B2B: a.k.a. King of the Hill

Have you heard the news? In the next 3-5 years, social media will be the second most used customer engagement tactic – bested only by face-to-face interaction (so old-fashioned).
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IBM recently conducted its 2012 IBM Global CEO Study, which led them to spend some quality face-to-face time with 1700 Chief Exec Officers in 64 countries and 18 unique industries all over the world. The results are telling.
CEOs are changing the way they run their companies. Instead of enforcing a top-down, strict chain of command, more and more of these business leaders see a new era of collaboration, connectedness, and employee empowerment.
Why the swift shift?
Employees who are encouraged to voice opinions and make suggestions help their company grow and diversify – to put it simply, collaboration leads to innovation. And this is key, since “Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness as a key organizational influence.” (Social Media Today).
Social media plays a huge role here. Employees are becoming more comfortable and more outgoing online – they like networking, and they appreciate the simplicity of contacting family and friends. As social media’s influence continues to expand, CEOs see a future where employees can collaborate with each other and with clients (and potential clients) using online platforms, rather than relying on 1-800 numbers and the ability of the recipient to respond to dozens of emails a day. Social media effectively bypasses other distractions and allows CEOs, their employees, and their clients to engage directly and easily. Instead of making consumers who are comfortable on social media leave that platform to do business, companies are realizing the benefits of meeting the consumer where they are comfortable, by incorporating social media right into their business model.
There’s always a catch….
We’re all well on our way to embracing social media whole-heartedly – but we aren’t there yet. Many CEOs are still hesitant to fully accept social media’s influence, and a good deal of business leaders as well as their employees are at a loss as to where they should even begin. We cannot rely on decades of business model research on this one; social media is too recent an invention. The challenge right now is for CEOs and their companies to identify the best social platforms, and establish best practices when using them – both to interact with each other and to interact with clients. Employees must learn how to use social media to measure reach and profitability; marketing developers must become adept at connecting with their demographic and learning what they want.
There are a lot of possibilities on the horizon.
Right now, just about 16% of companies are using social media to engage their customers. But the good news is, that percentage is expected to reach 57% in the next 3-5 years. We’re excited to see how social media continues to help businesses grow in the years to come.
Does your company use social media to interact with team members and customers? Is it making a difference? Let us know in the comments!

Further reading:

IBM 2012 Global CEO Study | IBM
“Why B2B Social Media Will Be “Kind of a Big Deal” | Social Media Today
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About MARKIT Group

MARKIT Group is a full-service traditional and digital marketing and public relations firm with an emphasis on social media, reputation management and monitoring, as well as brand management. Headquartered in Bonita Springs, Fla., with offices in New York, Pittsburgh and Charleston, S.C. www.markit-group.com.
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