We just downloaded last year’s Forrester Research report on B2B Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2012. No, it’s not that we’re a year behind with our reading (we are behind, but not THAT behind!). It’s just time to think about 2013, and what that might hold for B2B social marketing.

And what better way to start than reflecting on how 2012 turned out?

Forrester’s B2B Social Media Predictions

Here’s a summary of what the Forrester report predicted for 2012:

  • Social Marketing will finally tie directly to lead generation: Marketers will use emerging social capabilities like Eloqua and Neolane to tap into the power of peer influence to increase conversion rates and generate leads.
  • Marketers will amplify the customer’s voice: B2B marketers will identify the biggest social influencers, turn customers into brand advocates, and get them to tell the brand’s story, share their experiences and opinions with their social connections.
  • Marketers will go beyond Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter: Marketers need to be where the buyers are and this includes industry-specific online forums and discussion groups

Did Forrester get their predications right?

Given that we work with and talk to many B2B marketers, here’s our take on whether Forrester’s 2012 predication came true (or not!).

Social Media Needs to be More Prospect-Centric

Yes, there is greater awareness that social media can be more than a broadcast channel for brand-related news and conversations. No question about it. But are B2B marketers tying social directly to lead generation. We don’t think so. Not yet anyway.

As a matter of fact, we’re surprised that so many B2B marketers still aren’t making their social media efforts more prospect and influencer-centric. Instead, they continue to be quantity-driven in how they look at their social metrics (number of fans, followers, shares). And frankly we don’t get it. Who cares how big your social audience is if it’s not chock-full of prospects, customers, and influencers? We believe there’s a lot more work to be done here.

Let Customers Tell Your Story

Are B2B marketers starting to enlist their customers and advocates to tell their story?

We are seeing this happening. For example, our friends at Socialtext, an enterprise social software provider, are increasingly using their customers as the basis for white papers and webinars. And the folks at Zuberance, a social marketing platform focused on brand advocacy, tell us they’re getting more interest than ever from marketers.

Can more work be done to identify influencers and customers, and mobilize them to amplify the brand’s message (in the customer’s own words)? Sure, but no question this trend is underway.

Be Where Your Buyers Are

We’re sort of negative on this one as we still see too many marketers succumbing to shiny object syndrome. Meaning we get asked more about Pinterest and Instagram, than how best to find and engage prospects on discussion groups and forums. Remember these are B2B marketers we’re talking about!

And any conversations we do have regarding forums and communities are for picking our brains about the marketer’s LinkedIn Groups strategy.

What it Means for B2B Social Marketing in 2013 and Beyond

The bottom line for us is really no surprise. We’ve all got a lot more work to do in using social media to find, engage, and convert prospects into customers. What does that mean for 2013?

Well, more to come shortly on that. = )

In the meantime, let us know your thoughts (dissenters welcome!)

Are you still struggling with your B2B social marketing efforts? Here’s what to do now.