It’s no secret that social media have become part of the mainstream culture: blogs, YouTube, online forums, networking sites and so on. We’ve been writing about the topic for a while, such as the impact of social media on B2B marketing and tipping points for business participation.
The secret is how to master these new tools for B2B marketing. There are few success stories out there, and copying others doesn’t work, according to Forrester Research Inc.
Finding your prospects’ venues
A sensible starting point: learn who is showing up at these new venues and why. To get the answers for one slice of the business world, Forrester Research surveyed more than 1,200 business technology buyers and packaged the findings in a report titled “The Social Technographics Of Business Buyers.”
One of the first things you’ll notice in their findings is that, regardless of how involved they are with social media, this audience is still overwhelmingly male. The “creatives” among them, the ones who publish their own blogs, video and music, are 83 percent men.
Making sure social media efforts are integrated
If you are trying to reach these folks through social media, make sure the effort is integrated with the rest of your marketing. Forrester discovered that while most of them view social media very favorably, they still fall back on more traditional marketing materials when deciding what to buy.
For example, word-of-mouth has a big impact, but they tend to pay attention to their colleagues at work much more than their counterparts online.
Social participation doesn’t automatically give you influence
In other words, business buying is still complex, Forrester says, and social participation doesn’t automatically give you influence.
Does that mean we should give up on it for marketing purposes? Not a bit. In fact, it means just the opposite.
B2B buyers believe social media will be a bigger part of decision making
The survey results show that in the coming year, buyers believe that forums, virtual trade shows, and online reviews will be a bigger part of their decision-making. These are the social media options that most closely resemble the user conferences, exhibitions, and buyer guides that these buyers have been relying on for years, without requiring them to physically be there.
Question: B2B buyers believe social media will be a bigger part of their decision making. Do you?