That was the headline on the first page article when BtoB Magazine landed in my inbox last week. According to new research from IDC, only 18.6% of B2B technology buyers say social media has influenced their purchase decisions or interactions with vendors.

So should B2B organizations shutter their social media efforts or reduce their investments? No.

Stepping back from the details, the research from IDC reaffirms two key guidelines for B2B social media.

Social Is Not About Selling

If you are using social media to sell, you are not connecting with your audience. Since the majority of your social media activity will be public, and on display for all to see, a sales attitude poses a serious risk, turning off potential buyers. Don’t be that guy.

Caution:
Do not force a sales relationship your audience does not want
.

Social Informs and Connects

In the same research, 84% of respondents report using social networks to keep up with trends and stay connected.

Providing information as a service to your audience is at the heart of inbound marketing, it is no wonder this is such as important shift for marketers to make!

Opportunity:
Inform and deliver value in your B2B social media program
.

Despite social media receiving the second lowest score from buyers (behind direct mail), marketers see opportunities: 65% indicate they will increase investments in social media marketing this year (the top category for increases in investments).

Your Turn

I believe marketers optimism and increased investment is warranted and that if marketers focus on providing value, buyers will begin reporting that social media is more important in their buying process as well.

The big question is, as marketers increase investments, will they be focused on selling or on providing value to others? Share your prediction in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Image by Kenny Madden, used with permission.