Social media was initially considered the preserve of B2C marketing, given that sites such as Facebook tended to be more popular with consumers than they were with businesses. However, the last few years have seen this change, with use of Twitter and other platforms becoming normalised across the B2B sector.

It is still not a core channel for the industry, though, according to a new report from B2B Marketing produced in association with Circle Research.

Only nine per cent of respondents described the use of social media as ‘critical’ to their plans, while 47 per cent called it important. Seven per cent said the channel was of no interest to them.

Arguably, the interest is there but not the capabilities, which underlines the role CRM can play in helping B2B firms update their marketing approach.

For businesses that want to provide a more personalised, engaging approach to their existing and prospective customers, investing in software of this kind seems like a no-brainer.

However, this spend must come with strategic thinking, and the recent report from B2B marketing has warned that social media is still not being placed in this category by many firms.

Only one-third of respondents had a clearly defined strategy, with a worrying 27 per cent still treating social as an ‘ad-hoc activity’.

CRM will not be able to function effectively if it is brought into this kind of environment – a great deal of planning and forethought is vital if companies are to gain a good return on investment.

Some of the key aims highlighted by marketers when utilising social media include a desire to drive traffic to their website, as well as the hope that it will allow them to find new leads and develop awareness of their brand.

If these objectives are laid out and clarified before the integration of a CRM programme, firms should be able to automate some of their social media tasks, freeing up marketers for more creative or directive work.