Last Friday (Feb. 20, 2009), Forrester published a new report that Oliver Young and I authored about how business buyers participate socially — in general and on the job — called “The Social Technographics of Business Buyers“. Today, Forrester marketing put out a press release on this research announcing it to the world.
Social Technographics is the term coined at Forrester to describe how we benchmark consumers by their level of participation in Social Computing behaviors. We describe the model as a ladder consisting of six increasing levels of a participation in social technologies. Participation at one level may or may not overlap with participation at other levels, and consumers may move up and down the ladder over time or for different purposes.
Social Technographics models the propensity of buyers to engage in social activity. Josh Bernoff talks about the Social Technographics of consumers often on the Groundswell blog. There is a tool published in the upper right corner of the main blog page that you can use to explore how social behavior changes with age, gender, or country of origin.
So why the press release? Because this is the first research available that profiles the social behavior of business buyers. Specifically, IT and business decision makers involved in technology purchase decision making. Sure, the research is fairly specific. If you are buying industrial equipment, office furniture, employee health plans, 401K investment options, or a myriad of other business-related acquisitions, then this data is not exactly what you need. But if you sell any type of IT hardware, software, services, or telecom/networking products, you’ll want to take a look at the data and/or the report.
Why should B2B marketers care about this? For three main reasons:
1) Social Technographics helps you set social media strategy. Social media is a broad term, but generally refers to new interactive marketing tactics used to engage with prospect, and communities of customers and prospects, and draw value from social interaction. To set a social media strategy that is successful, Forrester developed an acronym to help marketers focus on the important part of the strategy first: POST. POST stands for “People”, “Objectives”, “Strategy” and “Tactics/Tools”. Social Technographics helps B2B marketers who sell technology products and services get a handle on the P=People part of the POST methodology.
2) Social media has a place in the marketing mix. Knowing how buyers participate in social activity while working — and which behaviors are more common — helps you understand how to blend social media into your 2009 marketing plans. It also helps you to align which of the primary business objectives for social media — listening, talking, energizing, supporting, spreading, or embracing — will best engage (and entice) buyers at different levels of the Social Technographics ladder. It will also tell you whether or not you can rule out a particular behavior as relevant to your intended audience and how to go about using social media to change the nature of the relationship your firm has with these buyers.
3) Social Technographics describes business behavior. This research makes it definitively clear — people engage socially when on the job. They behave socially for a lot of reasons, but informing or making purchase decisions is one of the main ones. There are many attributes to this data worth exploring: we looked at age, tenure, gender, geography/country, business role, function, specific type of technology purchased, and role played in the decision making process. Looking at the data from any of these perspectives can help B2B marketers understand with whom, how, how often, and where to engage buyers socially to achieve the best results — engagement and greater dialogue.
I am hoping you will take a closer look and let us know what you think. Oliver and I are very excited about this research and look forward to sharing more insights — in blogs, additional research, and ongoing conversation — with you. Here are the slides from the exclusive February 12 preview webinar we presented a couple of weeks ago:
If you would like to download these slides, please visit our Web site where you can find the Powerpoint or MP3 version of the presentation.