How to Engage IT Buyers with Social Media

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There are many skeptics when it comes to using social media for business-tobusiness (B2B) selling. While social media is wildly successful in direct-to-consumer marketing, not many B2Bs have replicated the same level of success.

That’s about to change. Technology buyers in every vertical now use social media in the purchasing process. Research firm IDG concluded from its 2012 Buyer Experience Study that, “social media influence in B2B tech buying will expand faster than most expect.” If you’ve just been dipping your toes in, it’s time to dive in.

Determine Social Media Sites to Target

To start, understand how IT buyers use social media sites. Take a look at the big four: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Each has a different way IT buyers engage (see Table 1).

The results are in. IT technology professionals are highly engaged with social media. According to LinkedIn, they view 34 pages and spend 19 minutes per visit — far more than leading IT communities such as ZDNet and Ziff Davis sites3. For now, LinkedIn is the most powerful social media tool for technology sales. Every company and sales rep needs a LinkedIn profile. Take the time to determine which social media sites you need to target.

Identify Useful Information

A great description about the role of social media came from Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert, during a recent B2B virtual tradeshow. He said, “Content is the fire. Social media is the gasoline.” His message is well proven by the fact that social media can create demand, increase awareness, and even make content go viral.

But this is true only if you promote your content first, your company second. When you post anything on social media, you compete for attention with the family and friends of your target customers. Tweets, posts, and comments must provide useful information to gain mind share. “If you’re useful,” Baer says, “your potential customers keep you close, like friends and family.”

Table 1
LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+How IT Buyers
Engage
Ask questions or seek peer opinions and recommendations Post comments on techrelated
topics and ask peers advice Share tech news and articles Stay on top of technology
and business
trends Results1 59% of healthcare tech companies acquired customers 50% of tech companies
acquired customers 42% of tech companies
acquired
customers 33% of tech buyers
followed tech-related
conversations2Game Changers 88,000 IT leaders and
C-level executives are
active each month3 1 billion users; 600 million
are mobile users 36% of users rated it as important or
critical in 20121 40% of marketers
considered it useful,
important, or critical1

Since content is key to a successful social media strategy, think your content through. “All too often, companies have flat, plain content strategies — a punch list of assets they throw far and wide,” says Tyler McDaniel, Forrester principal advisor. “But content isn’t just for awareness, filling the top of the pipeline. Some buyers need basic specs and others want thought leadership.”

What useful content can you provide? When you’re ready to try social media to reach technology buyers, identify and develop content that is relevant to IT buyers in each phase of the buying cycle. Then, start a small pilot marketing campaign using Facebook or LinkedIn ads. You’ll keep investment low and learn what content performs best for you.

Finally, remember social media is a process, not a project. You need to be patient to reap the rewards. But it’s worth it.

Jane Johnson (jane.johnson@pivotslc.com) is a partner and content director at Pivot Communications. She is an award-winning writer with 12 years of IT and AV experience.

1 HubSpot 2012 State of Inbound Marketing
2 Tech Buyer/Influencer and Tech Marketer Surveys, IDG Research Services, October, 2011
3 LinkedIn IT Software Buyer Audience Study, 2011

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