I found this article by Anita Campbell very revealing in how engaged decision-makers actually are in the business world of social media. Let me know what you think.
Over at the Groundswell blog, Forrester has published some research suggesting that B2B decision-makers are extremely active participants in social sites. They surveyed 1,200 IT (information technology) buyers and discovered:
91% of these technology decision-makers were Spectators — the highest number I’ve ever seen in a Social Technographics Profile. This means you can count on the fact that your buyers are reading blogs, watching user generated video, and participating in other social media. Note that 69% of them said they were using this technology for business purposes.
Only 5% are non-participants (Inactives).
55% of these decision-makers were in social networks (Joiners) — despite as mature businesspeople and not college students, you’d think they’d be participating a lot less.
43% are creating media (blogs, uploading videos or articles, etc.) and 58% are Critics, reacting to content they see in social formats. Again the numbers are very high compared to other groups we’ve surveyed, and again the level of participation for business purposes is also very high.
I bolded the last sentence in the above quote because I thought it was significant.
Based on my own experience running a small business blog for over 5 years, a small business audience is like an iceberg. You only see the tip of it on the surface.
Small business people are engaged in social sites more than they let on. They tend to be silent readers. They read and digest, but don’t comment very frequently. They tend to e-mail articles to colleagues, even more so than they comment publicly. They will also email you privately to comment, rather than leaving comments on the site itself.
Note: this research did not focus on small businesses that are IT buyers. It consisted of decision-makers in company sizes of 100 employees or higher. So, on the one hand, I think we have to be careful not to draw faulty conclusions, since the survey did not cover decision-makers in small businesses.
On the other hand, the Forrester research results are on point with everything I know about a small business audience.
I’ll end this article with another point made in the Forrester article: “If you’re a B2B marketer and you’re not using social technologies in your marketing, it means you’re late.”