So you may have already heard something about IT purchasing going social. You might have heard that you need to get social with IT decision makers. Or you may have heard that social networks are the ultimate place to reach IT buyers.Or you may have even heard that making social engagement a part of your IT marketing plan will make customers and money fall from the sky.
More and more people are responsible for actually creating the content, and engaging in the conversations.
Once they’re in communities, how do buyers act/what do they do inside. This is what Forrester calls the Discovery stage.Key takeway: Buyers know that communities have quality, highly relevant information. Because they know it’s there, that’s the destination where they begin.
With a high percentage in Discovery searching, here, in the Explore and Purchase stages, we seeing a larger percentage in the content consumption mode. Individual decision makers will then start to dive deeper into the content, first and foremost which is created by peers and colleagues.Then, they might consider content created by a vendor. As they begin to compare with other vendors.
But interaction with brands doesn’t stop at the Purchase stage. In the Engagement stage, we see that tech decision makers are continuing to seek information, to better understand the products they’ve purchased, to get feedback on how to make them work better, to associate themselves with other users – again, a sense of Community.
All-in-all, and per my joining of a Community comment on the previous slide, buyers are looking to join in on relevant and quality conversations. This plays against some of the more flippant or casual conversations taking place in more consumer social networks today.Tech buyers prefer professional networks (vs vendor communities) for the following reasonsVolume of activityQuality of discussions/breadth of participationAbility to link with others in the community
Peers and Influencers
Quickly, some insight on why we think this webinar is worthwhile. I can spout off all day on what makes a great vertical app, where you, the marketer, might spend your targeted dollars. But the proof in why and where is in the numbers.Spiceworks is a vertical social network focused on IT. More than 2.5 million IT pros use our IT Management App, our Content and our Community do their job and make better purchase decisions. The platform is entirely free for IT pros, and supported by more than 1,800 tech vendors who utilize our marketing solutions.In fact, I know that several of our vendors are attending the webinar and I want to extend a special welcome to you – we’re really glad to have you here and involved in Spiceworks.Stefano– in terms of each of these components of the App, the Community and the Content, is there one or another that you tend to spend more time with? And how much of your day would you say you spend with Spiceworks?
So here’s our view on what that funnel looks like. And as you’ll notice, Purchasing is right in the middle.First we’ve got the Researching stage – this is about figuring out the basic technology needs, how soon do I need it and what problems am I trying to solve?Then a lot of the Deciding happens – and this is the stage when evaluation and budgeting and vendor or product selection happen.Then the actual Purchasing is a stage unto itself – there’s a lot of work and information gathering that goes into licensing, procurement, financing and other logistics that are required to actually consummate the transaction.Then there’s Managing the purchased products or services – that’s deploying, monitoring and managing the solution.Which then of course feeds directly into Sharing – and what we see among our more than 2 million IT pros is a lot of paying it forward with advice, insights, tips and warnings in some cases.
And the really important thing to recognize about the Sharing component is that it isn’t simply one stage. It actually influences all of the other stages.And that Sharing can take the form of things like Product Ratings & Reviews, Tech Discussions among peers, Expert Content from specialists or even vendors, and Online IT Groups that bring together IT pros around shared interests in various technologies.
Great, so we all recognize that Social interactions and content are influential and pervasive throughout every step of the IT purchasing process.So can I just advertise there?The answer is Yes – but only if you don’t care about a holistic level engagement and outcomes. So let’s talk about what else you can do to get there.
Back to our funnel, there are some specific ways vendors can positively influence the process and build marketing engagement.For the Researching stage, it’s valuable to share your company’s technical expertise and more specialized information that a buyer won’t just stumble across on your website.For the Deciding stage, tech expertise again is useful but also connections to others in your organization who can help, like sales engineers or product specialists.For the Purchasing stage, make the transaction itself easier with planning tools and specific reseller or dealer information – or even introductions, are important.For the Managing stage, you need to make sure to share relevant product information, usage tips, best practices and just show your genuine curiosity about how your customers are experiencing the solution.And then for the Sharing stage, remember that IT pros are relying on each other to work through problems. So when you see a good solution being offered up, shine your brand spotlight and help to amplify that solution to others who could use the help.In all of these stages it’s important to remember that in communities like Spiceworks, all of the social interaction is taking place out in the open. So understand that everyone’s watching and forming an opinion of your brand. You might be thinking of this as a form of online customer support – but because of how visible it is, you should really think of these approaches as humanizing your brand.
