BtoB: The Magazine for Marketing StrategistsThe customer voice doesn’t just drive consumer behavior; it drives business purchase decisions as well. Just ask Bob Johnson, VP-principal analyst with the Content Optimization Practice at IDG Connect. In a recent interview with BtoB, Johnson highlighted IDG’s survey of 150 buyers involved in a major IT investment decision in the past 18 months. The survey revealed that social platforms – defined in the survey as blogs, social networks, and discussion boards – have a huge impact on businesses’ IT purchasing decisions.

As Johnson told BtoB, “social media, in terms of importance weight, has a greater weight than either editorial or vendor content alternatives” in IT investment decisions. Survey participants attributed 37% of their purchasing decision to social content, while vendor and editorial content were credited with 32% and 27%, respectively.

Before participating in public social media platforms, vendors must first make certain that their internally managed social platforms efficiently meet the needs of their target audience, Johnson says. Once their internal social platforms are in order, vendors “can and should participate” in public forums. 47% of survey respondents indicated that vendor-provided links to educational content would not negatively affect their perceptions of the peer-generated content’s legitimacy.

The key in social media is for marketers to ease off the traditional promotional angle and let their customers do the marketing for them.

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