About 86 per cent of B2B Information Technology (IT) buyers are currently using social media networks in their purchase decision process, to an IDG Connect Survey carried out recently. The survey of more than 400 enterprise decision makers found out that social networking is used by 57 per cent of those making technology purchase choices. Social networks came in just under search at 58 per cent and ahead of professional networks, video sharing and reviews at 51 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively.
This shows that Social media is not only important for companies, but it is now a necessary investment and crucial element of any go-to-market strategies However,findings suggest this is only set to increase over the next couple of years.
"Buyers are using multiple social media platforms and communities during the purchase process," said Bob Johnson,principal analyst and VP at IDG Connect. "Buyers want to go to places they trust as they seek insight to make decisions and social media platforms, such as Facebook, have both reach and stature for many people."
Other findings of the IDG Connect survey include stated that 48% use Facebook for'general education while 29 % also refer to Facebook as they make final decisions.16% of enterprise decision makers use LinkedIn in the evaluation/implementation stage and 7 % use Pinterest from research to final purchase.
According toIDG Connect, these findings show that if tech vendors do not understand andutilize multiple social channels to distribute information, they will be lessable to engage buyers' during the decision making process.
Johnsonadded, "If social media conversations are not better understood or connected,vendors run a serious risk of having sub-standard lead generation and nurturingefforts. If marketers do not offer relevant links to content and activities,someone else will, and marketers without relevant information will lackengagement to identify qualified leads."
The findings also affirmed that In2014, the whole buying process would be moving online and becoming more socialif IT decision makers are going to spend large volumes of their budget on newtools. In practice, this means that there is a real opportunity at the earlyeducation stages of the buying process.
Vendors must also have a clear,consistent game plan that ties in with all their other demand generation activitiesand targets potential buyers on their own turf. This means they will need toblog and distribute information via a variety of social channels. They will need to utilize relevant communication networks to ensure it is easy for potential buyers to locate the views of peers and independent experts alike. But above all, they will need to integrate their messaging within the social media framework, so that when IT decision makers come looking for information,the vendors will be there ready to answer their questions. Today all this isimperative for organizations to remain on top of the curve.
By Lilian Mutegi
CIO East Africa/16/01/2014