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Forrester-B2B-Decision-Maker-Use-Social-Media-July2013Social media use is ubiquitous among B2B decision-makers in North America and Europe, according to [download page] results from a newly-released Forrester Research study. That said, their motivations for using various platforms differs greatly, and understanding those patterns is a crucial element for figuring out appropriate marketing strategies. The data suggests that among popular sites, Facebook is rarely used primarily for business purposes, while Google+ and Pinterest are still lagging in adoption rates overall.

The survey asked respondents for what purposes they visit or participate in a list of social places. The results indicate that:

  • 85% visit brand-agnostic communities or forums at least monthly, with 18% doing so primarily for business purposes, and another 63% for business and personal purposes;
  • 81% visit LinkedIn with that frequency, with 26% doing so primarily for business purposes and another 48% for mixed reasons;
  • 81% also visit Facebook at least monthly, but only 2% do so primarily for business purposes, as opposed to 42% who do so primarily for personal purposes;
  • 80% use vendor support forums or discussion forums on vendor or brand websites (for that specific vendor or brand), with 23% doing so primarily for business reasons;
  • 62% visit Twitter at least monthly, but only 6% do so mainly for business, as opposed to 20% mainly for personal reasons;
  • Google+ monthly usage stands at 49%, with primarily personal (15%) usage outweighing primarily business-related use (4%); and
  • 32% use Pinterest at least monthly, but only 2% do so primarily for business reasons.

So what are these decision-makers doing on each of the major networks? Among LinkedIn users, 88% have connected with peers or colleagues in the past month, while 40% have participated in LinkedIn groups affiliated with a brand or vendor.

Twitter is “primarily a consumption channel,” per the researchers, with the main activity among those using it at least in some part for business reasons being reading others’ tweets (86% of users). Still, 58% have retweeted something they’ve read, 55% have posted a tweet, 54% have responded to a tweet and 42% have sought support for a product.

Finally, those using Facebook for business reasons at least part of the time most often connect with people they know (71%), but a majority have also liked a brand or vendor (57%), clicked on an ad or sponsored post (51%) and posted on a page owned by a brand or vendor (51%).

Those results suggest that B2B decision-makers use the major social media platforms for both consumption and interaction. Indeed, among all respondents, while 98% are “spectators” (reading blogs, watching peer videos, etc.), 75% are also “critics” (commenting on blogs and posting ratings and reviews) and 56% are “creators” who publish posts and upload visual media.

About the Data:The data is based on an online survey was fielded to 382 business decision-makers located in the US, Canada, France, Germany, and the UK, at SMB and enterprise companies with 100 or more employees. Business decision- makers included respondents in the IT, benefits, finance, marketing, and sales departments involved in both line-of-business product decisions and technology product decisions.

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