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The Social Bridge to the IT Committee - UK

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How social media puts IT brands on the shortlist …

How social media puts IT brands on the shortlist

If IT companies want to be shortlisted by potential customers, they need to earn the attention of decision-makers long before they start reaching out to suppliers. And to do that, they need to put the right content in front of the right people on the right social media channels.

New research from LinkedIn and comScore reveals how social media increasingly drives the decision-making process for “The IT Committee”, the group of senior decision-makers who have the final, collective say on IT purchases. This group is already 60% of the way through the purchase decision process before its members start to make contact with potential suppliers – and any company that has failed to make the shortlist by this point is unlikely to be considered.

LinkedIn partnered with comScore, Starcom Mediavest Group and Mashwork to understand the processes behind the IT Committee’s decisions – and how companies can use content on social media to become a part of the discussion. The findings of this pioneering global study reveal the workings of the IT Committee across a range of different markets, including the UK, France and Germany. It shows the types of content that decision-makers seek, and the social media channels that they turn to, in order to find it.

To earn a place on the shortlist for new customers, IT companies must reach out with content that can educate and add value when decision-makers are seeking an efficient, trusted overview of the options available. Social media and LinkedIn in particular provide the most powerful channel for doing so: In the UK 92% of IT decision-makers use social networks for business, and LinkedIn is used 80% more often than other social media networks to read content posts from vendors.

Industry news and strategic insight are vital for driving awareness, whilst demos, best practice information and ‘how to guides’ are the types of content most actively sought in the scoping and planning stages. The likelihood of IT decision-makers meeting with vendors, conducting live chats or attending webinars all increase significantly when companies are able to make contact with them using such forms of content. In the UK, IT brands’ Net Promoter Score amongst IT Committee members almost doubled after interacting with them twice on LinkedIn.

