Lauraramos [Posted by Laura Ramos]

Last Wednesday, Dan Klein — who heads up tech industry consulting here at Forrester — joined me on a teleconference to talk about how B2B marketers should “Define Your B2B Social Media Strategy.” Web 2.0 marketing is a subject of great interest to business marketers as almost 700 signed up for the Webinar, just over 300 attended, and 120 participated in a pre-show survey. The vast majority of the invitations went out to Forrester clients and, judging by the list of attendees, the participation ranged from large tech firms to small business services providers. Folks from software, hardware, telecom, agencies, start ups, database marketing, and media were present.

What did we learn from this interactive session? Here are a few highlights:

1) Social media use in marketing is just emerging. While 2/3 say they use email and Webinars in their marketing mix today, only 35% or fewer use blogs, online forums, video produced by marketing, podcasts, customer contributed content, or other Web 2.0 tactics.  Surprisingly, 42% said they are using social networks like Facebook — up from the 25% who said they did in our earlier 2008 research. (Click on the tiny picture below to see the data up close.)


2) Benefits are hard to gauge right now. Depending on which tactic they use, between 30 and 36% of respondents said it was “Too early to tell” whether using social media translated into marketing success.  In contrast, 25% said landing pages and Webinars successfully helped the generate leads in a measurable way.

3) Marketers are sticking with what works. As a result, 65% or more of the survey respondents said that Webinars, landing pages, video marketing, and online forums figure significantly in their 2009 marketing plans. On the other hand 55% or more said that RSS feeds, podcasting, widgets and virtual worlds were marginal or irrelevant in their futures.

4) And, finally, the most popular questions were about how to understand customers’ use of social media. They included: How do we figure out what customers are doing socially? What is the best way to get this information? How do we understand how Web 2.0- savvy our buyers are? How do we assess customer use of social media?

It’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?  How to reach customers through this brand-spanking new medium. But it’s the wrong question for marketers to ask if they want to be successful with social media.  Social media use is about creating dialog and relationships with a community. The community says what is important, not the marketing folks. This is going to be a very hard lesson for B2B marketers to learn because it means putting the right people — technical, customer-facing, problem-solving people — in front of the community and letting them engage in an open, trustworthy manner. And they may not get the corporate messaging right everytime…

In this new Web 2.0 world, the right question is: how do I get to know my audience better and what they want from social interaction? For this, Forrester developed Social Technographics and the POST methodology, which we talked about briefly on the Webinar.

If you’d like to know more, check out our research on POST and Social Technographics. Or you can join me in Cambridge, MA on August 13 for my “Making B2B Marketing Work” work shop, where we will talk more about social media, among other topics.  In the meantime, let me know what successes you are finding as you explore incorporating social behavior and Web 2.0 tools in your marketing.

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