The Social Bridge

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How trusted content on social media builds relationships with IT buyers

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  • I am going to share some insights from a recent piece of research we produced with Comscore and a few other folks. This is research is called the Social Bridge to the IT Committee and is about how YOU can leverage content and social media to build relationships with IT buyers and influencers.But before this I’d like to share a few slide to update you on LinkedIn latest numbers…
  • But I will start with a personal story….about 15 years ago I started my career in banking…brokerage specifically…and was responsible for launching and managing the first European Online trading platform ….I will spare you the details.Transactional website were quite rare at the time and being a marketer by training and a business leader I very quickly understood how my success was dependent on technology. Previous leader had failed before me by banging head with the tech teams so I decided to take a different approach and to actually educate myself about the technology side of things. I had to understand the constraints and challenges the tech teams I was collaborating with were facing. So I educated myself about technology and quickly became an influencer of tech decisions at the bank.This is what we mean by IT Committee here…tech decision are influenced way beyond IT buyers nowadays with marketers, sales leaders, finance folks understanding the part technology plays in their successes and failures.
  • Now I will come back to the fact that technology decision don’t just belong exclusively to IT decision makers in a moment. But for now what I want to talk about is an important shift in the IT buying process. Another big difference between NOW and the time my story took place are the resources available to a marketers or an IT buyers to actually educate themselves and find out on their own about the solutions available to them.Back in 1997, I had to rely on my tech partners and a few books to learn how to code or to understand what IT vendors or products could help solve my business challenges. Well now IT buyers and Influencers of IT purchase leverage the web, and more importantly Social platforms like Linkedin to document their choices.And what this chart shows is that they do this to a very large extent before speaking to a vendors sales team.  In fact, studies show that they are 60% through the process before they reach out to you. They go through these phases of AWARENESS, SCOPE and PLANNING on their ownAnd that is what we’d like to address today. How can Techmarketers get in front of and influence these buyers before they are ready to engage with a vendor?
  • Because our research shows that there are meaningfulconsequences in not participating to these Awareness, Scope and Planning phases and this includes:Less exposure to client projectsa decrease in lead potential, andthe risk of not being considered a true partner and thought leaderI believe that Social Media platform create a unique bridge between the tech vendor and the buyer via an always on conversation. And that it will potentially transforms the way you will build your marketing plans…
  • So as mentioned we partnered with ComScore, SMG and Mashwork to better understand what this IT Committee is thinking, saying and doing.ComScore used their research resources to survey over 1700 IT committee members across the world to better understand themSMG and Mashwork used their Insight and listening technology to analyze 3000 conversation on Linkedin Groups to understand what the conversation is about and finally, we looked within LinkedIn’s own data to understand how they engage with content.
  • The first thing we found out was a validation of this concept of IT Committee.What we found was that these influencers extend beyond IT. In fact 45% work outside of IT in departments like Finance, Marketing,Sales and FacilitiesWe also saw that seniority went across the board. 44% as being either an individual contributor or manager.As you are getting ready to build relationship en engage audiences via your content, 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.
  • Now the key findings from the research itself are the following:First: It’s not just about peers validation, the IT committee actually expects vendors to engage them on Social MediaSecond: The shortlist is very short and I will come back to thatThird; Being on the shortlist is paramount to your success and requires relationship buildingNow let’s double click on all three findings
  • First of All 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.
  • How did this happen? The answer is TERA. Trust, Efficiency, Relevancy and Access. When making purchase decisions, IT Buyers and influencers 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. (Scale)Social media has enabled peer validation at scale, and this is how they communicate, debate, and decide on IT purchases.
  • But as mentioned earlier this not just about connecting with peers. They are open to hearing from vendors on social networks. Two-thirds said they are open to connecting with vendor on social. 8 in 10 said they are ready to have a conversation with a vendor on social. Remember…making the shortlist.Why are they open to talking to a prospective company on a social platform? They primarily want to talk to an expert and if you can provide thatexpertise they will engage with your company. It is very much about the value they are getting and the fact that they are in control on Social Media, this is neutral ground.
  • Remember the short shortlist
  • 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 88% purchased from a vendor that made the shortlist. They also stick with what they know. Only 1 in 6 purchased from a vendor they had never work with before.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 win the business.
  • Traditional lead generation like 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 does not mean you can’t gate content behind lead forms. You just need to be very smart about how you do it.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.
  • A trusted context matters. We asked how much LinkedIn is trusted versus other websites. Not just other social networks, but other websites in general. What we saw that LinkedIn is gathering 2X more trust than other platform when it comes toconnecting with vendorstalking about their vendor experiencegetting relevant information for their IT decisionsIn fact we ran a separate piece on outsourcing and 54% of IT committee (who use social media) leverage LinkedIn for outsourcing decisions.
  • And the trusted context of LinkedIn leads to engagement. Compared to other social networks, LinkedIn is used<BUILD> 41% more often to read a post from a vendor<BUILD> 40% more often to follow a vendorThis means more consideration!
  • In our survey, we also asked the IT Committee to tell us the types of engagement they had with a vendor prior to purchase. 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 of engagement. 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.
  • 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. Advocacy!
  • 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. There are a number of resources on LinkedIn to support your effort that are free. Building your company page or sending updates to your followers for example.We know IT decision makers 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, Here are 5 takeaways that I am asking all of you to think about for 2014 that could 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.
  • The Social Bridge