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  • We are going to share some insights from our latest research, The Social Bridge to the IT Committee, which is about how you can leverage content on social media to better connect and build relationships with IT buyers.
  • Now we all know that when it comes the purchase process, the buyer is in control.  Social and digital media gives them instant access to information and feedback, and they are self-diagnosing their own solutions.  In fact, studies show that they are 60% through the process before they reach out to a brand.And that is what we’d like to address today. How can you as marketers get in front of and influence these buyers before they are ready to engage with a technology vendor.http://www.executiveboard.com/exbd-resources/content/digital-evolution/pdf/Digital-Evolution-in-B2B-Marketing.pdf
  • Because if you don’t develop a relationship with the buyer earlier in the process, you risk being left on the sidelines.The implications for not engaging early include:less exposure to client projectsa decrease in lead potential, andthe risk of not being considered a true partner and thought leader
  • Now more than ever, tech marketers have an opportunity to use social media <BUILD> to bridge the gap and build relationships
  • Traditionally, when people think of those who influence B2B tech purchasing, they are typically described as being within the IT department or being very senior at their company.What we found was that these influencers extend beyond IT. In fact 41% work outside of IT in departments like Finance, Sales and BenefitsWe also saw that seniority went across the board. Halfas being either an individual contributor or manager.As marketers, you must think holistically about all of the decision makers that can impact a tech purchase because there are a broad set of functions and seniority levels that make up this IT Committee.Q3. In which department do you work?Q4. Which of the following most closely describes your job role?
  • To better understand what this IT Committee is thinking, we partnered with comScore, a leader in digital measurement with expertise in the tech space, and they conducted a survey on our behalf. The survey takers did not know that LinkedIn sponsored the research, nor did they even have to use social media to participate. The findings represent the IT Committee across the UK.To listen to what they are saying, we partnered with Starcom MediaVest Group and Mashwork. SMG is of course one of the top agencies in the world. Mashwork is a social media insights firm that used text analytics to listen to tech conversations to understand the differences in content and conversations between senior and junior decision makers.Finally, we looked within LinkedIn’s own data to understand how they engage with content.
  • Nearly all of the IT Committee uses social media for business purposes. With 92% telling us they use it for business thisyear, social media has become a de facto platform for the IT Committee.Q10. How frequently do you visit each of the following social networks for information specific to your work or business?
  • How did social become a de facto platform for the IT Committee? The answer is TERA. Trust, Efficiency, Relevancy and Access. When making purchase decisions, they turn to social media because they trust their peers, they can find information efficiently, social provides a relevant context to connect with vendors and they have access to a broader network. Social media has enabled peer validation at scale, and this is how they communicate, debate, and decide on IT purchases.To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about [the following networks], as they relate to your role in the IT decision-making process? - % agree
  • TERA drives utilization throughout the entire decision making process. Starting with discovering and generating awareness of products and solutions. Scoping business needs. Project planning. All the way through to selecting a vendor and implementing the technology, the influence of social media is high <BUILD> and it’s grown year-over-year.Q5. Which of the following information channels influence your discovery of technologies, products, and solutions to address your business needs? Q6. When you identify or scope business needs for an IT initiative, which of the following information channels influence your decision-making process? Q7. When you craft project plans or formal business requirements for an IT initiative, which of the following information channels influence your decision-making process? Q8. When you select vendors/third party service providers or authorize funding for an IT purchase, which of the following information channels influence your decision-making process? Q9. When you implement or roll out an IT initiative, which of the following information channels influence your decision-making process?
