LONDON: B2B brands are not communicating effectively with clients via social media, even though many business people want to hear from them and think it important they do so.

Maxus For Business, a specialist B2B division of Maxus, the WPP-owned media planning and buying agency, asked 500 UK LinkedIn members with responsibility for purchasing whilst at work about their experiences of business-to-business (B2B) communications.

It found that 70% of business people considered that B2B brands did not know how to communicate with them on social media but 60% wanted to hear from them, with LinkedIn the preferred (61%) network, far ahead of Twitter (17%) and Facebook (9%).

In terms of what they were looking for from those brands, almost half (44%) wanted to read news articles, while 20% said how-to guides would be useful. Other options found little favour, including webinars (6%) and whitepapers (7%). Nor was video popular, with only 8% mentioning this.

As regards particular topics, respondents wanted news about the company (86%), promotions (79%), insights (70%) and product development (66%). In addition, inspiration (59%) was seen as more important than entertainment (44%).

Business people also expressed clear preferences for the times to communicate with them, with evenings (23%) and first thing in the working day (22%) coming out on top. Only 14% of respondents wanted to be communicated with at lunch time, with similar numbers choosing the afternoon (16%) or before work (14%).

James Bailey, Head of Maxus For Business said that, "luckily for B2B marketers", business people were keen to hear from relevant brands.

"However, some brands could benefit from improved targeting and perhaps sometimes a better understanding of the day-to-day realities of busy, time-poor executives' working lives," he added.

Writing in Market Leader, Fran Brosan, strategic planning partner at comms agency Omobono, noted that social media was the third most important B2B marketing activity in terms of spend, behind corporate websites and email marketing.

She warned, however, that customers were more open to receiving digital communications from existing suppliers than from potential ones, particularly via email and social networks, where buyers were more likely to engage.

Data sourced from Maxus; additional content by Warc staff