IT buyers are getting social. They want to know what their peers are doing. They want educational content, not promotional.
The message to those trying to sell to them?
"… Have a clear, consistent game plan that ties in with all their other demand generation activities and targets potential buyers on their own turf," Bob Johnson, principal analyst with IDG Connect, wrote in his report, "Connecting Conversations to Content."
Enterprises should distribute information via a variety of social channels, utilizing relevant communication networks to help IT buyers locate peers and independent experts alike.
"But above all," Johnson wrote, "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."
Relevant Content, Not Just Content
So what does this mean for marketers courting IT buyers?
It means you need to stop writing that blog post about how great your product is and fire up some meaningful content instead — content that is meaningful to the industry, not just your company. Become an influencer, as it were.
"Ultimately the buyer wants to go to the expert and wants to hear from them," Johnson told CMSWire. "But vendors are struggling in the B2B space in terms of the content they create."
Content produced often does not align with buyer needs. It doesn't speak to the IT buyer in terms of their focus and role. IT buyers want vendors to produce "meaningful" content.
"Vendors have not made a lot of progress," said Johnson, who spent 12 months on the research project speaking to decision-makers at B2B IT technology firms.
So what to do if you're marketing to IT buyers?
Here are five things Johnson thinks you should know:
1. Social content must be connected to demand generation and be managed by individuals who have the authority along with responsibility. Vendors haven't moved beyond social media simply being the "shiny object in the corner," Johnson told CMSWire. Have a mix of generation sources to meet buyer preferences.
2. Vendors who are not blogging to take advantage of social are less likely to gain buyer consideration. Social networks and communities are one of the first places buyers look before making an IT investment, Johnson wrote. Get out there in social media, and don't limit yourself to any single social network (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn are the top four social networks that buyers look to for information, Johnson said).
3. Vendors who are posting only promotional content are not going to be considered in the buying process. "People don't want to be given a monologue," Johnson said. "They want to have a dialogue." Too many take what Johnson said is a "field of dreams approach" — if you blog, they will come. "But then you start blogging and wonder why nobody's commenting," he said. You have to maintain the separation of educational and promotional blogging. "A blog is not the place to tout all the things that set you apart," Johnson said. "You want promotional content to be adjacent to the blog and not embedded in it. The No. 1 complaint about vendor content is it's biased." Buyers don't mind links to products, Johnson said. However, while being educated, if they suddenly feel like they are being sold, you may lose them.
4. IT buyers favor vendors who have links to virtual events, blogs, and forums on their social networking profiles. Those buyers will easily be able to find the information they’re looking for by going to their favored social channels. "If vendors are not currently linking these activities, they should start to in order to give buyers what they are looking for," Johnson wrote.
5. Educational content is the clear winner when it comes to offering links via social channels. Social teams and product teams must share content that is engaging and aligned with one another.
Title image by alphaspirit (Shutterstock).
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