Nonstop B2B Tech buying chatter

We’re well into lockdown and the tech buyer conversation hasn’t diminished one jot (ok, a wee bit, but not much). In fact, one look at social intelligence data from Brandwatch reveals there have been over 1m UK conversations in social media in the last 100 days. That is a lot of talk about AI, cybersecurity, infrastructure, cloud….

…you get the gist

The below report takes a look at what, if anything has changed in the conversation from buyers and how this insight into your customers will help you prioritise, reposition your brand and messaging, and build trust in your brand.

Things have changed

We promise not to talk about ‘unprecedented times’. We all know the situation. Instead marketers need pragmatic insight into what has changed, what stays the same and how they need to adapt to meet the customer in the best possible way.

Let’s start with where tech brands are right now. Even in a whirl of disruption, tech marketers know their stuff. According to our friends over at CogniClick, 48% of B2B brands are very confident with their strategy on how to achieve success in this climate.

Don’t get us wrong, there are many (61%) who fear things will get worse, and some (42%) who have seen marketing budgets reduced, but 70% are still planning to run scheduled online campaigns and activity. The watchword is ‘online of course’. According to the survey, 37% expect to see the greatest positive impact in increasing digital activity.

Things have changed, but as you can see, not entirely. Tech brands still want to reach buyers, and whilst uncertainty still looms large, the majority of marketers intend to continue with activities – they have just shifted the channels. Phew!

We know this. We work with tech brands. And our clients continue to invest in marketing, and they’re investing in social too. They know that buyers are still active on social. They can’t get to trade shows, or meet in person, but they can stay connected without invading inboxes or waiting for post to be redirected. They can talk to buyers every day on social media – if they do it the right way.

Yet it’s not quite as simple as shifting to digital

The priorities have changed more than a switching of channel focus. Marketers need to factor in changes in behaviour, attitude and ethics. And when it comes to social (where your brand stands right in front of your customer), there is a bit of thinking to do, before you start pushing out content. Your buying audience has changed. Of course they have, their world, their business, their staff are all in the new normal. Social campaigns today are not what you planned at the beginning of the year. The approach needs to change, and you’ve got to adapt. Fast.

Insight into your customer segments is essential to getting started in your re-planning. Typical audience personas will have changed. Your customer has different priorities, expectations and requirements. It will help you finesse an approach that allows your brand to tactfully and transparently communicate.

We thought we would share the latest social data and insight – along with some recommendations.

What are buyers talking about

Your buyers themselves have not changed. They are still the same people who bought tech and IT services at the beginning of the year. It is their behaviours and interests that will have adapted to the new situation.

Starting with topics of interest, helps us quickly identify what is relevant to your audiences. The word cloud looks at the broad keyword and phrase mentions in relation to IT and tech products and services – across the last 100 days (from 14th April 2020).

We see security is front and centre. To be truthful, on the broad interests, it has always been the core player in conversations. So, not a surprise really. What is useful to see is the trend of mentioning ‘people’, not something we’ve seen in the data before. Of course AI is still a hot topic, alongside machine learning too. It seems innovation has not gone away and the tech buyer is just as interested as ever in what is new and potentially disruptive.

Looking at the last month though, we can see the uptick in trending topics. This is the area you need to focus on now. Hot subjects are Fintech, Zoom (of course) and Crypto. It’s interesting to note, that remote / home working peaked massively on the 16th March (day of the lockdown announcement) and for a few days but has since pretty much dropped to normal levels. What is clear from this last month of social data, is that whilst we can identify the broader topics being discussed across the 100 days view, the trends month on month (possibly week on week) are changing quite fast. They’re peaking and dropping from the conversations, as different sectors are impacted or differing topics grab attention.

And if you want to be relevant to the buyers then you need to know what is on the horizon and adapt your social content to meet customer expectations. you cannot afford to be irrelevant. People want useful, shareable, informative content – and it needs to be delivered at the right moment in the right context.

