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28 May 2023 • 5 min read

Can Social Media Provide Strong ROI for B2B or is it too Risky?

Braden Dawson

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Recently Web Antler had the  opportunity to present at the Communications & PR conference in Auckland. This blog will will cover the first part of our presentation "Acclimatising Social Media Strategy for B2B Communications". In this section we explore if social media can offer a strong B2B ROI or if it too risky.

Investing in Social Media for B2B

"B2B Owners/Founders/Directors in NZ said the biggest risk to Investing in Social Media was Wasting money” - Web Antler Proprietary Research 2023


"75% B2B Decision Makers Use of Social Media for Vendor Research" - LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2022

These two stats illustrate to us that there is real opportunity on Social media for B2B businesses, but getting this right is tricky and presents a significant risk in terms of investment and return.

So let’s unravel the mystery together, can social media provide strong ROI for B2B?

Measuring ROI for B2B

Like every good B2B marketer knows, ROI can only be calculated once the salesperson has closed the deal. Once closed we can measure the value of the sale, or the lifetime customer value (LTCV) based on the details of the deal agreement. When we know the sales value or LTCV we now have the ‘Return’ figure used to calculate the ROI. There is just one slight issue with measuring the ROI when the sale closes.

Sales Attribution for B2B Deals ignoring Social Media Meme

And this is that all deals are closed by a salesperson who takes all the glory of the sale. So immediately when we try to attribute ‘return’ to social media, we are confronted by the idea that the salesperson was the single factor involved. But we know this isn’t true, as there is a significant journey that goes in and behind setting up that sales conversation in the first place. Social being one of the top 3 B2B channels involved.

Ok great, but how do we know how much of a role that Social had in creating the sales opportunity. Well, that’s all going to come down to the tracking and measurement you have in place. What technology do you have in your ‘tech stack’ that enables you to visualise touch points leading to sale. In the B2B world, having a Marketing Automation or Sales CRM is vital for just this. Your tracking can now encompass social media interactions that are leading to sales and the value of those sales too. So case closed right? Well it’s not that simple.

Defining Return for Social Media

Using your tech stack to attribute sales revenue to Social Media is a leap forward in terms of measuring your Social ROI but it is limited. Having such a 2 Dimensional view of ‘return’ is limiting the capacity at which social delivers value. If we want to give social its fair and appropriate measurement of value, then our definition of ‘return’ needs to be broader. In other words, your business needs to consider the value of both the tangible and intangible nature of social media. For instance, what value would you place on the following?

Paid Social Advertising

  • Impressions
  • Engagements
  • Clicks to Leads

The ‘Owned’ Channels Themselves

  • Social Outreach
  • Messenger Interactions
  • Customer Support
  • Brand Credibility

Earned Media Attention

  • Shares
  • Likes & Engagements
  • Post Comments
  • Page Follows
paid owned and earned principles for social media

This is tricky because there is no hard and fast rule as to the value or the return that these intangible experiences delivery. But the exercise here was to get you to think broader in terms of measuring return for social media, and that return can be both tangible (click to sale) and intangible (all the examples above) nature. What this begs the question of is do you have the required tracking and measurement framework in place that allows you to track and value of all interactions and engagements with your digital and social marketing? Something to ponder on, but in the meantime let’s look at how we can minimise unnecessary risk.

5 Steps to Minimise Risk and Maximise ROI

Whilst every business is at different stages of their tracking and measurement frame work and the building of their tech stack, there are practical elements that can be worked on to minimise investment risk. So let’s explore our top 5 practical tips that your business can be doing to minimise risk and maximise return.

  1. Have a definition of return – even if it’s not the final definition, you need to have a measure of success from which to derive your goals. Once this is agreed to your business can map and hold accountable each component involved.
  2. Understand your tracking & measurement – know the metrics that you will be tracking and have an environment where these are portrayed and easily understood. This way you have a performance gauge from which to make timely decisions.
  3. Use MA & CRM to account for all touches if you haven’t got a Marketing Automation platform in place take a look at our solutions. Otherwise if you do, now might be a timely reminder to reassess the attribution value and lead scoring rules for your social media channels (taking into account the tangible and intangible value).
  4. Synergise all communications - this is simply about removing unnecessary frictions from your channel communications. Align your messaging and call to actions across platforms, creative and landing pages. This is a proven strategy for lifting your conversion rate no matter your industry.
  5. Conversion journey optimised – understandably this sounds like a no brainer, but is a surprisingly common mistake that businesses make. Not checking and testing your user journey. Check your user accessibility, across forms, phone numbers and contact details. Don’t presume either, have a look at your user flow data and conversion rate metrics to identify optimisation opportunities. If you don’t have time for this checkout our Conversion Optimisation service.

Social Media Can Drive ROI As Part of a Media Mix

In summary, B2B marketing is risky just like any marketing investment is risky. When it comes to the Social Media side of marketing, it gets increasingly more risky if you don’t really know what you are doing. So have a solid strategy in place when it comes to tracking, measurement and defining value and return. Social media should only be accountable to some of your ROI, but other aspects must be held accountable too such as your website, brand credibility, and follow up sales game. Lastly, don’t forget that our Web Antler B2B marketing services are here to help you drive greater returns.

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