  • Social isn’t just about connecting with peers. This hard to reach audience is open and receptive to hearing from vendors on social networks. 7 in 10 said they are open to connecting with a new vendor social. 3 in 4 said they are ready to have a conversation with a new vendor on social.You’ve all heard it said many times, that people want to have companies and brands to be in the conversation. It used to be only some people wanted it, but today it’s an expectation. Those who haven’t gotten in the conversation are going to be left on the sidelines.Why are they open to talking to a prospective company on a social platform? Because inherently the engagement there is more about the person and less about the company. It’s about discussing and consuming content. It is very much about the value they are getting because they can control who they engage with on social much more than on other platforms.Q26. Which of the following factors would prevent you from connecting with a potential vendor on any social network?
  • The IT Committee has a good idea of who they want to work with, so having a strong relationship means you are more likely to be top of mind.This is important because <BUILD> they only consider 3 vendors on average and 94% purchased from a vendor that made the shortlist. Many of you may not have a problem making the shortlist, but sometimes finding yourself not closing the deal. The same rules still apply. You need to strengthen your relationship to guard against competitors and unseat that incumbent.They also stick with what they know. Only 1 in 5 purchased from a vendor they had never work with before.Q32. Had you previously purchased from <VENDOR>?Q30. Before you decided to work with <VENDOR>, how many companies made your short list for consideration? - MedianQ33. Was <VENDOR> one of the brands you had originally considered?
  • With so few willing to try a new vendor, it begs the question. How do you make the short list if you are a new vendor?
  • The IT Committee doesn’t want to be sold to. We asked them for reasons why they wouldn’t connect to a vendor on social and the number one reason they told us was that they didn’t want to receive a lot of marketing materials.<BUILD> As we look at the other reasons why they wouldn't connect with a vendor, it’s clear they are looking for an authentic conversation.Static editorial calendars or always locking your valuable insights behind lead forms, can actually turn off this audience on social. They are looking for vendors who can help them think strategically about solutions to their challenges, and the best way to do that is with the right kind of content.Q26. Which of the following factors would prevent you from connecting with a potential vendor on any social network?
  • As you think about building relationships with this audience, it will be critical to engage them with content <BUILD> that is authentic, that is valuable, that is timely.
  • We asked them what information they seek at each stage of their decision journey. Not just what they are looking for on social media, but what they look for in general. As you might expect, needs differ by stage.So let’s look at the type of content that is actually getting engagement.Q4. What type of information do you generally seek for each of the phases of IT decision-making that you are involved? Awareness - Discover technologies, products, and solutions to address your business needsScope - Identify or scope business needs for a new IT initiativePlan - Craft project plans and formal business requirements for the new initiativeSelect - Select vendors or third party service providers, authorize funding, and/or approve the purchaseImplement/Roll out - Implement the project, roll out the solution, and/or validate outcome
  • Early in the process they are interested in product news. And when this article was shared on LinkedIn <BUILD>, about 3200 IT Decision Makers engaged with it. That’s not 3200 that read the article. That is 3200 that liked it, that shared it, that commented on it.What we also learned was that Senior Decisions makers, by that I mean those whose title is Director or higher, <BUILD> that group is 2X more likely to have engaged with product or industry news than those more junior. Those at a manger level or below.And when it came to the type of news, junior decision makers were more likely to focus at a product level (reference quote), while senior decision makers talked more at an industry level (reference quote).
  • Senior decision makers were 11.5X more likely to have engaged with thought leadership content.One of the ways that people are consuming thought leadership on LinkedIn is through our Influencer program. This particular post from the CEO of GE about connecting minds and machines to drive efficiency, <BUILD> this generated engagement from over 1300 IT Decision Makers.And when you look at the comments that this post got, half of them generated their own engagement. Half of the comments generated their own likes and comments. Not only are members engaging with and learning from Jeff, they are talking amongst themselves and learning from each other.
  • As the IT Committee moves towards the middle and end of their decision journey, they are looking for is news and strategy information. They become more technical, more tactical, and they are looking for best practices to help them implement and troubleshoot. And junior decision makers are more likely to engage with this type of content. <BUILD> Here is an example of a member of a tech group posting this article about leveraging analytics in the telecom space.The IT Committee have busy, difficult jobs. There is much more aspirational content, leadership content, functional role content that they are engaging with that you should be considering sharing as well. A vendor who shares and engages them on multiple topics to meet their diverse needs, earns more interest than the vendor who only talks about themselves!
