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How B2B IT Buyers Use Social Networks

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The majority (57%) of B2B information technology buyers are using social networks as part their purchase decision process, according to a recent report from IDG Connect.

Moreover, B2B buyers say content discovered on social networks will likely have more influence on their purchasing decisions than directly accessed editorial or vendor content in the future.

Today, editorial content has the biggest influence in making IT investment decisions (35% of buyers give it the most weight), followed by vendor content (34%), and then social content (31%). In two years, buyers believe, content found on social networks will move ahead of both editorial and vendor content in terms of importance (37% say it will have the most weight).

Below, additional key findings from the report, which was based on data from a survey of 400 B2B buyers responsible for IT purchasing decisions.


Types of Content

  • Survey respondents say they use social networks across all buying stages, but most during the initial research phase.
  • 89% of buyers say vendor-provided educational content is acceptable on social networks, and 64% say promotional content is acceptable.
  • Buyers are most interested in seeing links to informational content on social networks, such as reviews and comparisons.

Activities

Asked what sorts of vendor activities they would liked to see shared on social networks, buyers ranked e-seminars on top, with 62% showing interest.

About the research: The report was based on data from survey of 400 B2B buyers responsible for IT purchasing decisions.


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Vinay Bhagat Wed Jan 22, 2014 via web

    Ayaz - thanks for reporting on this important trend. While a fair amount of information sharing does occur on traditional social networks like LinkedIn, there are a few challenges:
    1) Comments are often self-serving by vendors/ consultants with an agenda - trust levels are not always high and there's a high noise to signal ratio, so it's easy to tune out
    2) There's limited incentive for people to be truly candid and no ability for them to be anonymous
    3) Information is not well structured - it's often just comments in discussion threads

    However despite that there's a clear appetite among B2B buyers to hear candid insights from their peers, just like consumers in B2C do on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. TrustRadius is championing the move to bring peer reviews/insights to B2B, focusing on the business software market. We're adapting the consumer review model to make it enterprise appropriate, focusing on quality/ structure of content and authentication. Launched in May, now close to 50k buyers use our site each month to access in-depth reviews from their peers and comparisons which aggregate reviews.

    We recently did a survey of our users/members and learned the following:
    1) 90% of them are in an active purchase cycle
    2) 42% of them have not contacted a vendor yet - i.e. they're doing their research online before contacting a vendor
    3) 86% of them are from functions outside of IT reflecting the trend for SAAS to be bought by business functions
    4) Adoption is across enterprises of all sizes from SMBs to global enterprises
    5) 40% are using our site to research their short list

    More statistics are available here:
    http://blog.trustradius.com/2014/01/survey-reveals-in-depth-end-user_15.html

    Vinay Bhagat
    CEO, TrustRadius
    www.trustradius.com

  • by Alan Belniak Thu Feb 6, 2014 via web

    Ayaz,

    In the first graph, it reads, "... which content types do you want to have offered to you via links from social channels?" and webinars (as one example) ranks 33%. In the next image, it asks, "... what activities are you most interested in seeing links to from social channels", and "e-seminars (virtual events)" ranks the highest, at 62%.

    To me, a webinar either is or can be considered an e-seminar. If that's the case, then I'm wondering why the two questions have webinars (or very similar events) so far apart in scoring. To me, the questions themselves are almost the same (".. do I want to have offered" vs. "... most interested in seeing").

    I know you didn't write this (IDG did), but I'm curious if you have any additional insight here, or if you parse the data differently than I do.

    Thanks.
    -Alan

  • by Nadine Mon Jun 2, 2014 via web

    Hi Alan,

    I was reading the article and fell on your comment.

    Here's my answer.

    The first question concerns content. It asks what type of content they want most. The second question talks about activities. So which type of activity they want. If you look at the content it includes: case studies, PowerPoint, product overview, while activities are only interactive. So in terms of content, e-seminars are not the favorite source, but in terms or activities, they like e-seminars better e-trade shows, forum, and blogs. Hope the difference is more distinct now :).

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