B2B buyers and social media: We’re holding it wrong
Caught this in my RSS net – “IDC finds social not key buying influence” in BtoB Magazine. At first read, this survey of 199 tech buyers didn’t conclude what those of us preaching the virtues of social media wanted to hear. But let’s look beyond the headline. There is certainly a silver lining in this apparent cloud. Let’s take a look point by point:
1. B2B tech buyers are using social networks to keep up with trends
The survey found 84% of the respondents said social networks helped them keep up with trends and also to stay connected. This is great news – and certainly a validation of the efforts companies are making in establishing beach heads in social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Also encouraging is that 62% of buyers visit tech blogs at least once a month and nearly 60% visit business or tech online communities each month.
2. B2B tech buyers do not view social networks as key influencers in making tech purchase decisions
Only 18.6% said social networks have influenced how they interact with vendors and their decision making process. So we’re saying social networks give them news, but don’t change their behavior. This tells me vendors have done half the job. Good to see they’re represented in social networks, but it seems many haven’t gone beyond using these channels for promotion. It also points to a lack of connection between vendor social networks and other customer touch points such as events, .com landing pages and whitepapers. Are vendors using social networks to their integrated potential or viewing them as silos?
3. Trade shows and conferences rock
Face-to-face is still critical for relationship building. No denying this. But do companies see their event/conference strategies in isolation? Or are they integrating them with their social networks? From my POV, I don’t see a distinction. The social networks should be used to enable and extend in-person events.
Overall? I guess B2B vendors are getting a B-. They’ve gotten into social channels, but they’re not giving potential buyers all they need in these channels. This survey doesn’t say buyers don’t want to interact, it says that the content and engagement they’re getting in social networks isn’t as influential as other channels.
With greater integration across platforms and marketing techniques, a content strategy that reflects buyer need and taking a problem-solving approach to social network interaction, let’s aim for an A next time around…
Photo credit: Right-Wing Republicans vs. Corporate Democrats vs. Progressive Populists, Truthout.org
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Jeremy’s blog, Public Relationships.