and prospects. However this report clearly shows that a growing number of companies are using the internet to source information, foster relationships with current customers and most importantly to generate new business. As word of successful social media strategies spreads to the sceptics its unlikely they’ll be able to keep their mouse at arms length for long…nothing changes minds like money!

Full report here.