When it comes to making purchases, B2B IT decision makers are turning more and more towards social media for assistance. According to a new IDC report, 86 percent of IT buyers are using social networks and content in their purchase decision process. Primarily, this group is using social media in the general education stage of purchasing, followed by the development a business use case. A surprising finding from the report was that Facebook is the preferred channel to discover information. However, Facebook isn’t the only channel IT buyers are using; Google Search, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn also ranked high for the group.
When looking at social channels, nine out of ten buyers prefer educational materials to be shared. This doesn’t mean you can’t be promotional; in fact, six in ten respondents said they are interested in reading promotional materials from vendors.
Another interesting finding from the report deals with the shifting influence of where content is originating. Currently, editorial content – like that from journalists and analysts – and vendor content like white papers are (barely) given more weight than that of social channels. In two years though, buyers expect this to flip with greater weight being given to content from social.
So if you are a B2B technology company, what does this mean for you?
First, if you aren’t utilizing your social channels start now, both from a company perspective and also at an employee level. Buyers are looking for education materials, but also looking to learn from trusted individuals. By empowering your employees on social channels, you are creating an army of advocates to engage on your behalf.
Second, don’t focus on just one channel. IT buyers are using multiple social networks to make decisions. You’ll need a multi-channel strategy, including unified messaging, to make sure you are reaching all of your audiences.
Third, develop the right content strategy. It’s ok to promote your product from time to time, but IT buyers want to learn from you. By providing educational value to this group, you will earn their trust and likely, their business.
As a B2B technology company, what’s your social strategy for engaging IT buyers?