So now let’s look at a few examples of how IT vendors are doing a great job.In full disclosure, all of these examples are from the Spiceworks community. Since there are more than 1,800 tech vendors that have established their presence in Spiceworks, it’s just the richest source for examples these kinds of scenarios.As I mentioned earlier it’s important to showcase your company’s technical expertise and build street cred with technical buyers.Here we’ve got Symantec, who does a fantastic job. First you see Mithun from the Symantec team who’s posted a couple dozen technical How-Tos on Symantec solutions and security in general. And then you’ve got Lenora answering a question with a high degree of technical detail – and in fact hers was designated the best answer for that particular conversation.
It’s also important to offer up resources that might help make better decisions. Many of you are probably very focused on Content Marketing and you probably already have a bunch of content that needs to be better distributed. Well why not share what you’ve already created?Here you see Sophos pointing to a knowledge base article on their site. And you can see Chris from VMware sharing a link to a company blog on a very specific technical topic.Look for opportunities to share what you’ve already created. That could be articles, other earned media, whitepapers, corporate blogs, planning tools or your own branded how to’s or videos.
And as I mentioned earlier, IT pros are very social and they’re quite often coming up with solutions among each other. So help them help each other and showcase your best advocates.Here you see Allen from Dell highlighting customer reviews of a particular product line. Other IT Pros have rated and reviewed a product and Allen is pointing others to that.And you can see the Office365 team sharing a conversation about integration that was started by a user.Stefano, tell us a bit about your own experience in sharing your knowledge in this way…
Another concept I mentioned was being a connector and helping your market get faster access to the people that can help.Here you see Katie from Unitrends asking for contact info so that she can escalate a support issue. Instead of hoping the user takes the right support steps, she’s doing what she can to make support a more proactive process.And Priscilla from HP is taking an issue reported in the community all the way to her product and engineering teams.
And these are just a handful of examples – but you can abstract out some common themes and concepts that really tie them all together.All of these examples show real engagement with actual people who are officially representing the brand.All of these are examples where helping one person actually helps many people – since the discussions and topics are frequently discovered by people who are searching for solutions either within Spiceworks or out on Google.The social interactions you saw here aren’t sales – but clearly they support sales.And lastly – ads in these contexts are actually quite good for promoting products, positioning and brand messages – but it’s the social engagement and content that wins over these IT decision makers.And just to put a finer point on this, we did a survey a few months back to ask IT pros what marketing tactics resonate the most with them as IT buyers. They told us by a wide margin that Helpful, authentic participation by vendors is the #1 approach they prefer. All of the others are important and play a role. But it’s the participation and contribution that is most influential to this market.
So hopefully, you’ve now got some curiosity and are interested in engaging with the millions of IT pros who are making purchase decisions in Spiceworks and elsewhere.I’d like to tell you about a few FREE ways that Spiceworks can help you get started.First, you can signup for your Spiceworks Dashboard – which tells you what IT pros are saying about you and your competitors. It’ll show you product ratings and reviews, mentions of your brand, products and competitors, and how you rank in your category.This is a free tool – and you can signup for it at the URL on the screen.
And if you’re not one of the 1,800 vendors already in Spiceworks you can set up a FREE Spiceworks Vendor Page – which lets you establish your brand’s presence in our community and start to participate.
And of course we’d love for you to contact us about our marketing solutions which include everything from social engagement offerings to advertising and sponsorships as well as insights and intelligence on your market and of course content marketing solutions.We’d love to help get you better positioned with IT decision makers while they work.
State of Social IT (and Why you Should Care...)
The State of Socialand why you should consider moving there…
What you may have already heard…“Making social engagement apart of your IT marketing planwill make customers andmoney fall from the sky!”
