More B2B buyers using Web 2.0 to decide

B2B marketers who dismiss social trends in buying as a strictly consumer trend are wrong, very wrong according to the latest research.

Forrester Research recently surveyed business buyers to discover more about their social activity, with special interest in how business buyers use social media in their purchase decisions.

The survey of more than 1,200 technology buyers in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and the U.K. with 100 employees or more in seven major industries, resulted in findings that may surprise some business to business marketers.

Key findings include:

  • 69% are “Spectators”—they read blogs, watch user-generated videos and participate in other social media for business purposes.
  • 37% are “Critics”—they contribute comments or react to content they see in social formats. This is the next most common behavior after reading and watching.
  • 29% are “Collectors”—they use social technology to collect information and stay on top of trends.
  • 29% join social networks (“Joiners”).
  • Only 5% are nonparticipants (“Inactives”).

Though they do take peers’ opinions in to account to make decisions, buyers who use social technology don’t rate it highly in terms of its influence on their buying decisions.

“If you’re a b-to-b marketer and you’re not using social technologies in your marketing, now is the time to start. Because many blogs, communities and other social outreach from firms that sell to business are less than mature, it is a perfect way to stand out.”

For B2B marketers interested in integrating social technologies into their marketing mix, Forrester researchers suggest:

  • First, understand your audience. How does your audience like to communicate and where do they go to share ideas?
  • Integrate social applications into other marketing. Don’t keep your social media separate, but a part of your overall marketing goal.
  • Learn from others. How are your peers using social media? Find articles, webinars and networking events to learn how others are finding success in social media.
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