Despite the fact that 77 percent of business technology decision-makers engage with social media on the job, most B2B marketers are not effectively using social technologies to influence the purchasing decisions of their customers, according to new research from Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). Leveraging the same analytical framework pioneered by Forrester’s Social Technographics® Profile for helping marketers understand how consumers approach social technologies, Forrester surveyed more than 1,200 business technology decision-makers in North America and Europe about their social media participation throughout the buying cycle. The result is a profiling tool to help Technology Product Management & Marketing professionals match the most effective social media to their customers’ interests and activities.
“B2B buying is fertile ground for emerging community sites, social networks, and user-contributed content,” said Laura Ramos, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. “But most B2B marketers miss the nuances of their audience’s preferences by jumping directly to deploying social technology without first profiling the social behavior of their customers. Knowing buyers’ behavior lets marketers set the most effective social media strategy instead of blindly trying every new technology that comes along.”
According to the Forrester survey, technology decision-makers actively participate in social media as it relates to their job. The Social Technographics Profile segments buyers into six categories based on their social activities:
- Creators — 27 percent publish a blog, publish Web pages, create/upload video or music, or write articles and post them online.
- Critics — 37 percent post reviews of products or services, comment on someone else’s blog, or contribute to online forums.
- Collectors — 29 percent use RSS feeds, vote for Web sites online, or add tags to Web pages or photos.
- Joiners — 29 percent maintain a profile on a social networking site or visit social networking sites.
- Spectators — 69 percent read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch video from other users, or read online forums and reviews.
- Inactives — 23 percent do not participate in any social media activities for work purposes.
Despite these activities, social media has yet to effectively influence a large part of the technology buying process. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents feel social media doesn’t play an important role in the purchasing process, and 60 percent of survey respondents don’t find blogs more valuable than editorial content for informing purchase decisions. More than three-fourths of respondents said peers influence their purchase decisions more than any other media or information source.
“Emerging social behaviors will fundamentally change the nature of the marketing relationship between B2B buyers and sellers — especially in a down economy,” said Oliver Young, senior analyst at Forrester. “B2B marketers must use social profiling data to determine how social tactics complement the rest of the marketing mix. Integrating traditional and online tactics is essential as the groundswell of social activity grows.”
Forrester offers a host of research and consulting offerings to help companies develop their B2B social media strategy. For more information and to download the complimentary Webinar, “Define Your B2B Social Media Strategy — Introducing The Social Technographics® Of B2B Buyers,” visit www.forrester.com/b2bsocialmediawebinar.
The new report, “The Social Technographics® Of Business Buyers,” directed at Technology Product Management & Marketing professionals, is available to Forrester RoleView™ clients and can also be purchased directly at www.forrester.com/go?docid=47144.