    1. 1. The Social Bridge to the IT Committee How trusted content on social media builds relationships with IT buyers Global Version Commissioned study conducted by:
    2. 2. Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 2
    3. 3. Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 3
    4. 4. Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 4
    5. 5. The Social Bridge to the IT Committee How trusted content on social media builds relationships with IT buyers Global Version Commissioned study conducted by:
    6. 6. Buyers are highly informed, savvy, and demanding Global 60% Through decision making process First contact with brand Source: CEB, “The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing”, 2012 6
    7. 7. 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 7
    8. 8. Why is it so critical to foster long-term relationships?
    9. 9. LinkedIn partnered with ComScore, Starcom MediaVest Group, and Mashwork to understand today’s B2B IT Committee What are they thinking? 1,757 IT Committee members in 10 countries 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 9
    10. 10. These scarce influencers include more than the IT department and the Executive team Global THE IT COMMITTEE They work cross functionally 45% Work outside of IT Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 They include individual contributors and managers 44% are individual contributors or managers 10
    11. 11. Global 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 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 11
    12. 12. The IT Committee actively seeks conversations with vendors on social media 12
    13. 13. Nearly all of the IT Committee use social networks Global Use social network monthly for business 95% 84% 92% 2012 2013 Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 13
    14. 14. The reason? Social media – LinkedIn especially – provides them with trust, efficiency, relevance, and access T E R A Trust Efficiency Relevance Global Access 52% Learn from trustworthy peers 45% 37% 47% Quickly find information Relevant context to connect with vendors Access a broader network Source: Commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting in 8 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2012 14
    15. 15. As tech decision makers use social to learn and debate, they’re looking to vendors to participate 65% 79% Open to connecting with vendors on social Global Ready to have a conversation with a vendor on social Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 15
    16. 16. The vendor shortlist is more exclusive and critical than you think 16
    17. 17. The IT Committee already have a good idea who they want to work with Only 3 Global vendors make their short list 88% purchased from a vendor that made the short list Only 1 in 6 purchased from a new vendor Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 17
    18. 18. Build relationships to make the short list 18
    19. 19. Traditional lead generation needs to be blended with social to earn leads Global Sweet Spot Traditional lead generation Social Relationships Valuable Content 19
    20. 20. Context matters. Credibility and trust drive brand perception and willingness to consider a vendor for the shortlist Global % who trust LinkedIn more than other websites LinkedIn Same Other websites Connecting more efficiently with vendors and relevant companies 49% 33% 18% Talking about my experience with IT vendors 46% 33% 21% 33% 21% Receiving information relevant to my IT decisions 46% Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 20
    21. 21. 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 41% Global 40% more often than other social networks Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 more often than other social networks 21
    22. 22. Likelihood of getting a meeting with the IT Committee increases as vendors engage with this audience on LinkedIn Global 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 60% Met with the vendor in person 40% 20% 0% NONE 1 TYPE 2+ TYPES # of types of engagement with vendor on LinkedIn before purchase Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 22
    23. 23. Vendors who interact with the IT Committee at a high rate are more likely to create promoters Global Engagement on LinkedIn Prior To Purchase Vendor Net Promoter Score NONE 1 TYPES 2+ TYPES 36 51 60 Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 23
    24. 24. Engage the IT Committee everywhere they learn FEED GROUPS INMAIL Global MOBILE 24
    25. 25. Earn leads and build relationships with content SLIDESHARE CHANNEL SLIDESHARE CONTENT ADS PERSONALIZED INSIGHTS VIA API Global SPONSORED UPDATES 25
    26. 26. Implications for IT Marketers 01 Target more than IT functions in your campaigns. 02 Ensure your content is authentic, valuable, timely, and customized by decision stage and seniority. 03 Start earning leads via social in addition to buying leads. 04 Focus on building relationships to get on the short list. 05 Global Begin tracking how often and for what clients you make the short list. 26
    27. 27. Source: commissioned study conducted by comScore in 10 countries on behalf of LinkedIn, Q3 2013 27
    28. 28. Appendix: Survey Sample Size and Countries 1757 IT Committee Members 505 NAMER, 601 Europe, 501 APAC, 150 Brazil UK N=201 Canada Germany (local language) N=126 N=200 USA France (local language) Hong Kong (local language) N=379 N=200 N=100 India Singapore N=201 N=100 Brazil (local language) N=150 Australia N=100 Data weighted to match IT Committee proportion for each country 28

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