As the content marketing generation proceeds, how will you continue to tell your brand’s story? Social media was once limited to consumer or retail brands. Now, Social Media Marketing (SMM) is becoming increasingly important to business-to-business (B2B) marketing develop leads and create customers.  In a recent Ad Age Article aptly titled “Social Media Increasingly Important for B-to-B Marketers,” the link between B2B Marketing and Social Media was confirmed.  We studied this report and offered our knowledge on how this will affect marketing strategy in 2014 and beyond.

Social Media: The Single Most Important Factor in IT Buying Decisions

B-to-B marketers have traditionally used a steady diet of white papers and nurturing initiatives to form relationships with prospects. But a new study by IDG Connect — a research and lead generation division of the International Data Group — shows that IT buyers will soon look to social media as the single most important content source to inform their buying decisions.

When compared to editorial content and vendor-created content, social media is currently the least critical source of information for IT buyers, the study found. But in two years, buyers expect that equation to flip as they increase the weight given to social media from 31% to 37% for influencing investment decisions. In the same period the weight given to editorial and vendor content will drop to 31% and 32%, respectively.

Social Media is already playing a role among the vast majority of IT buyers. According to the study, 86% use social media today in their purchase decision process.

“The reliance on social media as the avenue to get peer insight continues to increase,” Bob Johnson, principal analyst and VP at IDG Connect, said in an interview. Just a few years ago, Mr. Johnson noted, social was given a weight in the mid-20% range. But now, social is rising in importance as conversations that once took place offline are moving to networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google plus.

Buyers are putting more weight on these conversations as they engage vendors later in the buying process, Mr. Johnson said.

Plan Your Social Media Strategy, Focus on Education

“Vendors are going to need to have tighter integration between their social-media efforts and their demand-generation activities, or their broader go-to-market efforts,” said Mr. Johnson. He noted that vendors will need to provide buyers a clear path to the right information through social channels.

The study also found that buyers engaging on social networks are far more interested in educational content as opposed to transactional and promotional content. That suggests that, while increasingly important, it’s not yet the place to seal the deal.

How will You Link Social Media to Your B2B Operations?

As stated by the article, potential buyers are much more interested in the education aspect than the pitch, and your content strategy needs to reflect this.  It is important to keep your social media efforts tactically knowledgeable and filled with information that people can use.

How can you improve your interaction with potential clients and consumers through social media? As the social revolution grows and becomes increasingly important; operations in these media will need to be properly planned, grown and harvested.

We understand how to develop interaction through social media.  Download our recent whitepaper, A Guide to B2B content Marketing for insights and on improving B2B Relationships and customers through social media and other content.

Modern Marketing Partners is a Business to Business Marketing Agency located in Naperville, Illinois.  If you are interested in more information, please contact Neil Brown to schedule a free consultation and receive your Modern Marketing Report Card.

Additional Resources:

Content Marketing Institute: Coca-Cola’s Content Strategy: 3 Lessons for B2B Marketers

Hot Potato Social Media: The 4 P’s of Social Media Marketing

Social Media Today: 7 Tips for Effective Content Strategy

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