  • Traditional lead generation like cold calling and gating content with lead forms is and should continue to be an important way to generate leads. But social is different. At its core, Social is about discussion. It’s about open information. And you have to earn leads through valuable content.That doesn’t mean you can’t gate content behind lead forms. You just need to be very smart about how you do it so that you are not inhibiting the inherent value that social provides. If you are providing a lot of good information, but everything has a gate around it, people are going to stop engaging with your brand. However if you are continuing a conversation with someone and occasionally ask for a lead, that’s fine. <BUILD> That’s the sweet spot and you have earned that lead by providing value. You are finding the points in time when they raise their hand and say, yes I want to talk to you further.
  • A trusted context matters. We asked them how much LinkedIn is trusted versus other websites. Not just other social networks, but other websites in general. What we saw was that over 2X more trusted LinkedIn when it came toconnecting with vendorstalking about their vendor experiencegetting relevant information for their IT decisionsQ27. To what extent do you trust LinkedIn versus other websites in general?
  • And the trusted context of LinkedIn leads to engagement. Compared to other social networks, LinkedIn is used<BUILD> 80% more often to read a post from a vendor<BUILD> 20% more often to follow a vendorThis means a higher likelihood for broad reach and engagement leading ultimately to potential for more considerationQ34.Before purchasing, did you interact with <VENDOR> in any of the following ways?
  • In our survey, we asked the IT Committee to tell us the types of engagement they had with a vendor prior to purchase. Not the number of times, but the different types. As you can see along the bottom, we classified them into one of two categories of engagement on LinkedIn. Either they did not engage with the vendor at all on LinkedIn or they had 2+ types. They could have read a post from the vendor, joined a group discussion or followed the vendor, but they had to do at least two.We also looked at the ways they engaged with the vendor directly. Meeting in person, getting a demo, attending a webinar or doing a live chat. What you see is a strong positive correlation between engagement on LinkedIn and direct vendor access.To summarize further, your likelihood of getting a meeting with the IT Committee increases as you engage with them on LinkedIn.Q34.Before purchasing, did you interact with <VENDOR> in any of the following ways?
  • Now, using the same groupings where we look at those who didn’t engage with their vendor on LinkedIn versus who did in 2 or more ways, we see a fairly large increase in NPS.If you are not familiar with Net Promoter Score, it’s based off the question of how likely you are to recommend a brand.  The metric allows companies to track promoters and detractors, producing a clear measure of an organization's performance through its customers' eyes. As it approaches 100, the more likely the brand is to have created loyal enthusiasts who keep buying and urge their friends and colleagues to do the same.Those vendors that interact with the IT Committee at a high rate are also more likely to create brand promoters.Q34.Before purchasing, did you interact with <VENDOR> in any of the following ways?Q36. How likely would you be to recommend <VENDOR> to a colleague or friend?
  • So, how should you use LinkedIn? Where should you be? There are four important places you need to be to get into these conversations. The newsfeed, groups, personalized communication via InMail and mobile.
  • Our product vision and strategy isn’t solely about monetizing the platform. It’s guided strongly by our core value of members first. We know they are on our platform, the types of engagement they are looking for and how they want to learn and gather insights via content. THIS is what guides our product decisions to help brands get into these conversations.To illustrate that, here are some examples of products that we have or have recently launched that help you to get into the newsfeed, that help you with groups, that help you create personalized experiences.
  • Now taking a step back and reflecting on what we just discussed, what are the big overarching takeaways that we are asking all of you to think about as you go into Q4 or for 2014 planning that have broader implication on your strategy.If you keep these key takeaways in mind as you're developing your social and content strategies, you'll find that the IT Committee, who are actively seeking your presence on social, will develop the trust and advocacy in your brand that is so powerful in this digital age.
  • Transcript

