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How does social media rank in influencing business technology purchase decisions?

B2B Marketing and Social MediaAccording to a new study from Forrester Research, technology decision-makers actively participate in social media as it relates to their job.

However, the same research puts social media pretty far down the list of sources of information impacting purchase decision making process.

I’ve personally been searching for quantitative evidence of social media’s impact on B2B leads and sales results. So the following statement in Forrester’s press release about its new study caught my attention: “…social media has yet to effectively influence a large part of the technology buying process.

My friend, Dianna Huff, suggested I check out Laura Ramos’ blog to see what she had to say about it. (Laura is vice president and principal analyst in Forrester’s technology marketing research team.)

A link in Laura’s blog led to a slide presentation addressing the study which included a survey of 1,217 technology decision makers at companies in North America and Europe with 100 or more employees.

Slide #20 addressed the survey question, “Which of the following sources of information impact your decision making process?” The answers were:

  • Peers and colleagues – 84%
  • Vendor, industry and trade Web sites – 69%
  • Your direct vendor salesperson – 69%
  • Technology or business magazines – 66%
  • Consultants, VARs and SIs – 65%
  • Industry trade shows or conferences (in person) – 59%
  • Forums, online communities and social networks – 45%
  • Industry analyst firms – 45%
  • E-mail or electronic newsletters – 41%
  • Web events or virtual trade shows – 40%
  • Interactive media: podcasts, video, online demos – 30%
  • Blogs – 24%

A story in eWeek about this research said, “…while business buyers may be using social networks and other tools in their enterprise and personal lives, Web 2.0 social technology isn’t affecting their decisions when it comes to purchasing business solutions.

Do you agree with eWeek’s conclusion? Please share your thoughts.

Comments

I think the line may be a little blurry. Three of the top five influencers had to do with relationships with other people–peers, salespeople, consultants. Don’t social networks help to foster those relationships?

 

[…] reading dozens of blogposts on the topic, I recently came across a post by Mac MacIntosh who writes the Sales Lead Insights blog that made me go “hmmm….” His post […]

 

I think it is still a fairly new trend in networking. As long as people continue to use social media to market themselves, sooner or later it will catch on and really start being of more influence.

 

Mac, I’ve been looking for tangible evidence, too, that social media has some direct impact on the bottom line in BTB sales. But, I don’t think we can discount its value, even if we can’t see a direct correlation yet. It’s simply too new a communication channel. I put BTB sales (Social CRM) in the context of “people buy on emotion and justify their purchase with logic.” The buzz factor may not–in and of itself–generate an order. But without “the conversation” (product buzz), it’s a deafening silence. The risk of purchasing something no one’s heard very much about is a big risk factor. I don’t think companies can afford not to be social, since that’s where the market is going. Companies that wait till it’s a “proven strategy” will be too late to the game. Look at the newspaper industry: They should’ve been testing new business models all these years. Instead, they waited, and their current business model has been rendered irrelevant and no longer profitable because there’s newer, faster, better ways to consume their product.

 

I tend to think the question is pretty flawed Forrester…

“Which of the following sources of information impact your decision making process?”

Because I mostly talk to peers online, I would have answered “Peers” too. Even though it was social networks that facilitated the peer engagement.

 

Do peers,salespeople and consultants really influence social marketing?? How do we see how this working? Does this have to with social media like Face book and Twitter, because if it is, I have to say that these have not influenced me in the least as I am not even bothered by them.
Interesting topic, and view points from the other comments.

 

[…] reading dozens of blogposts on the topic, I recently came across a post by Mac MacIntosh who writes the Sales Lead Insights blog that made me go “hmmm….” His post […]

 

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