The Social Technographics Of B2B Buyers

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.

How Technology Buyers Engage in Social Media

How Technology Buyers Engage in Social Media

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:

View more presentations from oliveryng. (tags: social media)

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.

13 Responses to “The Social Technographics Of B2B Buyers”

  1. Exploring Buyer Behavior With Santa Clara University MBA Students « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] and business outcome. Simple tools, like the POST methodology and behavioral modeling (like Forrester’s Social Technographics), can keep business marketers from losing sight of marketing’s real purpose — to help [...]

  2. Don’t Be A Social Media Tool « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] and (now) Empowered, described in his seminal work on setting social strategy, and which I later adopted in much of my research.  We used the acronym POST to remind marketers and business people to focus on your audience and [...]

  3. Best Practices For Marketing To Buyers “In The Cloud” « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] How to use Forrester’s Social Technographics® Profiles of business decision-makers to design marketing programs that not only capitalize on emerging social behaviors but also [...]

  4. Social Media Insights With A Forrester B2B Marketing Guru « Tech Marketing Blog Says:

    [...] interview. Laura co-authored  Forrester’s groundbreaking study, with G. Oliver Young, of how business technology buyers use social media. In this interview, she shares her insights that any technology marketer looking to better [...]

  5. Sharing Social Media Insights With Business.com « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] and found Forrester’s groundbreaking study, that I authored with G. Oliver Young, of how business technology buyers use social media. He thought it was a wake-up call for B2B marketers, and asked me to share perspectives that any [...]

  6. New: Social Buyer Profiles and Groundswell Nomiations for B2B « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] this year, Oliver Young and I published Forrester’s first research describing the social behavior of technology business buyers. We surveyed more than 1,200 business technology buyers and found that they exceed all previous [...]

  7. See You At Forrester’s Marketing Forum - April 23, 24 in Orlando « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] will take a deeper dive into the tech buyer social behavior survey we ran earlier this year, that I blogged about previously. This session looks to answer the “so what” question for B2B marketers wanting to know [...]

  8. What’s in a name: the story behind B2B Marketing POSTs « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] 3) Tip my hat to social media. I believe social computing has — and will continue to — profoundly change how people communicate and engage with each other. There’s no putting this genie back in the bottle, to echo a trite, but true, sentiment. Rather than focus on the media, however, I picked “post” over “times” because individual blog entries are called posts and POST is the term we coined here at Forrester to describe a simple, straightforward methodology for setting marketing strategy. [...]

  9. Rebekah Donaldson Says:

    Hats off to you for this original angle of approach — I’m really impressed. I hope to write more about your piece in an upcoming post.

  10. Forrester: social media inclinations of B2B buyers - Steve Ellis - TheNewMarketing Says:

    [...] Laura Ramos discusses the report in her post The Social Technographics of B2B Buyers. [...]

  11. Using B2B Social Technographics To Set Marketing Strategy « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] syndicated data as an example would have led us to the same conclusions.  As a reminder from my previous post, 91% of IT and business buyers exhibit Spectator (i.e. reading blogs, read forums, watch video) and [...]

  12. Social Technographics and Demand Discovery | Marketbright Blog Says:

    [...] I just finished reading a great blog by Laura Ramos of Forrester entitled The Social Technographics Of B2B Buyers (http://b2bmarketingpost.com/2009/02/23/the-social-technographics-of-b2b-buyers/#comment-37). [...]

  13. Mike Pilcher Says:

    I fully agree with your conclusions. I think what we are seeing in Social Marketing is a reflection in the online world of the way the offline world used to work. If you wanted to meet Stanford sports fans to watch a game, you would go to a sports bar near the Stanford campus, not Berkeley. What we are seeing in the market is driven by the same forces we used to see, closing more revenue, more quickly. This desire means we need to find those people who are ready to buy and buy today. When we can find them, we close quickly and if we can keep them flowing we close more often, ultimately driving more revenue. This means marketing has to put itself in the place where the ready buyer is right now. That means finding which places these people are in and going there. Like the Stanford example, there will be many sports bars to go to watch a game, so you start with the largest one and then find there are some people who want to watch a game but they like a certain food, or a quiet place. You then expand the marketing reach to go to these places and spread your message. As marketers we need to find where the people that are ready to buy are congregating and go there not wait for them to find us. We don’t have the time to deliver the demand generation activities of the past, we need revenue and we need it now. The best way to deliver this is to find a well-qualified prospect who is ready to buy. Find out where they are discovering information about the problem they face, add value to their discovery and lead them toward your solution.


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