22 Mar

B2B Decision-Makers Are Socially Active Online

B2B audiences participate in social sites

Over at the Groundswell blog, Forrester has published some research suggesting that B2B decision-makers are extremely active participants in social sites.  They surveyed 1,200 IT (information technology) buyers and discovered:

  • 91% of these technology decision-makers were Spectators — the highest number I’ve ever seen in a Social Technographics Profile. This means you can count on the fact that your buyers are reading blogs, watching user generated video, and participating in other social media. Note that 69% of them said they were using this technology for business purposes.
  • Only 5% are non-participants (Inactives).
  • 55% of these decision-makers were in social networks (Joiners) — despite as mature businesspeople and not college students, you’d think they’d be participating a lot less.
  • 43% are creating media (blogs, uploading videos or articles, etc.) and 58% are Critics, reacting to content they see in social formats. Again the numbers are very high compared to other groups we’ve surveyed, and again the level of participation for business purposes is also very high.

I bolded the last sentence in the above quote because I thought it was significant.

Based on my own experience running a small business blog for over 5 years, a small business audience is like an iceberg. You only see the tip of it on the surface.

Small business people are engaged in social sites more than they let on.  They tend to be silent readers. They read and digest, but don’t comment very frequently. They tend to email articles to colleagues, even more so than they comment publicly. They will also email you privately to comment, rather than leaving comments on the site itself.

Note: this research did not focus on small businesses that are IT buyers. It consisted of decision-makers in company sizes of 100 employees or higher. So, on the one hand, I think we have to be careful not to draw faulty conclusions, since the survey did not cover decision-makers in small businesses. 

On the other hand, the Forrester research results are on point with everything I know about a small business audience.

I’ll end this article with another point made in the Forrester article: “If you’re a B2B marketer and you’re not using social technologies in your marketing, it means you’re late.”

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  1. Susan Oakes said on March 24th, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Hi Anita,

    What do you think are the reasons why small businesses are silent readers and don’t comment very frequently? It would be good if someone did research on this area so we could gain a better understanding.

  2. Rose Anderson said on March 24th, 2009 at 6:26 am

    “If you’re a B2B marketer and you’re not using social technologies in your marketing, it means you’re late.” — Absolutely!

  3. Jeremy said on March 24th, 2009 at 10:43 am


    I find this information interesting. It doesn’t surprise me that they are on social networking. Many people see the value of networking. I think that many would find more benefit out of active participation on the media. That said, I understand the demands for time.

    Good article.

    Jeremy @ RefocusingTechnology.com

  4. Rose Anderson said on March 25th, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Yes. Jeremy you are right. It requires time but I have read a lot of articles from different small business owners how they are getting hooked with social networking and even consumes majority of their time. So a little careful on that only.

  5. Martin Lindeskog said on March 27th, 2009 at 11:36 am


    I think that many are “lurkers” due to time constraints. They want to stay in touch what’s going on, but they don’t have time to join the conversation. It could also be a “road block” to get going and start to comment. After you have done some participation, you often stick to do it on a regular basis because you see many benefits of being involved.

  6. Rose Anderson said on March 30th, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Hi Martin, I agree with the benefits you can get when you stay in touch and get connected.

  7. Martin Lindeskog said on April 1st, 2009 at 9:54 pm


    Thanks for your note. Yes, it is important to stay in the loop! 🙂


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