When UBM Tech started surveying technology professionals to learn about their attitudes toward social media in 2010, the company found a disconnect between the pros' preferences and the channels that marketers were using to reach them. “Marketers were excited about Facebook, whereas b2b professionals were coming onto LinkedIn,” said Scott Vaughan, CMO at UBM Tech.
Fast-forward to the current environment.
Marketers are closing that gap, according to the most recent iteration of the “Social Media@Work” report, released at the end of January. The study, part of an annual series that targets the evolving use of social media in the b2b tech sector, focused on the social media habits of 462 IT buyers, as well as 155 b2b technology marketers surveyed online in the last half of 2012.
“Marketers are getting more savvy about using the right channels to reach, to engage, to learn more about their customer database,” Vaughan said. “Social is a completely integrated part of the way technology professionals consume information. Marketers need to have a strategy and a tactical approach.”
More than 90% of technology professionals responding said they use social media, with about two-thirds using information gleaned from social media channels to make purchasing decisions, the report found. Almost all of those technology professionals have followed a social media lead to a website, white paper or other linked resource.
Since 2010, marketers have doubled their social-media presence, according to the report. Now, they are turning their attention to gaining returns in a traditionally underresourced arena, Vaughan said. “The tools are getting better, but there is so much activity and the social media channels are growing. More marketers are focusing on a couple of key channels. You can't tackle everything all the time without diminishing returns.”
Almost 90% of tech professionals responding used LinkedIn, making it one of the top channels for marketers, according to the report. More than 60% use Twitter; and combined, the two channels are the most popular professional social venues. Facebook and YouTube—both popular among tech professionals—are favored for personal communications.
Marketers are increasingly focusing on social media as a means to create community, communicate with customers, learn about their markets and drive thought-leadership initiatives, Vaughan said. Video has proven to be an effective educational medium, and research reports that establish thought leadership and provide a professional barometer for readers can be parsed into Twitter-ready nuggets.
Technology marketers—more than 50% of whom said their social media programs lack resources—need to be savvy about where they are focusing their efforts and work to establish benchmarks for return on investment, he said. Only 20% of tech marketers responding currently measured the impact of social media, according to the report. However, Vaughan said, the process of measuring is essential to setting the social media agenda: “You do testing and you set benchmarks to see what is working and engaging.”