2009 B2B tech buyers(biz purposes)*2010 B2B tech buyers(biz purposes)†2011 B2B tech buyers(biz purposes)‡2012 B2B tech buyers(biz purposes)27% 33% 32% 41%— 21% 17% 27%37% 45% 46% 50%29% 41% 36% 41%29% 46% 44% 45%69% 79% 80% 75%23% 12% 14% 19%Base: 793 to 1,217 BT decision-makers at firms with 100 or more employees in the US and Western Europe§Base: 6,308 BT decision-makers at firms with 100 or more employees in the US and EMEABusiness Technology Buyers Shift To More Active BehaviorsFor business purposes:
“We engage inside Spiceworks because we canget a direct line to our users that we can’t getanywhere else.”“Be a problem solver not a salesperson.Talk to my problem and share with mehow your solution can help.”Social IT Nugget:― Matt S., Tech Marketer― Justin D., IT Professional
Marketers are Going Social• Media cos. decide what contentmatters• IT pros ―on an island‖• Social is a ‗bolt-on‘ offering• Old data, older methods• Poor registration/targetingTraditional Media B2B Social Networks• IT pros and vendors share insights• Word-of-mouth amplifies reach• Influencing one = influencing many• Immediate feedback/impact• Highly targetedVendor = Passive advertiser Vendor = Interactive, trusted participant
2.5M IT Professionals,1,800+ Tech VendorsInfo on IT products,services, best practicesSuite of IT Applicationsto manage their networkContentApplicationsCommunitySpiceworks: Where IT Goes to Work
Vertical Networks - How Work Goes SocialPersonal NetworkProfessional NetworksIndustry SpecificNetworks...HR IT FinMed R&DDevWhereITGoestoWork
CreateWorkflowCommunityPeer Advice, Expertise& RecommendationsIT Best Practices,How-to‘s, Product ReviewsSuite of IT Appsto do their JobSocial Apps ContentShareConnectBusiness Contacts,Job ProspectsNews, StatusSkills & ActivitiesXVertical and Horizontal NetworksXXTraditional PublishersNews, ArticlesConsume
ITITConnect with IT Pros Inside SpiceworksApplicationCommunityContentITIT Professionals IT MarketersITIT ITITITITITITITIT ITITITIT IT
“We received incredible, first-hand feedback andinsights from IT pros on everything. I can think of noother way to gain such extensive, concise andtimely customer engagement.”“For me, vendors perceived to be “engaged” and“helpful” get first consideration when it’s time to buy.”Social IT Nugget:― Craig E., Tech CEO― Marion R., IT Professional
Let’s get specific with ITThe purchase is not the end of the engagement.SharingFiguring out basictechnologyneed, goals andtimingEvaluating anddeterminingvendor/product, seats and financialcommitmentLicensing/procurement, financingand servicesDeploying, monitoring and managingsolutionPaying it forwardwithadvice, insights, tips, warningsManagingPurchasingDecidingResearching“What are thesecurity risks?”“Which vendoroffers the bestsupport?”“Which resellershould I use?”“How can Iconfigure formultiple offices?”Example questions at each stage…“Could others usemy workaroundscript?”
And sharing isn‘t just one stage. It impacts ALL stages.Product Ratings& ReviewsPeerDiscussionsExpertContentITGroupsSharingManagingPurchasingDecidingResearchingLet’s get specific with IT
Sure.If you don’t care aboutengagement and outcomes.So… Social is influential and pervasive in everystep of the IT decision making process…Can I just advertise there?
The Vendor OpportunitySharingTechexpertise, transparency and info noton websiteTech expertise andconnections toyour ―A team‖Planning tools anddealer/resellerinformationProductnews, tips, bestpractices andcustomer curiosityAmplification ofhelpful solutionsfrom IT prosManagingPurchasingDecidingResearchingSocial contributions IT pros value from vendors:BEING RESPONSIVEThere is value to add in all stages.
Unleash Your Technical ExpertiseBuild street cred with technical how-to’s and very specific suggestions.87,902Followers
Offer ResourcesShare the content you’ve already created.1,290Followers177,954FollowersWorks well with…• KB Articles• Whitepapers• Corporate Blogs• Planning Tools• How-Tos and Videos
Amplify Others’ SolutionsHelp customers help each other and showcase your advocates.65,416Followers82,305Followers
Be a ConnectorGet them faster access to the people that can help.1,446Followers159,744Followers
• Real engagement with actualpeople• Helping one helps many• Social interactions aren‘tsales, but they support sales• Ads are great for promotingproducts, themes and messages– but social engagement andcontent win them overWhat ties all these examples together?Top 5 Marketing Tacticspreferred by Spiceworks IT Pros1. Helpful, authentic participation2. Online advertising for specificproduct/promotion3. A well-managed Vendor Page4. Sponsored app features5. Brand/product content
“Not just as a place to advertise but a place whereI can talk, listen, ask and engage in realconversations with honest, knowledgeable andgenuine people.”“There’s a good chance that something will appealto me, so relevant ads are always welcome.”Social IT Nugget:― Sarah A., Tech Marketer― Huw D., IT Professional
How can I start?1 Find out what IT pros are saying about you and your competitors.http://www.spiceworks.com/marketing/dashboard/
How can I start?2 Establish your presence with a FREE Spiceworks Vendor Page.http://www.spiceworks.com/advertise/pages/
How can I start?3Get in touch with us.http://email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org