 

There is added pressure to perform well in social. Three reasons to be on the front foot:

 

  1. In this crisis, everyone has turned to social media. According to Facebook, users are 70% more active, and a Global Web Index survey shows 80% of consumers in the U.S. and UK say they have consumed more content since the outbreak. Tech brands are going to need punchy content that is both relevant and bold to break through all the noise.
  2. According to eMarketer, buyers at looking to vendors for better quality resources. About a third say they want more quality and accurate information about what they buy, and 23% need more confidence before they make a purchase. Trust and transparency in your social will be paramount. As will good quality content.
  3. We know that much of the buying research occurs before talking to the sales team. And latest research shows that 44% of B2B buyers identify the right solution before they make it to sales. That is a lot of buyers, making up their minds!

With your sales team locked down, this is where marketing can step in and start to build a relationship. Especially given that almost a quarter of buyers need more confidence to buy right now. This means the consideration phase is being extended. It places a greater emphasis on businesses, particularly for tech companies transacting at high values, to ‘nudge nurture’ their audience more than ever. Get closer to your buyer needs. Segment and refine your audiences and meet the trends with relevant content that will stand out in a time when people are consuming more social content than ever.

Oh, there is one other reason to perform well in social:

Reach.

Whether the sale is today, or tomorrow, you want to get to as many buyers as possible. You want to communicate constantly, with relevant content that they will remember long after this is over. And that means even the above detailed trends are not enough. You need to get more granular. Define your audience to the nth degree. Trigger that resonance. Be memorable because you care enough to get to know what matters to them. Because not all buyers are the same.

They differ by industry. That’s obvious. But they also differ by job role. Let’s look at the CxO buyer versus the practitioner.

The C-suite buyer is focused on the wider business. As part of the board team they are focused on company strategy, challenges and long term requirements. For them, the hottest topic in the last month is digital transformation. Not unexpected, given the need to digitise businesses is essential right now. Associated topics lean heavily on innovations in AI and IoT. Companies that may have had transformation on a roadmap, are now accelerating the topic. Social is providing a source of content that is being shared and discussed.

Practitioners on the other hand are dealing with the immediate challenge. Security booms loud on social as the people at the coalface deal with the day-to-day, problem solving a dispersed network of staff and customers demanding access, alongside privacy and data concerns. Conversations tend to the more pragmatic with quick fire solutions that will see them fix issues in the shorter term.

This granularity in topic trends allows you to consider and redefine messaging and context in reference to your own products and services.

Sharing, sharing, sharing

In our latest report*, we profile the C-suite tech buyer in some depth. Everything from demographics to psychographics. Whilst the report was created before Covid-19, some insights remain the same. One of which is that this audience prefers to share content, over responding or replying to a social post.

And in the current climate they are sharing more than ever. From 41% original posts, 50% are reshared. Only 8% gain a comment. And this is only public content. We haven’t discussed dark social such as WhatsApp, Messenger or Slack. These are exponentially on the rise during lockdown. Sharing in dark social is happening, you just don’t know about it yet!

That means brands need to consider how they create content that can be shared. This adds a whole new dimension to just being relevant. Now you need to be informative, useful or entertaining. The currency is value content. You’ll need a mastery of creating reciprocity (so buyers share), with dash of authority (trust is paramount) or social proof (peer authenticity). Ultimately it will be quality social content that will win and be shared.

Chances are you already have the right content. For most tech brands we’ve met quality social content is there, buried in a white paper you gated, or hidden in a video 3 minutes in. Now is the time to re-purpose. To detail your audience segments and think like a buyer. Understand the pain points, the passions and interests. Then filter your content. Shave it down to the nugget that will capture attention. Then it will be shared. Amplified. And your brand will be remembered.

*If you would like a copy of the Social CTO report, email tech@immediatefuture.co.uk

So much more…

This snapshot report shows you the real social conversations from January through to mid-April this year. It is a great starting point. But every brand, industry and target audience is different. We have this data ready to explore for you. We can give you the insights that can help you get your marketing on point.

Talk to us, we’d love to share more with you.