B2B decision makers throughout North America and Europe are using social media, but their usage patterns and expectations vary widely depending on which social channels they are engaging in. Forrester Research has recently released a study that suggests understanding those patterns is crucial to making sure your marketing strategy is using social media effectively.
The study suggests that B2B decision-makers are using all of the major social media platforms in some ways. Only 56% are actively engaged in creating fresh content of their own, with the majority of decision-makers looking to social media primarily to get information (98%) or comment on others’ content (75%).
Which Social Media Channels do B2B Decision Makers Use?
- 85% visit communities or forums that are NOT associated with a single brand or vendor at least once a month.
- 81% visit LinkedIn at least once a month.
- 81% also visit Facebook at once a month.
- 80% use support or discussion forums & communities that are associated with a specific vendor or brand.
- 62% visit Twitter at least once a month.
- Only 49% of users access Google+ at least once a month.
- 32% use Pinterest at least once each month.
How are B2B Decision-Makers Using Each of the Major Social Networks?
The reasons for using each of the major social networks varies between personal, business, and other reasons.
- LinkedIn: Among LinkedIn users, 88% have connected with peers or colleagues in the past month, while 40% have participated in groups that are affiliated with a brand or vendor. 81% of LinkedIn users visit the site with a business purpose at least some of the time, making LinkedIn the primary site for business use.
- Twitter: B2B decision-makers use Twitter as a news feed. 86% of users look to Twitter primarily to read others’ tweets, with very few actively sharing through this channel. More than half have posted a tweet themselves or retweeted something they’ve read online. And 42% have used Twitter to get product support.
- Facebook: Only 2% of respondents actually view their Facebook presence as primarily for business purposes. However many use the network for business purposes at least some of the time. Of those that do, 71% use it to connect with people they know. Slightly more than half have liked a brand or vendor (57%) or clicked on an ad/posted on a page owned by a brand or vendor (51%).
- Google+ and Pinterest: Adoption and use of both Google+ and Pinterest are less widespread than their counterparts, and usage patterns less established at this stage. However, as Google looks more and more to social signals to establish brand authority, the importance of Google+ is unlikely to decrease any time soon.
What Does It Mean for B2B Sales Organizations?
The jury is in. Ignore social media at your own risk.
Whether you love or hate social media, its importance to your marketing success is undeniable. Your buyers are there. Your competitors are there. And decisions are being researched and made there. A fabulous Twitter stream may not make you any direct sales, but not having one could cost you plenty of them.