Food for Thought: Procurement + Social Media

Article contributed by Kate Torok, Manager of Marketing and Communications, Corporate United, June 2011 You may say to yourself: I’m not in th

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Article contributed by Kate Torok, Corporate United, June 2011

You may say to yourself: I’m not in the marketing department, so why should I care about using social media for business?

Perhaps it’s the word “social” that throws people off.

It’s reported that seven out of 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information available on a social media site. What’s important to note is that this consumer trend has quickly made its way into offices across the world. Just as easily as consumers utilize social media to network, conduct research and learn from each other, professionals have found it equally beneficial to do the same while at work.

The difference between consumer use of social media and professional use is simply that consumers look to social media to enhance their personal lives and professionals are looking to social media to support their career.

According to a survey published in January 2010 by IDC, a global market intelligence firm, the number one reason American professionals used social tools for business was to secure knowledge and be able to ask questions within a community.

In essence, social media is made possible through interactive technology platforms that make it quick and easy for individuals and groups to communicate for the purpose of networking and information sharing.

Still wondering why this is relevant to you as a professional?

Reports estimate that over 90 percent of B2B buyers are already using social media tools, often to research and execute purchases.

“What is worth noting is that purchasing professionals appear to be lagging behind their counterparts from other areas of the business world in terms of collaborative intelligence and personal branding. This is a trend that needs to change if the role of purchasing is to evolve beyond the realms of a functional adjunct to a strategic influencer,” according to author, PI Window on Business host, and ProcurementInsights.com blogger, Jon Hansen.

Hansen goes on to say “…Instead of engaging or writing to the unknown masses, social media and social networks actually enable you to connect and ultimately build a rapport with the individual directly. It is then the individual who spreads (re-pollinates) the message to others within his or her network of contacts. As a means of creating a point of common reference, think of it as a referral system on steroids.”

Social Media’s Professional Benefits:
  • Risk management: professionals (and more specifically purchasing professionals) can take advantage of social media to lower risk by conducting their own research through online searches, online reviews of suppliers’ products/ services and more.
  • Best practice sharing/research: social media tools (blogs, vlogs (video blogs), Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, RSS feeds, etc.) allow professionals to find and share information quickly and easily
  • Networking: networking with other professionals is not only a great way to share best practices (as mentioned above), but it also helps to grow your contacts should you need assistance down the road with a specific project, finding a new job, et al.
  • Personal branding: the only person you can count on to advocate your accomplishments is yourself; why not let people know of industry awards, corporate accolades and the like?

The Influence of Social Media on the Buying Process

The following statistics were reported in a DemandGen white paper entitled “Inside the Mind of The New BtoB Buyer,” which surveyed buyers in a variety of vertical industries, including, but not limited to: software and technology, healthcare and financial services. When surveyed regarding how they leverage social media during the buying process, participants’ results indicated:

  • 78 percent started with informal information gathering
  • 59 percent engaged with peers who addressed the challenge
  • 48 percent followed industry conversations on topic
  • 44 percent conducted anonymous research of a select group of vendors
  • 41 percent followed discussions to learn more about topic
  • 37 percent posted questions on social networking sites looking for suggestions/feedback
  • More than 20 percent connected directly with potential solution providers via social networking channels
Social Media Statistics
The following list was part of a larger article of B2B social media statistics from a variety of sources that were compiled and reported on the Socialmediab2b.com website in May 2011:
  • B2C are more focused on Facebook and B2B are more focused on LinkedIn and video; also note that B2B companies are utilizing blogs more
  • 100 percent of Fortune 500 Companies have executives using LinkedIn
  • 50 percent of LinkedIn’s users are decision makers in their company
  • 41 percent of people using LinkedIn for marketing have generated business with it
  • 64 percent of B2B decision makers currently read their email via mobile devices
To summarize the above information and statistics, social media is not going away – quite the contrary; it’s growing at a fast pace among both consumers and professionals. This does not mean you have to embrace it; however, it would be a good idea to stay informed as social media evolves.

 Post Tags: social media