B-2-B marketers have traditionally used tools like White Papers to inform, educate and nurture prospects for their products and services.
But a new study featured in Advertising Age suggests, "Buyers expect to soon give more weight to social content than editorial and white papers." Research by IDG Connect amongst IT buyers is quoted as saying, "When compared to editorial content and vendor-created content, social media is currently the least critical source of information for IT buyers. But in two years, buyers expect that equation to flip as they increase the weight given to social media from 31% to 37% for influencing investment decisions. In the same period the weight given to editorial and vendor content will drop to 31% and 32% respectively." The study also noted that 86% of the group now use social media in their purchase decision process. Buyers engaging in the social media networks are apparently more interested in educational content than transactional or promotional content and this flags up the importance of providing a clear path to the appropriate content, which of course might be a white paper on the company web site!
One impact of the growing importance of social media is the need for B-2-B marketers to have expertise in both traditional marketing and in these new areas of digital marketing. And of course to make space in the marketing budget as digital channels are not necessarily displacing traditional routes but are fragmenting the communications opportunities.