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As an editor and marketer, I spend a lot of time thinking about the "how to"—in other words, how to translate the best and most interesting marketing ideas into truly actionable steps for organizations looking to grow their businesses.

But, every once in a while, it's good to take a step back—to take stock of the bigger picture, to put ideas into perspective. Like at the start of a new year, for example.

So at the start of 2011, here are a few bigger trends I see shaping the way B2B marketers will do business in the coming year.

1. Social media = Lots of room for improvement

It's true that B2B marketers are embracing social tools as a way to connect with customers and grow their businesses. Most businesses have some kind of social presence or say they plan to launch something: Most have attempted a blog or Facebook page, or have peeked at Twitter. (For instance, when Guy Kawasaki asked a room full of B2B marketers at a recent MarketingProfs event, "How many people think Twitter is stupid?" only two brave souls raised their hands high.)

Still, most B2B marketers have yet to truly embrace the full social toolset for their business. A mere 12% of business executives say their companies are using social media effectively, according to a recent study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services.

Why is that? Sometimes, it's because they are unsure of the real value of social media, and sometimes it's because they aren't sure how to approach social channels. (How do you foster engagement on Facebook? What's the value of social-streaming platforms like Twitter, where your content quickly vaporizes? Why doesn't our blog have any comments?)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Ann Handley

Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author who speaks worldwide about how businesses can escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a LinkedIn Influencer, a keynote speaker, dog person, and writer.