B2B Decision Makers Head to Social Media, and So Should You

Business-to-business, or B2B commerce transactions occur between businesses, like transactions between your business and a vendor, and the overall volume of B2B transactions is huge, because there are so many B2B transactions in a typical supply chain. Therefore, B2B decisions can be critical to the success of a business.

Social media relationships can lead to solid business relationships.
Social media relationships can lead to solid business relationships.

In 2013, the use of social media in B2B decision-making increased in importance. The University of Dayton’s Business Research Group along with TriComB2B marketing agency conducted a study that found that social media is becoming increasingly important to the process of B2B decision making. In short, those who make B2B purchasing decisions are increasingly using social media to gather intelligence and information before making those decisions.

Social Media, TCO Important to B2B Decision Makers

Online social interaction has come to shape both business and personal interactions over the past few years, and B2B has become more of a social media phenomenon as well. In fact, 25% of respondents to the University of Dayton-TriComB2B study reported that LinkedIn is a helpful resource when they’re considering a B2B purchasing decision.

Online socialization itself is becoming more important to B2B decision makers, as sharing of experiences becomes more commonplace and expected. But when it comes to the factors that these decisions are based upon, total cost of ownership (TCO) is increasingly important among B2B buyers when they’re gathering information using social media. Over half of survey respondents said that at least 60% of the time, TCO was calculated and played a role in the purchasing decisions in which they were involved.

Other B2B Decision Factors

Plain old price may not be the only factor in B2B purchase decisions. While immediate purchase price is the predominant consideration, other factors matter too. Further operational costs, and possible efficiency gains that factor into TCO influence these purchase decisions as well. And while environmental concerns are still a hot topic in social media and the news, B2B decision makers said that having a ”green” supply chain was not an important differentiator in most of their purchase decisions. So while social media and popular current concerns resonate, B2B buyers don’t take everything they learn from social media interaction as equally important.

Other Interesting Findings

Online videos are important in marketing B2B products.
Online videos are important in marketing B2B products.

Online video on social media is important to those who are gathering their information in advance of a B2B purchase decision. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they had clicked on an online video for this purpose. And non-social media events are still important too, lest you think all B2B decisions are made on the basis of social media-based information. Eighty-four percent of respondents said that they attend at least one event (such as a trade show) every year. While some popular events are web-based (including webinars), the importance of face-to-face interaction is still evident.

Improving B2B relationships through social media marketing can help improve business-to-business trust and commitment. It’s also a good channel for establishing new B2B relationships, whether you’re the buyer or the provider. Social media marketing is also seen as a way to establish and manage brand reputation, to deliver information to B2B customers, and establish credibility and reputation in an ever-changing online world.

Of the social media channels discussed in the University of Dayton-TriComB2B study, LinkedIn is currently considered the strongest channel for social media B2B marketing. The adoption rate of LinkedIn doubled from 2011 to 2013 among all age groups, but discussion forums and blogs continue to inform B2B decision processes as well.

Social media is increasingly important to B2B decision makers, and digital publishers and trade publication websites can learn from this trend. Social media continues to gain traction for business marketing, and having a strong social media presence is now considered a sound business practice. A great social media strategy can help you with audience and revenue development for your digital publication or trade journal website. RealMatch offers recruitment advertising solutions for digital publishers and media companies, with revenue sharing that lets you develop an exciting new stream of revenue for your site.

Photo Credits: Ambro / freedigitalphotos.net, imagerymajestic / freedigitalphotos.net

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