    • 1. The Social Bridge to the IT Committee How trusted content on social media builds relationships with IT buyers Commissioned study conducted by:
    • 2. Buyers are highly informed, savvy, and demanding 60% Through decision making process First contact with brand Source: CEB, “The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing”, 2012 2
    • 3. Tech companies risk being on the sidelines if they don’t educate and help Implications Less exposure to client and prospect projects TECH COMPANIES Decrease in lead potential Limiting long-term perception as a trusted partner and thought leader 3
    • 4. Social media can help bridge the gap and build relationships TECH COMPANIES 4
    • 5. Why is it so critical to foster long-term relationships?
    • 6. These scarce influencers include more than the IT department and the Executive team THE IT COMMITTEE They work cross functionally 41% work outside of IT Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 They include individual contributors and managers 52% are individual contributors or managers 6
    • 7. LinkedIn partnered with comScore, Starcom MediaVest Group, and Mashwork to understand today’s B2B IT Committee What are they thinking? 201 IT Committee members in the UK What are they saying? 3,000 tech posts from public LinkedIn Groups What are they doing? IT decision makers on LinkedIn comScore: Q3 2013 SMG / Mashwork: 2012 LinkedIn data: Q2 2013 7
    • 8. Key Findings Social media is not just for connecting with peers. The IT Committee actively seeks insights & conversations with vendors. The vendor shortlist is more exclusive and critical than you think. Make the vendor shortlist by fostering long-term relationships, while serving short-term needs via lead generation. Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 8
    • 9. The IT Committee actively seeks conversations with vendors on social media 9
    • 10. Nearly all of the IT Committee use social networks Use social network monthly for business 95% 81% 92% 2012 2013 Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 10
    • 11. The reason? Social media – LinkedIn especially – provides them with trust, efficiency, relevance, and access T E R A Trust Efficiency Relevance Access 51% Learn from trustworthy peers 37% 39% 50% Quickly find information Relevant context to connect with vendors Access a broader network Source: Commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2012 11
    • 12. TERA continues to drive even deeper utilisation across the entire IT decision process Influence of social media at each stage of decision making 78% 73% 74% 69% 66% Implement Awareness YoY Increase Scope Plan Select 49% 55% 83% 76% Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 89% 12
    • 13. As tech decision makers use social to learn and debate, they’re looking to vendors to participate 72% 76% Open to connecting with vendors on social Ready to have a conversation with a vendor on social Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 13
    • 14. The vendor shortlist is more exclusive and critical than you think 14
    • 15. The IT Committee already have a good idea who they want to work with Only 3 vendors make their short list 94% purchased from a vendor that made the short list Only 1 in 5 purchased from a new vendor Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 15
    • 16. How do you make the short list if you are a new vendor?
    • 17. Old ways of communicating don’t work and can turn off your audience Top 5 reasons the IT Committee doesn’t connect with a vendor on a social network 01 02 Talk too much about themselves Don’t want to receive a lot of marketing materials 04 Don’t believe would provide any credible information 03 Don’t believe would provide any info that is relevant to my job 05 Not thought leaders in the category Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore inin the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 17
    • 18. Building relationships with the right content is critical to being considered 18
    • 19. The IT Committee are interested in a diverse range of topics – earn more interest with multiple types of content Top types of information sought in each stage of IT decision-making process: AWARENESS SCOPE PLAN SELECT IMPLEMENT General company information / investor information IT industry news / strategy info IT industry news / strategy info Prod/solution demo / software trial Best practices, how-to’s, checklists Best practices, howto’s, checklists Diagnostic or assessment tools Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 19
    • 20. Senior decision makers are 2X more likely to have shared and engaged with product / industry news "Windows 8 is gold: Release date just days away [link] #ITBW for @computerworld by @richi $MSFT” "It's nice to hear that Asian companies are starting to adopt e-learning. [Link] Elearning going mobile in Asia | ZDNet” Junior Decision Maker, Twitter Senior Decision Maker, LinkedIn Groups 3,217 IT Decision Makers engaged with this article on LinkedIn in June Source: commissioned social intelligence research conducted by Mashwork on behalf of Starcom MediaVest Group and LinkedIn, Q1 – Q4 2012 20
    • 21. Senior decision makers were 11.5X more engaged with thought leadership content 1,345 IT Decision Makers engaged with this post on LinkedIn in June Source: commissioned social intelligence research conducted by Mashwork on behalf of Starcom MediaVest Group and LinkedIn, Q1 – Q4 2012 21
    • 22. Junior decision makers were 39% more engaged with best practice content "An interesting and insightful article elaborating on the innovative applications of analytics to enhance VAS revenues.... [Link]" Junior Decision Maker, LinkedIn Group Source: commissioned social intelligence research conducted by Mashwork on behalf of Starcom MediaVest Group and LinkedIn, Q1 – Q4 2012 22
    • 23. Build relationships to make the short list 23
    • 24. Traditional lead generation needs to be blended with social to earn leads Sweet Spot Traditional lead generation Social Relationships Valuable Content 24
    • 25. Context matters. Credibility and trust drive brand perception and willingness to consider a vendor for the shortlist % who trust LinkedIn more than other websites LinkedIn Same Other websites Connecting more efficiently with vendors and relevant companies 43% 42% 15% Talking about my experience with IT vendors 40% 39% 21% Receiving information relevant to my IT decisions 39% Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 38% 22% 25
    • 26. The IT Committee are more likely to engage with their vendors on LinkedIn than on other social networks Reading a post from their vendor Following their vendor LINKEDIN IS USED LINKEDIN IS USED 80% 20% more often than other social networks Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 more often than other social networks 26
    • 27. Likelihood of getting a meeting with the IT Committee increases as vendors engage with this audience on LinkedIn Pre-Purchaseperson VendorReceived a demo Engagement by Met with the vendor in # Attended a webinar from vendor Did a liveon LinkedIn of Types of Engagement chat with vendor 50% 25% 0% NONE 2+ TYPES # of types of engagement with vendor on LinkedIn before purchase Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 27
    • 28. Vendors who interact with the IT Committee at a high rate are more likely to create promoters Engagement on LinkedIn Prior To Purchase Vendor Net Promoter Score NONE 24 Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in the UK on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 2+ TYPES 45 28
    • 29. Engage the IT Committee everywhere they learn FEED GROUPS INMAIL MOBILE 29
    • 30. Earn leads and build relationships with content SLIDESHARE CHANNEL SLIDESHARE CONTENT ADS PERSONALIZED INSIGHTS VIA API SPONSORED UPDATES 30
    • 31. Implications for IT Marketers 01 Target more than IT functions in your campaigns. 02 Ensure your content is authentic, valuable, timely, and customised by decision stage and seniority. 03 Start earning leads via social in addition to buying leads. 04 05 Focus on building relationships to get on the short list. Begin tracking how often and for what clients you make the short list. 31

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