The Final Barrier
Study Shows Importance of Social Media in B2B Communications
When, in the mid 2000’s social media proved to be a powerful means of reaching potential customers, those reluctant to accept it clung to generation-based reasons to argue over its impact on communication and marketing programs. The idea was that blogs and social networks would be channels to reach a young audience, but not opinion leaders, who would ultimately remain loyal to traditional media and to paper. Time soon managed to bring the web demographics closer to that of the general population, and the social media became an essential channel to communicate with targets of all ages, from new graduates to moms, from retirees to teenagers.
A study published in July by Forrester contributed to knock down one of the last barriers related to using social media in the field of marketing and communication—that which compares B2C to B2B initiatives. The original belief was that the social media would be an efficient channel to engage with consumers, but would have little to add to relationship projects with business decision-makers.
Forrester surveyed 382 executives in America and in Europe and concluded that 98% of decision makers read blogs, watch videos on the web, listen to podcasts and are part of social networks. “It is no longer a matter of discussing whether the social media should be used in B2B programs, but rather of understanding how to use it,” the study concludes. The survey indicates that the way decision makers use the social media will vary from country to country and from industry to industry.
According to the study, decision makers are active web users: 79% have active profiles in social networks and 75% are used to posting comments in blogs and sharing professional opinions. An overall trend is that, although channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest are part of the day-to-day of these executives, most of their exclusively professional activity on the web is concentrated in niche communities, dedicated to specific themes.
The study data and conclusion indicate something that is increasingly obvious, even to the most reluctant. No communication strategy, be it B2B or B2C, may be successful without including social media. The challenge for both is similar: to know your target in depth and understand their needs, offer relevant information, be prepared to respond to their demands in a fast and convincing manner and invest in frequent interactivity to maintain ongoing dialogue.