Social Media Marketing is often thought of as being mainly suited for B2C (Business To Consumer) marketing.
So finding a survey that takes a closer look into the role of social media in communicating with business buyers in a B2B (Business to Business) marketing environment and its role in their buying processes provides some food for thought.
This sort of information is valuable in determining how companies that sell technology products and services will engage, communicate and market to businesses. Forrester’s determination from this survey, is that technology buying is a highly considered, collaborative process, one ideally suited for social interactions, so use of social media in this environment is important.
Forrester surveyed 1,217 technology decision makers including CEO’s in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany from SMB (Small and Medium Business)and enterprise companies with more than 100 employees and asked them
“During the next 12 months which of the following emerging information sources will you use more to inform and validate your purchase decisions?”
These are the 15 social media channels in order of importance as indicated by the survey.
|Social Media Channels
|Virtual Trade Shows
Ratings & Reviews (Digg, Delicious etc)
|Private Online Community Sites
|Open Social Networks eg LinkedIn and Facebook
|Interactive or 3D Demonstrations
|Podcasts (Downloadable Media, Audio & Video)
|Widgets (such as iGoogle)
|Mashups such as Zillow,Google Maps etc
|MicroBlogs such as Twitter
|Virtual Worlds such as Second Life
This survey highlights the importance of figuring out which channels and sources buyers prefer when they look for information or want to validate a purchase decision.
Takeaways that I found insightful from this survey:
- Forums are nearly twice as likely to be used in the buying decision
- Virtual Trade shows have become more important due to current depressed economic conditions
- Twitter (microblogging) will still rank near the bottom of the list because consumer themes and pop culture dominate this medium
- Technical buyers prefer collaborating on wikis
- IT architects and infrastructure folks rely more on blogs
- Online ads catch the business buyer’s eye. This finding underlines the importance of integrating both traditional and online media into social media plans to not only reach potential buyers but to also guide them back to online destinations and offers placed in more conventional media.
- B2B marketers should be identifying key buyer segments (or personas) and research how customers accomplish their purchase decision-making and business buying goals, keeping in mind which social media channels the different vertical markets and persona’s prefer to hang out in.
So how are you using social media to communicate, engage and market to B2B buyers?